Saturday, December 2, 2023

Rest. Wait. Listen. Renew.


Matthew 11:28-30:

"Come to me, all who labor & are heavy laden, & I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you & learn from me, for I am gentle & lowly in heart, & you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, & my burden is light."

It's a dreary, cold, & rainy Saturday morning today.

I've already been to the park to walk/run my miles, and I've made breakfast and watched a Christmas movie.

My agenda today is to start decorating for Christmas.  But honestly, I have no desire to do it.  Lately, my heart has been sad, and I'm just not into it yet this year. I feel like the joy has been sucked out of my life for a season.

My prayer partners and inner circle of best girlfriends and family know I am in a season of waiting. And to be honest and transparent here, it sucks - for so many reasons.

Have you ever been here?  It could be for anything.  Health diagnoses, relationship issues, or work-related situations.  It's not a fun place to be.

One day, you are learning and growing and the next minute or even the next day, you could be right back to being broken and wondering why God isn't changing things.

I read this prayer today, and it really touched my heart:

"Father, you are gentle and humble in heart, and you invite me to come to you when I’m weary and burdened. You lead me to a better way. Make me more like you. Open up my eyes to the beauty in this journey of waiting, help me to draw closer to you, and to become more patient. Help me to learn how to rest, wait, listen, and renew. Amen."

I love that - Rest. Wait. Listen. Renew.  Interesting series of actions.

The prayer above says "help become more patient..." I've never personally prayed for patience.  In church, we've always been taught to not pray for patience because the Lord will readily oblige and teach you!  Ha! But, I guess, within our seasons of waiting, patience is something that is absolutely necessary.

Over the last two months, I have been sitting through a period of "time and space." I have had my two prayer partners pray over me in written messages as well as over the phone.  The prayers have been beautiful and well-spoken.  They have covered me with love and God's Words. Both men have shared their personal testimonies with me, as well as given good sound and Godly advice.

I have been blessed with these two prayer partners, and I am so grateful God has given them to me.

Along with receiving Godly prayer partners during my season of "time and space," God has also opened a few beautiful doors for me within my house of worship - new serving opportunities; new groups to join for fellowship and learning God's Word; and a renewed love of attending church, worshipping, and learning.

But if you've been through a season of waiting, you know that God's blessings still do not make your period of "rest, wait, listen, and renew" a piece of cake or easier.

It's always hard during these seasons - feelings and thoughts of what your heart wants, asking God where He is and why He isn't showing up, and having Him remain silent on the other end - all struggles mixed in with the blessings He presents us with during this time.

I suppose it is in times of waiting we should strive to become more like Peter.  Remember when Peter tried to walk across the raging waves and sea to meet Jesus out on the water?  He was safe and stayed afloat when his eyes remained on Jesus, but the second he turned away from Jesus, he began to sink.

I think that's what most of us feel like during our seasons of waiting, especially on those days (like today) that are "empty" of any errands or appointments.  I always tend to think on these days, "Well, Jesus.  Here I am.  I've got plenty of time today to work on this thing.  Are you going to open a door or not?"

Lordy.  I'm sure Jesus must get a laugh out of our thought processes, questions, and "little demands."

We are taking our eyes off the PROCESS and Jesus and turning our gaze to the OUTCOME or problem at hand.  And that's when, like Peter, we start to sink.

My prayers remain the same each day.  I pray for change.  I pray for my loved ones.  I pray for protection.  I pray for release.  I thank Jesus for my salvation, forgiving me for my sins, and for creating new life in me.

As a matter of fact, as I was discussing prayer life with one of my prayer partners a few nights ago, we talked about how there is no magic formula for praying.  No special combination of words or actions that automatically prompt Jesus to answer our prayers.

We can pray for God's Will to be done.  We can pray for demonic forces to release those we love.  We can pray for protection over those we love. We can pray for release.  We can pray for doors to open.  We can pray for help and healing in certain situations, but - there will never be any special combination of words or actions that God magically responds to.

Rest. Wait. Listen. Renew.

Write those words down and remember them. Those are the periods of "fire" we have to walk through.  It may take days...or weeks...or as in my prayer partner's situation, years.

But in the end, God will renew us.

It will be His Will and His way, and we will continue to embrace the PROCESS instead of taking our eyes off Him to focus on the outcome we desire.

Trust me, Jesus knows ALL our thoughts and prayers, and He will still do what is best for us, regardless.

I'll sum up today's post with this...

Christian Pastor, speaker, & author John Ortberg says, “Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be.”

So in the heartbreak of your "time and space" seasons of life, remember this:  REST - WAIT - LISTEN - RENEW - "Waiting is the part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be."

"Father God, I lift up this season of "time and space" and give it to you.  You have heard my prayers.  You know my heart.  I pray that you help me to remember to embrace your PROCESS and not focus on the OUTCOME I desire.  I know what you offer and give to us is what will be the very best for us, even if we can't always see it.

I pray we keep our gaze on you and not what other people think or do to us.  That you bless us and open beautiful doors in our seasons of waiting.  I will trust you to keep instilling wisdom and peace into my heart when evil wants to keep hurt there instead.  It's a hard, long process, and we can't always see or feel you.  We may sometimes wonder where you are and why you aren't answering us, but FAITH says you are always near and always listening.  May we remember these words you teach us and KNOW you will bring us through our seasons.  Amen."

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