WHEN GOD’S PRESENCE IS ENOUGH

Some of my most treasured moments with God have been in the simplicity of peaceful silence with him. Sitting on my patio breathing in the fresh air, taking in his sweet presence, or laying in my hammock tied between the trees. I whisper words to him in my spirit and take a breath in awe of the fact that he loves me so much to give me the freedom to peacefully rest with him without working for something in that moment. Nothing more, nothing less.

If I’m completely honest, however, when I first found myself enjoying the presence of God above anything else in such an organic way, a confusing thought would sometimes creep into my mind.

I wondered if by “doing nothing” (from an earthly perspective) I wasn’t being as spiritually “productive” as I should be. I wondered if by embracing this priceless moment of allowing him to just love on me, and me love him back, I was somehow wasting time that was supposed to be spent on “greater things”.

I felt somewhat selfish because I thought that maybe by just sitting there, I was missing out on opportunities to produce fruit for God’s kingdom…. I mean, aren’t there people out there who are dying, countries that are in serious threat, and what about the brokenness in hearts of so many people? What am I doing sitting here enjoying this as much as I am, while others are suffering and I could be interceding for them?!

Through these questions, I realized something I don’t think I ever truly understood in earlier seasons of life: He desires that we deeply fall in love with his companionship. This comes before what we need to accomplish.

He desires that, in both the high and low seasons, we discover what is feels like when HIS PRESENCE IS ENOUGH.

He wants us to experience the healing that emerges in his presence. This intimacy is the very substance that fills us and equips us to accomplish what he’s called us to do. He wants us to hear his voice louder and know that we too are enough.  

((The closer we are to God, the more we are like our true selves, and less like the self that developed out of unresolved pain. The closer companionship we share with our father who made our hearts, the more in touch and know where we are of our hearts and who we truly are. We begin to see ourselves less and less through the lens of problems, other people, bad experiences, and everything that tainted the heart that God so perfectly fashioned. The closer to the one who created us, the more we embrace our personal creation. When we are disconnected from God, it is impossible to know who we really are. No one else out there knows a single thing about our heart or the way it was designed since the day we were born.

The closer we are to God, the more we are like our true selves, and less like the self that developed out of unresolved pain. The closer companionship we share with our father who made our hearts, the more in touch and know where we are of our hearts and who we truly are. We begin to see ourselves less and less through the lens of problems, other people, bad experiences, and everything that tainted the heart that God so perfectly fashioned. The closer to the one who created us, the more we embrace our personal creation. When we are disconnected from God, it is impossible to know who we really are. No one else out there knows a single thing about our heart or the way it was designed since the day we were born.))

BEYOND FUNCTIONAL- LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST.

6/23 – A lot of people know that the coping mechanisms we developed to get through pain when we were younger stick around in adulthood. Usually, they don’t exactly stick around for the better.

Growing up, I learned what could “get me through” painful circumstances.To escape. Compartmentalize. Somehow my mind could switch it off the section that hurt as though the pain wasn’t really there. Although lacking fullness and completeness in my spirit, I “functioned” by escaping the pain.

I felt more in control of what hurt when I toughened up, numbed my emotions, stashed away the tears, and forgot anything hurt at all. Once I put a deadbolt on the door to my feelings, I learned to emotionally run away so that I wouldn’t consider picking up the key to that lock. I ran away through activities, relationships, overstretching myself with commitments, constant busyness.

By forcing myself to shut down certain parts of my heart, I continued to function in the midst of circumstances that would have naturally led me to some much deeper, darker places. On the flip side, acting like my pain wasn’t there required me to ignore some very important parts of my heart that were needed in order to flourish to my fullest potential. I continued to practice this method of coping well into my adult life without even realizing I was doing it. When things felt to painful to handle, or when my heart was breaking, my heart turned to what it knew best in order to function throughout my adult life.

(( Can only hurt us when unnecessary as adults. But, I didn’t think about how the reason God allow those coping mechanisms to develop is so that we could continue to function. So then, overtime, I used the method I knew best. To escape. Compartmentalize. ))

Now I am determined to feel and not run away. No wonder my functioning become so stunted! No wonder I struggled so much with the daily life, working productively, hitting personal deadlines for errands, remembering basic things, getting up in the morning. My usual “method” of functioning (escapism) is no longer here. My heart and mind never learned how to do it otherwise, so I am finally going through the process of re-learning how to develop the ability to effectively function in daily activities and ability to honestly recognize both positive and negative emotions. The Holy Spirit is patiently walking me through what it looks like to constantly be honest with myself, while I take baby steps towards becoming who I was created to be. It is such a beautifully terrifying experience! The more I see Jesus in my life in an abundance of circumstances, the more I realize that in the pain he can make me stronger, the bolder I become. Hope is taking root inside of me in a mysterious way I haven’t experienced before. Though I might oscillate between fear and peace from one hour to the next on some days, his love is steadily seeping through every crack of my heart. In his love, I’m finding the strength to dream, to take risks, and to trust. I still have so much left in my heart to surrender to him, but he knows my desires and meets me so graciously exactly where I need to be found.

The only way I will truly learn to fully develop both of these areas in my life simultaneously is complete reliance on Jesus. As my spirit becomes more united with his, and my devotion is more true and consistent, my ability to function will naturally fall into place. But this time, it will be done right. This time I will not just be surviving while I function. I won’t just be functional. I will be living my life to the fullest exactly the way my Father intended it to be. No need to run away, no need to replace my sadness with busyness. No need to neglect the pain that desperately needs healing. The pain is very real, but so is the comfort and the embrace.

** Maybe insert something about piece- to get to know yourself, first know your creator. This is what this time does. It allows you to get to know him and therefore to know your own self outside of the “you” that youve known and develop identity. ** Maybe could also lead into writing about the “you” that developed out of unresolved pain and the ways I learned to cope and “function”. You begin to start over on learning how to function the RIGHT way. Doing this without intimacy with God is extremely discouraging and exhausting.

 

Have you ever felt like all you really wanted was recognition from someone that meant the world to you?

How different would it be if we all learned to find complete joy and satisfaction in the time we spend with our Father…If we knew the value of our relationship with him FIRST. How different would it be if we really understood what we mean to him before running to other lovers to complete us.

You see, God’s perfect presence knows exactly how to fill the empty places within us in ways that we aren’t designed to do on our own.

This doesn’t mean we don’t need to participate in daily devotion with him or that we not be diligent in what we know to do as followers of Christ. As disciples, we place a limit on our capacity to live our lives to the fullest or build the faith necessary to walk in our calling unless we wholeheartedly commit to prayer, God’s word, worship, and sharing the love of Jesus with those around us.

While not neglecting the basic principles of good stewardship, it’s so important that we accept the reality that sometimes our Father just wants us to be. He also desires that we just let him be. We may not fully understand it, but the power of God’s presence transcends beyond anything we could ever accomplish on our own time or with our human hands. The reward we receive for this time with him is a stronger relationship with his precious Spirit. As his spirit consumes more of our being, we create a FAR GREATER impact in his kingdom!

Embrace your time with him and allow it to be spent the way the Spirit leads you. Relax and have peace in his presence. Let him first equip you for what is to come by establishing your identity in him.

Be still and know that I am God – Psalm 46:10

REJOICE ALWAYS DOES NOT MEAN BE HAPPY ALWAYS

One of my very favorite verses in the Bible is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. It’s such a beautiful verse.

I think, however, that sometimes Christians read bible verses similar to these and don’t look deeply enough into what it is actually saying.

We often equate the idea of rejoicing always with, “Don’t be sad.” As a result, we create an expectation in the body of Christ that you’re not allowed to feel suffering, that “rejoice” cancels out sadness. A completely unreasonable expectation. What this and so many other bible verses are saying is rejoice IN your suffering. Keep praising and being thankful in everything, including your sadness. We are called to keep rejoicing in the good moments and the bad ones because God is still good in all of them.

Over time, rejoicing helps to bring healing. The more you rejoice and walk in gratitude, the more light shines in your dark situation. It’s true that this is a choice we have to make. There’s a purpose in this verse in 1 Thessalonians, which is to glorify God in everything and therefore bring life to your circumstance. It isn’t demanding that you not be human.

It doesn’t mean you can’t allow your self to feel sadness because the bible says to rejoice. One isn’t supposed to entirely erase the other.

God created us. God created feelings. In the beginning, God didn’t create two robots in the garden.

God created man and woman- in his own image. Does God have feelings? Absolutely! The Old testament is filled with story after story reflecting God’s emotions towards specific individuals, his beloved Israelites, and humanity as a whole. As you read, you see God feeling sad time and time again.

Even better, the whole foundation of what we believe as followers of Christ is that he LOVED us so much he sacrificed his son so that we could be in constant, eternal communion with him.

That’s some serious love.

Isn’t love a feeling? Let alone one of the strongest feelings that can be experienced?

So if we are made in the image of God, and God clearly has an abundance of feelings, we are also created to feel. EVERY feeling. Not just happiness and gratitude. Not just hope and gladness.

You’re not letting God down when you find yourself experiencing sadness. In fact, that moment when you transparently acknowledge the way you feel may be the first time in a while in which you’re giving him the opportunity to fully embrace your heart and pour out a giant wave of healing on the pain that you’ve been denying.

I’m not implying that we allow our sadness to take priority over the hope offered to us through Jesus Christ. I’m talking about fully surrendering our hearts to the comfort of the Father, and without being honest about your pain, there is no complete surrender.

It says in Romans 12:12 to be, “joyful in hope, patient in affliction.” It doesn’t say you’re not allowed to feel the pain. Romans 5:3 tells us to rejoice in our sufferings, then the rest of the verse goes on to explain that statement, “…knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

The more pain I’ve experienced in life, the more I realized that the moments I shut off the pain were missed opportunities to see God’s goodness.

His presence in the hurting, his quickness to send an outpouring of love from all directions, the beautifully creative ways he showed me his heart’s response to my pain, all were things that marked me forever. Without allowing him to step into the places I had no idea how to mend, I would have never known him the way I do today. And let me say, I am so thankful I don’t see him through the same lens I used to.

Only with Christ is it possible for sadness and rejoicing to fully coexist and intentionally work together.

So if you’re sad, be sad. There’s not point in anyone telling me or you to be happy when the obvious thing to feel is sadness.

Yet also rejoice. Rejoice in the weakness that gives our Father a wide open space to be strong on our behalf. Embedded within the pain, we have the freedom to rejoice in knowing we don’t have to carry the weight alone. We rejoice in that we have someone who steps in to fill the empty places. We don’t have to carry around a fake smile so that everyone knows we’re being a good Christian. We don’t have to pretend that our rejoicing cancels out our sorrows.

I rejoice in knowing I’m free to be sad, knowing that the love of Jesus will shine the most brightly in the darkness.