I’ve had some thoughts chugging around in my brain all week about the concept of “renewal.” Like many of us sleep deprived, on-the-go, super-busy “adults” (really, I still don’t consider myself adult sometimes…), renewal is a piece of our lives that we all desperately long for and crave.
To de-stress, to let go, to feel fresh and at peace again – we all need and want that. But as much as I may desire that, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I let my worries take over and I hand control to my menacing to do list. It looks me in the eyes and says, “Rest? Who are you kidding? You better get busy!”
That’s one of my least favorite words these days: busy. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Being busy never produces anything good, even if things do get done. Being “busy” robs me of the renewal I seek. And it actually keeps me from seeking it altogether.
God’s Plan for Renewal
Yet, as much as I get in the way of God’s design for my life, He is more than powerful enough to reign me in and bring the rest I need. I truthfully didn’t have much of anything going on this week. Actually – all the things I had planned for got cancelled for some reason or another. These cancellations left me with not a lot to do, and usually when that happens, anxiety about what to do reigns over me.
However, this freedom in my schedule finally gave me the time to go to some prayer gatherings that my church is having. My church is holding a 40 Days of Prayer series, which includes prayer meetings every morning & night for the 40 days. It’s already halfway through the series and I never tried to make time for these gatherings because, well, my mind was too busy to even consider it. But this gap in my schedule left me feeling like it was one of the few things left to do.
At the start of the meeting, my pastor prompted us to take about 10 minutes to do whatever we needed to just decompress. To let go of the day we had before us. When I went on Tuesday, I had literally spent the whole day in the hospital for tests for my breathing issues. Long story short: it was a very anxious day. I needed all the decompression I could get.
And decompress I did. I took off my shoes. I let go of my thoughts. I opened my hands to the Lord as I sat in the presence of others praying. And most importantly, in the presence of my Great God. Just in acknowledging Him, I could let go. My focus was no where but on being in His presence.
At the meeting, I was pointed to Isaiah 40:31, which reads:
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Just the scripture I needed to hear that night. But it also prompted a lot of thoughts in me as to what I am filling myself with.
What Fulfills Me?
As I soak up the meaning of that verse, I started to wonder “What am I hoping in? Where does my renewal come from?” Because in those moments of peace at the prayer gathering, I was renewed. My mind was stilled like it never is. God brought me – anxious, tired, weary, and overwhelmed me – to a point of pure peace in His presence.
And I dunno about you, but I never feel like that by anything that I can do on my own!
I am convicted in the truth that I seek for this kind of renewal either from my myself (which is pointless at best) or from other things (which is idolization at worst). I sometimes hope to will myself into a calm state by rushing around to create an organized, balanced life. Which then of course leaves me feeling like peace left the situation hours ago. Or sometimes, I hope certain events like a nice date night or a warm bath will provide the renewal I need.
While those things are not really bad in and of themselves, and sometimes they do produce good feelings, I have come to the short conclusion that many others have about being human: only God can provide what I truly desire.
It’s not that things in life shouldn’t satisfy, because they should. He wants me to enjoy my life. But He also wants me to enjoy His presence, and enjoy it the most.
What Am I Filled With?
I’ve also learned that sometimes I am filling myself with such negative thoughts or attitudes. It’s very easy to just let the world fill me however it may instead of being intentional about it. I always have the intent of filling myself with scripture, but sometimes it’s more just like reading it. In one ear, out the other.
It takes time to really let myself be filled with scripture. I like time to meditate on it, believe in it, feel what it is that it makes me feel (which is basically always peace).
It’s just a matter of carving out that time, protecting it, and being intentional about it. If I’m not proactive in sitting before God and asking Him to fill me before all else, I will most certainly be filled with dread, anxiety, and many things that make my life more difficult.
As my pastor said to us this week, we need to “practice His presence.” I know the Lord is working in me to practice just being with Him, enjoying the stillness and rest that He has called me to, and to enjoy the peace that only He can bring.
Questions for You:
- What about stillness is hard for you? Not moving, calming your mind, finding the time?
- Have you ever gone to a prayer gathering before? What was your experience?