Friday, April 29, 2016

Little drops of water.....

About six months after my first husband died I decided that it was time to figure out what to do next. The kids and I had left Fiji where they had lived their whole lives and moved to the USA to be near family.  We'd settled into our own house but we hadn't really found our feet there yet. And after 13 years somewhere else, even I was in intense culture shock. Enough time had passed, however, that I felt like I needed a plan forward.  I know, sounds a bit rushed now, but it had been a long six months!

I thought and prayed and thought some more, but had no idea what to do long-term after the abrupt turn around in life events. I had opportunities to go back and keep doing mission work myself in Fiji, but had no idea how I'd be able to juggle that with looking after four hurting kids by myself.  Not that I was doing that terribly well at that point anyway. 

I had no workable ideas and although we had been absolutely totally and miraculously looked after until then, I felt like on that particular point that God was being unnecessarily silent.  I guess I forgot the miracle of what already was and I worked even harder at nagging God for an immediate answer. Kind of like Jacob wrestling all night with the man who turned out to be God. (Gen. 22:22-32) Even though I knew the provision that was there in God's hand, somehow my internal theology was that I was required to 'be strong' and storm the gates of Heaven for a reply.  Now I see that my answer from God at that point was, "Wait," but I pushed myself to the point of a nervous breakdown before I realized that I literally couldn't struggle anymore.  And I found the mercy in letting go and letting God be in charge even if it left me in the dark.

It's often at the times when we're wrestled out and we realize that we can't go on that we find God Himself in the midst of it---and that's really all the answer we need. And I needed to do some rethinking about what I believed it meant to 'seek' God.

Some of my favorites in the Bible about seeking God are these:

"Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him." ~I Chron. 16:11

"The one thing I ask of the Lord--the thing I most seek--is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord's perfections and meditating in his Temple."  ~Ps.27: 4

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  ~Jer. 29:13

These verses speak of being wholehearted for God, of using the very best of our time and energy to seek His face.  And I'd always taken them to be verses of strong action.

But what about when you're in a place where you've got nothing more to give? When you can barely lift your head--let alone find forward momentum?

Sometimes all we can manage is to cry out to God that we need him, and that's enough. Often 'seeking' is simply the act of asking for His help, for Him to sort out our tangled minds and help us regain our focus and then moving steadily and intentionally in that improved direction. Because no matter how depleted we feel our focus is still actively on something.....

We are seldom actually passive, we are creatures of motion.  That 'something' that has our focus may be worry, frustration, anger, disappointment, or despondency.  It may be infatuated distraction with something we want. We may feel like there's a dull buzz in our head clouding our thoughts, but something's always going on in our head and heart

I can spend hours looking at jewelry online.  I know, bizarre right? It's not that I want it all, I just like looking at it.  To me it's creativity and art, and since I have a jewelry business I actually do need to look sometimes. But passively spending too much time trolling jewelry sites isn't good for me.  Even through it's 'fun' it can eat up my time and energy and wind up being something that depletes me, partly because of the time it steals from more proactive activity.

I heard an analogy recently (and I can't for the life of me remember where or I'd give them credit!) of our lives as a stream of water.  Streams are made up are a lot of  drops of water. Things we encounter, and experience are the drops of water and some of them are unavoidable. But what we focus on are also drops of water and it's up to us to decide what of those drops we're going to allow in our 'stream.' Are the drops things that feed us or deplete us?  Things that are part of seeking God or mindless (or not so mindless) entertainment? Things that build us up or things that pull us in the wrong direction even if we think they're not influencing us? Discovering lies that we don't even know that we believe through dialog with a wise person or even with a journal and actively replacing them with truth can provide a veritable current of pure water into our streams. And, of course, spending time with the Well-that-never-runs-dry and filling up on the life giving Words that He's given us are invaluable.

I said in my last blog that we're having ongoing health issues with one of our children and I've found myself on edge and spiritually depleted. When I heard this analogy of a stream I was in a cycle of knowing I needed strength from my Father, but since I was tired I was lazily allowing myself too much time in mindless distraction that wasn't actually helping. I wasn't 'feeling' much when I read my Bible or tried to spend time with God, so I was treating it like a chore.  The thought of drops of water feeding my stream, however, inspired me to see things differently.  OK, I may not walk away from time in the Word today feeling like everything's better, but I've fed my stream a few drops of good, clear water and that's got to help.

And it has! My situation hasn't changed and this will probably be a lesson that I need to put on repeat, but my heart has woken up again to His Presence. It reminds me of Jesus' words:

"Anyone [any seeker] who is thirsty may come to me!  Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare 'Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.' "
(John 8:37-38)

Yes, Lord, we're thirsty!

Our streams can be fed by His river of living water straight from the Heart of God.  All we need to do is save the best of our 'seeking' to find more of Him.

"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else."
 (Matt. 6:33)

All else. It's worth avoiding the drops that deplete our stream. There's freedom and peace in this life even if that doesn't seem possible in our present circumstances. Remember these words that are a promise straight from the mouth of Jesus:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." 
(John 4:27)

And that's a promise you can take straight to the bank.

Photo: Heidi Cook


Karen Miller said...

Brilliant. Right along with what He is, again, trying to teach me.

Jennifer Heath said...

I love reading your blogs, Heather. You are an inspiration and an awesome teacher. Thank you for your heartfelt message, I know it will touch hearts.I am sharing your blog with my ladies bible study group. Would love to see you sometime! You're doing a great job with Holding Hope!