Vacation is good.
If you’ve been in any kind of contact with me in the past week, you’ve probably heard me say that at least once. To my friends who have heard me say this and been at all envious or annoyed: I am so sorry. But take it as your permission to GO ON VACATION.
It’s funny, because you’d think that with no steady job, I wouldn’t need a vacation, right? Wrong. That’s because vacation doesn’t mean “stop working for a few days”. It’s a change of scenery. A change of pace. A new environment. A new kind of quiet to allow the Holy Spirit in, massage your soul, and give you the overwhelming grace to keep on going. I got to take a vacation last week, and it couldn’t have been anymore perfect.
I started off the summer by thinking that I really didn’t need vacation. I mean, let’s face it, I’m not exactly worn to the bone with work. But for some reason Jesus kept being like, “stop saying that! I provide you with what you need” and apparently I needed 5 days at the beach with nothing to do.
Yet again, He was right and I was wrong. This time I didn’t even see it.
He wasted no time (in typical Jesus fashion), and as soon as I got in the car to drive south 4 hours to Orange Beach, AL, He just started speaking. A LOT.
Know what He said to me?
“You’re trying too hard.”
And not in the good way. It’s one thing to be told by your peers in high school that you’re trying too hard, but when the Maker of Our Souls tells you that? Ha ha ha.
I immediately thought, “okay, let me just roll over and quit right now.” How could I be trying too hard? Seriously? For well over a year now, all I’ve been doing is looking for just one inkling or hint of why God has me on this earth and for what purpose He intends me for, and that’s about it. I currently have no steady job, and I simply just look for ways to make myself useful during the day, because no matter what I do, the Lord deliberately closes the door and I have to be productive somehow. I’ve been patient for a long time, and now I’m trying too hard? There’s just no way.
Let me take a moment to be even more transparent with you. I thought back in January, that I had reached zero on how much more I had left to give, (see here: https://chaslneemarshall90.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/belief-before-proof/) . Well, after having 6 months of possibilities appearing and disappearing along with waiting and a million maybes, now I have officially reached zero. I actually cannot tell you a single thing about my life with absolute certainty aside from “Jesus is my savior and He is sovereign”. Maybe that’s the whole point of this process.
Nonetheless, it’s pretty clear that vacation was a necessity.
So, Jesus confronted me about my honesty and genuineness of heart. He pointed out that I may be involved, and “doing what I’m supposed to”, sure. I pray without ceasing, worship in the most focused manner possible, I’m attending small groups, utilizing my quiet time, and serving others. I’m “doing” it all, yes. But I’m not being honest and raw with Him.
He said to me, “you’re letting everything proceed Me. Do you realize that? Church, fellowship, your future, relationships. Above all you’re letting your concern about what my mission is for you proceed Me. How can you even have a mission without Me? Seek Me first, not all the extra stuff. And stop performing. Just be with Me.”
It sort of was like a hit to the gut. To be frank with you, where I am in my life is getting so phenomenally stale that I want to get off the merry-go-round and quit. That being the case, hearing all this made me a little frustrated.
Despite the frustration, not long after my soul began to feel more rested than it has in the past month in a half because now, I had the permission to just let it all out in all its rawness.
He drew my attention to Luke 5 where there are 2 accounts of Jesus healing people. They’re an interesting contrast, because both individuals approach Him and ask for it in 2 completely different ways. A man with leprosy asks Jesus to heal him, “if he is willing”, where as another man’s friends hoist him onto to the roof of a house where Jesus was preaching, and rip tiles off the roof just to lower him to His feet, and ask Him to heal him.
After the man with leprosy is healed, Jesus tells him to not tell anyone but go directly back to the temple and tell the priests what had happened and then worship and give offerings, which was a process that had to be done for him to be accepted back into society as a clean individual. The man still told everyone anyway, and Jesus knew that he would disobey, but He healed him anyway.
On the other hand, Jesus told the man with the mat to pick up his mat and go home, and the man did so praising God for what had been done. Much simpler than the man with leprosy, right? What are you doing Jesus?
Well, the man with mat was healed in front of Pharisees who questioned what Jesus response to the man was, rather than his healing. He said to him, “you are forgiven”, and they were like “who are you to do that?”…. Basically it goes in a direction that would take focus off of what I’m trying to say, BUT most important is this:
In both situations, Jesus addresses their hearts first. He gets their hearts before the rest is done, because their hearts, regardless of their condition take priority over everything else, in this case, their physical life.
And that’s all he ever wants. Our hearts. Just as they are. Ugly or pretty, He wants it.
As a born again Christian that has been on her walk for over 11 years, I suppose I’ve fallen into this idea that I should be pretty near to perfect at all times. I feel like I should be really good at living like Jesus by now, and for me to be struggling as much as I am right now is ridiculous. Maybe that’s true. But to pretend that everything’s okay to the point of not being 100% honest with Jesus about how I feel is even more ridiculous.
He says He wants us. Not our version of our fixed up selves, but just us. For my entire life, every time I’ve ever heard that kind of message, I begin to think “oh that’s for the ones who haven’t been saved yet”. But that couldn’t be more wrong. He wants our whole hearts, the good and the bad, at all times. Even if we feel like we’ve taken a few steps backwards and are embarrassed, He still wants it.
When I got back from the beach, I was relaxed enough to let my guard down. Something about “simply enjoying His creation” (as He told me to do), brought me back to spiritual reality. So for the past few days our conversations have been very honest.
In fact, my worship at church has looked way more blah than usual because I just didn’t have all the energy I normally do. My prayers have gone from “Jesus you are so sweet and even though I don’t know what’s going on, I love you” to “Jesus, I don’t have a whole lot left. I love you, but this sucks. I’m not going anywhere, but help.” But it’s honest. I’m giving Him what I have and that’s all He wants right?
Here’s how I see it. Imagine being in an epic movie with Jesus where you literally go through everything together. Then try to imagine how the dialogue would go after that. It’d be super open and honest right? So why wouldn’t it be like that now? The truth is, even when you haven’t felt Him or seen Him he’s been there the whole time. You’ve got nothing to hide. No matter where you are in your spiritual walk, He still wants just you. 100% you. So to be anything short of honest with him isn’t fair. (I’m saying that to myself, actually).
At some point, this will all make sense. I’m pretty sure right now is the point that everything officially makes no sense whatsoever, but I still believe that the Lord has written the story and I have a purpose in it somewhere. I want to give up, really badly. I’ve had it with possibilities turning into waiting, then into maybes, and slowly into no’s. At this rate, I don’t know what He’s promising me beyond eternity with Him. I haven’t got a clue as to what all of this is for. But I trust Him, I swear I do.
A few weeks ago, I was ready to toss this blog in the trash and get rid of it rather than “ramp it up” like I said I was going to a month ago. But instead here I am, writing again. Perhaps this is the part of this story where it’s about to get good. Maybe not. I’m approaching 25, I don’t have a steady job, I’m definitely not getting married anytime soon, and every time I think I’m on to something, it’s a dead end. In terms of “modern day blogs that you should be following”, this one definitely is not one that makes the list. I don’t even know why I’m writing at this point.
But Jesus has this.
He has my heart in all its splendor and lack thereof. And that’s all He wants. I’ve reached zero, but He’s got all of me. If I do nothing else in life, at least there’s that.
Above all, He is good.
I don’t have a resolve in this post this time. Sorry to leave you with this, but it’s just going to have to be a “to be continued…” post this time.
Jesus has this. The battle is already won. Thank you, Lord for what you’ve already done and will continue to do.