Testimony Tuesday: Keeping Still

The Lord will fight for you,
and you have only to keep still.

– Exodus 14:14

Keeping still.

It’s never been my strongest attribute.

I fidget, constantly. I play with my hair, gnaw at my nails, tap my foot. I do almost anything to keep from keeping still, actually.

And yet, in the grander scheme of things, it has so seemed like that’s exactly what the Lord is asking me to do right now. Keep still, He whispers to me. I feel called to keep still in life, in location, in all of it.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see this as a bad thing. In fact, I’m fairly certain that this is the most still I’ve felt in ages… perhaps my entire life, though I only have twenty-three years to base that judgement off of.

I feel like your twenties are such an uncertain, ever changing age. Perhaps we don’t all face the hostilities of Moses and his people as they fled from Egypt, but we can all learn from it. I feel like there’s some sort of metaphor there…

As if, in our twenties, we are inclined, even tempted, to flee from our childhoods, and whatever we may associate with it. For some, that’s a town, or a mindset, or a relationship. But the Lord, ever so gently, so wisely, is urging us to keep still. Don’t be rash. Pray. Trust.

He will continue to fight for us, for the life He knows we ought to live.

I know the conflicted feeling so well – the feeling of wanting to go one way, but feeling as if you should go another. It’s in that conflict that I hear the Lord. He is the one on my heart telling me what I should do, and right now, I’m in a season on stillness. And even though I might have friends galavanting across foreign countries, or whisking away into the wilderness, or jumping head-first into some other terrifying, thrilling thing… the Lord is calling me to keep still.

To stay put.

To listen.

To trust.

And you know what?

That is perfectly okay. 

I resign myself to it, to His will, to listening, and to obeying. I resign myself to keeping still.

For all I know, stillness may end up being the best gift He’s ever given me.

National Day of Prayer

When I think of the National Day of Prayer, I think of a large group of my fellow high school students gathering around the flag pole the protruded from the gravel in front of our school, hands held, heads bowed, voices off. It was always a brief moment, but a profound one. I knew I could go to it each year. I won’t say that I participated, but as a teenaged girl who grew up in a Christian household, I loved knowing that I could go there.

Granted, I didn’t find the Lord again until college. Not that I didn’t always believe, but my true spiritual journey moved beyond the adolescent “yes, I believe in Jesus because that’s how I was raised” towards “yes, I believe in Jesus, plain and simple” during my later years of college.

However, in a slightly ironic turn of events, since coming back to the church, I’ve actually paid less attention to National Day of Prayer.

Until this year.

It came onto my Twitter feed, actually, because of Chris Tomlin. And I decided to do some research. See, I guess I never really registered what this day was about. So I Googled it, as any curious millennial is prone to do, and came across the National Day of Prayer website, with an article about 4 prayer priorities for America this year.

The 4 priorities are simple, but I thought it might make more sense if I created my own original prayer for each priority as opposed to reciting what is written (I’ve never felt overly connected to that). This year’s National Day of Prayer might not be, for me, about meeting around a flagpole, but I can certainly get on board with joining our nation in a moment of humbleness and prayer, focusing on these 4 things:

  1. Ask God to bless the United States of America.
    Lord, I pray that You continue to press this country so abundantly. So fiercely. I pray that You continue to offer us a vast land with so many resources, and that You bless us with people who understand the best, most ethical, most sustainable way to use those resources so that we may continue to use and glorify Your creation for years to come. May we find a way to set aside differences, even momentarily, in order to seek a better future for us all.
  2. Pray for unity in America.
    Lord, this one is so close to my heart these days. I pray that Your constant presence helps lead us all, those who believe and those who are still seeking, towards unity, peace, and forward movement. May You give every single one of us an open heart and mind, and the desire to unite and move forward to better Your nation. May You continue to come to each of us as You intend to, as You know we will best receive Your love, grace, mercy, and wisdom.
  3. Pray for the centers of influence in America.
    Lord, may we know our idols, recognize them, and set them aside in pursuit of You and only You. May we have education that is centered around knowing You and Your world even better, and may You shine Your light on all of those educators, especially in such a trying time for them. May we all strive to be truth bearers, whether we are known or quiet, whether we have media influence or not. And as we look to ingest our own information, may we look for those sources who already do have influence who guide us closer and closer to You.
  4. Ask God for the National Day of Prayer to be a catalytic spiritual movement across America.
    Lord, I pray that You help us know You. I pray that You come through each and every one of us, in some way, in the way that You deem most worthy and relevant and power. Lord, I pray that You move us all in that moment, on that day, so every one of us – whether we already know You or are continuing to seek You – finds a calling toward You.

I pray for these things so deeply, every day, and especially tomorrow on the National Day of Prayer, May 3.

I’d love to pray for you, readers, as well… today, tomorrow, and every day. How can I pray for you?

Testimony Tuesday: Spiritual vs. Social

Okay, guys, I’ve got a confession to make: I’m terrible at making plans.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m terrible at keeping plans, and I know this. I get very ambitious with my social schedule, but when the time comes, I look at the three nights in a row that I’ve got things planned, and I ache for a bit of a reprieve in the middle.

Sometimes, I’ll admit, this also extends to church activities. Most recently, I’ve fallen out of the habit of attending my small group, which is rather upsetting to me because they are a wonderful group of some of the kindest, most God-seeking, God-loving people with the biggest hearts. I admit that my lack of attendance has nothing to do with them, and honestly nothing to do with my proclaimed “busyness,” but rather to do with a lack of prioritization.

However, it’s not necessarily that I don’t feel as if I am not prioritizing God. Most of the time, when I skip group (or, let’s be honest, “since I stopped attending it” is the more accurate way to say it), I’ve spent those evenings in solitude with the Lord. And I love that. I love diving into his Word and taking to my journal to decipher and pray and understand.

Now I now – I know – that there is a distinct call for community. Community is such a key part of our relationship with God, and I get that.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

– 1 John 1:7

For where two or three are gathered in my name,
there am I among them.
– Matthew 18:2

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
– Galatians 6:2

But it seems that this calling is where I struggle most. I always seem to be fighting an internal battle over whether my obligation to small group, and other such community groups, feels like a social obligation or a spiritual one. And, quite frankly, sometimes it feels like the former, where I know that it should feel much more like the latter.

And, okay. Perhaps I’m just making excuses. It’s not exactly like when I was 12, and church consisted of being there 8 hours a day on Sundays, from my 8 am choir practice through my 5 pm Christmas play rehearsal. That was certainly more social.

Maybe this is just a crutch I’m falling back on to justify my lack of prioritizing community.

I can’t imagine I am the only one who feels this way, but it’s just such a hard line for me to draw. Where do you find that balance between feeling like you have to be somewhere for the sake of appearances, and feeling like you have to be there for the sake of your soul? Is this just another one of those tests, where the Lord is asking to see how much effort I am willing to put forth for His glory? Or is my hesitation about all of this genuinely stemming from a well-intended, but conflicted place?

I’m full of questions today, and I can only keep praying, praying, praying that the Lord will guide me towards a resolution.

Amen.