Quiet. Rest. Stillness. Freedom. Silencing of the world. Heightened senses. Conversations with God. Hope. Breaking down walls. Death of the old and birth of the new. These are the words which describe the last two months of my life and they are the reason my fingers are hesitant to “speak” of their occurrence. Within the quietness of my heart, such new intimacy has formed that, If I am being honest, it is hard to let go of our private little secret. It feels like coming back from a sunny little island where the most intense of love affairs ensued. Will it end when I bring him back into my world? Is it really as deep as we thought it was in paradise? Will it weather the storm? But God does not call us to a life of solitude 100 percent of the time. Of course, there are the times of refreshing alone with Him, but at some point we must step back into being the salt and light of this earth. Our hearts ache with a spiritual longing to testify to the great glory of our God.
I had many plans for the days following my surgery. As a mom of three, I just knew the time I had off my feet was sacred and was going to be incredibly productive. But the strangest thing happened the minute I opened my computer to record some new, profound truth: I had to avert my eyes from my website--like it literally burned my eyes. I couldn't look. I even tried a blank page on the computer and then my journal. Nothing. It was not that I did not have anything in my heart to say but it was more like every time I tried to write I knew deep within my heart that I was in no way to “write” anything that was stirring in my heart. Now to a writer and to one who communicates with God through her words, this is excruciating and scary. I longed to create so much that within its absence I felt dead inside. It seemed so unfair all this wasted time. I began to hate the word “rest” which echoed within my soul. My physical situation usurped all control and no longer could I busily evade pain with yoga, weights, elliptical machines, grocery shopping, activities or cleaning house. My obsession with physical activity was merely a reflection or physical manifestation of a spiritual truth: I run from God and from the uncomfortable.
GOD SAID REST.
And He meant rest from everything. From my usual ways of numbing pain. From my usual relationship with Him. From my usual pursuit of creativity. And from my view of Him. The physical ‘end” of myself and the mandatory rest was symbolic of the death of life as I knew it. Just as rest would provide healing for my foot, God was whispering, “If you will rest dear one, I will bring true healing to your heart. Rest is worship and it is the birthmother of MORE. And oh, I have so much more for you!” In this beginning stage, I sensed the Lord had something MORE for me--not so much like a missing piece but an additional piece. Other. Higher. Better. And the greatest part is that He told me exactly how to rest (because you know that was my next maybe not-put-so-nicely question): Worship.
God just wanted me to worship Him. But the problem was I felt like He had taken the one way I really worshipped Him away from me. Without writing I really wasn't sure what to do and honestly I missed the intimate connection established through this conduit. As I was lamenting to God this very thing, He quickly said, “I want you to connect with me another way--through prayer. It’s been fine how we’ve been doing this thing together but I have more for you.” I knew in my heart that He had a new way and a new level of intimacy for me and that scared me to death.
Day after day, every time I would question what He was doing I would hear that word…. worship. Through this cognizant turning of my eyes toward Him I began to hear the voice of God quicker and clearer than I ever had. The minute I would cry out in anger, “What are you doing?!” when calamity would fall, just as quickly would come His answer: “You don't know me.” He allowed things to come into my life that would enable Him to show me His true loving character. He made it clear to me that until I know Him for who He is, I will always pray with a safety net. Until I can trust that He is undoubtedly good, I will fear intimacy and connection with Him. Hence that word again…..worship. Through worship the true character of God is revealed. And it is not something we have to “do.”
When we align our hearts with the Savior of the world and seek His face, He makes manifest all of the wonders of His heart. He does the work. He pursues us. All we have to do is come into His presence humbly and willingly.
Before this season I made it a point to live out loud, to voice the activity of God in my life so that I would be a testimony to His power and grace. I didn't know what to do with this rest, how to live out loud when God was calling me to silence. It was in this moment that God gave me a vision of my body pressed firmly against a large concrete wall. I knew in my heart that MY way would lead only so far but that His way was a passage to freedom. All the rest was taking me through the concrete wall. It was my “way out.” I knew God ached for me to long for Him as much as I longed to create. I knew He had a better way of doing this thing called relationship.
My relationship with God had a mediator. Writing my heart was an incredibly intimate communion with God and still is. However we come into His presence is right and good but God longs to establish intimacy with us with nothing in between. No buffer.
He longs for us to come to Him naked in spirit, needing nothing to protect us or draw us close. He is really all we need.
This point is where color comes into the story. It is where my life gained another dimension and the world began to look different around every corner. During my “rest” period, I wrote one paragraph on HOPE. (Read HOPE here) God had shown me something new and I really wanted to share just this one thing. I wanted to put a picture with my new concept of HOPE and instantly an image popped into my head. I reached out to an artist friend thinking she most likely had painted something that resembled what I was “seeing.” Now that I look back, that text must have seemed a little crazy. Most people who see paintings in their minds probably paint them because they are artists themselves. Over the next day or so I began to see the humor in my question as I felt the Lord saying, “Why don't you paint it? It's in your head!” I felt silly! Of course! It seemed so absurd to me at that point to have someone else paint something that was in MY head!
A rubber band popped. The world snapped in half and opened up and grew ten times bigger that day. As I listened to music, I began to see the beautiful high harmony as a soft melding of light color around the dark watercolor of lead vocals. And then the words would come as I would think of the support of friends and the love of God. Union.
All of my giftings and senses were working together in a new and symbiotic way that felt exhilarating!
There were many tears of gripping fear before this first Hope Circle was born...
I blew the dust off my brushes and listened to the strong intuition in my heart. He was even concerned with the right medium for this endeavor so I knew it was the next step in my walk of faith. Since that day, there have not been many moments I do not long to create through painting. It’s that same big feeling I get when I long to type my heart onto the page and into the hearts of the hurting. I know that this creativity would never have had a chance to be reignited if my words had not been silenced for a season. And I had to be physically and spiritually still to hear His clear direction. I can look back now and see how clear His gifting of words developed after putting down the paintbrush the first time.
Sometimes God has to quiet our hearts in unique ways in order for us to be open to new and deeper gifts which He longs to bestow.
From my notebook: “How can taking away that (writing) which creates so much intimacy between me and God serve to greatly deepen my true intimacy with Him? It is a glorious thing to realize just how deep His love for me goes and that I need nothing to be with Him in the most intimate places of my heart.”
For the first time in many years, I am talking to God without covering my head in safety. He has added back into my life something that has been buried under layers of fear, pain and mistrust. I am seeing in pictures again and gently He is allowing me to add words back in as my heart and maturity are ready. It feels like my world just doubled in size. Oh how I long to stay in this quiet, in the deep moments of focus, relationship and freedom! I want to remember what it feels like for it to be just me and God. I want to live in freedom from fear of judgement. I want to live brave. But mostly I just want to want God mostly. I want to stay in this place of solitude forever in my heart as I take His message of beauty to the world.