On Opportunities

I was editing a blog post for my boss a few weeks ago and this graphic leaped out at me. My #oneword for 2017 is Still. I’m realizing there is a balance between being still and settling.

Reflecting on the past month I’ve been a failure at being still. We moveOpportunitiesd 8 hours away from Virginia, the place we’ve called home for four years. As we rushed to pack, say goodbyes, find housing, transfer utilities and insurance and all the things moving requires I found that being still felt like a hindrance.

My time with God became short and to the point. Prayers focused on the details of our move.

Conversations surrounded our move. Free time was absorbed with tasks for our move. Everything became about moving.

All the talking and planning and preparing revealed something in me. When it comes to opportunities, it’s easier to see those that lay in front of others than me. My kids are entering new schools. As we’ve prepared them we’ve seen all the opportunities that now lay in front of them. It’s clear they have many great choices. So many options that it will be impossible for them to participate in everything. Go! Do! It’s easy to encourage my boys to seize the opportunities that present themselves.

My own path feels less clear. Opportunities exist. There is no questioning that. Still, the details feel fuzzy. When I pause to ask myself what are the opportunities I have right in front of me today, my mind blanks.

Ryan’s point is simple “focusing on what we could have done will do nothing to move us forward in what we still can do.” Moving creates an automatic clean slate. Whether desired or not, a chapter closes with a move. That clean slate creates the chance for new opportunities. It should be freeing, exciting even. That is how I see this for my boys.

What’s holding me back? My answer to that question is nothing. Kristen Strong’s Girl Meets Change reminds us “change isn’t just something God allows but is something he authors.” So if God is authoring this change then the opportunities I am being invited into will also make themselves apparent.

So the challenge becomes to be still with eyes open. Look forward and not behind, and respond with a yes of obedience when the situation is clear. To not settle, but seek to move in God’s best.

I’m learning that being still isn’t something that just happens. It is an action that takes a focused effort. I am beginning to think that at the end of this season a new opportunity awaits, one I could never have orchestrated for myself.

Right now this season of stillness seems to be inviting me to rest and grow. Perhaps it’s in preparation for something, perhaps it’s to help create a new rhythm. Regardless, it cannot be rushed through. It cannot be ignored.

 

Confirmation

New Year’s Day 2017 falling on a Sunday was probably the best thing that could have happened for me. Less than three weeks into our life transition I was still (and am still now) wrestling to keep my emotions balanced. When those you have spent the majority of the past three years of your life with no longer seek to be in your presence, it can feel incredibly lonely and sad. Going through this with family has been helpful, but not enough to take away the stress that goes with the unknown.

Our church services have a common element that occurs at some point which is a time of special prayer. As my friend was praying over me, crying with me, her words were exactly what my heart needed to hear, and my mind had not yet been able to speak. These times of compassionate prayer are not surprising for my church. It is the most common practice we’ve witnessed and participated in for the two years we’ve attended Lifeline Princeton. It is what brothers and sisters in Christ are supposed to do, they are meant to carry each other through hard times, and our church does a fantastic job of it.

As our time of prayer wrapped up, my friend asked me specifically what was going on. I was surprised to have to explain anything because her prayer had hit the nose on the head. Still, her facial expression revealed she was thinking the same thing I was. Then she said something I’ll look back on this year frequently.

My friend paused and then said “I feel like God is calling you to a deep spiritual rest. I don’t understand it because moving and rest don’t go together, but that’s what I think I’m hearing.”

I smiled and nodded. I explained I knew what she meant because God had laid the word still on my heart. As I walked back to my seat to join in with worship, I felt the peace my friend had prayed for come over me.

There are seasons in life when those around you will be able to see God moving in the details of your situation when life looks stagnant through your own eyes. There are times when a truth God has been trying to teach you will only be accepted as truth when someone else believes it first.

Although our conversation was a reminder that my call in this season is to be still, it was more than that to me. I had spent the morning fighting feelings of distance from God. I hadn’t been unable to worship and pray as my thoughts drifted to upcoming tense conversations, hard decisions to be made and replaying the previous weeks in bewilderment. These few sentences reminded me God was near and he was paying close attention.

It took a few sentences to tell me God was near and he was paying close attention. I’m so thankful for a friend’s courage and willingness to tell me what she thought she heard, even though it didn’t make sense to her. It was what my heart had been longing to hear, the confirmation I didn’t realize I needed until it was there for my ears to hear.

He Still Holds Fast

 

Since September I’ve been settling into life with a focus on the word still. I’ve circled back to still after considering rest, pause, and quiet. Still began with the need to create margin in my schedule. As I shed each commitment, I felt lighter. It became easy to anticipate all God would do with a new year approaching.

Shortly before 2017 life was tossed upside down with one conversation. Our family will be moving soon, and that will involve new schools for the boys, a new job, new church, new stores, new routines and hopefully soon, new friends to join us on the adventure of life for awhile.

Transition does not invite being still, and I’ve wrestled with this for a few weeks now. The discipline to keep my thoughts and emotions still focused only on the day and what God would lay before me has been a challenge at some point each week. I’ve become thankful for the reminder of one word to shift my focus when it strays. The word still has become the thing that steadies me.

This week in my devotions I realized that although an aspect of the word still can involve rest, there may be another reason this particular word

Job 2:3 The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.” (emphasis added)

By the beginning of Job 2, Satan has been given permission from God to do anything but touch him. All of his livestock and most of his servants are dead as well as his children. It was all taken from him in minutes. After Job is informed, he has lost everything he has one response. He worships God.

Satan approaches God and points out that Satan’s destruction has not changed Job’s heart. “upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he STILL holds fast his integrity.” The standard has been set, and it won’t ever be easy to achieve. Job responded to his wealth and family being taken away with worship.

Job didn’t have much left in the form of worldly possessions by the end of Chapter 1, but he held on to the things he did. God and his character. In his darkest time, he STILL worshiped God.

still

 

 

5 Goals For 2017

My One Word for 2017 is Still. I’ll expound on this decision more in January, but for today I’m highlighting 5 goals for 2017 around my One Word: Still

  1. Practice Iva May’s Chronological Bible Study
  2. Explore 3 theologian’s practice of the discipline of listing to God
  3. Read 20 books
  4. Complete one Beth Moore Workbook Bible Study
  5. Explore and practice being still in the midst of chaos

Short and sweet, I’m linking up with Mrs. Disciple for #FridayFive today. What goals do you have for 2017?

 

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