It’s been a while since I’ve written. Over this past Christmas season, I’ve been around the world and back, from my home in snowy Michigan to the red tile roofs of Prague, from the mountains of Salzburg to the small farm towns of East Texas, and back to my beloved windy city of Chicago. And when I got back on the second day of this new year, 2017, I was exhausted.
Mostly just physically. But looking back, I think 2016 was also a pretty spiritually and emotionally exhausting year for me (and, let’s be honest, the world). Come to the end of the year, and I feel tired of my Bible, burnt out on my reading plan and putting God in the background. I feel tired of wandering around for weeks on end, unable to go home because of a fire that damaged everything, caught in hotel purgatory. I feel tired of hearing the same worried thoughts about the future over and over again like scratches on chalkboard–this doesn’t fit with your plan. What is your plan? You need to have a plan. Time to make a new plan. It’s just…a lot.
And normally, around this time of year, I love to make plans. I love to start fresh on a new project, to get up and go and make things happen–it’s just who I am. But I think I’ve finally come to the point where I realize, plans aren’t always the answer. They can be great, and useful, and productive. But they aren’t always, especially when it comes to planning the future. I tend to get stuck on my plan, my way of doing things, my timeline. And not only does it cause problems for others when they don’t match up to these plans of mine, but I suffer, too.
As I reflect on what I learned in 2016, I realize that when I am fixated on a plan, I experience exactly zero rest.
What do I mean by rest?
I mean the ability to sit and be still in God’s presence, in absolute trust that He is good to me, that He brings me only good things, in total certainty of His love.
I mean the ability to be present in my own life, to not get so caught up in the future that I forget to recognize the beautiful things happening right in front of me.
And I think that to rest means to see, to be able to truly see life as God meant us to see it–to perceive each whisper of Him doing a new thing in our lives and our hearts.
When we rest, we get to see the new things God is doing and take life at a cozier pace. We can move forward through our days with deliberation, but still remain flexible and aligned with His Spirit if the unexpected occurs. And when it does? We simply have a more interesting journey with more to see along the way.
With my tendency to rely on my own plans, I need this truth desperately, which is why I made Isaiah 43:19 my theme verse for 2017.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
This verse is also why I made my theme words of 2017 Rest and See (sidenote: these two words also happen to be the title of a gorgeous song written by my church bandmates, Ben and Priscilla. How convenient for me). It asks us to look beyond our own plans to see perceive what God is doing in our hearts, to rest in Him and trust Him to make a way instead of relying on ourselves.
And how precious that gift is, that He actually asks us to rest, to lay down our burdens and dreams and plans at the cross of Jesus while He takes good care of us, to lighten our souls and free them up to see His goodness in the present moment.
I am so looking forward to this year of resting and seeing. I hope you’ll join me.