I hope you’ll hang on with me as I attempt to share what I am calling “disconnected, connected thoughts” I have swirling in my head today. I pray that I can come up with the words to articulate the ideas and help them perhaps resonate with some of you too. I love learning more about God and I am so humbled and honored when I feel Him giving me just a small glimpse into His bigger picture. I am learning that if I am brave enough to ask the questions and obedient enough to search for the answers, He is always faithful to provide. “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
As I’ve shared in earlier writings, I am in the empty nest phase of life. This means that I am only a few years removed from the season of constant activity and an overflowing calendar that dictated what I would do with most days. In my job, because I work within the parameters of mandatory procedures and deadlines and because a school calendar is divided into grading periods and marked by scheduled holidays, I am often held captive to what is on my calendar each day. In other words, if things don’t make my calendar and/or “to do” list, it’s likely that I won’t get to them or at least won’t intentionally attend to them. Because I have lived my life in such a scheduled way for an extended period of time, I’ve recently discovered that I don’t really know what to do with any time that isn’t scheduled for me. I miss that constant activity and social interaction that comes with “busy”ness. As a result, I find myself wasting a lot of my “free time” with mindless activities such as TV binging or social media scrolling, neither of which accomplish much or help me to feel more fulfilled in my life. Instead, I find I am often feeling empty, lazy and even more lethargic after engaging in those activities. I am having to soul search to discover what it is that would be more fulfilling and meaningful for me.
Time is one thing that we are all given an equal amount of. We can’t buy more time. We can’t save time today to add it to tomorrow. There are natural rhythms that God created to help us with time. For example, he created day and night. Before the invention of electricity, activity was much more restricted by what could occur during the day and what could occur at night. The night was provided for a time to cease the activity of the day and sleep was the natural response to darkness. Yet, we’ve pushed those boundaries and many of us get much less sleep than our bodies are asking for, resulting in poor regulation of emotions and possible health problems among other things. As with many things in life, something that is so good, like electricity, when abused can lead to something bad, like sleep deprivation and ignoring what is naturally intended for us. In addition to light and dark, God created seasons…..a time to sow and a time to reap. I am a person who hates winter….I despise the cold and the dark and the gloominess that winter brings. Yet, without winter, we wouldn’t have spring. It’s necessary for the earth to have a season of “death” in order to spring forth life. I recently heard someone on my favorite podcast refer to the trees in fall. She said, “they don’t fight the surrender of the leaves in fall because they know the release of the old will produce the growth of the new.” What a profound thought. How often am I fighting the fall or dreading the winter? If I never went through winter would I value the new birth of spring?? To take that further and apply it to difficulties in life, if I never went through pain or displeasure, would I recognize joy and happiness?
I have spent so much time in the middle of grief over the last month. Our community has lost very young people far before what we would consider as their time to die and we have lost senior saints who have lived full lives dedicated to the Lord. We have lost fathers in the prime of life and have walked alongside grieving parents and spouses. I have attended far too many funerals, although I know that grief is the cost of love. So even walking through those valleys, I have to be keenly aware that I have been blessed with relationships that matter to me. Regardless, it has definitely been a dark season that leaves me asking big questions of my God who I know is love and is kind. I want to know why? I want to know and understand that there is a plan bigger than what I can see with my human perspective. I want to know that pain has a purpose.
In light of those questions and my recent thoughts on time and seasons, I believe the big take away God wants me to have is this…..live in this moment. I am wondering if that’s what I need to know when I read, “Cease striving and know that I am God.”(Psalm 46:10) I wonder if that is why we’re told, “My Word is a lamp unto thy feet and a light unto thy path” (Psalm 119:105) rather than a beacon from the sky that lights up miles and miles. Will I ever learn to accept the concept of “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today?”(Matthew 6:34). I want to know the plan and see what life has for me years down the road, but the reality is that all I am guaranteed is this moment. And I can trust that God doesn’t waste a single moment. I think, for me, that is what surrender really means. It means to trust that He holds the moment. It means to live in gratitude and expectation of what He has for me each day. It means to not miss this moment because I’m too busy looking ahead to the next event on the calendar. It means being thankful for the winter and the rain so that I can enjoy even more the spring and the sunshine.
In her book, Made for This, Jennie Allen says, “God is accomplishing a thousand tiny purposes at any given moment around us.” I want to get in on that. I want to be a part of HIS bigger purpose and to put my head on the pillow each night knowing that today mattered in some way. For me, that means being intentionally grateful. As we are reminded in Colossians 3:14-15, “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” ALWAYS.
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. 2 A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. 3 A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. 4 A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. 5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. 6 A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. 7 A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. 8 A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.
God set eternity in our hearts, but then made Himself a mystery. We are not supposed to know all there is to know about our lives or about God. The more I know God, the more I realize how much more there is to know ABOUT God, but I can always trust that God is love....and because He loves us so, He holds every moment of our lives in His hands. Make the most of each one.