I have sought contentment in so many ways. I am the one who is always looking for the next thing. I cross things off a mental list and I'm ready for more. Yet, for as long as I can remember I've dreamed of a simple, quiet life. I've also always wanted a large family and to live in the country. I've come to realize, as probably many of you have, life doesn't always go as planned.
But still, I seek contentment. I understand that joy can be overflowing and peace can be present in any situation, the contentment in everyday life has truly been a struggle for me. I tend to always want a cleaner house, more time with my kids and husband. I want to get more done and I want to play more. I want to make healthier meals, but I want to save money. I want to have it all figured out, all the time. I want to be involved. I over-commit. And then I have to back out and feel as though I've failed or disappointed everyone. I used to feel guilty saying no. I used to try to literally do everything.
Last year my year was filled with being still.
Somehow though, I often believe the lie that being still, that being a wife, mother, homeschooler, friend...is not enough.
Sometimes being still is what God asks of us. This time of being still for me has been a time of renewal. A time of being still before my Lord has brought me to a place of being on my knees. On my knees, in prayer, digging into His word, has prepared me for a time of busy-ness, a time of brokenness, that only He can get me through with true joy and pure peace.
And still I seek to know where my place is.
Lord, what is my ministry? Where am I to spend my time?
Each time the answer seems so simple, so obvious, yet I forget. I lose track. I think somehow it must be more difficult, more of a sacrifice.
But my ministry, my place, my time is to be here, serving my family and the people in my life. I want to live a life of open hands to accept what the Lord wants of me, of a burdened heart for those around me. I want to be broken, so I can be healed by Him. Because if I keep striving to do ministry in my own strength, if I continue to plan and set unrealistic expectations of myself, I will always be disappointed. But if I know I am broken, I know I cannot do this parenting, wife, friend thing on my own, I will expect much of God and little of myself and this world.
My conclusion is that this
is my ministry. My life. I am supposed to continually pour out, serve and love these people in my life. It will look so different all the time. There will be phases of seeking, serving and being still. There will be seasons of pain and seasons of healing. There will be joy, chosen joy. There will be grace. There will be mercy. And it will take courage. Because none of these things comes easy to me. Loving my family, yes. Loving strangers, no. Serving my family, yes, Serving from sun up to sun down, no. I will continue to pour out, because the Lord will renew my strength.
My first instinct is to keep my life simple, quiet, safe and private. But that is not always what God asks of me.
My life is not simple. There's a lot going on. There's a lot of decisons to make.
My life is anything but quiet. Kids are noisy. Life is loud.
My life isn't always safe. Stuff happens. Sickness, death, fires, floods...adoption isn't even "safe".
My life isn't private. Some things are of course, but my desire to live with the blinds pulled and discreetly go about my business went out the window a long time ago. We chose to make Thao's life and death, and our struggles public because we believe God will be most glorified this way. But it is not easy.
So my ministry, my life has been a surprise to me. The unplanned adventures. The ministry I have found myself in. My writing. Although I am finding joy in my writing, it's diffiult to bear my soul sometimes. To let people in to the struggles, the realities, the permanency of death and the life that we now live.
But it is beautiful. Because I have seen the Lord lead and guide and hold me up. I have felt the whispers, the gentle leading. My unexpected journey of loss has lead me to the Lord in ways I cannot explain, yet I am trying to.
My year of being still
has prepared me for many unexpected events. It has produced a wonderful longing to be nearer still to Jesus.
As my year of being still
comes to and end, I have asked the Lord to show me what the next season holds.
He has laid on my heart new verses to hold close, different words to cling to, more treasures to hide in my heart.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power thorugh his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may habve power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how eide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--
that you may be filled to the measure of all fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus
throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
I know my year of being still has prepared me for things, things that we experienced this past year and things yet to come. It has prepared me to pray and believe that God can and will do immeasurably more than I ask or imagine. He will exceed my expectations, where I will fail them. So I ask you to pray with me, for more. More than we can imagine. Maybe not the way we expect or ask, but God always answers and he answers with more than we can comprehend.
There has been healing in my being still year. There has been healing because I have searched my heart, I have cried out to God. I have tried so hard to understand prayer in ways that are human and make sense. But our ways are not God's ways and our plan or vision is so small in comparison to His. He not only sees the whole picture for my life (and yours), He holds it in His grasp. Because of free will and sin and our fallen earth, bad things happen. Life hurts.
But in the end, the whole picture, it all works for good, because our God is good. This journey of life will lead us to the One who created us, if we choose Him.
I hope you join me this coming year, in prayer, asking God for big things and expecting answers, one way or another. Because sometimes our answer to prayer is in our obedience to Him. And sometimes our answer to prayer hurts. And sometimes our answer to prayer takes more time than we'd like, but ends up as we ask. Most times I resolve to the fact that I will not understand all the answers until I see Him face to face.
And to that I pray...Come, Lord Jesus, come.