Sunday, June 8, 2008

Settling In

I'm not used to stillness.  Being an active child, and performing woman, stillness is not a word that frequented my life. I remember when Papa began to whisper to me, "Be still and know I am God".  To be honest, I didn't like what He was saying.  I was more comfortable in activity than stillness.  One thing I knew was that I wanted to know Him as God.  Unsure of what I was asking, I invited Him to teach me.

I just finished the book,  "Better Than My Dreams" by Paula Rinehart.  This book has really spoken to me.  In the last chapter she says, "For the truth is that this journey you're on is also a dance.  Only it is God who wants to dance with you.  He wants to take you out into life on His arm.  That will pull you from every back alley where you've found life in anything but Him.  But in this dance, you'll come to know Him.  While it takes half a lifetime to grasp this - truly, the prize isn't the fulfillment of our dreams; it's the fellowship with Him.  He is, as the parable claims, the hidden treasure worth selling all we own to possess.  From the ashes of our expectations comes an intimacy with him, an actual pleasure of His company. Letting go of what we thought we needed and entering life as a journey, a dance with God, is a grace-filled rite of passage." *

The journey, thus far, has not looked like I thought it would.  I started out my walk with Him as a performance driven, striving, busy, religious woman.  I wanted to know God, so I studied Him.  My heart was right, my method flawed. Somehow I got the mentality that I needed to do God like I did life...  Work hard, try to do all the right things and maybe you'll become what you're studying.  You know God doesn't waste anything.  He uses even our flawed methods to His advantage.  

The more I saw of Him, the more I wanted Him.  The problem is I was dancing alone.  I see a stunning partner standing on the sidelines, waiting for me to stop dancing.  He walks over and invites me to learn how to dance as a couple with Him as the lead.  He invites, I accept.  The dance begins.

This new found rest is so foreign to me that sometimes it feels like laziness.  Was I being lazy?  My quiet times are no longer disciplined.  My prayer life is no longer a "must do".  My journaling is sporadic, often, there are no words.  It feels so much like disobedience that I wonder...is it me?

So I ask Him.  And He answers.  "You're settling in."  "You haven't turned to away."  "You're still with me."  "It's OK when you don't have words.  I read your heart, your thoughts."  "This is what stillness feels like."  He gave me a picture of a little girl settling into her Father's arms and resting.  

I am reminded of my own children when they were young.  Exhausted, but unable to let go and rest they would flounder and squirm in my arms, wanting to be free and on their own.  My tight grip would hold them until they settled. Eventually they would stop struggling and surrender to the arms enfolding them.  Soon they settled down to a peaceful rest.  

Papa invited me into the dance of stillness.  I really didn't have a clue what it looked like.  I just knew He had invited me.   Hand in His I allowed Him to move me forward, one step at a time.  Sometimes it was painful and grueling. Oftentimes I felt unsure and lost.  What I didn't see was that in the midst of the dance my heart was coming alive. The more He led me, the more I changed.  He saw me, knowing what was inside me, hidden underneath the striving, performing flesh.  As we  danced, He emptied me of those self-reliant places.   He became God in me.

I am settling into His embrace.  It's not what I do, it's where I am.  In His embrace He does what is necessary through me. Jesus said, "Come follow Me and I will make."  I can cease from my striving and be.  He is God.  Once again He speaks to me, "Jewel, I would rather have you settled into me, putting forth no effort than running about doing things and not settled in and at rest.  It's OK to rest in the embrace."  "Rest, dear one."  "I'll draw you in."

It's it really that simple?  Yes!  As we rest in His embrace, following Him, allowing Him to be God through us, we become all that He meant us to be.  So, I say to you what He says to me,  "Be still, dear one, and know I am God."  

   "Be still and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth"  Psalm 46:10

JEWELZ
* "Better Than Your Dreams, Finding What You Long For Where You Might Not Think To Look"  by Paula Rinehart
©copyrighted 2008 by Julie L. Todd
     

24 comments:

Shanda said... Reply to comment

Truth... thank you for sharing. The part that spoke to me was when you talked about your children when they would fight against you while trying to get them to settle down. I also can't help but see in red the word "lazy" and that sure is a battle I struggle with. Funny how God encourages us away from behavior but the enemy throws it in our face! This post was very encouraging.
shanda

Lyric said... Reply to comment

Excellent lesson, hard to learn...I know... :)

But there's nothing more satisfying than following His lead. To feel the move of His spirit in my movements. To feel the rhythm His words bring. To feel the refrains as we breath and move in a new way...

It's a dance where I will always be a beginner but He will never fail to be the Master.

You're in my prayers.

Sandy said... Reply to comment

Great post Julie! The more I grow the more I realize that things are different than what I thought they would be. It is resting!

I liked what you wrote: Letting go of what we thought we needed and entering life as a journey, a dance with God, is a grace-filled rite of passage.

Excellent!
Thanks also for your meaningful comment on my blog.
Sandy

dancingdreamer said... Reply to comment

Julie,

This is absolutely beautiful!! You said it PERFECTLY. There is nothing in this life more satisfying than resting in the arms of our Heavenly Father. He is LIFE!!

Love you girl!
Amy

Laura said... Reply to comment

This is so beautiful, Julie. I relate to those "settling in" fears. They sound so familiar to me. One thing I am learning in this journey: Our God likes to change things around in our lives occasionally. Just when I think I have it all sorted, here He comes to shake it up again! But that is what it is all about, isn't it? The dance? Yes, I love that you say you are settling in to His embrace...
Laura

Leti said... Reply to comment

Hi Jewels,
Once again my heart is touched by the LORD through your writing.

I kept going and going, the more I did the more accomplished I felt, but then "chronic illness" took ahold of this tent and well, everything slowed to nothing. Then the LORD called me to care for my ill-elder mother (she lives with us) and the pace went even slower - as for "church" activities went.

But the LORD ever gently asked me to put my head on His lap (like your illustration of your kids). I felt His gentle hand settling me down and asking me "to be still and know that HE is God".

Thank you for your writing. My heart is reminded was again to "be still and know that He is God"

Leti

Becoming Me said... Reply to comment

I'm actually in the process of writing a piece called A powerful calm. This was beautiful. Thank you for sharing and allowing yourself to be still. Such a gift. And thank you also for always leaving such wonderful words of love and encouragement on my blog. I cannot tell you how much it means to me.

Tracy said... Reply to comment

Julie,
Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful post. You've made me eager to read that book! What vivid and captivating illustrations you share.

My husband and I are in a season of change in our areas of service to the Lord. I'm finding it a bit uncomfortable to wait and see what new direction the Lord may take us...I'm so used to being "busy" for God. Ah, but slowly, I am learning the beauty of being still.

Thank you again for speaking to the beauty of being still. Looking forward to visiting again, soon! (Thanks for stopping by my blog, too!) = )

Blessings,
Tracy

Gretchen said... Reply to comment

Julie, this is so poetic. And so true, especially so for us recovering "doers". I know in my own nature, I won't ever feel okay just being still, so it has to be a walk of obedience so that the fruit can blossom. But,it's so right. And that's one of my favorite verses.

Blessings to you, Dear One.

xxxooogretchen

lori said... Reply to comment

You posted this JUST for me didn't you...what a wonderful message for my heart tonight...I read it twice...

What an encouragement and truth you just spoke...as only you can!

Thanks for this blessing that I'm taking with me...printing it out!

hugs!!
lori

Michelle Bentham said... Reply to comment

Selah, (Pause and calmly think of that...) Isn't that the heart of "being still." I recently had occasion to memorize all of Psalm 46 - I wanted to pray it for a group of people and found that I would do better to memorize the verses rather than try to read them each time.

Julie, it is the times of intense alone that I find God speaks to me the loudest and the free-est (is that a word?). I've grown to treasure those times when I feel the fresh wind of the Spirit in my face. The arms of my Lord wrapped around me. He guides me, directs me and allows me to move in time to the music of this life.

I sense that what you write about - the lack of routine to your relationship with God these days... The "settling in"... It is really just the fact that your relationship has taken on an intimacy that is much more a way of life than an act of obedience.

I sometimes experience that same kind of sense that if I don't pray in the closet or Bible study my brains out then I am not doing the relationship with God part that I am supposed to do... Then I remember how I was talking to Him in the shower, at the make-up mirror, at the dish sink, singing praise to Him in the car and running everything I encounter in life through Him as a filter. Oh yeah! I am doing this relationship - it just looks a little different than I expected it to... More like a familiar, comfortable friend than a starched, crisp - even far away God that I crumble before... When exactly did that happen?

Natalie Witcher said... Reply to comment

Beautiful! BE STILL!!! Thanks for visiting Stiletto! I'm not sure exactly how many days this one will run! Sheesh, maybe to mid-week next week? Thanks for coming!

Michelle Bentham said... Reply to comment

Julie,

Thanks for the sweet comment on my blog about the graduation party.

I will share recipes soon. My mom also made chicken enchiladas and so much more. The Sopapilla Cheesecake is on Beth Moore LPM Blog.

I better go, I have a name of God to write about.

daughter of the King said... Reply to comment

Thanks for the wonderful comment on my post about your car. God is so good at blowing my socks off. Just as soon as I think there is no way out, God pulls something amazing on me. Also glad I found your blog today. Great reminder of where my heart needs to be during these difficult financial times.

Tiffany Stuart said... Reply to comment

Sweet friend,

I just read your heart and it so rang true to me. I could write about my dance with the Lord too. Recently I cried at the Y listening to music and watching a dance on the TV in front of me. God spoke. Loud. And I heard his voice and was shaken. A good shaken.

He is the greatest of reasons to live and to be still. In Him we move and have our being. In Him we can rest. And resting reveals his heart in us. We are refreshed because of his loving embrace.

I say: Play the music, Lord. Let's dance. You lead; we will follow. Arm in arm, cheek to cheek, step by step to the melody you create. You choose the unique song for each one of us. We are yours.

Tiffany Stuart said... Reply to comment

OOPS forgot to sign off. Hannah is calling for me.

Keep writing and sharing your heart. I'm tracking with you.

Much love and hugs,
Tiffany(and Hannah peeking over my shoulder)

Laura said... Reply to comment

Hello, my beautiful friend! It sounds silly, but I miss you! Life has been crazy and I have not been online very much. I am trying to get ready for the conference. It is exciting to anticipate seeing my bloggy friends! Shanda and I met at SheSpeaks last year. She is so precious. I wish, wish, wish, you would be there and I could hug on you! Maybe one day...

mer said... Reply to comment

Julie...I swear we are working off of the same reading list. I have this book on my nightstand but have only read the first chapter (non-fiction is just hard for me).

My pastor's wife wanted me to join a group she was leading through this book, but I had to opt out. Your post makes me wish I hadn't!

Laura said... Reply to comment

my, dear friend...
thank you so much for your advice and reassurance! i am resting...in a sort of way! we are heading out this afternoon to visit some friends in charlotte, nc. i am looking forward to seeing my good friend, though worrying about not having more time to prepare for SheSpeaks! I am not doing the same track as Shanda this year, but I am meeting with a couple of industry professionals. So pray for me! I will be pitching my novel again this year. It is a project I have abandoned and only recently picked up again. I feel God leading me, but His intentions are not clear. I feel blessed to have this opportunity, and have no expectations; only to learn. I'll be back on Monday! Have a blessed weekend!

selahV said... Reply to comment

Wonderful thoughts, dear Julie. Wonderful. If my journals looked like this, I'd write a book. oh, that I could let Him lead all the time and stop stepping on His toes when He does. selahV

Amy B said... Reply to comment

Wow. That is so powerful and so true. Just wow.

Jenileigh said... Reply to comment

This was beautiful!

Thanks for stopping by place.

Hugs!

Rachel said... Reply to comment

Oh my goodness! I was coming over here to thank you for coming visit my blog and your very kind words for my husband.... Had no clue that you would have a post about the very thing I was thinking about today!!

I, too, was always so busy and I, too, am settling down so much that today I was fearing it was lazy or maybe not even "real" b/c the striving and busyness was at least action that I could see and feel, kwim? Thank you for posting this as I believe it was God blessing me, saying "yes, rest, this is real. You are mine." Bless you!

Deirdre said... Reply to comment

The image of a child who doesn't want to rest is amazingly profound.