I think we over complicate things.
I should speak for myself.
I over complicate things.
It’s an art form, really. I can take something really simple and turn it into a situation so complex it takes an algorithm to sort out the possible outcomes.
Diapers, for example. Babies wear them, poop in them, and then get fresh ones. Easy peasy. Right?
Cloth or disposable? If cloth, then cotton? Microfiber? Bamboo? Charcoal-and-gold-laden, hand-stitched-by-unicorns inserts for once-in-a-lifetime, only-one-ever-made-ever, unique-designed-by-Michelangelo PUL covers? Do you have a million dollars? Check yes or no.
Oh, so disposable then? Ammonia free? Sulfate-free? Do you know what’s in your diapers or where they go when they’re tossed out or what their bio-footprint will be like or whether your baby will be allergic to the cotton-like-feel? Do you have a million dollars? Check yes or no.
But food, though. Biology. Energy in, energy out. Simple, right?
Dairy or dairy free, GMO-filled or GMO free, Gluten or gluten-free, Vegan or not so much, Paleo or not so much, carcinogenic-free, dye-free, glucose-stable, additive and preservative and sludge-free, eat eggs but don’t eat eggs, eat soy but not too much soy – actually wait no soy but also no dairy or tree nuts or rice. Rice has arsenic in it.
No wonder we’re stressed out.
But God, though… My relationship with God should be easy. Simple. Right??
[I’m serious. If I read one more “Hey Christians, You’re Doing it Wrong” article written by a Christian, I might actually throw my phone across the room. (Kidding. Kinda.) #wwjd If you ever read my blog and get a “you’re doing it wrong” vibe, please tell me. We don’t need that voice of condemnation in our lives.]
We’re told to pray but pray with authority, but don’t pray with pride, but pray in your closet, but pray without ceasing. Also approach God with reverence, but Jesus is your friend and the Holy Spirit isn’t a ghost, except sometimes He’s called the Holy Ghost but don’t worry about that. Also never fast turkey on the third Tuesday of the month, because then you’ll go straight to hell.
Ok, so maybe it’s not that bad, but yeah kind of, right?
God’s been talking to me about the “secret place.”
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Psalm 91:1-2 (KJV)
There is a spiritual place of rest in the presence of God. An inner court, the throne room. The secret place.
The tabernacle of the old covenant has been rendered obsolete by Jesus’ sacrifice, and we are now welcomed into the most sacred and holy space. This place of refuge and shelter, of powerful prayer and deep, abiding peace.
When we truly live in “the secret place,” it becomes impossible for us to doubt God. We become more sure of Him than of anyone or anything else. Enter into “the secret place,” and you will find that God was right in the middle of your everyday circumstances all the time – Oswald Chambers
Throughout this (extended) time of transition for me and my family, God has been calling me nearer to Him, into a deeper place of rest and trust.
Yes! Please, sign me up!
All throughout the last year, I’ve been trying to rest and trust and “abide.” Some days, I’ve gotten up early to read and pray and journal, but others I’ve missed it for one reason or another. I’ve tried to listen to worship music in my car, but my four year old only wants to hear the Home and Trolls soundtracks on repeat. I’ve tried to cast all of my cares and not worry about things, but somehow I was still waking up anxious.
What is the deal, God? I’m trying everything. Why isn’t it working?
Don’t get me wrong, I was still experiencing powerful moments with God in prayer or in worship, but it didn’t feel like it was sticking. I’d have these amazing, God-centered days, and then I’d go back to feeling lost and detached. I’d analyze my patterns: maybe I should have gotten up earlier, maybe I’m holding bitterness inside somewhere, maybe I need to stop watching Netflix or read a different book or go to a certain type of church service.
But this year, I feel the Lord gently shifting my mindset.
He is showing me that abiding has very little to do with my behavior, and so much to do with my heart’s posture. The “secret place” of God – the inner court of His presence – is not accessible to me because I am doing the right devotional on my Bible app. It’s accessible to me because of Jesus. And, because He did all of the work, I’m invited in to that secret, sacred space, simply because I’ve pointed my heart toward Him.
Ok, so I’m invited. How do I get there?
I think, in our world, it’s so easy to become distracted. Schedules are busy, lives are complex and often pain-filled, and (especially in America) we have seemingly unlimited access to entertainment right at our fingertips. Circumstances happen and we reach for the natural things – comforts/friends/distractions/self-reliance – while Satan continues to feed us the lie that God is distant and inaccessible and must be approached in a particular way.
But if we would simply still our hearts and look to God, we’d find His presence is so much closer than we know.
There is no secret formula or process.
Actually, I’m wrong. There is a process, but it’s not a secret.
- Believe in Jesus and accept the grace of salvation.
“God, I need you. Forgive me. I’m giving you control of my life. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to die so I can be saved from the death I deserve.”
- Turn my heart toward God.
“Lord, you are good all the time. You’re in control. I trust you. Show me what You’d like me to do and I’ll obey.”
- Recognize my position before Him.
“Father, thank You that You are God and I am not. You are worthy of all of my attention and adoration. Thank You for welcoming me into Your presence. I’m snuggling in, God. I don’t want to move. No matter what, I’m trusting You are near.”
Bam. Inner courts. Refuge. Rest.
If you don’t feel anything, just dwell there for a while. Abide. Whenever you feel tempted to doubt, tell the Devil to shut up and tell God you trust His presence.
This morning, I was journaling and talking to God, and my one-year-old toddled in and puked all over me. Mostly milk. Everywhere.
In the past, I would have been tempted to think, “Well, there goes that quiet time. Awesome.”
But today, I saw it differently.
God didn’t boot me from His throne room because Vienna threw up on me. I wasn’t in some transcendental state that was popped when milk spewed everywhere. No, I carry the presence of God with me everywhere, all the time, no matter what’s going on.
Today, I felt the presence of the Lord as I cleaned up my daughter and put a load of laundry in the washing machine and fixed breakfast for my four-year-old. Today the rest stayed with me through it all. The veil has been torn down. It is finished.
Easy? Not at first. I still lost my temper, got overwhelmed, and asked my husband to come home and help me. But God didn’t go anywhere. And in the refuge of His presence, all I need to do is look up, reorient, and continue to abide.
When God has my heart, all of the other stuff flows from it. Prayer, worship, fellowship, forgiveness, obedience, love, grace, truth, fruits of the Spirit, ministry, gifts, humility… and more and more and more.
The result of being in His presence. Not the recipe for being in His presence.
Game changer. I’m still learning. Still imperfect. Still failing. Still upheld by grace. ❤