“When God Slows Us Down…The Journey to Stillness”
Wait. Have patience. Stand Still. Be idle. Those are words none of us are especially fond of hearing.
God created man with a desire to build and work and accomplish. So it goes against our very nature to be idle. Sometimes God, in His amazing infinite wisdom chooses to slow us down in ways that only He can. As is always the case with the Lord, any decision He makes on our behalf is the correct one, even if we don’t initially see the good in the decision.
So many times in my life I have been rendered idle by the Lord. Never more so than when our daughter, Emma Grace, was born prematurely and in such critical condition. In one afternoon my life changed forever and everything I planned, dreamed of, or hoped for, was forever irrevocably changed.
I had spent my life serving the Lord. Growing up in a doctrinally strong church, graduating from a Christian school, serving on staff at three different churches, being trained by some amazing Christians, I wanted nothing more than to serve the Lord full-time with my life. I had dreams of what that looked like. My dreams were lofty and I was feverishly working to make those dreams come to fruition. God had dreams for me too but His looked quite different from mine and came in a package that I would never have chosen.
The day our daughter was born marked the beginning of a new relationship with the Lord for me; a relationship with dimensions that had never existed before. I had spent decades serving Him, loving Him through my deeds but now I had the chance to get to know Him intimately in ways I would never have slowed down enough to do so on my own.
It’s not easy to accept when God chooses to slow us down. We feel totally out of control and helpless. It’s difficult to trust, when He does this, that we really will “come forth as gold.”
There is a grieving process we each must take when a trial enters our life. There is grief for the loss of physical health, a dream, a void that has been left in our heart, or just the loss of what we so foolishly see as control. The process is painful and no one chooses the path of grief. But should we find ourselves on the path, the only hope is to move through the process and not get stuck in any stage such as denial, anger, bitterness, etc. For if we move through the stages, we come to the end and find ourselves healed and whole. If we get stuck, we live a miserable life blaming God and wondering what happened to our plans and dreams.
Perspective is such an incredible thing. How we view our valley determines how high the mountain is to climb. I’ve learned a few things from my times of “waiting” with the Lord. Times when I would much rather have been busy in service. As a teacher, mentor, writer, and speaker, these have been tough lessons to accept and learn.
I’ve learned there are opportunities in every period of stillness to:
- Realize that leadership is not so much about we the leaders as it is about the One we’ve been pointing the followers towards.
- Sit on the sidelines and watch other people step up in ways they would not have if we were in the trenches with them.
- See God’s hand in providing for our needs when we are rendered helpless.
- Realize how loved we are when people reach out during our time of need.
- Reflect on the goodness of God in giving us grace to endure our period of stillness.
- Be filled with gratitude that our load is not as heavy as others around us.
- Reassess our responsibilities and priorities. Gain balance again.
- Accept that others may not fully comprehend the complexity of our situation and misjudge our stillness for lack of desire.
- Lean on the strength of others and be a pupil instead of a teacher for this season. Feed our own soul.
- Lead from this new place. Allow people to see us frail, in need, transparent and real.
- Have our spirit renewed and restored with a fresh anointing and a bigger dream.
Someone once said they envied me a valley that I was walking through because in the valley is where we feel closest to God. I was somewhat taken back and confused by their statement at first. But it wasn’t long before I began to realize the truth and wisdom in their words. I love mountains. I was born and raised in the mountains. And just like the beauty of grandeur of physical mountains, spiritual mountains are magnificent. The quest to the top is exhilarating, the views are amazing, and there is a triumphant feeling in knowing we worked and accomplished something the Lord put before us.
But in the valley…slowed down and with little else to see, God shows up and reminds us that He is all we need. And that the real quest of our Christian life is about spending time with Him and not spending so much of our time for Him. Balance in incredibly hard to maintain and often the Lord has to help us keep the balance. His timing and ways are perfect. I’m grateful He watches out for me and protects me even from myself and my own dreams.
From my heart,