Tuesday, February 7
A Season of Rest in God's Word
I feel like I write a lot about living seasonally - although maybe it is more in my own journal than on the blog. If there is one thing I have learned since becoming a mother, it is that seasons change more often than the four seasons of the year we are all used to. Learning to embrace each season as it comes has been huge for me. It isn't always easy to recognize the changes. Often we refuse to believe it is really winter until we find ourselves scraping ice off the windshield. In the same way, I still regularly resist change until I cannot any longer.
The hardest seasons for me to accept are seasons of rest. How backwards is that? I say all the time I just need a break. Just a weekend away... just a little time to rest. Yet I am finding that seasons of rest are rarely (if ever?) all encompassing. I may be in a season of rest in one way (like taking a sabbatical from Youth Ministry) but in a busy season in another way (hello, homeschool!) at the same time. I think it kind of has to work that way... in each stage of life, priorities need to be reevaluated, and things rarely fall in the same place on the scale.
My journey into really studying Scripture for myself began in the months after Aiden was born. I was desperate for guidance, and as a new stay-at-home mom of a newborn I had more time on my hands. I was sleep deprived and felt like all I ever did was care for Aiden, but in retrospect there was also more time for quiet as well. A sleeping baby snuggled on my shoulder kept my options limited for what I could do. Thanks be to God that He helped me choose the best thing!
In those early days, I read a lot of books and Bible studies. I needed the training in how to dig in to Scripture. As I learned, I found myself wanting more and more to set the books aside and just read for myself. There were years in that process... it certainly didn't happen overnight! There came a point, however, when I could study for myself and the Word of God was my greatest delight! I loved digging in to the original language and taking things verse by verse. Aside from the occasional (okay, maybe more frequent sometimes) texts to my very patient Pastor to discuss what I was learning or a verse I struggled with, I relied mostly on the work of the Holy Spirit during my solo studies.
Over the past few months, however, I have found that I am struggling to maintain that kind of diligent solo study. My prayer life has been richer than ever, and my love of the Word has not changed. Yet I feel like I am trying to pull more weight than God intends me to carry when I sit down with my Bible. At this time last year, studying Scripture definitely lightened my daily burden. Now, however, I don't find that to be true. I have assumed that it is just a funk. If I don't have an explanation and don't really want to dig to find one it is so easy to use that label. "I am in a funk." I say it often.
I think, though, that I am actually in a battle with pride. I feel like I have learned so much... shouldn't I be able to continue studying the way I have been? Isn't it "going backwards" to rely on other people's studies? And as I actually ask those questions I find myself sighing, "Oh, Branson... when will you ever learn?"
I mentioned that my prayer life has never been richer... when I stop and think about the greatest change there, it happened when I stopped trying to rely on my own devices to pray. I stopped assuming that the "most meaningful" prayers had to come from my own mind. Instead, I found that praying through Scripture and the prayers of others was truly freeing. There are days when my own prayers flow freely, but oh the richness of having guidance and different perspectives to take me in new directions!
I find that this all seems to come back to my tendency to be "all or nothing" in almost every area. Yet when I look at that shift in my prayer life, I can see that sticking to the extremes is so limiting. I have been truly enjoying reading lately. I have like a million books that goodreads tells me are about 15% read, and each one has so much to teach me. Yet I have been trying to force myself to wait until after "quiet time" to read. I have been falling into the trap of making Bible Study work instead of a gift! As a result, I have found that heaviness oppressive and disheartening.
Today I am realizing that this might very well just be another of those seasons of rest. A season where it is OKAY to just read all the books and consume Scripture rather than dissecting it. I find that it is a season for the Psalms for me. A season of really sinking into the love and grace of my Heavenly Father as He holds me close instead of pushing me to grow so much. Does God do that? Do He give us seasons where it is okay to just fall at His throne and lay there for a while? I think maybe He does.
I find myself being pulled in other directions in my faith life. More relational directions. More domestic directions. I hesitate to use the word "feel" because feelings are so unreliable, but I feel like maybe this is my time to learn best through putting all of my studies into action for a while. I know I still need a steady diet of the Word, but I feel like maybe it is okay to let someone else do the cooking for a while. Oh, how I love my random analogies. I am drawn back to the book that so greatly impacted me at the end of 2016 which explains the need to both "living room intimacy" and "kitchen service." I have enjoyed a great deal of living room intimacy, and I feel like maybe now is the time to find the new ways it has equipped me to get to work in the kitchen.
I look forward to reading this post next year (or even next month, perhaps) and seeing where I was headed when I sat down to write on this day. All I know at this point is that for me the hardest steps to take are often the ones that lead to letting go... but that is what I am trying to do today. Here's to resting in God's perfect peace that truly passes all understanding!