So... a two-month blog silence! Read on to find out why... (I wrote this post last week on our return journey to Central Asia, but I couldn't post earlier due to Internet issues.) Remember to click the Soundcloud link at the bottom to listen to my NEW song!
|Queenstown & the Remarkables, New Zealand South Island|
As I write this, I am sitting in a place called “Caffé Béne”, in the bustling heart of an Asian metropolis, sipping a barista-brewed latte - my last for a while - absentmindedly staring at the cafe’s weird East-meets-West decor, and thinking about rest.
Right now we’re in a few days of limbo between two months of “Kiwi-leave” in New Zealand and returning to our current “home” on the field in Central Asia. Home-leave offers a welcome break from the pressures and tensions of life overseas, but while returning to a western country is restful in that I can function in my heart language and I don’t have to cook every meal from scratch, the short times back in our passport countries are usually packed with people to see, places to go, and opportunities to share what God has been doing.
This time for us was no different. We’ve rested as we’ve been ministered to in prayer by faithful saints; we’ve rested as we’ve drunk deeply of New Zealand’s natural beauty, and as we’ve enjoyed the delicious, relaxed hospitality of treasured friends. But we’ve been busy, and it’s taken its toll. We’re tired, our kids are tired, and our family is running a bit ragged.
I snuck out this afternoon while the kids are napping to write you a note in this little online space which I’ve devoted to exploring the art of this sojourning life. Most of us are no strangers to feeling fatigued, so I’m especially excited to share with you my word for 2015!
|Lake Pukaki, New Zealand South Island|
Last year, I felt God calling me to listen. If you’re interested, you can read some of the things I learned here… and after 12 months of exploring and experimenting, I am fully aware my lessons in real, true listening have only just begun!
This year, flowing on from listening, I’ve been invited by God to
for a while.
To rest from striving, from filling my life with effort and strain, to rest from the internet rat-race I’ve been unwittingly running.
I’ve been invited to rest from my own agenda, from compulsively planning and preparing. God is inviting me to go with the flow. To surrender. To submit to what each day brings. To submit afresh to my husband. To surrender afresh to my Lord.
To rest in the care of my Good Shepherd, and let this little corner of the web lie quiet for a while, while I listen to His voice.
This year, the word God is giving me for 2015 is rest.
|Milford Sound, New Zealand South Island|
I am so happy about this word. Whew! What a relief!
Towards the end of last year, I noticed myself struggling with the tension between wanting to develop and promote some sort of personal “brand” online and the actual reality of my tiny snippets of free time. The worst part was, no matter how much time I spent tweaking, planning and writing, I never felt like I measured up to all the other amazing blogs and writers I love. Frankly, I fell into the comparison trap, and it isn’t very restful! I’ve also noticed that, instead of providing a satisfying outlet, blogging seems to feed a fever inside of me to reach for more ambitious projects than my stage in life will allow - things like writing a book (or two!) which would require me to sacrifice time my children need with me right now.
I was sharing these tensions with a friend, and her quiet, wise response stopped me in my tracks.
“Maybe you could write your blog on the hearts of your children.”
You know? Maybe I could.
I feel God inviting me to rest in the presence of my children. I’ve been so busy managing them I’ve forgotten how to enjoy them. Over these past couple months, as friends and loved ones reconnected with our family after a 2-year absence, seeing and hearing their comments and watching their joy in my kids jogged me into realizing I need to rediscover their preciousness all over again. I need to tend their souls. I need to observe their needs attentively and bring them to Jesus. I need to rest my soul in prayer for them, carrying them to the heart of their Creator. I need to seek wisdom as I try to do my part in shaping their character and their hearts.
So, as this fresh new year unrolls practically speaking, among other things
I am taking a six-month blog break from January to July.
Instead of writing for this space, I will be journalling about rest - and whatever else the Lord lays on my heart.
I want to explore the beautiful theme of rest running through the Bible.
I long to explore new - and old - rhythms of Sabbath rest, to learn how to rest well with my family… alone… in God’s creation… and in conversation.
I’d love to increase my margins, create more whitespace in my life. Earlier bedtimes, earlier rising times, more pausing, more looking around, more awareness.
This year, I want to feed my soul creatively while feeding my family creatively (the end of last year saw us in a pretty monotonous menu rut!).
I want to enjoy bringing my kids joy, and learning how to help each of them rest in the way he or she needs most.
Every time I think the word “rest” to myself, I feel a delicious sense of ownership and anticipation. Rest. What a wonderful word. I am looking forward to exploring it, doing it, experiencing and living it.
I am anticipating discovering the rest of God.
Do you feel a tug on your soul to join me? If you do, will you pray for me, as I pray for you, that these next six months will be filled with refreshment of the soul and a rest we have never known?
One verse God has laid on my heart for this year is from Exodus 33, during one of the most remarkable conversations in the Bible. It takes place between God and Moses, right after the people of Israel have sinned greatly and God has punished them with plague and the sword. Then, He pronounces the worst punishment of all: He is sending them on ahead, but He is not going with them lest He consume them on the way, for they are a “stiff-necked people”.
(When I see that phrase, I feel the stiffness in my own neck - a trait my two-year-old daughter has certainly inherited!)
Moses begs God to go with them, on the grounds that it’s His presence that sets the children of Israel apart from every other nation. It’s the fact that God travels physically in their midst, leading and guiding them Himself, that marks them out as God’s chosen ones.
Moses reminds God that He has said, “I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.” Then he pleads, “Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.”
And God’s answer takes your breath away:
“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Ex. 33:14)
There’s a lot more to this passage, and I’m planning to dive into it more and more deeply as this year unwinds, but for right now, I’m savoring those beautiful words tucked away in the middle of the conversation: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Rest from our enemies. Rest from the desert. Rest from being alone. Rest from slavery, from wandering, from the monotony of manna. Rest from bickering and quarreling and complaining.
Rest. In the presence of God.
Mmmm. Doesn’t that sound good?
So. I’ll see you in July. In the meantime, I’ll tuck myself away in our little Central Asian village, enjoy my children, love my husband, cook some yummy food, and explore rest.
P.S. I recently wrote a new song around Exodus 33:14, called “Rest”… click here to listen on Soundcloud. May you be refreshed!
What’s your word for 2015? What about it excites you? What about it is challenging? What do you hope God will do in you this year through this word?