I don’t sleep in. Hear me when I say this. I don’t like wasting hours of sunlight. But how fitting is it that at the last house church of the summer, my boss gave a talk on rest, and today I managed to wake up at 11AM, and that was only because of an alarm I thought I wouldn’t need but set just for kicks and giggles? I think my body was saying, “Hey! Slow down. Take a Vitamin C. Make yourself some breakfast, and sip your coffee slowly.” SO with that, here we are. I’ve managed to crawl out of bed, turn on the coffee, and let my fingers find the keys because I woke up with billions of thoughts running through my mind. This past week. Man. It’s been a wild one, but we also live with a wild God, so this just goes to show.
I think my loudest prayer to God in the last couple weeks has been, “Prepare my heart for whatever is coming next, and I will follow You in that,” (and that’s a fantastic prayer, don’t get me wrong) but I think the quietest prayer I’ve prayed has been, “God, help,” when it should’ve been the loudest. These past couple weeks, I’ve learned what it means to be authentic with people without giving all of yourself to someone, and I think that lesson holds a lot of weight. I learned that I overshare not because I have so many brilliant things to say, but that by telling you every detail in a story or every detail of my day, I’m able to hold onto how I really feel about the darkest parts of me and I get to keep those for myself. But I also do that to God. I thank Him incessantly (which, again, is still a very good thing), but I don’t know how to come to Him and tell Him about what’s happened that hurts or what I don’t like or how frustrating it is to be so vulnerable with people and have it cave in so quickly (even though He already knows all of these things, the relationship deepens when communication happens on my end). So I keep holding on to the deepest parts of me and store them up and keep telling you everything about how I picked out this one journal from a cute bookstore because surely I can distract you with my words. But 1. The deeper parts of us have been set in a safe space with God (a super wise person told me those words, and I’ve been letting myself sit in that for a while), and 2. We don’t get to distract God like this. Or maybe if I say enough words, it’ll click for us and you’ll know me. That’s a huge desire woven into the core of who I am, and I think of who you are too: we want to be known.
If you’re like me, you’re sitting there imagining your safe space with God (and if you’re not like me, just pretend and keep on following). Mine has fresh coffee and a big, comfy couch I get to sink into at the end of the day so I can effectively pour my heart out to God. Every word I get to speak to Him is like writing with a fine point pen on a nice, new sheet of a clean journal, because that’s the best feeling and it’s a feeling of newness. He creates a space of peace and comfort for us in Him, and He surrounds us with songs of deliverance. He knows us in ways that we don’t know ourselves and that is a gift, friends.
I have been continually reminded that I cannot do things on my own strength, and I think this is the first time that’s ever hit me this hard. We require God’s strength for everything we do. We cannot create our own peace or love, but we must operate out of the Lord’s strength to see those things fully. Thank You that I am hidden in You. Whenever the days are difficult and the world is pressing in on all sides, I will dwell in the shelter of Your sweetness. In the midst of this internship with LifeCast (read more about my experience as a student at LifeCast here), I read a devotion on Identity in Christ written by one of my beautiful friends. “This position of sitting with the pigs, hungry and covered in dirt; hiding in the bushes, shaking in the fear, this is how well we can meet our needs apart from Christ and this is who we were apart from Christ. We were slaves to coping mechanisms for the lack, hurt, and shame we felt, whether it be an eating disorder, pornography addiction, perfectionism, unhealthy relationships, etc.”
Slaves to coping mechanisms. That is so accurate. Something that ties into this that we talked about at house church last night was this idea of the Sabbath and how free people get a break, so when we take that rest, we are glorifying God because He has freed us. Slaves don’t get a day off, so that’s exactly what we exemplify when we decide to power through all 7 days, 24 hours, week after week. We don’t need to live a life that’s constantly about pain management and coping mechanisms when the price has been paid for us and we get to walk in that reassurance of freedom.
When the night is holding onto me, God is holding on.
Because I can know and feel so intensely that God is doing a good thing, I have heard the lies louder than anything else. You are unqualified. You are unworthy. You are not beautiful. Why would your words matter? Why would God use you? And that’s when it’s happening. I’ve heard it described as Day 39, when you know you feel the pain and the weight so intensely, but tomorrow could be Day 40, the day when God shows up in an undeniable way. So when the night is holding onto me, I know that God is holding on with more strength and fervor and without ceasing. I want to be able to fully trust Him in all the parts of my life. I want to create a space for Him for the rest of the days of my life. I don’t want to live out of my own expectations of create my own provisions because that is exhausting. It’s like you’re in a tug-o-war match with God and you know He’s always going to win, but that’s the most beautiful submission, to set down the rope and run into His arms.
I want to be so overwhelmed by the glory of God that nothing else can seem to outweigh the thoughts of Him and overwhelm me. I’ve been reading a book called A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman, and it’s a book about living your life in the art you were created for, and the friend who lent it to me knew that it would have an impact on the way I navigated my days (so I thank her a ton for that). And I know what you’re thinking: Jenna, I am not an artistic person. THAT’S OKAY!! Because what I’m talking about has to do with the way you wake up and walk through your days, and we all do that. One of the things she says is, “He comes into us, then out of us, in a million little ways.” She talks about how no matter our profession or the classes we’re taking or the people we’re around or the chores we’re doing, we get to do them all for the glory of God. If that doesn’t make you slow down and think about all the things you do in a day, I’m not sure what will. It’s made me acknowledge and appreciate every detail in day that God sets into motion. How beautiful is that? That we have a God who designs our days and in turn, we get to glorify Him with all that we do! I love that reminder as we approach a new school year. I get to love the people around me well because God loves me so well that He knows every detail about me and handcrafts my days.
So when you’re walking into this next week and you’re wondering if today will be good or bad, I’m going to choose good and I hope you do too. The moment my feet hit the floor, I remembered my intense hunger and thirst and desire for Jesus, and how He has invited me into this day. What a gift. Ask Him for the joy, ask Him to help you pull the chains off, ask Him into this walk we get to do. Recognize the safe space. And sit with Him. Dance with Him. Eat with Him. Sing to Him. Be with God today. And how beautiful that He gives us community to remind us that we are never alone. We get to be with Him, and we are reassured that we’ll never walk alone. What a promise: that He holds onto us and provides for us and that we will never be alone.