Monday, April 18, 2011

The Shelf

I feel as though I have been on hold for five years. Maybe longer. I feel as though God picked me up, gave me one quick hug and placed me on a shelf then turned His back, turned off the light and closed the door. For three of those five years I was content to stay perfectly still and perfectly quiet on that shelf. It felt right, it felt safe. Then about two years ago the shelf became dusty, the air stifling, my bones stiff and I began to want to change positions. I began to miss the light so I cracked opened the door just a wee bit. The light was a little uncomfortable and blinding after so long on the dark shelf. The little whiff of fresh air that came in through the crack caused me to breathe a little deeper. The warmth that came in felt good and I began to yearn for more. But yearning is not doing. A feeling of a little loneliness crept across my heart and I called out to God--remember me? Did you forget me on this shelf? Are you ever coming back?

Oh I know you're protecting me in here. I know you promised never to leave me so I know you're around here somewhere. I hate to be a pest, but now might be a good time to show me your presence--I miss seeing you--did you miss me? We used to be so busy together. We never had a moment to think, to breathe, to feel. I don't know about you but those times really wore me out. I did need the time on the shelf, but I never meant for you to go on without me. Did I disappoint you; did I disobey you?

 "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

That's what the shelf has been about! Waiting. Waiting upon the Lord. You knew my strength was gone. Years of trying to be that Godly woman, wife, mother, ministry leader were exciting and gratifying but tiring. When taking care of a mother with Alzheimer's and a father-in-law with terminal cancer were added in, the tiredness turned to exhaustion. The exhaustion turned to illness--diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure. I needed a waiting time and place but I didn't know how to get there and I didn't think Christians were allowed to go there. I just kept slipping down further into a pit of despair and I couldn't find a way out.

 "He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay; And he set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings." Psalm 40:2

But then God...heard my groanings and understood every feeling I could not express. But then God...moved me thousands of miles from everyone and everything I knew and loved. But then God...allowed my mother's Alzheimer's to get so bad she could not live with me any longer. But then God...gave me an empty nest and gave my husband a job that took him away from home during the week. He put me on the shelf--the quiet, peaceful, safe, secure shelf. He showed me on that shelf in the quiet days and nights just how tired and numb I was but more importantly, He showed me that it was o.k. to stay there until I felt better and stronger.  He taught me something I was never good at before--He taught me to wait. The world didn't end. My children and grand children's lives were not put on hold until I could help them with it. My mother still needed help but I learned to allow other's who were trained to help me with her. I missed my husband and he missed me but our marriage grew stronger and more loving. He let me see that He really didn't need me to help Him heal abuse victims (my ministry), but He gave me peace to know that when He restored my strength He would use me again. God showed me that I was His daughter and therefore He would take care of me just as I told others He would take care of all of their needs. He lavished love on me by letting me just rest. He didn't value me because of what I could do for Him but because of what He had done for me. Jesus did it all!

After I cracked open that door and called to Him, He answered. He brought me into a time of prayer. The next two years were years of preparation. Everyday He allowed me more and more time to commune with Him--pray and wait for His answers, a luxury I had never had a lot of. I don't believe in "magic" but that is the word that most will understand--these years were "magical".  How amazing that the God who created everything would take the time to hear my prayers and to care enough to answer each one! Each answered prayer did make me feel as if I was soaring with eagle's wings. Finally, in His timing, I was ready to come off of the shelf.

In His gracious goodness the Lord allowed my husband and myself to move back to a place where we are known and loved, where we met Jesus and served Him for the first time, where we met each other and married and raised our children and watched each other grow older and dearer. I don't know all of the reasons He has allowed this; I only know that He has renewed my strength, He has given me back my joy and excitement to serve Him.

I also know that there are so many of you out there who are just tired--worn out and weary. Your joy has worn thin from years of caring for others and keeping your family's going. It's difficult for you to get up in the morning or make decisions or keep up the pretense that your life is fine. Please believe me when I tell you that God sees you and knows how difficult your life is right now. He doesn't want you to bear these cares and feelings on your own. He is there for you. Contrary to what you might firmly believe, He really doesn't need you to keep everyone and everything together--that's His job. He wants you to surrender. Surrender the control to Him. For some of you that thought is terrifying so I challenge you today to surrender just one tiny problem to God. Ask Him to take control of it and leave it with Him. Watch and see that the Lord is good and can be trusted. No matter what your circumstances look like don't take it back. Leave it with the Lord--WAIT upon the Lord and feel the freedom He gives you. Then next week give Him one more thing, then one more until you have cast all of your cares on Him. At that point you will understand how waiting on Him has set you free to soar like an eagle and run the marathon of life without fear or fatigue.

1 comment:

  1. Oh how Glorious! What a testimony! Oh that helped me so much. I feel that way so many times, like I have to keep so many balls in the air and I feel panicy if there is a break in the continuous movement! I feel like I MUST be supposed to be DOING SOMETHING. Oh how SWEET the Love of our Bridegroom. How perfect and tender His care. He Knows us so so well. When we have to be rested and when we need to move forward. I choose to LET GO and trust and rest in Him. I love you best friend.