Cease Striving…

I’m a day late with this post… I started to write a number of times yesterday, and the attempts covered four very diverse topics. As you can tell, none of them made it very far because nothing was posted. I fretted off and on throughout the day about being late with a post, and by the time I had to leave for a meeting, the page was once again blank.  

I had planned to try and get something written when I got home at nearly 11:00pm, but my brain was still swirling with too many potential topics and the happenings of the evening. It was after 12:00 when I gave up on the idea of getting something written before I went to bed. For the first time in months, I would just have to be late to post.

Last night, during the meeting, I started to think about one of my favorite verses in the Bible: Psalm 46:10. Many translations start the verse with, “Be still and know that I am God.”

It may seem crazy to say after calling that one of my favorite verses, but honestly, I don’t really like that. Maybe it’s just me, but I find those words an easy excuse to sit and do nothing while waiting for God to show up and do His thing. “Be still” paints a picture in my head of just sitting and twiddling my thumbs, but I am fairly certain that isn’t at all what is meant to be communicated by this verse.

In the NASB, the verse reads, “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” That paints a completely different sort of picture in my head. It is not an excuse to sit idly by and wait on God to move. It speaks to my heart an invitation to be a part of what God is doing, and to do my work in His strength. Striving comes from trying to do things in our own strength, trying to control things ourselves instead of allowing Him to be God in our circumstances.

The other thing I love about Psalm 46:10, is that God WILL be glorified in the nations and on the earth. That is a certainty that doesn’t depend on my abilities or zeal. We are invited to be a part of seeing that happen, but it is as we “cease striving” and allow Him to work through us that His name is lifted high!

I was striving to write yesterday, and I got nowhere. Instead of settling my mind and asking Him to speak through me, I was determined to get words on the screen and fulfill my self-imposed duty to post on time. 

What are you striving to accomplish today? Maybe you need to stop and let Him guide you and empower you for the task ahead.

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Expectation or Expectancy?

I have often used these words interchangeably, but I’m learning lately that there is a difference. It may not seem like a big deal to change a few letters, but the truth is, the dissimilarity has affected my emotional and spiritual well-being for years!

The dictionary defines these words as nearly the same thing, but their connotations in my mind affect the very foundations of what I believe about God and His promises.

So, what’s the difference? Hopefully, I can put this into words in a way that makes sense.

Expectation feels demanding. When someone says “I expect” this or that, I often understand it to mean that any less – or different – is not acceptable. If I am given a responsibility, I want to know the expectations that go along with it so that I can be sure to meet them.

There, that is the idea I’m looking for. Expectations are things which exist to be met. They are specific, and it’s difficult to accept anything that doesn’t look the way it’s expected to.

Expectancy, on the other hand, feels open. It is a feeling of anticipation for something. It is HOPE.

I have written a lot in past posts about the things I felt God has promised me. (I was going to say recent weeks, but I’ve not written in weeks. Forgive the absence, please!) These past few years have been a roller coaster of ups and downs – high times filled with expectation for the fulfillment of promises, and then times where I feel I’m falling into some seemingly bottomless chasm of disappointment.

Even in the most recent post, I wrote all about the “broad place” that God has been promising to bring me to during this season.  Yet, here I am 7 weeks after arriving, still crashing in someone’s guestroom.  For a while, I was stressing out about it, frantically looking for a place to call home. I didn’t understand why God wasn’t meeting my expectations and demands for Him to fulfill His promise on my schedule and to my specifications.

The problem is He never promised that I would be all settled and unpacked within a couple of weeks. He never said I would have my own apartment, or even my own room. He didn’t promise internet, or a washing machine, or a kitchen sink for that matter!

God promised me a “place” of rest, of ministry, of growth. My stress and disappointment was acute because I interpreted His words, and then built my expectations on that interpretation. As soon as I lay down my own ideas, stopped stressing, and let go, not only was a weight lifted, but new possibilities suddenly had room to make a home in my mind.

The very morning that I finally gave up my search for the perfect housing solution, I decided to make the most of my season of living out of a suitcase. Within hours of first thinking of the idea, plans were forming and I had talked to my leaders and family… I would go on an epic adventure!

Part of the ministry I have been asked to do here in Ireland requires some travel for research purposes. It had been in the back of my mind to do a couple of short trips in the UK to check out some of the Celtic era monasteries and abbeys in Scotland and England, but I hadn’t given a ton of thought to when. As I thought about my living situation, suddenly it just made sense to do all the travel before I start paying rent and bills here in Sligo.

I realize now that this is an incredibly obvious solution, so feel free to say “Duh!” I have said it to myself several times so far. That is simply an illustration of how my expectations for what I thought God would do clouded my mind and blocked out an obvious benefit to my current circumstances. 🙂

All that to say, I will be leaving my temporary home in Sligo next week for a journey that will take me all around the British Isles. I’ll start by seeing three or four places in Northern Ireland, then a ferry to Scotland and travels to several different parts of Scotland, England and Wales. Finally, I’ll catch a ferry back to Dublin via the Isle of Man to see some sites in other counties of Ireland before returning to Sligo.

I don’t know how long this will take, but I’m guessing I’ll be gone for maybe 6 weeks. I don’t have an itinerary. I am traveling on my own, just me and Jesus, and I am filled with expectancy! I have no expectations for what God will do, but I am filled with a sense of anticipation to see what He will do during the next two months! Divine appointments, incredible provision (I don’t know how, but to travel in the UK for several weeks will require some pretty amazing provision.), fun, and new knowledge of history, Christianity, God and myself.  Those are some pretty basic ideas of what might be a part of this, but I anticipate surprises all along the way!

I am so excited to see what will take place over the next two months. There are so many unknowns – I could end up sleeping in a bus depot somewhere, but I cannot suppress the feeling of hope and expectancy that is building inside me. I don’t know what to expect, and I LOVE that! I am simply going to be obedient, take the steps He shows me, and watch in amazement at the ways He shows up.

I appreciate prayers for wisdom, safety, provision, and anything else you’d like to pray for me. 🙂 I’ll keep you posted and hopefully be able to post some photos along the way.

Now, based on the length of this post, I should probably sign off so you can all go and thank the Lord that I didn’t kiss the Blarney Stone when I was at the castle last week! 🙂