December Beauty

An Idolatry of Violence in the United States

For some years I’ve been watching, out of the corner of my eye, violence increase in the United States – at least the kind that involves a mass shooting. It is as though the violence is seeping out of closed doors and into public spaces and places.

There have been 356 mass shootings this year alone in the U.S. This is a fact. This is not exaggeration. This is the number of shootings of 4 or more people at a time.

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Some of India

A Rhythm to Live By

Looking ahead to three months of intense ministry in Uganda has me thinking about the rhythm and required manner in which I’ll navigate those months. And I realize that the manner is the same one as I am on these three weeks of travel and holiday with my folks – Take each day as it comes. Enter fully into what today is about. Don’t live in yesterday, don’t live in tomorrow. Rather, settle into the here and now, engage it, relish it, be intentional within it; savour it.

There are, after all, many ways to be about life. Some live willy-nilly, some live very calculated. Either one has its pluses and minuses.
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Intimacy with God

It is in the quiet of our hearts where we enter into intimacy with God. When there is noise we cannot hear so well.

Our hearts ‘noise’ comes in the form of lies, fears, and judgments.

Lies get in the way of hearing God and of experiencing God because they scream loud. Very loud.

Think about condemning phrases over your life, the self-talk that came from long ago, the beliefs about your worth or the character of God that stand in the way of intimacy.

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Learning to Rest

A couple of years ago, the summer of 2011, the Lord began pressing upon me the conviction to rest.

“Rest Cyndy”

At the time this only made me angry and frustrated. I didn’t understand how to rest. Work needed attending to, I had bills to pay, an organization to grow, and children to care for. How was I to rest?

It’s been a process learning to rest, to say the least.

These last two years have been some of the most testing years. And I’ve learned a few things.

First off, resting is not about passivity. In fact, resting is one of the most intentional and difficult things we can learn.

I learned that resting is not about being negligent to the work at hand, but rather a manner of being from deep in my being. Rest is the way we go about our work.

It is easy to think that if we did not have the pressures of life, that rest would be easy. But how many people take vacations only to come home and find themselves right back into the same old pressures.

We think it is the pressures keeping us from rest, but I learned this is not so.

For me, the Lord’s conviction to rest same when it seemed impossible to do so. And it has only been once I learned to rest that life’s circumstances then became restful.

Resting is trusting the Lord’s provision, allowing the leading of the Holy Spirit in each day’s tasks and options. It is about ceasing to do what the Lord would in fact like to do for me.

Too much of the time we are taking over the Lord’s work in our lives. In fact, early into these admonitions to rest, and in the resultant emotional frustration that bubbled up from myself, I came to clearly see that I had been believing that God was negligent and incompetent, and that I was striving to make up for him.

That was a knife in my gut. But oh how good to see. For in my confession before the Lord about how I had believed him incompetent, I could finally put down my striving and the lies that drove me.

I began letting God be God and I settling into a state of rest in his provision and direction and guiding.

In prayer ministry, whenever it seems we are going round in circles I will stop and we pause, praying, “Lord, we take a moment to pause before you. Inviting and trusting your leading and guiding. Your words, your insight, your wisdom is all we need and we simply wait on you.”

And I’ve learned to do this in life. When the pressures are greatest, that is when we stop and pause before the Lord. We reaffirm our invitation for the full presence of God in the mix of our lives. We pause to worship and to declare our allegiance once more. And most of all, we stop to simply sit in the presence of God.

When life is pressing hard, this is when we pause the most, in reverence, in quiet, in waiting, in worship.

It is a counterintuitive way of doing life. For many of us, we press harder when life is pressing on us.

In this learning of rest I’ve now been brought to a beautiful home on a quiet island. With beauty all around, with deep silence, and days that stretch on and on, I can sense the Lord’s good care of me.

These last two years of learning to rest in the pressures readied me to actually receive the gifts of this place. I wouldn’t have been ready earlier and the gift would have been lost on me.

Resting is hard. No doubt about it.

It doesn’t come to relieve us of pressure, ti is something we must find in the pressure.

It doesn’t develop to save us from trouble, it is something we must acquire in the trouble.

For rest is not something from the outside in, it comes from our insides out.

It is not an easy lesson by any means. It takes time and intention and great inner struggle and reckoning.

It takes letting down our judgments and paradigms about how this world works. It takes releasing our anger and the injustices we perceive against us.

It takes cleansing the past of our learned driven behaviour. It takes great trust and releasing of our future.

I’m not all the way there and each day brings new opportunity to rest, but God is a great teacher and leader and I am glad to receive his rest over my life.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29

This Moment

Just relax. It may feel a whirlwind of change, but it’s all in good hand. God’s hands.

The places you are going, he’s gone before you.

The losses you are facing, he’s carried them.

The unknown, is really known.

Remember, sit in the moment. This very moment. Give gratitude for now. Feel what you are feeling, and simply surrender it to the foot of the cross.

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