I recently attended a silent retreat with several members of my church. We met as a group once or twice a day where our director shared some Scriptures and a word to guide our time with the Lord.

– Dana Smith, Women’s Equipping Coordinator

“ARRIVE”

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matt. 11:28

This was the very first thing I wrote in my journal that weekend. I had arrived at the silent retreat feeling burdened, broken-hearted, and lacking in the faith and hope that I had worked so hard to maintain. Once again my circumstances had hit me hard, revealing the cracks in the not-so-solid rock I had been standing on. Oh how I longed to enter into that promised rest!!

“RELEASE”

Coming into this period of time with the Lord I wasn’t sure what all I needed to release.  The Holy Spirit led me to Romans 8:7 “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”

Through this verse God showed me that there were expectations I needed to release. Then he invited me into repentance and mourning.

I wrote – “I am expecting those who may not be Christians to act in a way they cannot. They cannot submit to God. BUT I CAN.” In that moment God showed me that I had been coming to him stomping my foot in rebellion. I had been choosing the Way of Pride and didn’t even realize it. I didn’t like the way God was doing things and subconsciously I was refusing to submit to his will unless it looked like I wanted. Ouch.

This led to a time of deep mourning and repentance – repenting of my “No” to God.  He then took me by the hand and led me into all the “what ifs” that had held me captive and caused me to dig in my heels. I released them all and was able to recognize that these scary paths might actually be the paths that lead to the healing and wholeness I so desperately want.

“RECEIVE”

I sat there in the swing I had claimed as “my spot.” It was cold outside, but I was snuggled in my blanket and content to wait there on the Lord. “What do you want to give me Lord?” I waited silently to hear what he would say.

“Walk.”

Walk? Well that didn’t make any sense. I had just gotten cozy in my swing under my blanket.

“Get up and walk.”

I wasn’t sure if it was God, and honestly didn’t want to get up unless it was.

“Get up and walk the labyrinth.”

After the third time I figured it might be him. My swing just happened to be next to a labyrinth that had been constructed on the property. It was a place where you were to slowly walk the twisted path while seeking God.

From the starting point I could see the final destination – a wide open circle there in the middle of this path marked off by bricks and gravel. And so I walked.

“What do you want to give me Lord?”

And I walked.

“What do you want to give me Lord?”

And I kept walking.

I was getting frustrated. I mean I could see the end. It was RIGHT THERE! I knew where I was headed and all this meandering was a waste of time. I mean, what is the point?

“What do you want to give me Lord?”

As I followed the path there were times I could no longer see the center circle. I began to think that maybe I missed a turn somewhere. There was a lot of pine straw on the ground. Maybe one of the bricks had been covered up and I took a wrong turn? Was I even going in the right direction anymore?

Then the path would turn again and I would be headed toward the center, feeling more secure. Only to be directed away yet again.

“What do you want to give me Lord?”

“Perspective.” It came loud and clear and settled deep into my bones.

“I am writing this story my Beloved. I have a plan and I have a way. Sometimes I let you catch a glimpse of where we are headed. But oh my child, remember that I am more interested in the journey. You long for a short-cut to safety, and I long for you to trust me and let me be your safety. When you take your own path to get to the end more quickly, you miss what I am trying to give you along the way – more of me. You miss the “two becoming one” part of being my bride. You get fearful when the destination is out of sight, but I long for you to remember that you walk by faith and not by sight. Trust the One who created the path. I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.”

I continued to walk as tears streamed down my face. And shortly I made it to the center.

“REST”

In that place God took my faith a little deeper, and he made my hope a little stronger. If you have read many of my blogs you will see a theme. I stand strong on the truth of who God is. Then the bombs of life come and I am knocked off my feet. Each bomb seems bigger and each time, it makes the lies seem louder than the truth.

And so I grapple.

I grapple with what I know and the reality that screams just the opposite. I enter into the pain with my God and he meets me in it. Every. Single. Time. He isn’t wagging his finger wondering why we are here yet again. Where I see failure, he sees a new place exposed where he can write a new truth. He takes me by the hand and leads me deeper still.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. – Heb. 11:1

So as I left that place after 44 hours of silence and disconnection from the outside world, I was at rest. I was resting in the promises of God, but more securely I was resting in the presence of God. As I walk this labyrinth of my life, and especially when the path in front of me is dark and looks nothing like the promise I am holding so tightly to, I can have faith in the one who goes before me and will never leave me. And when God allows circumstances to expose places of weakness, I can trust him to meet me thre with his strength – and maybe a flashlight and a map.

 


One Step Further:

  1. Where are you finding it challenging to walk by faith and not by sight?
  2. Where might God be inviting you to mourning and repentance?
  3. What new truth might God want to write on your heart?