Be still + know

Cars rush by on the rainy street below, my cup of coffee and bowl of homemade applesauce are both steaming on the nightstand beside me, and my mind is racing – it is no where and in a thousand places all at once. There’s a sense of anxiety deep in my gut, a bittersweet feeling gripping my heart and I’m fragile, like my emotions are so close to the surface that any little thing might cause me to lose my cool or start crying. I’ve felt these things before. Why is it that times of transition are always so difficult? I know that I can so easily lose sight of truth and reality and love when I am overwhelmed with what is to come, so this morning I am trying to be still.   Be still.    Be.      Still.

With Be Still by The Fray on repeat (literally) I am trying to allow the truth that God is with me sink down deep into my bones, deep into my heart. Even though I have no idea what is next, even though I might end up back home with no job and little sense of direction, I can be still and know that He is God. He is love, power, and peace. He is here, He is with me, He knows me.

Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields[d] with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 

Be Still – The Fray 

Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still and know that I am here
Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still, be still, and know

When darkness comes for you
and covers you with fear and shame
Be still and know that I’m with you
and I will say your name

If terror falls upon your bed
and sleep no longer comes
Remember all the words I said
Be still, be still and know

When you go through the valley
and shadow comes down from a hill
If morning never comes to be
Be still, be still, be still

If you forget the way to go,
and lose where you came from

If no one is standing beside you
Be still and know I AM
Be still and know that I’m with you
Be still and know I AM

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Here’s to 2016

Another new year. Twelve fresh months untouched by human hand, by change, by my plans, shortcomings, or successes. As we begin this new year I find it harder than ever to look ahead, without first reflecting on the past twelve months. This January in particular, as I look back, it is so easy to say “wow, it was a really hard year”. I carry wounds from the past twelve months and as I was thinking of the year to come, that made it so hard for me to look ahead with an eager and hopeful heart.

While 2015 was the end of a huge chapter of my life (STINT, working for Cru, etc.), it didn’t feel like an end because so many things were staying the same. Well, maybe just because I was just so focused on all that was staying the same. I was so focused on the fact that I was going to still be far away from my family and friends, that I was going to have to continue to miss everyone and live big moments via Facetime, that I was going to have to live life in Spanish, maybe feel inconvenienced, maybe be lonely or afraid, deal with unending paperwork, VISA/residency requirements, and more.

Now, don’t get me wrong, by definition 2015 was a hard year. I had to organize real life in Uruguay, find a job, figure out a VISA, a drivers license, a bank account, and so much more in another country. Top that off with health problems, countless doctors appointments (all in another language) and many unanswered questions there. All of this while being 6000 miles from my mom, best friends, and entire support system. So yes, it was a hard year, but in reflection I have to realize that while I was so busy being blinded by the old, hard stuff, I was failing to see that God is always making things new.  

As I talked with dear friends, and finally rested after a long year, I was struck by my negativity and refreshed by God’s truth. I realized that I was so focused on the old, the stuff that wasn’t changing, the things that weren’t going to go away, that I had failed to remember who my God is. In all of my doubt, He provided a job (where I can speak English and get paid enough to survive Uruguay’s high cost of living!) so quickly and easily. In health problems and fear, He provided a new support system in Fede and his parents. In being far away from home, He provided me with a new family to take care of me, feed me, and comfort me. He provided way beyond what I, with my little tiny faith, ever expected. He took the bad and He used it for good. He is faithful, He provides, He is a giver of good gifts, He never turns His back on His children.

He is in the business of restoration and He makes all things new.

I don’t know why, but anytime I think of the future I am reminded of how my best friend has always loved how the Old Testament talks about “seers”. A seer in the Bible is a prophet, but more specifically, a prophet who saw visions -images, scenes, or dreams- and was given insight into what God wanted them to understand by these visions. They had a unique gift as God vividly communicated with them and through them.

The term “seer” isn’t used in the New Testament and yeah, we may not be seers of this nature today, but I can’t stop thinking about how I want to be a seer in my own way. I want to communicate with Him vividly and seek Him to gain insight into what He wants and who He is. As I look ahead to a new year, I want to see Him! I want to be more aware of His hand in all things. I don’t want to focus on earthly trouble, overwhelmed by anxiety and blinded to His promises. I want to understand more of His character, His goodness, His mercy. I want to be a seer, doer, and feeler of His grace.

So here’s to 2016.

In these next twelve months may we experience His love, live out His mercy, and see His hand in all things.

God meets me in the running

I stretch at the bottom of the steps before springing open our heavy green door and stepping out onto the loud Uruguayan street. I run past the art museum, shouting “buen día” at the man who always sits there, just a few doors down from my apartment. Why haven’t I ever asked his name? I run past the man selling newspapers on the corner and make a hard left turn to start my trek toward the rambla, toward the sea. For this first half mile I am aware of each step, making sure not to step on loose sidewalk tiles or fresh piles of dog doo. I am fully aware of my surroundings, stopping at stoplights, dodging people on every block, breathing in secondhand smoke and car fumes. After about five minutes I reach the bottom of the hill where I cross a few lanes of busy morning traffic, and then my feet land on the rambla. Once I have arrived, I settle into the rhythm of waves crashing against the slow steady hum of traffic; I get lost in my own thoughts. In the wind and the waves and the prayers, God meets me in the running.

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
-Psalm 139:7-10