For ten days my biggest decision was which pen to use in my journal and whether I was going to have dessert with my dinner buffet.
In February 2018 I clutched my backpack and boarded a plane for Israel. I went expecting to learn a lot and to read my Bible with new understanding.
I wasn’t expecting to return home more relaxed than when I left. But I did.
Our pastor’s wife laughed when I talked about returning home so rejuvenated. “Were we on the same trip?” she asked. Side by side we had visited 4-5 sites per day, walked for miles, and took in so much information that my notebook pages were flying. Here’s what it was.
No one needed a thing from me.
In the absence, in the space, in the silence I was able to recognize the questions I had been carrying with me
every day …
every where …
for a really long time.
Who needs something from me MOST right now? Does my son need help on his english paper? When did I last play with my youngest? Does my middle need me to listen to the things that rattle in her mind? Who emailed me from the moms’ group with a question that I didn’t answer yet? How late am I turning in my time sheet? Did the sub for the preschool teacher who’s out of town text me back? How many days until I teach the English lesson to 11 kids? When was the last time my husband felt me focus on him as a person? Did I give my dog his heart medicine today? Did my other dog pee on the rug today? Why did I think having two dogs was a good idea?
All of the extra things I was doing originated in a desire to serve God and to love the people in my life well. But somewhere along the way I started running through these questions in fear of failure and disappointing people.
Somewhere along the way I got really tired, but I was so late to so many things I couldn’t stop long enough to recognize it. I had quietly placed one question on top of the next until I couldn’t see how heavy the pile had become to me.
I was taking moments to rest and to call on God for strength and comfort, but they were just too short and haphazard to really breathe. My time spent in the Bible was often confined to a box on my to-do list.
And then I went to Israel, and all the stuff spinning around me stopped.
The only question I pondered in the silence was scrawled in my journal on my second day:
What do you want to speak to me, Lord?
I spent 80 percent of my day soaking in the magnificence of who God is and His plan to pull us close to Him despite our sin. The truth of who He is burst through the box I had been confining Him to in my busyness, and I felt Him fill my world like the sun. I remembered that He is bigger and more inconvenient than my American eyes like to imagine anyone other than myself. And I need Him that way. I need Him overwhelming my scrolling to-do list so that I see my life in His perspective, who I am in His eyes.
This post has gotten long, just like the questions that ran through my mind. Haha! In my next post I’ll share what I heard God answer as I asked what He would speak to me and how I’m making changes to listen.
P.S. I experienced the silence I needed in Israel, but we can ask God what He would speak to us while we sit on puffy couches or front porches. He is close to us, ready to overwhelm us in His strength for whatever today holds.