This post is about two big life questions:
How to Know When it’s Time to Wake Up &
How to Find Clarity When You Are Just Not Sure
As I’ve shared before, I spend a whole lot of time prepping for the new year. To name two of my practices, I Choose a Word for the Year and Make a Powerful Vision Board. The process blesses me with a few key phrases that morph into my big themes for the entire year. Behind these words and phrases are eight fantastic goals.
The bottom line is that I should have total clarity, right?
I did have clarity . . . until I started reading The Life You Long For: Learning to Live from a Heart of Rest, by Christie Nockels.
I’ve watched Christie lead worship the last six or seven years at a women’s discipleship conference called IF:Gathering. Her peaceful, attuned spirit impacts me year after year. When I saw that she wrote a book, I wanted to read it.
The book has a big theme of going through a season of winter in your life. However, the book did not hint a single word about winter in the title or chapter titles or in the summary on the back cover. No such wintrous words were mentioned until I landed smack dab in the middle of the book.
What does the theme of winter have to do with waking up? A lot. Let me explain.
As many of you faithful readers know, I have written extensively about my season of winter. My season of winter had a dramatic entrance when I got seriously ill with Covid while on a family vacation in the Western US. I say that so you know I was very far from home in a very high elevation of which the combination literally took my breath away.
Winter’s arrival was preceded by two major disappointments in our family. By the time Covid wiped me out, I was powerless to fight the hand of God shutting my life down for a season. Winter’s arrival was simultaneous to my willing surrender.
In winter, capacity is at a halt. In this season, one relies on the process of God healing and mending our souls – – a process of which we have no control. In winter, we acknowledge that there is no work for us at hand. We stay inside. We stay warm. We lay down beside holiness. We are content in the stillness.
I had assumed that winter was of the past. But then Christie’s book. Her words took me right back to my winter.
Interlude for the Non-Farm Girl aka Florida Girl
If you’re not a farm girl (I’m not) or a girl who reads about farms (I am), then you will need to know the short version of what happens in the farm fields in the freezing winter. When it appears that nothing is happening on the field’s surface, buried stones and rocks begin their rise to the top. The frozen water under the surface eventually thaws; dirt then fills the thawed space and pushes the stone to the surface. As the snow melts and rocks appear on the surface, farmers head out to the fields to remove the stones and rocks.
Please pause for the best part.
With the stones and rocks removed, the soil becomes fertile, fruit bearing ground.
Remember that the farmer has done nothing in winter to bring the stones and rocks to the surface. Creation has done its holy work by the great, majestic hand of our God. The farmer needs only to agree with God and let the stones and rocks be removed. Then, the farmer can get onto the work of bearing fruit.
Time to Wake Up?
After the author shares the extensive details of her season of winter, she explains that, after hiding herself and healing in the center of God’s love, she seemed to have fallen asleep to some of the things God had prepared for her. She needed some nudging to wake up.
We sometimes need to be reminded that it is time to Wake Up.
Of course, this nudged me too.
This is where all my hard-earned clarity went out the window. I did not enjoy watching my hard-earned clarity fly out of my head, but I do enjoy exploring what God may be doing in moments such as these.
Am I fully awake from winter? Have I been unaware of some of things God prepared me for during my season of winter?
When you are in a space that lacks clarity, it’s important to determine what you know instead of staying focused on what you don’t know.
Over the past few weeks, in order to gain clarity, I have asked myself the following questions:
- Are there any idols I’m worshiping?
- Am I hanging onto a view of success or worthiness that doesn’t fit my life as a beloved daughter?
- Can I name the stones that are being dug up in me?
- If I have the faith to look toward fertile ground, what does that fertile ground look like?
When I started this post, I still could not answer two of the questions. I had intended to simply share with you that I planned to continue to be prayerful and wait. In the meantime, my overactive mind could not help but pursue more insight into the questions about idols and stones.
Idols and Stones
Dear sisters, idols and stones will be with us until a more perfect self emerges on the other side of this life. Idols will draw us away from the Father. Stones will not be so easy to dump. Both require self-awareness and surrender.
Christie’s book tells us that we are his Beloved.
Beloved, the highest call on your life – above any personal passion or pursuit – is to be loved by God and take your place as his child.
God is driving home this point to me.
My friend Lynn recently taught a devotion on Hosea’s love for his wife Gomer who constantly ran from his passionate, redeeming love for her. From that devotion, I learned that, if we are honest, we are more like Gomer than we had hoped for. But God is also more faithful than we could hope for.
Later, my phone suggested Beloved by Tenth Avenue North. Read the lyrics. From the song, I embraced the notion that idols will never satisfy. The love we need will always be deep in the Father’s eyes.
For the first time, our God’s beloved name for us made sense to me.
O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.
Hosea 14: 8
Can there be blooms in winter?
As I pursued the four questions above more intently and deeply, I began to consider that perhaps winter is closer to my heart than I thought. Christy’s book quotes a letter she received from a loved one about a flower that blooms in winter. She quotes,
The Amaryllis blooms in winter, even still. It will not look to the world around it and depend on it for nurturing or care. It will instead, obey the world within it and become exactly what it was created to be. To bear the image of the beauty inside itself, set there by a Creator, not bound by time or season.
Yes, there can be blooms in winter.
One can be in winter enjoying some blooms. What do winter blooms look like? For me, humble, mature confidence shows itself among iridescent snowflakes. I acknowledge that fear, disappointment, exhaustion and self-doubt are old stones that the Father continues to bring to the surface. However, my winter blooms tell me that, in confidence, humility and beauty will continue to emerge.
My clarity returns.
I go back to my Vision Board, Word for the Year and annual goals.
I remind myself to Believe Again in Impossible Things. I remind myself of the value of Slow Growth. I remember that All Parts of My Life Matter.
Of my idols and stones, I ask God to remove my pride. When we hold on to the past along with our unmet expectations, we miss God’s mercy. For me, mercy is wrapped up in this quote from Christy’s book:
Our only hope in this life is to run back to Jesus, the conductor of the rhythm of rest. Here we are met with eyes of mercy. We aren’t even expected to dance right away. Maybe we need a minute to sit and listen and let our hearts be stirred from rest. To hide before we emerge. And that’s okay. God knows we will dance again, and when we do, it will be from this very rest, in the light and effortless way He always intended.
What do you need to wake up to?
Even if you are not absolutely sure if God is nudging you to wake up to something, you can focus on what you do know and less on what you don’t. As we think about what our fertile ground may look like in the season we are currently in, we can list the things we are sure of.
I am sure of
- Honor my body & my mind.
- Serve my kids as they continue their launch into adulthood.
- Fan the Flame of the women in my life. 2 Timothy 1:6
- Be a good steward.
- Remember the Mission field.
For the things we are not sure of, we can remember mercy. We can remember that it’s okay to hide in Him before we are ready to emerge. It’s okay if we are not fully ready to dance again. We can remember that we are free in the here and now and God knows we will dance again. He has full confidence in the gifts and purpose He has woven into us. He has full confidence in His plan for us. There is no pressure or ticking clock in His love.
With that said, take the plunge.
Write a list of the things you are sure of in this season.
Of equal importance, write a list of the things you are not sure of.
Let Him bring to life what you may need to be awakened to.
No pressure. All mercy.