Getting Our Bearings

I’ve had a lot of similar talks lately with different people and there is a reoccurring theme of these talks that I cannot ignore, nor can I escape. Even this morning, I found that I had to come back to the place again of practicing what I’m preaching and wow, what a difference it’s made already. See, the talks that I’ve had lately are with people who are frustrated, down-cast, running on empty and just confused. Some women are so disheartened as they look toward the future of what is visible right now and they just want to quit. Others are on the brink of burn-out. Many are in a familiarly-frustrating place of waiting. I hear in their stories that they’re in deserts where everything is so dry, and to pick up the Bible takes all the strength in them to lift a page. I’ve heard other stories of how they are just in a thick fog, and they cannot see what’s ahead, nor remotely around them. They’re not even sure they are on the right path and just want to give up. There’s an eerie silence in both the desert wilderness and the fog. Sometimes heat exhaustion in the desert makes us feel crazy, fatigued and parched. In the fog, voices may be heard but it’s hard to distinguish which voice it is. That’s when we strain just to hear something to hold onto and can end up spending so much time trying to figure out which one we should listen to. All the while, there’s a deep longing for God in the desert wilderness and fog. No wonder deep discouragement, doubt and even depression creeps in and over minds and hearts. I’ve totally been there — many many times and it’s not too long ago that I came out of a very dark and lonely wilderness. My heart hurts for these women, but I know there’s hope…

See, there’s a rule of thumb when you’re back-packing in the wilderness and you find yourself lost. I have literally had to learn how to put this rule of thumb into play. You can be going on your merry way, enjoying the scenes, sounds, beauty and then all of sudden something in you just knows, “Uh oh, I may be lost”. Quicker than you can imagine, you all of a sudden go into survival mode. You look at the position of the sun (or a watch, which is more helpful!) to see how much day-light time you have to get back to camp or how much time you have until you need to make shelter. You check your food and water supply, because now you know you may have to ration them. You grab your compass and map (if you happen to have either…definitely have gone on trips without both and what a terrible mistake) and try to figure out where you diverted from the course. Even with hiking in the wilderness, there are times where the clearly defined trail doesn’t look so clear. One moment you’re confident on the path and next thing, you don’t know how on earth you wound up where you did. One of the things you’re told when you feel like you’ve become disoriented on a trail is to back-track and find a particular point of familiarity. Once you go back to that particular place, maybe the tree that you had admired a bit earlier because of it’s peculiar shape, or a land-mark of some sort, it’s amazing how much peace floods you and you’re able to place confidence in the steps there after. This is why it’s so important to be aware of what you are seeing and learning on these trails, because you have no idea when you may need to come back to them and the importance they will have in getting us back on the path.

This truth has challenged me tremendously as of late and even this morning I found myself needing to go back to that place of familiarity and peace. With so many of the conversations I’ve been having over the last few weeks, the same recurring theme comes: “Cease striving”–don’t be so quick to go into survival mode and do all these things that can easily bring about more panic, doubt and fear; instead go back to that place of peace and assurance. From there you can get your bearings and be able to  set out.

I’m wondering how many of us need to hear that today? I don’t at all write this as some spiritual guru — quite the contrary. I write this because we are all in this together and I have had to put this very rule into practice so much recently. What I’ve realized is sometimes the best place to get our bearings and the place of greatest peace is just this: sitting at the feet of Jesus, putting on some worship music and being still in His presence. Maybe even turn the music off and just rest and wait in His presence. We can strive so much to hear from God in His Word that it becomes more like treasure hunting and when our expectations aren’t met, we’re discouraged, down cast and unsatisfied. We can strive so much to do things for God and  come away fatigued and discontented because it’s become more about our doing than His abiding presence. When we just wait, put aside the commentaries, put aside the devotionals and journals and just wait in His presence, a divine transaction takes place. Suddenly the divine presence  of God literally comes and His peace surrounds us, casting light through the fogs of despair and bringing Living Water in our desert wastelands. It’s like the pillar cloud of God comes and rests upon us and envelops us.

How often do you sit at your Savior’s feet? Not when you’re in a church service and can sense His presence (or maybe you haven’t even sensed it at church in a while — definitely been there many times). I want to encourage you, as I’ve been so graciously reminded, to cease striving and just come unto Jesus. Sit at His feet and find rest. Your compass, the Holy Spirit will come to guide you back and your map, the Word of God will give you your rations for the moments to come. But first, we must go back.

Each day His presence is awaiting our arrival and the Lord longs to wash over us with songs of Truth, love, assurance and peace.

Psalm 62: 5-8

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from Him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

My salvation and my honor depend on God;
He is my mighty rock, my refuge.

Trust in Him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to Him,
for God is our refuge.
Selah {rest, pause, silence}


One thought on “Getting Our Bearings

  1. Great post, Shelly. 🙂 I love your openess on this blog. I needed this reminder today. It really is about leaving our expectations behind, and enjoying the quiet presence of Jesus.

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