I’m about through month 9 of my dark night of the soul, and I have to say it’s getting interesting. I still can’t pray very often. I try to get up, and my broken legs put me back facedown into the dirt. One thing God keeps making very clear to me is that I’m exhausted through-and-through and really need to enter His rest.
This is really not the time I would have picked for rest. My son is a month away from starting preschool. I’m transitioning to a new position at work while trying to keep up with all of the responsibilities of my old position. My husband is applying to start college this semester while still working full-time. For the past couple of weeks, for these and other reasons, I’ve meandered through my days feeling like a dish rag.
Not a good time to be a dish rag.
My house. Oh, my Lord, my house. It’s awful. I can’t remember when I last mopped the kitchen floor. I’m usually a clean person, so this upsets me. Yet, I come home too tired to do anything. Today, I clearly heard God say to me, “Rest.” I answered, “But God, have you SMELLED the inside of my house?” He didn’t seem terribly concerned. I don’t think God has a nose.
Recently, I attended a staff retreat at work. Since I work for a Christian non-profit, our retreats include times of worship, prayer and instruction. On this occasion, we were given 20 minutes for private meditation and prayer. I found a nice, big tree in the middle of the lawn and sat under it. And do you know what? God refused to let me utter a word. I had to journal my prayer:
What shall I do? I’m stuck. Waiting. Waiting to heal. Waiting to hear. Waiting to move.
In response, God said, “Wait.”
And then this scripture came to mind:
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).
Also, this one:
Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10a).
This evening, I decided as part of my “rest” to read today’s devotional from Streams in the Desert by Charles Cowman, a personal gift from my CEO. Guess what the topic was? Yep. Waiting. I had to laugh.
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him (Isaiah 30:18)!
I decided to look up and read Isaiah 30 in its entirety. The chapter header is “Woe to the Obstinate Nation.”
For these are rebellious people, deceitful children,
children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction.
They say to the seers,
“See no more visions!”
and to the prophets,
“Give us no more visions of what is right!
Tell us pleasant things,
Leave this way,
get off this path,
and stop confronting us
with the Holy One of Israel!” (vs. 9-11)
Oh, boy. How many of us have been here? I’ve been here – not wanting to be confronted about my lack of rest and meditation (among other things). I’ve been a lame sheep throwing tantrums beside the still waters. But then the scripture says:
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength…” (vs. 15a)
It’s interesting: Anytime the Bible speaks of waiting, it’s a good thing. Waiting brings strength. Salvation. Rest. It is a sign of submission to God and trust in Him. Those who wait upon the Lord will not be disappointed.
I don’t fully understand why God is asking me to wait right now – or why it’s important enough today to abandon the sink of dirty dishes or the overflowing trash cans. But what I do know is that I’m learning to trust Him in a way I’ve never done before. And the turbulent waters of my heart are finally beginning to ease into a gentle, trickling stream.