“You are my hiding place and my shield. I wait for your word.” Psalms 119:114
Happy First Day of Thanks Everyone!
I am so grateful for the “rest” that God is giving me to prepare me for my next level.
Last year, God gave me a directive to leave my job of ten years so that I could shift into the next season of my life and focus on the many other things that He was calling me to do. I started preparing for the next season; I wrote the visions down. I started applying to programs and getting everything aligned so that a steady job and provision would be in place once I left my job. In my mind, everything was perfect and I was set to go. God, in His sovereignty and grace, let me do all the planning and preparing because He knew of my need to have security and to be in control. (Life has been too hard and shaky to not be secure and ensure that Lilah’s well being is always great.) But, unbeknown to me, God had completely different plans that shook the very foundations of MY EXPECTATIONS.
I obeyed God. I left my job and watched almost every plan that was set in place completely unravel. I played it cool (“Never let anyone see you sweat!”), got on my knees and said, “Lord, what happened? Didn’t you tell me to leave? Why did almost every plan I made fall apart? Did I not hear you? God, you know what we’ve been through; you wouldn’t have us go back there, right? ” Thoughts of my past and the emotional devastation associated to it began to flood my mind. In a matter of seconds, the fear of poverty, homelessness, rejection, and abandonment tried to grip me. Then I heard a still small voice in the depth of my soul. “I’m with you.” It quieted everything in my spirit, in my physical surroundings, and in my mind. Suddenly, God began to remind me, with the scriptures that He was recalling to my mind, that He knit me together in my mother’s womb (Psalms 139:1) and therefore knew all about me. He had plans for me to prosper and have a hope for an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11). He explained that He had gone before me to make every crooked place straight (Isaiah 45:2) and sent his angel to keep me on track and bring me to the place that He was preparing for me (Exodus 23:20). He guaranteed me that He would never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6) and would be with me even until the end of the earth (Matthew 28:20).
Man! I had never been so thankful for all those times and hours of reading what I believe is God’s word (The Bible). The encouragement and assurance that began to engulf my spirit like a cloak was so powerful. The grip of fear instantaneously broke. Coming into that prayer, I was feeling real droopy like a wet spaghetti noodle. But, I was coming out a roaring lion because I knew that my daddy (The King of Kings and Lord of Lords) had my back and was not going to let me fall. Those three words changed everything. My daddy was with me. Suddenly, I felt like the little child on the playground who was telling that bully (FEAR), “I’m going to go get my daddy, because he is going to whip you and your daddy’s butt for bothering me!” I knew that my big brother (Jesus) had jumped in the fight and landed a TKO punch on Fear too, because at His name demons tremble and flee, and there was no residue of FEAR in my vicinity at that point.
Now that Fear was gone, I could hear clearly. God began to tell me what He was going to do with me during this time and what He required of me. God said that I was to “rest” and clean my house. Interestingly enough, I thought this meant my physical space and even enlisted the help of a friend to do it. We started cleaning out and de-cluttering my house only for me to realize that my “cleaning house” had less to do with my physical environment and more to do with my heart. (Ya’ll, please keep praying for me because the cleaning of the physical environment still needs to happen but has been a very slow and hindered process.)
I was told that I am being taken through a season of “de-programming” so that God could re-program me for the next season of my life. To be real honest with you, I have lived the last 30+ years of my life in “fight or flight” mode. I’ve always been placed in low resource environments and have had to survive and thrive in them. (Me and God know how to make a dollar out of fifteen cents!) I’ve spent the last eleven years with minimal sleep mainly because of Lilah’s bouts with epilepsy, hustling to make provision happen and other commitments. All of the stress has taken a toll on my physical body and created some mental fatigue as well. Although the “fight and flight” mode was great for my last season, nothing in my new season will require that mode of intensity constantly. Please don’t think that I am naïve enough to think there will be no struggles. That is not what I am saying. What I’m saying is that my new season doesn’t involve the lack or toiling of my last season; it is and will be the abundance and overflow of rain in the land of milk and honey. So, I can’t take my old mentality and mindsets into this new place. This new season is God’s gift to me and the reward of decades of sacrifice, delayed gratification and sowing seeds from a completely dry place. It deserves nothing less than my complete trust in God and my best self coming to the table with my “A” game.
[For some reason, I feel in my spirit that this is a perfect time to put in this disclaimer for those of you reading who may be secret haters. Don’t hate on me or other people’s reward seasons! You have no idea what we have been through nor the many sleepless nights of crying, praying, fasting and sowing in secret to get what we are receiving. Since God is no respecter of persons, you can ask God to give you our trials and tribulations so that you can get the same reward. If you are interested in getting my reward, here are some of the trials that you can pray and ask God for: homelessness, rejection, abandonment, career sacrifice, destroying rage, a child with autism and epilepsy, jealous/envious people, backstabbers and a Judas, to name a few.]
Before I get to the new place, I have to go through this transitional period of rest. This period is one of testing that requires complete and utter surrender and abandonment of my will. It requires strict obedience to every directive God is giving me. It involves the purging of my heart and emptying all of the secret, hidden compartments of hurt in it that can easily trip me up and hinder me from getting closer to God and immersing myself into a deeper dimension of His glory. It requires trusting God for everything, even the provision (food, patience, finances, etc.) that I need every single day. It’s hard.
Only my trust in God allows me to rest and be that kind of vulnerable at this time. (Most days my flesh, my fist, or my tongue lashes want to prevail!)
I almost feel ashamed to say this, but, I was a little scared to rest and be still because I really didn’t know how to do it or what it actually meant. I don’t know and have never known how to enter into a state of rest. In every area of my life, I have always had to be on guard. But, if God said I needed to rest, slow down, get de-programmed, and clean my heart that was exactly what I was going to do.
In this short time of rest, so much more deliverance and healing have taken place in me and my household that I will keep pressing to see the finished work completed. God’s presence has been my sacred space where I can lay my gloves down and stop fighting or hiding to heal. I have been exposed to and have identified some of those hurt spaces in my heart. I’ve been forgiving myself and other folks and repenting for letting the hurts linger in my heart for so long. I’ve been renouncing the effects that the wounds in my heart have had in my life, my attitudes, my behaviors and my actions. And I’m getting free. My rest is making room for my healing and wholeness and is drawing me closer in my relationship with God.
As we give thanks for rest today, first, I invite you to let God into your heart so that you, too, can stop fighting and hiding. My prayer is that you Be Whole, Be Healed and Rest. Rest in God! Rest in the promises that God has for your life!
Secondly, as we give thanks for rest, I invite you to give of yourself in service (volunteering, praying, writing letters to the children, etc.) or by means of financial donations to the wonderful organization, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (https://www.stjude.org/donate). Here many children with cancer find rest and solace and healing. The parents of these children also find rest, never having to worry about a bill for treatment and receiving hope and comfort for their love ones.
Have a great day of thanks!
For those of you who want to go deeper in reflection, think on/answer these questions:
*Why are you thankful for rest?
*Can you identify specific areas in your life where you need to rest?
*What are some action steps that you can take to provide the rest that you need in those areas of your life?
*How can you use a state of rest to draw you closer into a relationship with God?