I just got home from church and am starving. Need to find something to eat. I was asked to share in church this morning about how I wanted to experience God's presence this holiday season. Here is what I shared:
This past year has been an incredibly difficult and painful year. I have experienced extreme fear, hurt, anger, frustration, disappointment, disillusionment, confusion, and a constant struggle to keep my head above water. All this has been wrapped with layers and layers of grief beyond anything I have ever known. I have had to make some of the most difficult decisions of my life. And, in the midst of extreme pain, I have chosen not to run away but to sit in it and allow God and others to minister to me. God has proven Himself faithful and allowed me to experience His presence in ways I could have never imagined. He has cared for, provided, protected, and loved me in very tangible and unexpected ways, often using many, many of you. I have been tremendously blessed and overwhelmed with His love as well as yours. I know I have not been alone. He has carried me.
When I was asked to share today about how I desire to experience God’s presence this holiday season, I thought, “Wow, I could talk the entire service about how God has been so present with me this year so how can He be even more present?”
Just as God said to David in Psalm 2, “Ask of Me”, God has also been speaking these words to me. I am learning to ask God what he wants me to ask!
As I asked Him how He would want me to experience His presence in a new way during this season of celebration, he brought to mind Psalm 46:10. “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations- I will be exalted in the earth.” My sitting still and meditating in prayer and reading God’s word in the early mornings have been crucial. But I don’t want that time to be the only time I really sense His presence. I want to experience Him all day long as I go about my day. This is impossible for me to do on my own. I have begun asking God each morning to open my eyes and let me see Him in unlikely places during my day, no matter what the circumstance. I want to learn to still my heart, to withdraw and be quiet, in the midst of the craziness of the day. I am realizing that my “be still and know” sometimes looks like this:
1.) Going for a walk or hike and exclaiming to God my excitement over his creation.
2.) Sitting with a cup of Chai chatting away to God before the sun comes up.
3.) Driving down the road and gasping as I see the full moon or beautiful sunset and bring it to the attention of anyone in the car with me.
4.) Staring at my sleeping children in complete awe and gratitude.
5.) Choosing to look head on at my issues that have bound me, no matter how painful.
6.) Choosing to be vulnerable to others with all of me and submit to them trusting them to speak truth to me.
7) Noticing the kindness of a stranger or extending kindness .
8.) Giving and receiving with a loving heart.
9.) Choosing to stay in community paying close attention to those around me as I watch them be Jesus with skin on.
10.) Choosing gratitude gives me a heart of joy.
All of these things that are part of my day to day life, are things that draw me to Him. All of these things make me aware of Him being active in and all around me.
It is my prayer this holiday season, that God continue shining his light into the dark places of my heart so that I can more fully know His presence in the hardest and most painful things. I want Jesus to teach me to see with His eyes, to be the observer of my heavenly Father all around me and in me. It is in my place of waiting and stillness of heart that I experience the peace of His powerful presence. And in my willingness to be still and know Him, He is exalted.