My Tuesday morning Bible Study of Esther has ended. In many ways I am bummed because it was such an AMAZING learning experience but in some I am relieved. There was a LOT of homework that went along with the study, homework that started to overwhelm me a bit and I wasn't always able to finish which drives me crazy. I hope to have the opportunity to do the study again. I am sure I was only able to glean a small fraction of all that can be learned from such an amazing story.
Our church goes on a hiatus during the holidays in regards to Bible Study but one of my sweet friends Sheri offered to do a study at her house in the meantime. At first I hesitated because of how busy life is. But I always think back to that pie chart of my time. The biggest pieces in that chart NEED to be my family. What accounts for the rest of the chart though? Facebook? Blogging? Watching TV? I think that diving into God's word and becoming a better woman needs to have a slice of that pie. Emersyn takes a morning nap so while she is at her Nana's on Tuesday, her mama's gonna be enjoying the fellowship of some quality ladies and diving into a good book!
We are reading "Anonymous" by Alicia Britt Chloe. The tag line is "Jesus' hidden years...and yours". The book is broken up into small chapters; you could almost read it as a devotional. Some of the thoughts really stuck with me and I thought they might be an encouragment to some of the ladies that I know who read my blog, lurkers you know who you are...I don't want to mention any names (Vanessa). Ha!
She begins the book talking about trees. She talks about how lush and beautiful they are in the spring and summer and how the fall and winter comes and strips away the leaves. She says, "Though my skin prefers their role in summer, somehow my soul prefers their lessons in winter. Then, when growth pauses, the trees have often become my teachers. What the plenty of summer hides, the nakedness of winter reveals: infrastructure. Fullness often distracts from foundations. But in the stillness of the winter, the tree's true strength is unveiled......And so it is with us. Seasonally, we too are stripped of visible fruit. Our giftings are hidden: our abilities are underestimated....Abundance may make us feel more productive, but perhaps emtiness has greater power to strengthen our souls".
She has such an artistic way with words. What a blessing to able to view a time in your life that is as cold and stark as winter as a time for the Lord to strengthen our infrastructure. I long to be that sort of woman.
The book is entitled "Anonymous" because that is how we can feel sometimes. She talks about how the first 30 years of Jesus's life were insignificant by our standards but really, God was at work the entire time. So many times in our life, we feel that we are treading water...not really making a difference...not seeing the fruits of our labor, our ministry, our time. It can be frustrating in a society that encourages instant gratification.
Alicia often talks about God wasting no ones time. She says that times that are unseen aren't unimportant by any means. She spoke of traveling to China and participating in a feast. She said that they served many courses and each one was significant; there weren't any "filler" entrees. She said that she would often reminisce about a past course or anticipate what was coming next; and in the meantime the course that lay on the plate in front of her grew cold and didn't taste as good as it might have had she just enjoyed it.
Friends, I am so guilty of not enjoying the now at times. I really feel like I went through a season of hiding because of insecurities and fears, even in the last few years. But certain events that occurred this summer really pushed me into the arms of my Savior and made me abandon many of those fears and surrender my insecurities. It a daily surrender mind you, and one that doesn't always happen or come easily. But still, I think I got caught up in the lie that if I looked better, THEN I would be in a position to minister and encourage others. Or if I didn't have to work; then I could REALLY be more effective for Christ. But winter came over the summer (ha!) and revealed my infrastructure....and I didn't like what I saw so I changed it!
Ever since having Emersyn, I am so challenged to just take things one day at a time. The enemy knows how to bother perfectionists....just make us mess up once and then the whole day is just ruined, a waste. Since becoming a mother I have had to realize, I may not have time to do ALL the laundry. But one load WILL help and does make a difference. This theory runs true in so many areas for me.
I love how Alicia ends the chapter and I will leave you with these thoughts....
"Throughout Jesus' hidden years, he demonstrated one of the great forgotten virtues of our time: patience. But how can we practically follow Jesus' exampe and be patient when God-sized dreams pound in our souls? Seasonally this struggle has been agonizing...But there is quite a bit of room between self promotion and uppter passivity in our stewardship of God-size dreams. At present, I am attempting to rest in alert availability. "Alert" because I am not living in denial of the dreams in my heart. "Available" because God is a gentleman and I am quite comfortable waiting for Him to open doors. Truth is, I do not have enough character to walk through doors I open for myself.
I liken God's purpose to a pure but unpredictable river. Impatient self promotion actively seeks out a speedboat to outrun the current and rush towards the future. Fear of failure stands on the banks cautiosly to observe before getting her feet wet. But perhaps obedience simply wades into the center and lets the current of God's presence set the pace, be it swift or still.
Because after all, is not our true aim and aspiration just to be near God? Jesus seems to exemplify this perspective. Whether "Not yet, my Son" tucked him away in obscurity or "Now is the time" made him the news, Jesus appears to have walked unstressed and unhurried. His peaceful pace seems to imply that he measured himself not by where he was going and how fast he could get there but by whom he was following and how closely they walked together.
Patience grows well in such soil. She is the ally of a sould that makes God is't primary pursuit, because in this journey called life, regardless of the scenery, such a sould is deeply contented in the Company. "
Beautiful thoughts. I could have written this entire book out.......
Blessings to all my blog friends!