Sunday, December 17, 2006

Peace, be still

It's been a great week. It has been one of challenge, one of unexpected blessings, one of growth. As God so often does, He has used difficult things to challenge me to reach for higher ground in my faith.

I spent the night at my family's house last night, so I could spend time with my niece. Whenever I spend time with my family, or with anyone else lately, the conversation eventually turns to my lingering concerns over my job and its inability to meet my financial needs, and how frustrated I am with some of the choices I am continually faced with as I walk along this path.

My sister and I were talking about some things happening in her life...She is buying a new house, and soon she and her little one will be in a home of their own. It is a very exciting time as they prepare for this new life they will have. As she talked about her fast-approaching move, I felt the pressure of my own circumstances begin to rest on my shoulders. The icy grip of fear began to close around my heart, and I began to feel the hopelessness that has become so familiar lately.

I am at a place in my life of fully realizing the futility of my own attempts to improve my situation in the slightest bit. Every attempt at finding a new, better job has been met with nothing but disappointment. Over the last few days, I've even prayed, with a very anxious heart, that if God does not want me here, that He would make a way out for me.

After my sister and I talked, I retreated to the guest room and laid my case before God. "God, why do You still have me here? With all I've learned, isn't it time for something to break loose so I can move forward? Haven't I been faithful to be obedient? And yet You still have me here. Why?"

Over the last week or so, as the due date for the rent and other bills approaches, and I have no way of coming anywhere close to being able to pay them all, I've been asking God..."Please show me why You have me here. I know there has to be a reason, or You would move me beyond this wilderness journey. You haven't, and I need to know why, so I can get beyond this. I'm growing tired, and I just want to see what You want from me, so I can move forward into blessing."

As I was in the guest room at my parents' house, pouring out my heart to God, asking Him to show me why He was not letting blessings flow in my life, the answer became so clear.

"Stephanie, you still have not learned to be still and know that I am God."

It was that simple, yet so profound. So profound that my fears dissipated literally within an instant, as I realized the truth in what had been put on my heart.

I did not know how to be still. I did not know how to let God be God. I was still hedging my bets...going online every day, fervently looking for any and all job opportunities, believing that if I just had a better job, my whole life would be different. As each job prospect greeted me with nothing more than disappointment, I felt more and more anxious. I watched every penny going in and out of my checking account, as though my paycheck were being dumped into an empty well that would never be filled. I looked to employers as my source, feeling more and more upset with the fact that nobody seemed willing to cut me a break. When the church decided my situation was not dire enough to be deemed worthy of help, I felt an overwhelming sense of despair, as I had come to the end of my rope. I did not...and do not...know what else to do, where else to turn. I have done everything I know to do, and nothing I've done has improved my situation to the slightest degree.

Yet, I have spent a lot of time wringing my hands with worry, wondering how I could make the pieces fit together somehow. And then..."Peace, be still."

Be still? But God, I have bills to pay. If I don't pay them, I lose my place to live, my phone, my car...everything. Don't You understand that?. I have this job that doesn't even come close to giving me enough money to pay my bills, and I am desperately in need of a different job and... And You tell me to be still????

Yes, be still and KNOW THAT I AM GOD.

I think there are seasons where God calls us to action. I think there are other seasons where God calls us to just sit at His feet, be still, and let Him work. Acknowledge that He doesn't need our help to accomplish anything, because He owns everything. Acknowledge that our own efforts are so small in comparison with what He has planned for us, and sometimes our efforts just get in the way of what He is trying to do.

So, I am learning to be still. It is not easy, because I have been in "survival" mode for so long that I am not sure of any other way to live. But, I know that the challenge God is giving me for this season is to simply step back...completely back...and let Him work. It will take self-control on my part, and the conscious choice to stop hedging my bets by continuously looking for ways that I can make this situation better. There is nothing I can do. It is time to let God be God.

You are a good writer (as the Great Nate has told me), and I like that your posts often end with a good lesson for the reader to share with you.

Congratulations on your engagement, by the way. Since the third grade, I've always known him to be a guy after God's own heart. A good man he is. Hilarious, too. And an unrivaled friend. I hope you will still let him have some "Darren time" once in a while.

Peace be with you.
Hi Darren! So nice to finally "meet" you. :) I have heard many wonderful things about you, and I hope we can meet in "real life" sometime in the future.

I second all the great things you said about Nate...I kinda like the guy, you know. ;)
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