Rest and renewal in God

“Rest in him, be renewed in him, and allow his joy to become your joy; because he longs for you to return again to him, in the only place that love is born.” -T.B. LaBerge

God tends to use the most painful experiences to show us the deepness and richness and steadiness of his love. I often see the hard times and the difficulties as God using them to teach me or show me something about myself. However, the focus—as always—is not on me or on my brokenness or my failings, but the focus of these times, as should be the focus of our lives, is on the Father. The focus of our attention and the focus of our hearts is on the unpredictable, un-containable, majestic nature of the Creator. The dark times and the heavy times teach us about our Father. He uses them to show us more of His character in ways we would never learn otherwise.

It is astounding how often and unceasingly the Lord calls us back to Him, to return again and again, despite our sprinting and turning away. I am entering into a season of learning to be open, real and transparent about the running and returning and renewing that has occurred in my life. There is a significant amount of healing and freedom and growth that comes from realness, openness, and not being afraid or ashamed of the past—for our Father does not wish us to live in fear or confusion or shame. That is the enemy’s doing.

Growth of any sort leaves an ache with the loss of the old and, somehow, younger parts of ourselves. Loss is numbing, as we learn to live without, and grief can be quite inexplicably lonely, as we begin to move on. I’ve seen how vast and empty the expanse of the sky can feel to be, splattered with stars and planets and the slight glow of small town lights, on several moonlit walks alone. I’ve learned how to ask God the troubling questions that weigh much too heavily on my heart to bear alone, how to receive only echoing, roaring, deafening silence as an answer, how to (not always so graciously) accept the silence and hold on to the silence as an answer, all the while phrases like “Be still and know” and “Wait patiently for the Lord” reverberate in my mind, and how to cling to my unsearchable Father when he is all there is left to cling to and when His promises are all that I have to place my hope in, understanding that He says, “My ways are not your ways.”

It is in our great losses and unbearable struggles that we most tangibly encounter God’s presence. Somehow, in the seasons He has felt most distant and silent, His presence has become most evident and most needed. It is in the desert place, in the place of suffering and great sacrifice, in the place of the most searing loneliness, that Jesus found strength in the words of His Father, that Jesus remained where He was, when the promises of His Father didn’t feel true or taste true or sound true. It was in the face of great temptation that Jesus repeated the words of His Abba as a foundation for His thoughts and choices. To this I cling to, when loss makes His promises feel the least true and far away and inapplicable to me. It is a gift—I am unwillingly learning most times—to learn so tangibly what waiting for the Lord looks like. It is in our desolate and lonely places that we must cling, with what little or absence of strength we may have left, to His promises—bitter and distant as they may seem at times. His promises are true and good and filling.

This focus on our Father and on His words should retain all of our attention and all of our thoughts as we—even if stiffly and unwillingly, even if we drag our feet, even if every fiber of our flesh and aching hearts shout in protest, even if we only desire to run far away from Him in our hurt and anger—turn to the Lord, our eternal Father, and humble ourselves in the throne room of the Almighty. He will accept us, even though we come with deep wounds and shaking fists and swollen eyes and even as we throw accusations at his feet. He admits us into his holy presence because of Jesus, who took the price of our failings, of our turning away, of our short comings and broken hearts, declaring our state as forgiven, as pure, as complete.

He is teaching us further and more completely that He is the only steadfast part of this life, even as His ways are unknowable and unsearchable, fathomless and infinite—yet they are good and whole and faithful and unfailing.

I have not necessarily received answers to the questions I have given to the Lord. I do know I have entrusted the heavy questions with a faithful father—though it has taken time and a lot of stumbling to be at a place of trusting in that truth. He is faithful in ways I cannot comprehend nor fully appreciate, and I am learning to be okay with not fully understanding.

A thought to hold on to as you leave: “Be still and know that I am God.”