Sunset Moves

The day is stretching out, the final wrap-up of all things lingering in the air, caught in the golden sunbeams. Birds are alive and busy, giving voices to the air and the trees. And I am just sitting, waiting. Watching it all from a contented posture.

As a mama, I don't get many moments like this. Moments where the people in my life aren't tugging at me, or where my own sense of urgency isn't craning it's neck to do and see more.

This moment seems so full of life and peace, and I wonder...is this what brings God closer? Is it the silence or the emptiness of the moment? And so I ask you, if you think you know what it is for you:

What opens your heart to experiencing God's presence? What draws you closer to Him?

This isn't one if those questions with a right answer. I believe that each of us was designed to know God's presence in different, specific ways. If that sounds a little too...hippie...for you, take a minute and think about this:

What distracts you from God's presence?

We all know that these distractions exist. And if there are things in our lives that can take away from our knowledge of and focus on our Maker, than the opposite must also exist: there are things that enhance our experience of God.

The crazy thing is, the list of things isn't small. I have a feeling many people would be inclined to give automatic answers like church, worship music, reading the Bible. All true, and all good things, but our experience of God doesn't stop there. That would negate everything else that we do and see on this earth, and would reduce us to mere spiritual beings. But as long as we are alive here, we are physical, too.

God's presence isn't a movie theater we escape to every once in awhile or a church service we occasionally show up for. He's not a short vacation from "reality" or work. God Almighty, who created all things, is involved in all these things. He is not limited to certain areas of life.

Honestly, I think my morning devotions have gradually tended toward this "vacation" mindset. My time with Him has become quick nibbles of His grace, a snack on His word before I rush off to more necessary things. And I end up short, wondering why He doesn't seem to be enough for me during the day.

This lack I feel seems to relate to the amount of time I spend trying to siphon out anything from His presence that might solve today's problems. The way I get caught up in monologue-ing my worries.

When I'm "with" God, how much time do I spend actually listening to His voice? Waiting to hear from Him? Asking what He has for me, instead of begging Him to come do all the things I want Him to get done?

There are two concepts about God that have been twisting back and forth in my soul these days:

On the one hand, there is the overwhelming definition of His love that winds through the entire Bible, wherein the theme is simply to be with Him. Accept His love. Enjoy His presence. That in the midst of every other thing under the sun, there is this strand of spider's web that glints in the morning light - a mere whisper of His voice, "Just be with Me."
"And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord." // Hosea 2:19-20
That is the first concept I can't escape.

The second is this: God's command to do. He calls us into His love, and immediately there is this change, where our beloved hearts have a need to act. His words toward us are not passive, but demanding. Do My will. Serve. Love. Be My body in this world. Share all that I have taught you. You are blessed in Me...now go.
"Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit...I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned...If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." // John 15:1-2, 5-6, 10-11
To me, these two concepts (His love that quiets, His commands that motivate) have seemed to be contradictory. If He is all about loving me exactly where I'm at, than my job should be to relax in that knowledge. But when I flip that coin, I feel this anxiety that God is always on that move and that I have not been moving with Him. There isn't time to merely sit quietly in His presence! There is only time for more doing, reaching out, loving and saving and making a difference.

I sit back and close my eyes. Where are You, Father? Which side of this coin is really You?

The walls around me are dusky with shadows. The thin carpet underneath my crossed legs feels both scratchy and soft - a testament to its long life. The sun is just beginning to pull low in the sky, reaching for the treeline, slowing down time as the sunset always seems to do.

As I sit and contemplate how to know His presence more fully and more often, I begin to move. There is music in this empty room and I can't help it; I start to dance. I feel graceful, connected to these songs of praise in a way that I can't when I'm sitting still. There is no one here. Nothing to do, or clean, or tidy. There is no one to serve or listen to.

It's just me. My body, alone and stumbling, but somehow...whole.

This is the way I worship. This is the way I experience His presence. Dance has always been more than a workout or hobby for me. Even when I am ungraceful in the motions, it still feels right, as if my body were made for this dancing. Not that I always know it, but that my body does. This body that He formed and breathed life into.

When my mind has forgotten, my body can remind me. So often we push aside emotions and physical sensations as not being from God, and it is true, they are poor leaders for our faith, easily manipulated. But they are not separate from our spiritual life. God has given us ways to connect our souls with our flesh. Think how communion is bread and wine - things that satisfy, give us pleasure, connect His words with the physical realm.

As my dancing turns into a surrender, I realize a startling, subtle truth: the two concepts that have been at war in my soul are not playing tug of war at all. They are twisted together. Inseparable.

If we know His love, we become a picture of that love. It is not only who we are when we talk to ourselves in the mirror. It is our movement, our song. Love has never been passive. Being loved and loving others is obeying His commandments. And love knows so many forms.

I often want the doing, the loving, to have a specific recipient. I want it to have a goal...and then a good result soon after. But perhaps the doing has to just start with doing - without anyone to see or know or react. An action not for man, but for God Himself. And if we are faithful in these small things - these actions that seem so minute and unnoticeable - then I think He begins bring a recipient and a goal your way. He begins to push you to be faithful with more.
"I think of those words we long to hear, the ones we've talked about before. 'Well done, my good and faithful servant' (Matt. 25:21). There is no exclamation point. No extravagant adjectives. No long and complex explanation. There is simplicity. It sounds like not one BIG accomplishment but instead a lifetime of obedience. So ordinary you might miss it if you're not paying attention." // from Fiercehearted by HolleyGerth
If you have been standing still in your faith, I beg of you to start to move. Move your feet to the beat of the music. Move your hands with the threads of a blanket or the kneading of dough or the raking of earth. Find your doing in the here and now.

He is there. He sees it.

And the more you move, the more the people around you will be moved. Everything has a beginning and an end. Begin, and let God choose the ending.

Move. Today. Without complete understanding of where it will take you. Move because He's given you this body and this place for this very reason.

He has a work that He has created your hands to do.

Work, and bear fruit.

"For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." // Galatians 6:8-9

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." // Ephesians 2:8-10

8 comments:

  1. So beautifully written, thank you for this encouraging reminder to move today and bear fruit. The message last night at our church was on this same page my take away I need to "Feast on His Word" more, not just fit Him in. I love that scripture "it is in Him that we move, live and have our being." Acts 17:28

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    1. Amen! His word truly is life to our spirits ("man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God"). May we all feast more on it daily!

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  2. So beautifully written, I loved the image of standing still in your faith that you mentioned, it really made me wonder if that's what I've been doing lately... It's amazing the thoughts we mommas can have when we have quiet moments to ourselves to just think and ponder.

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    1. Right? It really makes me rethink the whole "mom brain" thing. Maybe we just need to take more moments of stillness, without multitasking, to help our brains settle in better places <3

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  3. The other commenters said it, but this is truly beautiful. I love the imagery you created, and how you truly brought to life this struggle we have. It also reminded me that I have to MAKE time for Him, and I need to be intentional about it; so easy to overlook and push aside if you don't actively seek it out.

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    1. It's amazing how, when we look closely at our schedules/routines, God isn't the priority. It's upsetting how quickly it happens to me! My prayer for you is that you are able to make Him first.

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  4. Nugget, your writing brings my day, and me, closer to God. Thank you :)
    - Mission

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    1. Thanks, Mission! That is, as always, my goal...bringing myself and others closer to Him. Miss you!

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