These are some thoughts I wrote down last weekend at the Crafting Retreat that I'm finally getting around to sharing. Like I said last week, I've been trying to process everything that I learned. I think that sharing this is part of the process.
This weekend has been relaxing, refreshing and eye-opening, as all visits to Camp Perkins are. Time up here cleanses my soul. It wipes everything away and allows me to begin again.
Days like this make me want to hide away up here forever because nothing can touch me up here. While I know that God is always with me, there is no doubt in my mind that He is present here. Maybe it’s more evident because this place eliminates any distractions. As cliché and full of cheese as it is, this place makes me feel like I’m somehow closer to heaven and to God. The snow falls softer; it sparkles like glitter and shines brighter. In the evening you tip your head backwards and look up at the stars; all the millions and billions of stars in that dark sky and you wish you could fall into it. The trees and mountains embrace you and you never want them to let you go. In one word, this place is perfection, utter perfection. It takes your breath away.
Usually in the Bible studies up here we do Lectio Divina, which is an ancient practice/way of studying Scripture. It literally means Divine Word; you listen to what God has to say to you and see how His Word intersects with your life. It seems like whenever I do Lectio Divina, I have to laugh at how well God knows me. It shouldn’t surprise me, but it always does. God always knows exactly what I need to hear.
Saturday’s study was on Psalms 90, which is a prayer of Moses. It begins by saying that God has been our dwelling place and how He created the world. Then it goes into this downward spiral of self-pity, but around verse 12 Moses turns a corner and the passage ends in hope.
The first part of Lectio Divina is picking out a word or phrase that speaks to you. The phrase that jumped out at me was in verse 14, “that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” (Perhaps this is because of my participation/leading of our church worship team or the fact I began piano lessons this month.)
The second time you read through you identify how the Scripture intersects with your life. That time verse 12 and 17 of the Message struck me. “Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well! ...And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us, confirming the work that we do. Oh yes. Affirm the work that we do!” I am certain that Moses’ life did not go how he expected; otherwise he probably wouldn’t be ranting to God in the desert.
I can totally identify with him in that respect. My life has not gone how I planned and that has made me angry. I feel like I had every right to be angry too. This wasn’t supposed to go this way. I wasn’t supposed to get in debt. My internship wasn’t supposed to be so challenging. I wasn’t supposed to be verbally attacked for my call to ministry. I wasn’t supposed to be unemployed, especially for as long as I was. I was supposed to qualify for unemployment benefits. I wasn’t ever supposed to go back to work at the fire center. I was supposed to find a boyfriend and even a husband. I wasn’t supposed to move back in with my parents, let alone stay for as long as I have. God it’s not fair. Why me? (Quite the pity party. Right?)
Now I know my trials and struggles compared to others may seem trivial, but they were mine. To me they were all consuming and it was the end of the world. I can distinctly remember my rock bottom moment too; sitting on my bedroom floor, sobbing uncontrollably, yelling at God in a very Moses-esque fashion.
Since my rock bottom moment I’ve come around, just like Moses in those verses I previously mentioned. I want to live, not just survive; I want to LIVE WELL! I want God to show me how to make the most of my life, EVEN if it’s not the life I planned or imagined for myself. And I want God to affirm my work. The work I’m doing now is miles from what I ever thought I’d be doing and I want and NEED God to affirm what I’m doing. I NEED Him to tell me that I’m where I’m supposed to be.
The third part of Lectio Divina is uncovering what our response is to God’s Word. I heard God speak to me in verse 15, “Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble.” I need to be thankful and grateful for each of my days, both the good and bad days. There is so much joy to find in every day that I’m given and God is always faithful and blesses me more than I could ever deserve. Life is too short and too fragile to live any other way.
I feel like I’ve been broken down so much over the past four years. I’ve been fractured and reduced to a heap of splinters. While this has been painful, I am grateful for what I’ve been through because I know that He has been teaching me and rebuilding me through these years. I no longer ask, “Why me?” when the unexpected happens, but rather, “What would You have me learn?” I hope and pray that I grow in wisdom, love and strength and ultimately that I can live well, in a way that glorifies God.