That is the life I am living these days. I live in a room.. like a semi studio attached to a house filled with a family that rents to me. It is my own private space and I am thankful that the Lord brought me here. I was living here 5 months ago when my husband passed on. I have no idea how long I will be here or where I could ever go since I have a very limited income.
So the challenge is to accept what is and to learn how to spend time alone with God on a totally new level. There are very few distractions or responsibilities in this season. It is a huge adjustment. My nature is to want to take care of people and now I just have my cat and myself. Some days we do well.. other days are so hard that all I do is think about everything I lost. My husband, my home, my things, my job .. the beautiful valley I walked in almost every single day.. all gone.
Days that I struggle to not be angry at God and probably almost everyone else.. anger is a part of grieving. Other days I am so sad I have to drag myself out of bed and force myself to eat and exercise. My life feels empty and no place feels like home. I am writing this because I want you to know the context of this post. So I spend lots of time alone. I know God is with me but I am lonely for human contact… missing the hugs and kisses that Steve gave so generously. Does it help when people say but you are not alone.. God is always with you.. No it does not help. Why? Because I am grieving and it is painful and it is a solitary road that no one truly understands. There are moments when I know God is close.. but they are surrounded by many more moments when I think to myself.. what happened to my life? Where am I?
Covid life has not made this any easier. People and places are off limits and here in California many churches are closed, so that dimension of life is also gone. I don’t enjoy watching church.. on Zoom or Facebook live.. it reminds me of a bad TV show. So now I am struggling with my relationship with the church.. feeling disconnected and discouraged.. wondering what it all means. I struggled with church all my life as a Believer and got disillusioned over and over but kept returning. This time is different. As I have prayed about it and wondered what to do.. I get the impression God is saying don’t be afraid to be alone with me and to let that be enough. This doesn’t mean total isolation but it does mean not looking to church for support or meaning in my life.. It means not clinging to something that is gone.. maybe not forever, but at least for now.
I often think about those people who spent time in prison or heroes like Corrie Ten Boom who was in a concentration camp. There are many examples of people who are models of what it is to be a person of great faith. They suffered alone with God and He was enough. Let that be my story Lord in these dark times.
Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”
While spending time with my oldest granddaughter, we went up to her room. I noticed that she had her two dolls in their bed with the blanket on..they were definitely sound asleep. I asked her about it..after all it was the middle of the day. She said “Grandma, they are hibernating.” Some how the image of those two peaceful dolls sound asleep..without a care in the world.. stuck in my mind.
If only..we could just hibernate like that. What a relief..just crawl into bed and sleep until the Winter is over… remembering to wake up with the first signs of Spring in the air.. Unfortunately we can’t so we have to make the best of the winter months. The holidays are upon us and soon they will pass..it will be like the quiet after a storm. A good time to reflect and remember..the year is ending and a new one is beginning.
God is at work in the winter..we may end up being alone more..inside more.. less busy. He is calling to us to come and rest in Him..to be still. Maybe we should start now..right in the middle of the Christmas rush. After all it is the Advent season..a time to anticipate..to long for..to prepare..to acknowledge our Great God. He is Immanuel..God with us..His ways are not our ways and He is the giver of all good gifts. Let’s celebrate Him and maybe then..we can hibernate just a little 🙂
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.”
That is what it feels like when the voice of God suddenly becomes clear and strong. He promises to speak to us.. if we are willing to wait..to be still.. to be alone..to rest in the silent place. He longs to reveal those things that will enable us to live more fully..to speak truth in the innermost parts.
I believe these things that I just wrote.. but the silence can be agonizing. His voice brings freedom to our weary souls. He shines light into the darkness and the confusion is gone. He is the rescuer. He comes for us. I have just experienced this over the last month in a way that I never would have imagined. The darkness was one of the worst I have ever known..the accuser doing his work. Where was God? All I could do was cry out to Him..trusting that He was close. I was desperate for Him and He began to peel back the darkness. Little glimpses of light came into my life as He spoke to my heart.
I had asked for healing and He came to do a work that would set me free. Healing requires desire..committment..longing..willingness. We also need to set aside time to be alone..to let the pain come to the surface. My life has been filled with disappointment and pain caused by those closest to me..I never thought I could understand why they did what they did or be able to truly forgive. God knew better.
He met me each time I cried out to Him.. “help me forgive them Lord”..He met me every time I asked for protection and comfort. He used my husband to hold me over and over again as the pain poured out of the old wounds. He gave me a safe place to fall apart..so He could put me back together again.
He is the healer..the redeemer..He is able. He will do a deep work in you if you keep asking Him and make time for it. He is longing to transform us.. to fill us with His amazing unconditional love. He is our God.
We need to rest this month. Yes.. I know it is hard..there is always so much to do. But isn’t that true all year long? Think about plants and what they do at this time of the year. I pruned my roses and fuchsias yesterday. It was painful.. taking them down to sticks. I so wanted them to bloom all year long, but they need to rest. This is the time for that.. this month in the winter season.
We are not so different. We did so much over the last couple of months.. all the activities and responsibilities were intense. We are tired and worn out.. aren’t we? Well.. I am.. I admit it.. I need rest. I suspect you do too.. There is nothing wrong with slowing down.. with protecting your time.. saving your energy for those things that really matter. The culture says something else.. I saw daffodils for sale in bloom today and it reminded me that Spring is almost here. Wait a minute..that is not true at all..Winter just started a few weeks ago.
We need all the seasons ..just like the plants. We need time to be renewed and restored so we can be productive and fruitful in the next season. Let’s not rush through this month. Take each day and ask God what He wants you to do with it. Look at your week and eliminate those things that can be moved into the future. Enjoy the quiet..be still..rest..take your time..relax. Everything that is supposed to happen.. will happen at exactly the right time.
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven”
This is not easy to do..at least for some of us. We find it difficult to remain in one place..to wait..to stop moving. There are times in life when we just need to be still..to stop trying to figure out our next move and to trust that God has a plan. He requires our cooperation..that can be the tricky part. Our human nature thinks that He needs our help..we will figure out the next step. We want to come up with the solution..the answer.. the plan. I am guilty of this continually.
God gets my attention through my feelings. I realize that many people discount their feelings and refuse to take them seriously..not a good idea. The Holy Spirit will direct us through them if we are praying and seeking His will. He leads us intimately..in very subtle ways. If I am moving in a direction that is not the best for me..the passion for what I am doing begins to fade..I lose the desire. Yes..the desire. Our desires are important..they tell us about ourselves..desire is foundational to our walk with God.
Desire for God leads us to Him in the first place..without that desire there would be no relationship. Desire leads people into marriage..education..careers..parenthood..missional living..personal growth..music..art..cooking.. traveling..the list is endless. Our passion is from God and He speaks to us through it every single day. The challenge is to be still and let those passions come to the surface..to keep the channel open so God can speak and lead and encourage. The other challenge is to stop second guessing the answer..to quiet our own hearts and minds.
In this short season before we come to Easter..let’s get quiet.. be still..allow Him to bring up those things that we long for..trust Him with all the uncertainty..remember His goodness..