I chucked out what I originally wrote on abiding this month. It didn’t have the honesty I wanted to put in the piece. Something kept blocking my words.
Last week I went to visit a dear friend. On my last afternoon in town, we sat and talked for a couple of hours about all types of things. Soul-deep things. The things impossible to convey over the phone, text or Facebook. Our rich conversation and the sharing of souls unlocked my thoughts on abiding. It put into words what I simply couldn’t write a few weeks earlier.
Sometimes abiding means I simply show up in the middle of a crisis.
I used to experience many emotional mountain top moments with Christ. I worked hard for God all the time. In fact, for much of my career God has been my job as I worked in churches and ministries.
The mountain tops descended into desert valleys where the absence of feelings left me wondering. What, where, why …
At first the lack of emotions terrified me. Had God left me? Was I not doing enough? Did God expect more from me? I tried harder and harder and became more and more frustrated. Then one night I had a dream. I was at the beach and went swimming far from shore when the water started swirling about me in a circular motion like a large tub draining its water. My body caught up in the vortex, and I fought as hard as I could against it. I swam with all my might trying to get back to the peaceful waters where I knew I was safe.
It didn’t work. I heard a voice whispering, “Be still.” But the chaos of the swirling held me in a fear grip. I couldn’t be still. I’d drown. I heard the words again, gulping in salt water and my tears, I stopped. I loosened my body and relaxed, instead of going beneath the waves, my body bobbed along on my back. I remember helplessness as the waves crashed around me.
Then I woke up.
Life is the same swirling vortex. Often, my stress and fear lie in “What if I fail?” Friendships, relationships, career, faith … life. Instead of having so many answers, I seem to have more questions. Everything that once was starkly black and white, feels melded into gray.
Abiding isn’t the absence of questioning. Going more deeply with God doesn’t mean fewer moments of doubt or fear. Abiding doesn’t call me to passivity. But sometimes abiding means going on my back, trusting I’ll be upheld. To stop fighting the waves. To stop trying so hard to be.
Life has been a lot of slogging through recently. And while the desert season seems to stretch out unremittingly, even the desert blooms.
I stopped trying to read through the Bible in a year or praying a certain amount of time each day. Instead I take refuge in the prayers from the Book of Common Prayer. Each night praying this Canticle of Simon for myself and those I love:
Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace.
Within these words lie all I want my life to encompass.
And when life throws its worst, my truest, deepest prayers are one word spoken in crisis, the name of Jesus. He is the first place I go to abide. It provides comfort to know where my heart seeks help first.
Christ abides in me and I in Him.I'm learning to speak this one word in the middle of my crisis mode ... Jesus.Click To Tweet
Share it on Pinterest …