If you're like me, you're a recovering worrier. Keep reading.
If you're not prone to worry, this one might not be for you. Actually, it probably still is. Keep reading.
I went on a walk tonight. That's nothing out-of-the ordinary; I go for a lot of walks since the ocean is, um, less than ten minutes away on foot. Don't hate me. Someone laughed at me the other day because I live in one of the most beautiful places ever and yet I complain that there are no thunderstorms here. Can you tell my Midwestern roots run deep?
The unusual part of this trek, though, is that an intersecting thought crossed my mind as I walked down the Ocean Beach Municipal Pier, somewhat along the lines of what my friend was saying.
"Are you alive and awake to being here?"
What's an intersecting thought, you ask? It's a thought that interrupts your current stream-of-consciousness. Some people believe it's a thought you didn't really come up with on your own. In other words, the Holy Spirit speaking? Perhaps. I have experienced a handful of these, when I quiet down enough to listen.
Anyhow, that phrase actually takes me back to a song my Algebra 2 teacher taught us to keep us chugging along in the world of... whatever it is that we learned in junior year algebra.
"Alive, Awake, Alert, Enthusiastic" To the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It" Arranger: Unknown (potentially said algebra teacher)
"I'm alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic *clap clap* I'm alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic *clap clap* I'm alive, awake, alert, I'm alert, awake, alive, I'm alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic *clap clap*"
We rolled our eyes then because we knew we were going to be forced to get back to solving quadratic equations (???) for the next thirty-five minutes. but I think Ms. Algebra 2 was onto something.
The entire month and ten days I've been in San Diego, it's felt like a dream. But not really in an "oh-my-gosh-I-can't-believe-I-get-to-live-here" kind of way. It's just fuzzy. It's like I can't really experience each day as it comes. I've been paralyzed by worry, fear, and general feeling of unsettled-ness. That kind of craving that could only be satisfied by people who know you deeply.
I've learned that I'm an introverted extrovert. I know all this rest, this aloneness, this recharging is good for me, but damn do I miss my people. Sometimes the absence of all familiarity triggers a physical ache.
I've been so caught up in my head, in these emotions that come in waves, in self-deprecation and doubt and pity, that I've forgotten to look around. I would say sixty percent of days I forget to be actively thankful for the place God has brought me to. One of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Not only that, but I've allowed the darkness to creep in and dull my sense of purpose. My sense of passion. My longing to serve and to obey my call. To breathe breaths and take steps and pick up burdens so that others can breathe easier. I have allowed this season that feels "in between" to become a tool for the enemy to use against me. It doesn't have to be this way, but I've come to believe "that's just the way it is."
Tomorrow is a new day. Thank you Jesus, that your mercies are new every morning. That's one that I had to sticky-note on my mirror because it won't sticky-note in my brain and in my heart.
Where are you dulled dimmed down? Where are you craving peace and comfort and settling for transition?
On the other hand, where are you scrambling? Where are you digging for gold that's been dug up long ago? Where are you striving and running your lungs and soles thin? Where are you refusing to slow down, to sit before the Word, to allow the Light to give you life?
The only motions of mine that has kept me going on the days where I want to pack it up and go home are my morning coffee dates with Jesus. I am fully aware of the kind of person I sound like right now, but I am unapologetic.
If you haven't seen this video yet, please, take thirty minutes of your time to be encouraged by a nineteen-year-old that is probably wiser and more kickass than you. Sorry, not sorry. I don't care if she's from Duck Dynasty. Homegirl can preach it.
My two points are simple:
Are you alive and awake to where you are right now?
It doesn't matter where it is. You might resent your current location or you might be basking in the glory of it all. Don't forget where the glory comes from, whether you see it in front of your eyes or wonder if it was ever there. Don't forget that the One who created glory - who created everything in the first place - also created you. He also created purpose, and meaning, and things that matter. Have you ever asked yourself what matters to you and why? If you haven't, do it. If you have, what are you doing about it?
Where does your life and your light come from?
Are you being fed enough so that when the Spirit speaks, you know what to listen for? Are you quieting your soul every single day to make space for the truth? Or are you settling for consuming a weekly worship service and saying a quick prayer before your head hits the pillow? It doesn't matter where you are or what you're doing. If you're too busy to be fed, you're too busy. I learned this the hard way as a leader in my college ministry. You cannot be alive and awake and alert and enthusiastic if you are spiritually dead. Don't take it from me. Here's Paul:
"But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, 'I follow Paul,' and another, 'I follow Apollos,' are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building." --1 Corinthians 3:1-9
These people that Paul loved deeply, they weren't feeding themselves. They still wanted to just gulp down the easy stuff and be as mature as Paul and Apollos and all the other head honchos. But the evidence of their chronic immaturity was abounding - they compared themselves to one another and bragged and took sides and refused to focus on what was important to God. They wanted it their way, and they wanted things to be easy. Paul wasn't having it.
When we're not digging through and uncovering the Word to find God's promises ourselves, we're settling. We're drinking baby formula and expecting to be able to function like adults.
You can probably feel it. You get stuck in a constant cycle of comparison, self-pity, self-deprecation, doubt, exhaustion, jealousy, strife with those around you. Those are not marks of growth.
Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control.
Do you see these welling up in you? Even from time to time? Little marks of progress are tell-tale signs of growth. But don't dare to expect them without feeding yourself with the Light that gave our wretched, unrighteous human hearts the ability to possess these fruits in the first place.
God gives the growth. So find where God is.
There's a pretty good chance that no matter where you are, he's somewhere nearby.
So how do we move forward into the Light after weeks of sitting in darkness? Do we walk "humbly" and somewhat shamefully forward, protecting ourselves in case the Light doesn't favor us?
"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." --Hebrews 4:16
In other words, be bold; be alive; be awake - in the presence of the Lord, which is with you everywhere you go.