I have a confession to make: lately I haven't been trusting God and cultivating rest in my own thought life. I spend so much time strategizing, thinking, and being concerned about the future that I'm missing out on a beautiful "gift" that's been given to me in the "present". This preoccupation about "what's next" has been blinding my vision to see and appreciate all the incredible blessings God has given me right now, right here. This week as I was sitting outside journaling in the stunningly beautiful scenery in my own backyard (literally), I became suddenly aware of what one of my mentors calls a "Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious" (or “BGO”).
To give some context, I am currently in a transitional season of having recently graduated 3 years of bible college in preparation to step into my God-given assignment and life purpose. There have been several different opportunities presented to me, and possibilities I am praying about and believing for. With this comes a number of different directions I could go and decisions to make. In the meantime, I don't have a typical 9 to 5 "job" and have been feeling the need to make money beyond the modest passive income I’ve been trying to live on lately (especially with some recent cashflow issues with my investment property).
As an analytical and planning-oriented person (a.k.a. control freak) by nature, I want to have everything figured out. I crave certainty and predictability in my finances, my daily activities, and life in general. Given the lack of certainty in my life right now, I've become anxious and unsettled about how to best use my time and energy. The absence of any externally imposed structure for my schedule and activities has me constantly feeling the need to justify my existence. It’s an everyday battle for me against some level of guilt and condemnation, feeling like I need to just get a regular job and “do something”.
The irony of all this is that I'm actually negatively impacting the future I supposedly value so highly by not being "present to the present". However, I'm recently becoming more aware that as I keep my focus on the present, this will actually cause me to be effortlessly led into the future I desire. Last week on a silent retreat I read a very insightful devotional by Richard Rohr entitled "Practicing Presence". There was one particular statement he made that really stuck with me: "All spiritual teaching–this is not an oversimplification–is about how to be present to the moment".
At first, that did indeed seem like an oversimplification to me. But as I reflected on that statement I thought about all the different religions that teach and practice this. Whatever cultural tradition or area of the world it comes from; whether you call it prayer, meditation, zen, or mindfulness there is definitely a central theme of entering into peace by freeing yourself from distraction and practicing "presence". I believe gratitude is a closely related universal spiritual practice that is closely linked to being present.
As I took some time this week in stillness and silence to be present to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit (for which I find journaling to be an excellent tool), I was reminded of just how much Jesus talks about this. In Matthew 6:34, He says not to worry about all the practical needs that consume so much of my waking thoughts; that tomorrow will worry about itself (that's an interesting thought on its own, isn't it? Tomorrow worrying about itself?). He lovingly reminds me that I am anxious and troubled about all these details but that few things are needed, "or indeed only one", and that it won't be taken from me (Luke 10: 41-42).
In the midst of all this uncertainty, the "one thing" I know for sure right now that God is telling me to do is to focus on demonstrating and communicating His amazing goodness through A Better Way. In order to do that, what is "needed" first and foremost is for me to continuously renew my own mind and heart to the living reality of His Kingdom within me. This happens by practicing the discipline of rest, which allows me to hear His life-giving word spoken into my spirit. As I hear Him speak to my heart, I am inspired and supernaturally empowered to demonstrate and practice His better way in my own life and business. Communicating about this to others is then simply the effortless and joyful overflow from my heart, as I can't help but speak and write about what I'm experiencing.
As the Lord was speaking to me about this during my journaling, that was when I had the “BGO” in my backyard: all of a sudden, it was like God almost yelled on the inside of me. “Open your eyes; just look where you are!” Here I was, worrying and striving about my future when at that very moment I was in a stunningly beautiful place in the mountains of Colorado that many people pay thousands of dollars to visit, and use precious vacation time from their jobs to get the time off to do so.
I’m soaking up the rays on a beautiful sunny day without a cloud in the sky as I’m journaling at 1pm on a Monday. And I’m not just taking a day off, or a week-long vacation to visit the mountains. This is my life! One of my friends recently told me: "you live in vacation mode". At first I just thought, "yeah, I know it probably seems like that to you, but not really..." But it's true! I live here, and my full-time job is to just rest and receive life-giving words from God and then share them with others. Are you kidding me?? What a sweet gig!
Even though my income may only be a fraction of what it used to be when I was working a full-time job in the Navy, I still lack for nothing when I think about it. More importantly, I now have so much more freedom and a better overall quality of life than I ever have before. So I must be insane to be stressing and worrying about some hypothetical future when I am right now in my Promised Land, with much more to come!
Opening my eyes by being present to the moment was the key to unlock a new perspective and acknowledge the abundant blessings I’m experiencing right now. This resulted in a profound sense of gratitude and contentment as well as a deep peace that I’m right where God has placed me, leading to a confident expectation of more good to come into my life. In Philemon 1:6, the Apostle Paul says “that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgement of every good thing that is us in Christ Jesus.” It’s so important to take the time to acknowledge every good thing Jesus has given us, no matter what our current situation may look or feel like.
Like Elijah I sometimes feel like I’m having to be fed by ravens for my daily bread, not knowing exactly how or when that will happen (1 Kings 17:4). But as I give up my fleshly desire for control I can rest assured that God is–and will continue–providing abundantly for all my needs, because I am in my place called “there”. I know that as long as I don’t dig up (by unbelief) the seeds in my heart of the words God has spoken to me, those seeds are continuously working on my behalf to produce a greater harvest. I know I can and will bloom where He’s planted me.
Elisha the prophet and his servant appeared to be in a really bad place, with destruction from their enemies appearing imminent. Elisha’s servant became fearful and anxious, but Elisha could see something in that moment which his servant could not. Elisha prayed for God to open his servant’s eyes to see the reality of God’s heavenly presence all around them; right there, right then (2 Kings 6:17).
The best and safest place you can be is right where God has placed you. No matter what it may sometimes look or feel like to your five senses or your human thinking, don’t leave the security and provision of the place where God’s grace (unmerited favor and divine empowerment) is greasing the hinges to open doors of opportunity for your victory and success. Sometimes we just need to hear God’s voice on the inside of our hearts: “Open your eyes!” This will bring us His perspective, which always brings peace and hope.
Personal Application: Where do you need a change of perspective in your life? What blessing(s) have you been blind to which you can now acknowledge and be grateful for, right here and right now? Ask God to open your eyes so that you can see with renewed vision and hope. Once you do, share that with others so they can be inspired to do the same. I’d love to hear about this from you, so please share with me your comments and testimonies!
This blog post is about a topic that is different from what I usually…
No matter how many times I have this thought, it continually amazes…
As I shared in last week’s blog post, the Divine Mandate for my life…
I recently had a conversation with someone very close to me, who is…
When things are difficult (such as this current time with the…