Just over a month ago, we packed up our home in the village and started on our world travels. Life has been a blur of so many good things. Shopping for fresh strawberries at the local farmer’s market, meeting friends for coffee, sharing at Bible Studies and going on a date with my husband! We were so grateful to spend time with a supporting church in Guam (a life changing experience) and to come “home” to our church here in California, where we have enjoyed the fellowship of those who have prayed for us and the church in the Philippines, for so many years. We have, also, been soaking up all the available family time we can get, with Danny’s sisters and their families, his parents and grandparents. My camera has been on the go since we arrived, trying to capture all the fabulous cousin moments at the beach, the big grins gathered around a birthday cake and all the small, beautiful, messy moments in-between. We have laughed over old stories, cried as we have hugged old friends and rejoiced to share of the faithfulness of God in our lives over these past few years. It has been a glorious month in so many ways.
So, why is it dear friends, that every night I crawl into bed, there has been a weariness in my soul?
I bought a book the first week I was here in California: “Soul Keeping” by John Ortberg. I had no idea how much this book would put into words the thoughts and feelings I have been having in these first weeks home. Three or four pages into the introduction he quotes a man named Dallas Willard, who says this; “Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” And this isn’t anything new because quite a few years ago Corrie Ten Boon said, “If the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy.”
Back in our other home, in a little village in the Philippines, life is a lot quieter. Don’t get me wrong. Life is often very busy there, too, but the daily tasks I do give me the opportunity to think and process the day. As I make my way to spend time with a lady or bring something to a family, I am walking and praying, thinking and paying attention to the beauty around me. As I hand wash the dishes, I often listen to worship music, lifting my heart in praise and worship to the Lord. I find it a little ironic when I come “home” to a place where there are so many conveniences, to save time, I generally feel more rushed and unsettled and find I have less time to process the events of the day. No matter how self-sufficient this world may tell us we are, the truth remains that we can do nothing without God and we need Him every moment of our day. Whether we find ourselves in a familiar place today or whether we are totally outside of our comfort zone, our need for Jesus remains the same. I see once again that our souls thrive when we enjoy constant fellowship with God. On the other hand, when we allow our hearts to be lulled into a false sense of security by the temporary life around us, it only causes our souls to strive for more. We will never know true peace, joy and hope until He alone is enough in our lives.
Early one morning last week, my dear hubby recognized my struggle to get some quiet time alone and so he dropped me off at 8.30am at a local coffee shop. I had all morning to process my jumbled thoughts and so I brought my computer to do some writing. I was just getting in the flow of things, when suddenly my computer just went blank. It wouldn’t turn on, it wouldn’t do anything. So, I sat alone with my Bible and just read and prayed. It was exactly what I needed, to lean into Jesus and listen to Him. Sometimes we feel the conviction of a hurried life, we begin to recognize the soul-weariness, but instead of running to the feet of Jesus, we add another Bible app to our iPad, or buy a new devotional book. In our haste to to find a quick fix for our guilt, we can miss the still small voice of Jesus, who is tenderly calling us to Himself. We were created to know God, to walk with Him, to commune with Him and to enjoy fellowship with Him forever. It is one of the simplest truths of the Bible, and yet, one that seems to be so difficult for us to put into practice in our own lives, today.
Danny took my computer to the computer store, in the hope of saving all my information and documents off the hard drive. We had to leave it in for a few days and the diagnosis came back; the hard drive had crashed, simply because it was totally full (of photos!) and I hadn’t been updating it all along. I thought back over the last few busy months and how I had treated my computer, and it was true. I kept taking more and more photos of all these great life experiences we were having and yet never creating any space on the hard drive. When the update reminder would pop up, I would just hit “remind me later.” My computer and I have may have some things in common, because soul-weariness sets in the same way. We continue to cram our lives full (even with good things), and we leave no space in our day to be still and to connect with our loving Creator. We continue to hit the “remind me later” button for another time, another morning, when we are not so busy and before long, we crash.
I am so glad the Lord is always there when we run to Him, but rather than waiting for the times when I need to run to Him, I long to live a life of walking with Him through my days, no matter where I live or what pressures I may feel around me. I don’t want to be lulled into a sense of complacency where reading a devotion each morning is more than enough. We can spend our whole lives ticking devotions off our to-do-list and yet miss living lives that are devoted to God.
I read these verses the other day in the Psalm 42:
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.
In a month of wonderful memories and amazing life experiences, and while we enjoy all the comforts this world has to offer, I have never been as thirsty to hear the voice of the Lord. I am grateful for the weariness in my soul which has drawn me once again to my dear Shepherd, who lifts me, carries me back home and restores my soul. As I look ahead to these next busy months and an already full schedule, I realize that above all else and no matter where we are, I need to chisel out quiet times each day with the Lord. I use the word “chisel” purposefully because that is what it feels like right now, like I need to take a hammer to my schedule to make it anew with the priority of living with the Lord and not just checking in with Him once a day. That means saying “no” sometimes. It may mean setting an alarm in the morning, going outside for a walk once in a while, and it may even mean still hand washing the dishes! I just know that for me, I need to make space in my life, to process where I am at and to renew my mind daily in God’s Word. If I want to be a mother who seeks the best way over the easy way, a wife who builds her husband up, rather than tears him down, a friend who is long-suffering rather than needy, a stranger who is discerning rather than judgmental, then I need the wisdom, grace and mercy that can only come from spending time with Jesus and obeying His Word. I long to glorify Him with my life, wherever I am and to be sustained by Christ and Christ alone.
In this noisy, distracting, busy world in which we live, it seems to get harder and harder to recognize our own soul-weariness. We feel the emptiness and we read it (often mistakenly), as the need for friends, for popularity, for success, or even for rest, and so, we spend more time on social media to connect with “friends.” We work harder at our jobs, we play longer at the weekends and we fill our lives with more and more of ourselves and less and less of Him. Meanwhile, our souls remain thirsty, for we cannot be centered, or fully satisfied, without clinging to Jesus. John Ortberg reminds us in his book, that when we live with half-hearted devotion our souls are always strained.
I often share about how my life as a missionary in the jungle, living in another culture and seeking to have a ministry in another language keeps me clinging to Jesus, because I am so far out of my comfort zone. However, as I set my feet back on familiar soil, within a culture that is somewhat home to me, I realize my only comfort is found in Jesus. I want to follow Him whole-heartedly through the familiar, to pay attention to Him above all the distractions around me, and to live as a light for Him in a dark and weary world, which is right outside my front door.
Dear friend, Jesus is always the answer. Whatever our hearts are aching for, He is the balm, He is the way, the treasure and the rest that our hearts desire. We just need to come and to remain in Him.
Jeremiah 31:25 “For I have satisfied the weary soul…”
We will be arriving in N.Ireland at the end of July and we will be there until January 2016. If you would like to contact us, please feel free to email us. My address is firstname.lastname@example.org