Treasures In The Darkness

Have you ever read Psalm 23 and thought that it didn’t pertain to you? After all, you aren’t in the shadow of death. But have you really read it closely?

I am doing a study by Aimee Walker on Psalm 23 titled, The Good Shepherd

One of the things that has come around full circle for me has been the beautiful truth of God as a caring shepherd. The past couple of years has been excruciating for me personally. I have known the valley. I have dreaded the valley. Amidst the valley my soul felt surrounded by darkness (shadows). But God in his goodness has taken care of my soul.

A couple months ago I realized the gift of the valley. Much like many others, my view of it was skewed. I saw it and thought I shouldn’t be there. Some days I questioned it’s fairness. But there are treasures to be gained in the valleys. There are treasures stored in secret places, in those dark places. If you are willing to press into the shepherds cloak and stay near him the valley will become a gift to you.

While there it can become your invitation to a deeper intimacy with the Lord. Still waters, and lush green grass await you (v. 1,2) . Even amidst enemies as stated in verse 5, it says that he prepares a table for you and anoints your head with oil. This is all in the valley!

Did you know you can find rest amidst it all? Yes, you can. “He makes me lie down” (v. 2) can be a command and an invitation to rest. I didn’t know it was possible to enjoy rest with horrific and exhausting circumstances still occuring. But in my valley the Lord has taught me how. It is one treasure I found in the darkness.

He is a good Shepherd. He takes good care of his sheep. The valley is often the place we dread but He has prepared it to be a place where you find strength again and increased hope. It is the place of intimacy. Great treasures are stored in this place. It is the place that even your enemies will look and wonder why you are protected and receive the victory.

Come close to your Shepherd. He loves and cares for you. Let his healing oil drench you. Drink from the waters and rest.

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Do you need rest? What circumstances make you feel like you are unable to rest near your Shepherd? Please share with me and I will pray specifically for you and your situation.

Enjoy. Pt 2 of God’s Steady Heartbeat

In my previous post, God’s Steady Heartbeat, 2020 , I wanted to go into further detail about one paragraph:

Let us not give up what has yet to happen in 2019. Let us enjoy our favorite holiday beverage (coffee anyone?), sit back and see what God will do. As we pray, as we go to the front lines of intercession, the Lord has made a table amidst it all for us. He has done this for us to learn to enjoy and walk in the victory that is ours even if we have yet to see it.

Finding enjoyment in our darkest hour or our darkest season is not something that happens on its own. There can be moments of such extreme pain and heartache that we often turn to God and ask, “Why must suffering occur?” Nothing about the struggle and pain makes any sense when you are in the thick of it sometimes.

Several months ago a situation intensified so much I thought my family might not survive it. It felt so painful, intense and the people who were supposed to help this situation allowed continued injustices to occur. Nothing made sense (it still doesn’t).

The lessons I have learned through this journey have been priceless. Here are a few of the ones I continue to learn from:

1.) Let Go Of Control

There is very little we are often in control of anyway. The circumstances and people in it are often not following your lead. Forgive, let go and praise. God already knows the details and letting go reveals your trust in him.

(Scriptures to look up: 1 Peter 5:7, Jeremiah 29:11, Philippians 4:6)

2.) Respond With Praise

What we are in control of is our response to our circumstances and others. We can either fight it or embrace the truths of God and praise him through it. The enemy cannot touch you when you have your praise on. Praise embraces heaven and pulls it down. Eventually Earth must be moved by Heaven so keep praising even if tears keep streaming down your face (and snot running out your nose). Battles aren’t pretty.

(Scriptures to look up: Jeremiah 20:13, Psalm 75:1, Psalm 99, Psalm 100)

3.) Rest

This can look different for everyone but the basic truth is being able to knock worry out and lean back into Gods big arms. Let God love you. Be still.

This is hard to do amidst a battle because it feels wrong to stop when all around you swords are clanking and the wounded are crying out. In God’s kingdom, battles are won differently. He fights for you which is why learning to let go of control is a crucial step in being able to rest and declare victory.

(Scriptures to look up: Matthew 11:28-30, Psalm 4:8, Psalm 37:7, Philippians 4:6-7)

4.) Declare Your Victory

It does not matter how dark, how bleak or how intense life is. Nothing, absolutely nothing can change truth. When you know that God is a loving, powerful, dead raising, promise keeping, miracle working God, then let your voice be heard!

(Scriptures to look up: Deuteronomy 20:4, John 16:33, Romans 8:31-39)

Dear reader, grab a cup of hot coffee and sit back and rest.

I am.

Keeping Ourselves in Existence

“There are times, then, when in order to keep ourselves in existence at all we simply have to sit back for a while and do nothing. The very act of resting is the hardest and most courageous act…”

Thomas Merton- Abby Monk

In our fast paced & busy culture I often feel like there is no priority on rest & good self-care. Different transitions in life whether good or bad still affect our mind & bodies. 

How are you intentionally taking time to rest? When you do this do you feel guilty? You shouldn’t. Resting is essential for your mind, body & your spirit. It is good preventative care. 

There is such great peace in knowing that God desires to have us slow down & rest. It is there that one can learn to carry peace and rest even when seasons of busy kingdom work pick up. This is good self-care. 

No matter what you may be going through in life, doing nothing in the appropriate manner is accomplishing a lot. 

Rest

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For about nine months I have had people that I cherish tell me that a season of rest was coming for me. I would hear what they told me and say on the inside, “May it be so!” A couple of months would go by and no season of rest. But then another person would say, “God has a season of rest for you soon.” And the same routine would happen again. A couple of months would go by and no season of rest seemed to come. It went on like this for nine months.

Then my body literally forced me to stop. I found myself laughing the other day when I realized that I am in that season of rest! It was definitely a forced time of rest at the beginning because I had to readjust everything. Now it is a season I am treasuring and holding close to my heart.

After working through the initial guilt I felt by having to let certain things go in order to rest, I was able to refocus. This refocus has helped me place proper value on what is most important. It also has allowed me to reflect on the past years of ministry and life to see how God carried me through. My body had been placed in a state of exhaustion due to several different factors for a couple of years. There was a season before this time where things were intense for so long that I almost forgot what rest looked and felt like. Even though I still did my best to take a Sabbath day it still was an intense season.

I am not just talking about the occasional nap here and there. What I mean is that even if a large wave comes your way, you are still able to rest and maintain this calm deep within you rather than getting swept up in the large wave to crash along with it. This is my season of rest. It is a season that I have learned so much from so far. Even as things may remain intense, God has been revealing to me how to have his perspective.

He is showing me how to truly rest.

In his rest, one must become vulnerable. You have to lay everything that you are at his feet. You must place your complete trust in him.

I have found that as I have physically rested as well as mentally and spiritually followed suit, it has caused me to be more efficient. It has shown me that stepping back can be good as long as I am empowering those around me. It has revealed things within me that God wants to change or enhance and make stronger. As I have had to postpone certain projects for my body to heal, the time of refocus has helped me to hone in on major dreams and goals.

Excitement and sweet anticipation for the things in ministry as well as my personal life keeps growing. It has grown to a point where I feel like I am about to burst from the seams.

My heart is full of gratefulness!

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I may miss my Mom and what our family once was but I am thankful for those precious moments that shaped who I am now. I may pray earnestly into heartbreaking situations day after day with no end in sight, yet he is my source of joy and hope. Life is hard. That is just life. To be a woman of grit, I cannot be a pansy. I cannot get caught up in the things that may cause my heart to drop. Because despite circumstances our God is mighty and he never changes! His love penetrates to our core and transforms us. His power moves mountains. He is trustworthy and always has us hedged beneath his wings. Just looking into his eyes captivates me. He knows me. He knows my heart. He knows that I want him and only him.

I work hard for him.

Now I understand that I rest for him as well.

Now dear reader, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea with our great God wrapped up in a blanket (or on a floating device in your backyard swimming pool), with the intention to place your life at his feet. In the quiet you will hear his voice. As you read the pages of his word they will indeed become more alive and active in your life.

Rest.

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In the Stillness

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In the stillness you are there God.


 

There is something so beautiful when we take time to rest and slow down. It is beautiful because in those moments God can bring healing to your mind, body, and soul. In many ways our culture is not one that values rest. It seems that the pendulum swings too far into apathy or to a state of constant busyness. God values hard work and rest, not one or the other. After he created all things he rested and surveyed it all to find that it was good. Resting can be similar for us. After a hard week of coming and going we need to take time to slow down, rest, and celebrate Gods goodness through it all.


 

I have been prioritizing a different mindset in order to slow down and rest more than I have in the past. It has been a beautiful time with God. I find myself  cherishing these extra long moments where I turn off my phone and allow God to speak his truth over me.


 

These times have been crucial for my heart. God has shown me more of the goodness in the negative. It can be so easy for us to despair when bad things happen and we face loss. But circumstances do not change God. He remains steadfast. His goodness and love remain even when it feels as if life is crumbling. We must fill ourselves with him. That only happens when we stop and focus everything we have on him.


 

Like my Pastor says,

“We must be so whelmed by Heaven that we are not overwhelmed by earth” (Dr. Davenport)


 

In the stillness you are there God.

In the midst of everything, you are there.

You are for us.

You are faithful through everything.

You have already won the victory.

We begin and end our day in your victory.

Even when there is darkness your light is there to guide us.

Your love and goodness surpass all understanding.

Your power and grace fill us so that we burst with joy.

Thank you for your faithfulness.

We relax in your presence.


 

Thank you for rest.

Do not give up.

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Do not give up. Be obedient. This is only a season. Cling to God.


These are all phrases that I have been telling myself a lot lately. In a moment of raw honesty, there have been some days where the battle seemed to be so harsh that I literally wanted to give up. In those moments, I was mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. Instead of giving up, I kept on talking to God all day long. When things got pretty intense I would crawl into his lap and just rest there.  I found myself also just saying to God, “I love you, God” over and over again through my hardest moments. My love for him is the reason why I did not give in to the temptation to drop everything I was doing and just leave it all behind.


As a new adventure presents itself and I look back on the years, I am so thankful that I did not give up. I am so thankful that God carried me. I am so thankful for his love.


If you are going through some really intense battles I encourage you to cling to God. Do not give up. It is worth persevering through. You are God’s beloved. He loves you. Strength is found in him. Let go and rest in his love, for it is his love that conquers all things. His love casts out fear.


Victory! Freedom!


Rest.


Psalm 91:4 “He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” (NLT)