the tearful, messy, magnificent now

Full disclosure?

I’m sitting down to write this because it’s hard to focus on the research I’m doing for my new book.

It’s hard to focus because I feel like I’m perpetually waiting on something.

And, sorta, I am.

I shouldn’t feel that way (because it’s totally unproductive), but I’m honest to a fault. So I’ll be honest: right now I check my email more times a day than should be socially acceptable.

A great literary agent has my full manuscript. I started the initial process with her in October, and in the publishing world, October to February is basically a blink of an eye. Really. It’s hardly any time at all.

And she’s been awesome this whole time.

Yet, still…I find myself wandering through the desert of doubtful waiting just like the Israelites did. You know, the people who doubted God after like a day or two of not knowing what’s ahead? The people who were given a dry path clear across a huge sea and a few days later decided the same God who’d parted the waters must have forgotten them?

Yeah. I’m like them.

I’ll own it.

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Stephanie Leight

And it was in this moment of owning it, of telling God that He’s taking too long and I wouldn’t do it this way…in this raw pouring out to God that I felt the gentle tug at my heart to look around.

So I did.

I saw two cats sleeping, a drippy sink, a warm lamp, well-lived-on couches, chocolate for days, a knee bandaged with physical therapy tape, silence and a ticking clock, and still the dream of sharing my words beat deep inside.

But I closed my eyes and simply stilled in the faith that my God is here.

Right now. Right now is a gift.

Right now – when I don’t have everything I want – is a gift.

The sink is dripping and I love its familiar rhythm. I won’t always have this cozy starter home, I found myself realizing.

Thank You God, for right now.

Bandaged though I am, I won’t always have my health.

Thank You God, for right now.

I won’t always have this glorious silence which lends itself perfectly to writing.

Thank You God, for right now.

I don’t have a published book yet. I don’t even have my agent yet.

Maybe the best things take time.

Thank You God, for right now.

The dishes are messy and the washer is full and the day might come when I’m older and brittle and can’t unload it by myself.

Thank You God, for right now.

And yet…tears well up in my eyes as I write this because…publishing my stories is such a desire. And it hasn’t happened in my timing.

And like the Israelites, when things didn’t go just as they wanted…

…I find myself doubting in a puddle of honest tearsdoes God really have the best plans for me?

You do, don’t You? I ask.

I look around again.

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Stephanie Leight

And I soak it in. The sunlight through the windowpane and the dust on the floor and the coffee in the pot.

The magnificent now. The messy, beautiful, wildly merciful gift of right now.

Gratefulness to God is a balm to my doubting soul.

And the desire of my heart still beats strong…yet through the tears, through the fear of the unknown, through the impatience, I know Who holds my heartbeat.

I know Who holds my now.

And there is this:

“This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover.” Exodus 12:11

Here, the Israelites hadn’t been freed from the Egyptians yet. But they were instructed to eat this meal in haste, which demonstrated faith and readiness for the deliverance the Lord had promised but had not yet been seen.

Amazing.

So I’ll write my books and wait hopefully for that email, all the while with my cloak tucked in and with my sandals on my feet.

And if I don’t get the email I want?

Mmm. That will hurt. More than I’d care to admit. But I pray to let gratefulness be a balm to my soul, music to my heart, and a fragrant offering to Perfect Love Himself.

And I pray for the faith to keep going.

Blessings to you and peace to your own precious heart,

 Robyn

Rest Easy.

This morning I was inspired by a question from my Hebrews bible study.

The sound of birds chirping out on the porch was also especially inspiring after a week of rain, and few things make me feel instantly at peace like my vanilla cream coffee perfectly warm and a lack of Tucker bites (for now) thanks to the God-sent electronic bug zooming around our little foyer.

I’d love to be transparent with you.

The question in my study was this: What are some of the “plus” behaviors you’ve tried to add to the sufficiency of Christ? (Harper, pg.115).

Well….I mean. Oh.

I don’t need to add things? I totally forgot I don’t need to add things.

Andrew Strickland Photography (10 of 53)

I forgot I’m good enough for Him because of Jesus. I forgot I don’t need to clean up my act before I come to Him in prayer. I forgot I don’t have to pray with my eyes closed and in one certain spot to get better prayer-reception. I forgot God forgave the sins I haven’t even done yet once and for all and that’s good enough.

Gosh, it’s so easy to forget.

Following rules and religious rituals we’ve made up in our heads sometimes feels safer than living free in Christ’s love, doesn’t it?

It’s hard to wrap my mind around how my life was more valuable to Jesus than His own. Rituals and rules make more sense to the human brain, I think.

But I like Jesus better.

You know something?

I would rather be forgiven than perfect.

Because forgiven means I’m loved.

Hallelujah! I love being loved!

I can walk through this day with my permanent ID card in my back pocket:

 Robyn: Loved. Pardoned. Free to Go. A Friend of the King (John 15:13).

(so, not like, spent 30 minutes reading the Bible, so free to go until tomorrow morning).

(so, not like, didn’t do anything wrong for an hour, so pardoned until the next mistake)

(so, not like, prayed enough this week, so God will definitely listen)

No, no, no!

Praise Him, that’s not our reality as His beloved friends!

Because Jesus says the verdict is in. We can show our ID cards to that judging voice whenever it rears its ugly head with a religious to-do list:

Your Name: Loved. Pardoned. Free to Go. A Friend of the King.

One of my favorite verses is this:

“Relax! Be silent and stop your striving,

and you will see that

I am God” Psalm 46:10, passion translation.

I also like to tweak it a little for my own heart to this, referencing 1 John 4:8:

“Relax! Be silent and stop your striving,

and you will see that

I am [Love].”

So rest easy today. The result of our trial has been determined already: Jesus wins. And we win in Him.

Enjoy the walk a little more. We can stroll! Or even better, skip! We don’t have to strive and stress the whole time and power-walk anywhere checking off our list of religious to-do’s. (Although who doesn’t love a good power-walk with elbows flying all over the place? And even cooler, those professional power-walking suits and helmets? But I digress.)

All this, Friends of the King, because:

Jesus = Everything we need. 

(seen that phrase a million times? yeah, me too. and it’s amazing how many times I still need the sweet, Holy reminding.)

God’s grace and love to all us power-walkers-turned-skippers with To-Do lists turned-freedom-flags,

Robyn

The Best Thing To Do

Michael and I try to pray together weekly. My favorite time with him is when we sit down and come to God together with our fears, hopes, dreams, burdens, and praises.

 We’re not perfect at praying weekly, by any means. It’s ridiculously hard sometimes to convince ourselves we’re not “too busy” to talk to God together. (Because obviously, watching Full House reruns and doing some work to get ahead on a Sunday night is clearly the better option…not.)

 But truly, by God’s grace, mercy, and love, praying together is something that Michael and I have been intentional about since we got engaged two years ago. And God meets us where we are every time. I am thankful for God’s patience with our short attention spans – even when we’ve skipped a few weeks, or even if I still feel “too busy” as we sit down to pray, God hears us. And God loves us. And undeservingly, God blesses us. Every time.  

 Something I read recently about prayer struck me in its simplicity:

 “The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know.” 1 Timothy 2:1, MSG version.

 It’s so simple.

 I think I’ve made talking to God much more rigid and complicated than it needs to be. The writer here (Paul) didn’t tell me I can only pray after I’ve sat down for a quiet time, or after I’ve read a decent amount of the Bible for the day. (Don’t get me wrong – “quiet times” and are good, and the Bible is more necessary for life than I can express.) But I don’t think God is a God of checklists. I think our God is a God who knows what His children need, and He knows that we desperately need to be in communication with Him.

 I’ve learned, as God’s children, we are encouraged to pray to our perfectly loving Father (1 John 4:8) about everything without hesitation. Because Jesus came, those who trust in Him can “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb 4:16). God calls me good enough to come to Him with confidence. Because of Jesus.

 Coming from a perfectionist (not a good thing) who catches myself trying to “be good enough” for God before I can come to Him in prayer, I keep these verses handy to remind myself of the God with whom we speak:

 “For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is [God’s] love for those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our [sins] from us.”

Psalm 103:11-12

Meaning, God loves me as high as the clouds sit in the sky, and He has already forgiven me for the mistake I made 5 minutes ago when I snapped at Michael for chewing skittles too loudly. This is the God I may approach with confidence in prayer. 

Something else Paul says in the Timothy scripture line gets me: “Pray…for everyone you know.”

I can think of some exceptions that my stubborn self would like to skip over while praying. (These “exceptions” popped into my head the minute I read the line about praying for everyone. Maybe it’s because my “exceptions” really need a lot of prayer. Or maybe it’s because I need a lot of prayer. Probably both.)

Truly though, it’s a joy to pray for people who love me well.

Just as sweet, if not sweeter: It’s healing to pray for people who don’t love me well. Healing, because I can’t pray for hurtful people by myself – I need to team up with God to do it. I need His perfect love to help me. I need His love that doesn’t hold grudges. I need His love that forgives me and forgives other people. Pairing up with that kind of love – it’s healing.

 The best thing I’ve learned to do this year is to pray. To pray “first, for everyone I know, and every way I know how. ” (1 Timothy 2:1). And by God’s grace and love, I can.

Be encouraged that the God of love, compassion, mercy, and grace, loves you dearly. I bet He would like to tell you that, too, every way you know how to listen.

 

Blessings to you,

 Robyn