One of the questions I love to ask friends when I am catching up with them is, “What is God teaching you these days?” Sometimes it’s met with an answer that shifts the conversation in another direction but often the person whom I am asking opens up, giving me deeper insight into what is actually going on with them. There is a certain level of vulnerability that goes along with this question because sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes it exposes their failure, their pain, their disappointment, their struggle.
It exposes their weakness.
We don’t like to be weak, we prefer to be strong. We don’t like to be needy, we prefer self-sufficiency. We don’t like to be exposed, we prefer the facade that everything is fine.
But our weakness, our neediness, our exposure can usher us into deeper dependency on our Father. And that’s right where we need to be.
So what is God teaching you these days?
I will go first.
Recently, our family has been in limbo about a few things. None of them are bad, none of them are earth shattering but they are still matters that aren’t settled. Big question marks hanging in the air around us. It has left me with a shaky feeling, a sense of soul unrest. We have been here before. We have had seasons where the path ahead is foggy. Seasons where decisions need to be made even in the uncertainty. I should know what to do to ease my soul unrest, right?
I spent several hours awake the other night, mulling things over in my mind, spinning a wheel that just kept spinning, getting nowhere. I woke up groggy and again, my thoughts immediately turned to all of the things hanging. The questions I had. The fears I felt. The future decisions that would be impacted by how things turned out. I couldn’t stop the spin. My mind was everywhere, my focus gone, my energy zapped from playing out the never-ending scenarios in my mind.
In the last few years, when the unknown lingers, I have turned to journaling. There is something therapeutic about writing. But when you mix writing with your prayers, something mysterious happens. It’s almost like it is a magical combination, although there is nothing magical about it, it is supernatural. I know that God knows our hearts and knows what we are thinking and knows what we are going to say before we ever actually speak it, but when we are brave enough to write our fears down on paper, or confess our sin in ink, or permanently inscribe, “Help me, Lord” in our journal, the weakness and neediness that is exposed is met with presence. God’s presence.
So I wrote. I wrote my fears. I wrote my sin. I wrote a cry for help. And I was met with His perfect presence. In His presence, God reminded me of who He is. He is rest. He reminded me of his word and how it says that He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul. He is rest.
God also made it clear to me that I was only focused on the unknown and He helped me shift my eyes to the known – Him. He is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer. He is my rock in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold. The world around me may crumble but He will not. Our family may remain in limbo but He is solid. The unknown may linger, but He knows all.
One thing I love about God is that He’s always teaching me something. He is always teaching you something. The question for all us is – are we in a posture of being a learner?
So what is God teaching me? He is teaching me again and again, because apparently I have not fully learned this yet, to shift my gaze from my trouble to Him, my Lord and King. And not only just gaze upon Him for a bit and then move on, but to fix my eyes on Him. When the eyes of our soul remain fixed on Him, we walk in rest, we walk in peace, we walk in hope, we walk in joy.
Oswald Chambers writes, “We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.”
I love looking back at my journals because often the beginning is a cry for help but by the end, with my soul fixed on Him, there is joy and praise in my writing despite the fact that the circumstance has not changed. The only thing that has changed is where my soul’s eyes are fixed.
Where are your soul’s eyes fixed? Get into God’s presence and let Him shift your gaze from the unknown to the Known, from the trouble to the Solution, from the pain to the Healer, from the destruction to the Restorer.
“My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with my soul.” Psalms 108:1.
God, thank you for being our rest.