Strength in Stillness

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14 (NIV)

The afternoon sun streaks through my living room window, and I settle into my seat, finding just the right spot for the light to warm my body. On my windowsill, books bend into one another, and pens spill from their holder; my daily Bible verse calendar shows an image of majestic mountain peaks and a scriptural assurance of faith I cannot see.

The call to faith in the unseen resonates deeper than I wish it to.

I’ve spent these past six months fighting for my mental and physical health.  I’m still wrestling with the lingering aftermath of COVID-19 and anxiety, comparing my state of exhaustion to where I was before I got sick.

When I see my life as it was, and I see the setbacks I’m battling, I can’t help but be tempted to spiral down the “why me?” rabbit hole. The daily battles leave me worn and wondering just how this will play out.

My camp is close to crumbling, and I need reinforcements. If I have the Lord of heaven’s armies with me, what is His tactic? What is His next move?

Is it to strengthen me supernaturally so I can take ground where I have loosened my hold?

Is it to storm my enemies and knock them down in one motion?

Is it to wait for me to say the right prayer or scripture and believe just a bit more for my faith to come to life and be “useful” in my healing?

Or is it possible God is calling me to something radically different? What if God’s will looks something like this: “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14)?

The more I meditate on this verse, the more I realize I’ve been carrying much more stress than I need to. I’ve hoisted the weight of my health on my shoulders, striving to learn answers, comparing what was to what is now, and holding heavy, unrealistic expectations in my heart and mind.

Maybe you are, too. Maybe we’ve all been holding on to our own designs of how life should be and having trouble wrapping our minds around reality.

What do we do with the vice grip we’ve put ourselves in?

 

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What a joy and honor to be over at Proverbs 31 Ministries today to examine what strength in stillness looks like. Will you join me there?

Good to Come

Plush grass cushions my body as I shift on my blanket, blue pearl of a sky wraps the dome of Port Washington, harbor full of hulls and bows of sailboats. Lake Michigan spreads wide and comfortable out to the eastern horizon, where a thin line of gray clouds gather low. Sparrows, red-winged black birds, and chickadees play in the air, plunging and rising around the park. Sun rests warm on the back of my neck; out in the distance, white-winged caps of wave flank and furl for speedboats flying across the open water.

This early June day is dipped in what it should be, the delight of a drowsy, sun-soaked slowness and as close to perfection as we can get this side of heaven. It’s also my 37th birthday, and the lightness of the environment matches me inside. I have been slow to embrace my birthday, but for some reason, perhaps for the first time, I see this day as a start to another year, a start I can—dare I?—believe will bring new healing and joy that haven’t yet been revealed? What newness is to come? What road to wisdom and wholeness and depth and life?

The wind shifts and blows from the southwest, covers the warmth from the sun with a thin blanket of cool breeze. But the sun still stays, and so does the light blue of the sky. Fishing boats still motor through the marina, make their way to the wild azure water past the lighthouse. Birds still dance and sing, and my heart stills stays open, ready, asking God to move my mind, body, and soul in a restoring direction, let this smooth, simple day be the start of His good to come.

 

Beauty, Here

There is beauty, here, now. In this season. Yes, even in this season of suffering. There is a good God who sees, who feels, who emphasizes and emphatically says all is good, because all is God. He is the Waymaker, Deliver, Strong Tower and Soft Place, the One who loves unfathomably and unconditionally. Here, in the dappled sunlight that streaks through the pines, the flash of wing in the cross of Blue jay from one branch to another, the gentle rhythm of the water that never hurries, always sets its course assuredly. There is no rush, no hidden agenda. The waves just move.

And I just move with it all, swept in the current, roll with it under the watchful eye of Him who pulls me close when I am over my head in the deep waters, enclosed by flames. He soothes when I feel scorched, overwhelmed. He is here, in this season, bringing beauty when I pull my heart to hear His heartbeat. Lord, keep showing me where You are in the hard, keep showing me the beauty and grace that gets me through.

You get me through, somehow, in the stillness that somehow suddenly appears, when I am unexpecting, when I am parched and drink my fill.

 

Toward the Sun, the Healing

Jesus, the sun—such brightness.
The birds—their song is loud; my ears pick up nothing else.
The grass has never looked so green, lush, full.
The flowers, coming into bloom sudden and striking.
I have never known a spring
so desired or welcome.

Can it mirror my mind’s healing, too?
Movement upwards, hope in a season
secure, here to stay?
Safety comes in the promise of
what arrives time after time.

Jesus, You’ve made the spring surge awake.
Will you surge in me and tend
to my mind and heart?
Awaken them to turn
toward the sun, the healing.

Make a Way in Me

You hear, O LORD, the desire of the 
afflicted;
You encourage them, and You
listen to their cry.
-Psalm 10:17

 

You are faithful, even in the midst of the raging storm. You are the God who calms the seas; surely, You can calm the sea in me.

Calm the raging sea in me; say to my mind and soul, “Peace, be still.”
Help me to be still and know Your goodness, Your timing, Your ways, Your presence. Joy and hope amidst the hard, my God. I ask for joy and hope, a sound mind and secure heart.

You are my firm foundation and I climb on top to stand, however unsteady my hands and feet. You are the One who sees and knows all the swirls within me. And You love me, though it’s hard to feel. But faith is not based on sight, but stepping one foot in front of the other in the unknown, choosing to trust You are over all, You are over me.

Be over me, my God. My good Father, whose plans for my life are good, for hope and a future. You are making way for my good future. Just help get me through the storm, get in the boat and soothe me to sleep as You slice through the waves, guiding me. God, steer me through. God, calm me through the middle of the water, when there is no shore in sight, when I tremble with fear and am frantic for land.

Be in the boat with me. You know these waters well. You know me well; call out my name and speak to my deep places where You know better than I do what I need. You know what I need, my Counselor and Comfort.

You are my fixed point on a shaky axis. Rescue me, out of Your great mercy. Restore me through the suffering. Give me Your grace for today, but bring hope to my heart and healing to my body, mind and soul. You are able, and You are near.

Faithful One, be faithful to me. I want to see You, hear You, know and experience You in deeper and new ways. I want a way out, yes, but I want You too.

 

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Read the rest over at Awake Our Hearts!

Resurrection

Jesus,
You are the resurrection and life.
So why am I falling apart,
unraveling?
You broke open
for our vulnerable frailty.
In my brokenness
I come, crumbling, to You.
When You lay in a tomb,
chest still, fingernails still flecked
with blood and wood, I, too,
slowed my lungs.

Yet here You are,
flesh and bone and spirit,
whole and free.
Where is my resurrection?
I still wait for lightness
in my soul and a mind
quieted with Your love,
long for joy and fullness.

Return me to life.
By your breath I inhale,
receive the same power
that burst open your eyes,
warmed your palms.
I, too, fold and break
to come alive.

Resurrection Within

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
-John 11:25-26

 

Resurrection never proved so daring.

My dead heart, and how I search for any sign of life within.

But You are in the business of miracles. Of new creation, restoration, calling forth what once was waste now into wonder.

How to hope? How to hold my dreams in my hand? How to believe You see all of me and yearn to breathe fresh feeling into my bones? For so long I’ve been stale of heart, glossed it over, shrunk it away. This life has burned its flesh, scarred my soul and terrified me to try living with my heart again.

To know no emotion is to know nothing at all.

For so long I have merely existed, no nod to beauty that You bring before me, no allowance of lips spread in smile, or true joy full in the springs of my soul.

It is torment to trust You with my most delicate pieces. I am so afraid that You will learn my secret desires and struggles, coax me from my fear, and shatter me again. And so I sit and watch the world go by, each sight seen without eyes, each sense felt with no touch. Scar tissue grows on me like climbing ivy. If I do not allow You to intervene, soon it will wrap around the throat of my heart and choke me. I ask to live; I don’t want to fall asleep breathing toxins of indifference into my lungs.

You say to trust You with all my heart. Its frailty, its hurt, the past that has stung and the future that has not yet touched me. Faith fixed on You, imploring me to bare open in nakedness once more.

I do not know how to live without detaching head from heart, how to stop myself and listen for the quiet beats, its voice stirred alive by the promise of who You are. How to gently stroke its sleeping form and whisper, “Awake, my heart.” Pull back the curtain on a new day that dawns with whatever You choose to share with me, hand in Yours, steady breath, willing to bleed and break and build back up because You offer soothing balm.

Let me listen. May I not forget my heart in the madness that is life. May I remember to let it lead the way, the route that finds its journey with You.

The wind stirs soft beneath my breast. To feel is to face the true grit of grace. Here I plunge from the ledge, leap into the abyss. Hand over my heart, fall onto You to carry every pound of my weight. And as I slip with no ground beneath me, I pry the lock from my stone heart and give permission to venture forth with feeling. To encounter it all, to be known by You in the marrow of this risk. It is a daring faith to let You lead. But I am ready. I am willing. It is time. It is time long overdue.

Come, awake, my heart. Speak your mind. Tell me what I dream to hear. Wander free. Raise in me a greater depth to share the ebb and flow of God’s pulse along my currents. Come awake so I may live, and live in full.

 

 

My heart has been on standby for a long time. Stuck in autopilot, keeping quiet for fear of being hurt and broken again. So much disappointment, disbanded dreams, pain and surprises. My fragile heart longs to lift in hope. Lift my heart, Lord. Open it to listen, to hear Your gentle voice full of truth and grace. I long to place my full weight of trust on You once more. Amen.

Longing for Life

The Spirit of the Lord shakes the pillars, rattles the roof where we reside. Meet us here, in the whirl of the wind. Rattle our hearts, shake our souls awake.

Bare branches sway in the sky. Bare, but they will bloom, bear buds and leaves and flower petals—each unique to the type of bush and tree.

Bring them to life. Bring us to life, for this is a beginning. We are longing for life, even if we don’t yet know it’s life in You that we are looking for. We seek in all different spaces, each heart moving to make a way for what is missing. Will You make Your way in us? That we may be filled to the measure of Your love, a depth that knows no end?

You have sent Your Spirit to speak the Good News of new life. From death and burial comes newness, breath. From thirst to satisfaction. Dry bones manifest flesh, become whole.

Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.
-Ephesians 5:14

His Light, A Loosening

In obedience to the Lord, you may find yourself in the darkness, but do not panic, for He will bring you the light you need at just the right time.
-Warren Wiersbe, Be Comforted

I struggle with where I am, fight with a tightness in my chest, a veil over my heart. This dim light of a season of fatigue, head fog, and anxiety stretches on, longer than I ever would have imagined. This is not something of my choosing, but God knows this. He knows the inside of my heart, the private corners I don’t even like to share with myself. He sees my scared heart, my fears that force their way into my head, the patterns of thinking I can’t seem to stop.

But there is hope. He has guaranteed it. And I am an active participant in this stretching, this suffering. These growing pains result in my good, even in the middle of this process. Even when there’s no timeframe that shows the end. But it will not last forever. He is providing for me right here, right now. Holding on to me when I have no strength to cling on my own.

I lift my heart, my mind, to the sky that is a settling blue today. It’s been so gray for so long, low-hanging clouds dampening the view.

 

For with You is the fountain of life;
in Your light we see light.
-Psalm 36:9

Your light, the glow that brings illumination in the darkness. You have led me into this darkness, the bleak caverns that cover my sight, but You have also given me Yourself, a guiding light that leads me out into the life You have in store, one that results in my good and Your glory.

Every day, I have a choice. To curl up and feebly live through the day, or fight for the faith I know is there despite what I cannot see. Faith becomes sight, and the sliver of light He gives today will grow brighter tomorrow. It’s the mindset of more, more trust, more faith, more of Him making a way. With the God of the universe beside me, what can I truly fear?

Today I am choosing to hold to the light, to stay my eyes on a blue sky. God is faithful. The dark does not last. I open to that tightness in my chest, acknowledge my fear, my disappointment, and I give grace to myself that I have not allowed in a long time. Grace grows to acceptance, a release of burdens I was never meant to bear.

Believe His presence is the fountain of sustaining waters springing forth in my soul. Believe His light is strong enough to penetrate the blackest night.

When I don’t understand, I choose to obey anyway. At just the right time, His light breaks through and goodness will once again flood my soul. Joy will come in the morning. Sorrow gives way to singing. In my weakness, His strength becomes my lifeline. He brings His light, right on time. I take hold to this comfort and let my chest expand a little more, allow a loosening, release.