{re}fresh

Month: February, 2018

Floating is better than swimming

by kerriebutterfield

1f1962bd24d450b350e43b719d8e3a0aEver feel like you have tried your best, prayed the prayers, and although things are okay, they aren’t what you hoped for? You expected more.

About 6 years ago, feeling burnt from my own efforts, facing and bracing for a New Year, God gave me a dream.

I found myself in a home in the middle of a cranberry bog awaiting the arrival of a guest speaker. I was filled with expectation about what that speaker would teach, release, and demonstrate. He arrived with two other individuals and began speaking. After two minutes, he closed in prayer. He looked at my stunned and disappointed face and said, “What did you want?” I answered, “I want my inheritance.” He laughed, put his hand on my forehead, and said, “Everything I have, I give to you.”

He then walked out to the porch, jumped off into the cranberry bog, flipped onto his back and floated amidst the fruit. I stared at him in confusion. As I stood there, one of his companions came to me and said, “Do your children like swimming?” I said, “Yes, they love it.” She said,”Well, floating is better because it is swimming without effort.”

Waking from the dream, God spoke to me about resting in Him instead of striving for Him; teaching me to focus on what He wanted to be for me rather than what I could be/do for God.  It wasn’t that doing things for God was bad, it was that my doing had become more about performing for God’s love than enjoying and sharing His love.

I began a journey to rewire my thinking about what God expectations were of me and to align myself with Him instead of my unhealthy and ungodly expectaions of myself.

Matthew 6:5-13 (The Message) has been instrumental to helping me develop healthy expectations of myself and Papa God:

“And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat? “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.

I’ve learned:

  1.  To come to him as myself. Not as who I think he wants me to be, or even who I want to be, but the true me. That is exactly where and how I need to be loved. Not for the person I’m striving to be, but resting in the love of God for who I am today, failure and all. My  behaviour doesn’t change Him, but His love changes me.
  2. Prayer is paying attention to God. I need to be quiet, When I’m busy talking I can’t hear Him.
  3.  Quietly wait for Him. When I do, I sense His emotions ,His will towards me, and hear Him speak to me. I begin to float in an ocean of grace in which all of God feels  for me envelops and surrounds me. The heavy burdens of performance and self -proving behavior take on a weightlessness as I embrace His grace and I shift from focusing on my ability to His!
  4.  I need to feel connected to my Papa. It’s about bonding; creating connection. John 15 teaches us that those who are connected to the vine will bear much fruit.  He wants to be close to me. He has made His home in me and He’s wanting to enjoy co-habitation!
  5.  It’s simple. I need Him everyday, all day. I need Him  to be things for me I can’t be for myself.  He never intended for me to be a driven striver, a exhausted swimmer, or see myself as just His worker. He wants me to see myself as His beloved daughter who grows naturally to be like her Papa. He wants me to rest in His love and grace not preform for it. To make myself at home in Him, to rest in Him.

One of my favorite things about that cranberry bog dream is that cranberries grow on a vine and I know Papa was whispering a secret to me as I slept of how to produce fruit out of rest and connection to Him.  I pray you find deep connection to Papa as you rest in His love, acceptance  and grace.

 

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What To Do in the Face of Tragedy

by Mike McKinniss

 

Forgive me, but I’ve been thinking about tragedy lately.

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, January 10, a torrential rainstorm dumped several inches of precipitation onto Santa Barbara, CA, in a matter of minutes. Normally, such a violent shower would have done little more than force the shedding of some old palm fronds from their trunks. But this storm came immediately on the heels of California’s largest recorded wildfire, which burned a vast area nearby, including the hills just above the tiny town of Montecito. Denuded of the vegetation upslope, the massive amount of rain in so short a time triggered powerful mudslides, which bulldozed through portions of the village.

Dozens of homes and places of business were destroyed in a moment. At writing, 21 people are counted among the dead and two remain missing in the aftermath.

The torrent of rain and the flash flood is only the beginning of the anguish for people in this seaside community, for a similar torrent of fearful and desperate questions follow. These will likely linger for a long time—probably long after the clean up and reconstruction is completed.

Where was God when this violent storm struck this peaceful community? Where is God now that the event has wreaked its havoc? How could God have allowed such destruction? Could God have not stopped such a tragedy? And what do we do now?

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Transition

by Carol Nicholls

Image by Janae Juahal
Flickr.com_15665823144_fc7f01c938_CC BY-ND 2.0

“To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Transition, such a simple word, but it can create havoc in the routines of life. Over the years I have discovered that I don’t do “Transition” gracefully. Even simple things like going off Daylight Savings Time throws me off kilter for a good two weeks. More complex things, like a new job or an impending move, render me useless. It is like I am at Point A and I can see Point B. I am glad the change is going to happen. Between the two points is a huge black abyss. Stepping out into that uncertain area of darkness is more stressful to me than the potential of doing nothing to make the change happen. Read the rest of this entry »

Divine Foolish Wisdom

by Mindy Kiker

I am searching for balance, simplicity, and peace. Along the way, I discover that God’s ways are counter intuitive to mine. Surprise!

In my human wisdom, I assumed that God would lead me to find peace by taking on fewer responsibilities and paring down my to-do list. But our God is unpredictable.

When my eldest son entered the local high school, I joined the PTSA in order to sow into the lives of those who are sowing into ours.  A deluge of volunteer opportunities rushed in via e-mail, all of which I systematically deleted from my in-box because I am trying to say “no” to the good and save my “yes” for the best.

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