Moon setting at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Living quietly a moment at a time

Do you ever crave stillness? Where you have a moment to catch your breath without anyone’s expectations horning in on you? Where you can just enjoy the quiet without deadlines looming or people demanding things from you?

I didn’t used to. When I was younger, I loved being busy. And looking back, oh boy, was I busy! I can’t believe the schedule I kept when I was younger. I really have no idea how I did it without going crazy.

But now? Well, I still enjoy being busy. If I were bored, there would be something wrong. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to yearn for the quiet, alone moments of my younger years, where I didn’t have so many responsibilities and so many people didn’t rely on me.

Moon setting at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Moon setting at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Psalm 62:5.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
    for my hope is in him.

It’s hard to be quiet when life is so loud. I don’t want to say it’s impossible, but it really is difficult to get focused when we have so many things screaming for our attention. But it’s important. It’s necessary.

If you live life in a constant flurry of activity, flitting from one crisis to the next, you never actually process the decisions you make. You can’t. You don’t have time. So you don’t learn from your mistakes. You don’t take time to enjoy your success.

So how do you wait quietly for God when life is spiraling out of control around you? How can you be quiet and still when that means you’ll fall behind?

What I’ve learned is that you can’t always be quiet and still. There’s too much to do. And if you are anything like me, you’ve probably gotten to the place in your life where you have so many people depending on you that if you changed directions suddenly, half a dozen ministries or projects would grind to a halt and fail utterly. If you back yourself into that kind of a corner, it’s my personal belief that you have a responsibility to see it through to the end.

That being said, you don’t have to eat, sleep, and breathe every project and ministry you’re involved in. If you can’t live your life quietly right now, learn to take advantage of the quiet moments when you have them.

When you get home from work, do you jump right into the next project on your list? Or do you take half an hour to decompress? When you finish one assignment, do you jump immediately into the next one, or do you take a walk and let your shoulders loosen up?

I’ve found that I’m actually more productive if I take a break between projects, than if I just power on through without stopping. If I take the time intentionally to breathe and rest and be quiet in between things, I can focus better and work faster.

People weren’t created to work all the time, to run crazy all the time, to kill ourselves on good things all the time. If we try to live that way, we’ll burn out.

So take the time to enjoy the quiet moments when they come. Don’t ignore them. Teach yourself to live quietly a bit at a time, and it won’t be long before you’ll find your whole life is a lot more quiet too.

Puffin floating on the water at the Omaha Zoo, Omaha, NE

How do I rest when life is too busy?

I could stand a little peace and quiet. How about you? I just came off a ridiculous weekend. Awesome and fun and exciting. But I’m tired. Even though so many exciting things are happening right now, there are still days when I just wish I could tell everyone and everything to be quiet and leave me alone so I can rest.

But even then, as much as I need rest, I usually don’t allow myself to take it. Because there are so many things going on, if I’m not involved surely something isn’t going to be done right. Can anyone else identify with that feeling? It’s okay if you can.

We can’t just run at top speed all the time. Well, you can. Been there, done that, don’t want to do it anymore. I’m not an expert, but I can speak from experience. And if you’re one of my performance-driven perfectionist brothers and sisters, I just want to ask you one question: What is the foundation for your hopes?

Everybody has hopes and dreams, expectations of what life is going to be like. I haven’t talked to anyone who didn’t have a hope of some kind. So take a long, hard look at what you hope for and figure out what you’re basing that hope on.

Is it something solid? Something proven? Something trustworthy? Or just some vague, general feeling?

Personally? I’ve got a lot of things I’m hoping for. I’m hoping that my mom’s re-evaluation at the Mayo Clinic in September comes back saying that she’s okay. I’m hoping that this crazy business venture I helped start in January really does manage to work. I’m hoping that two years from July 6 I’ll get to hug my best friend again. And those are just the top of the list.

Those are all great things to hope for, but it’s one thing to hope that all those things will happen. It’s something else to know that even if they don’t, everything will still be okay anyway.

Puffin floating on the water at the Omaha Zoo, Omaha, NE

Puffin floating on the water at the Omaha Zoo, Omaha, NE

Today’s verse is Psalm 62:5.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
    for my hope is in him.

Hope is one of those fuzzy conceptual ideas (it floats, it has feathers, etc.) that it seems few people have a practical idea of how to implement. I’d crack an Emily Dickinson joke here, but I’m not sure if anyone would get it.

What does it look like to live a life where your hope is in God and not just some of it–all of it? We sang an old song at church this weekend that got me thinking about this.

I haven’t got it figured out yet, but God has taught me a lot about hope in the last few years. And I can tell you that if my hope is truly in God, I can let go.

Yes, I hope my mom’s test results will come back good. But you know what? They haven’t come back good since March 2013 and everything is still all right. We still have everything we need. He’s taking care of us. And He’s still obvious in our lives.

Yes, I hope that this crazy small press we started is going to work. I would love to see it flourish and grow. And I’d love for my novels to make it big. But if they don’t, I’m okay with that. If the business doesn’t work, I’ve learned so much, and it’s already been a fantastic adventure with three of my close friends.

Yes, I hope my best friend makes it across the pond safely and that God protects her in all her global wanderings in the next two years. But if that doesn’t work out the way I want it to, you know what? She’ll still be okay.

Because she belongs to Him. Because my business belongs to Him. Because my mom belongs to Him. Because I belong to Him. And God never treats His creation carelessly.

Remember that when life doesn’t go the way you want it to. Remember Who God is. Hope is less about the promise itself and more about who made it and whether or not that person can be trusted.

No matter what happens, if you put your hope in God, that means you aren’t relying on your own strength to make something happen. You aren’t depending on other people for an outcome. You aren’t building your foundation on unstable ground. And if you aren’t spending your time and energy and resources trying to make something happen or worrying about whether or not someone will come through, you can spend that time doing what you need to do–rest.

God can be trusted. Not only that, but God is the only one big enough to take the broken pieces of life and fit them back together again in a way that’s better than they were before.

So rest easy. Put your hope in God, and if your confidence falters, read up on how God has come through for other people throughout history.

Be honest with yourself. You aren’t big enough or strong enough to change anything. You don’t have as much control as you’ve convinced yourself you have. That doesn’t mean you sit back on your blessed assurance and do nothing. But it does mean you can let go of the things that are to big for you anyway–those giant things you couldn’t control anyway? You know what I’m talking about.

Stop trying to make them happen on your own. Have confidence in God and rest easy.