10 Surprising Songs for When You Need to Rest in God

 

{Join me for a Lectio Divina from this next Sunday’s lectionary below and listen to this great hope that we have from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Subscribe on the right to receive a weekly lectio divina in your inbox and join the SLOW Word Movement.}

 

I woke up on Sunday morning with what Brene Brown calls a vulnerability hangover.

 

Saturday I led a workshop at our Diocesan Synod on overcoming anxiety by learning to rest in God’s love. My talk was not some nice info I spliced together from a pile of books I’ve read all neatly objective. What I presented was my own story filled with the debilitating paralysis from anxiety and how God is healing my brain through his love. It was a complete joy to share and the fact that many experienced God’s love in a fresh way, I felt like Mary witnessing Easter. But when I woke up on Sunday morning my legs were slow and my brain was slower. I sat in the bath filled with Epsom salts and put my finger on it. It felt like the outskirts of depression.

 

When I was in the parish, every Sunday night this hangover drove me to escape into the Help Wanted Ads looking for those ever cliche greener pastures.

 

This time, however, I was expecting it.  Vulnerability hangovers are a part of the risk of using our deepest wounds to offer others the greatest healing. The day after big movements of ministry, I always have two thoughts: first, maybe I overshared and they’re going to think I’m an idiot, and second, perhaps it will all come to nothing. Even worse: Why did I offer anyways? Sounds like a toxic cocktail of my greatest fear and Satan’s greatest lie, right? But I’ve heard it all before.

 

That cocktail no longer has the power it once had.

 

Why?

First, I’ve received such powerful healing that sharing is integral to my gratitude. I can’t stop. I’m the woman at the well running towards the townspeople, “Let me take you to a Man…”

I’ve finally separated my deepest lie, “I will always be rejected,” from physical exhaustion. It’s no longer intertwined. Now, I know to rest, eat healthy food, exercise, and keep clear of the toxic whirl.

Second, I again recognize that it’s not about me. That truth is a deep sigh of relief.  I’m not the center of the world. I’m not the center of God’s world. I’m just a pointer to Jesus.

Third, He’s in charge of outcomes, I can only be responsible for offering.

 

But when I’m deep in the exhaustion of a vulnerability hangover and crawling back into life I often use music. I’m too tired for journaling. I’m too tired to pray. I can only pray through liturgy or music.

 

This is what the movement of my music listening prayer sounds like. It’s a sampling of my favorites from bluegrass to pop, from the profound to the quirky. I hope you’ll find a deep breath right here:

 

When I have a ministry hangover I often start here acknowledging the exhaustion:

 

 

 

 

Songs for resting in God’s love:

 

 

We’ve got all of these Scripture Lullaby albums. The kids often go to sleep to them. Loveliness. You can buy them here:

 

This next song is for celebrating our smallness and worshipping. I bought this album before one of our trips to Mount Desert Island, Maine and every time I hear the words, it’s forever linked to the winding drive up to Cadillac mountain, the bald rock hills on one side, the oceans dotted with islands on the other. Nature always reminds me how small I am, that I’m a very small part of a great big redemption story. I can say yes to my very small part and then turn and worship.

 

 

 

This song by Audrey Assad is an invitation to confession. It comes from the Litany of Humility here. As I listen, I ask myself, “Am I holding onto outcomes? Was I hoping it would be a validating experience, that I would come out as the hero of the story?”

 

 

After confession, we receive the victory of Christ and start to walk into hope. This song by Steffany Gretzinger takes twists and turns and captures us by surprise but somehow it’s exactly what we needed to hear:

 

 

This song is perfect when I’m exhausted in the morning but still need to get going: (This song from The Brilliance is usually on repeat while I make breakfast.)

 

 

When you’re ready to move out into the day. We are late the the Josh Garrels party but oh. my. word. after hearing this two part podcast about his vision for his vocation, we fell hard:

 

Quirky to the Nth Degree, this song is from my favorite movie, About Time. It’s a gentle reminder to listen to the spaces of redemption among the ordinary.

 

 

And then prayers for further anointing:

 

I’m linking with #tellhisstory over with the fantastic encouragement guru Jennifer Dukes Lee here.

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How to Withstand the Storms

We are all transplants in this Kingdom, all ball of roots, shook out and replanted insecure, longing for our heart’s true home.

 

 

We are adopted children of the most High who wander through the world with amnesia forgetting to come home, forgetting where our bread (acceptance, security, purpose, Life) comes from.  We turn towards whispers of “little l” life with hope-filled faces and turn away from the arms always offered.

 

We are basically earth scorched thirsty people searching for living water, quenching our thirst in the most unhealthy/unholy of ways.

 

Everywhere I go, when I’m turning toward another voice in hope of some piece of the puzzle coming together, I hear an echo of Him, “Daughter, Come back to Me. Don’t go too far. Attach. Dwell. Abide.”

 

It takes three years for plants to reach down in foreign soil and establish. Three springs that follow three cold winters before they begin to thrive.

 

The gardeners at the Center where I bought my white hydrangeas said to chop off the big snowball blooms for two full years. The roots’ establishing was more critical than beauty, she lectured, tenderly patting the black plastic base. Let them spread all their energy to the tightening, spreading roots and then, she promised, they’ll bloom strong into the years.

 

It’s the roots we can’t see, the roots spread firm in Him that create the lasting beauty.

 

Around that same time wandering through a Christian bookstore, I stared at a black and white Ansel-Adams-like photo. She was a queen of a tree, full of leaves, standing alone, a lace of intricate branches. Underneath the photo was Ephesians 3:17 “Rooted and established in love.”  Paul, midway through his letter was praying for the Ephesians. Now, Paul was hardcore. A missionary of missionaries. I imagine him a bit wild-eyed, like I’d have to look away if I tried to look straight at him. And yet much of his writings come straight back here, straight to the importance of being rooted in God’s love.

 

The full verses of 17 through 19 go like this, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” We need to be rooted in love in order to be filled with God.

 

Chapter 8 in Romans, the chapter I would gladly take to a deserted island (or maybe just a four star hotel) and feast on for weeks, climaxes in this: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

The man was rooted and established in some serious hummus-filled love. You’d have to be in order to endure the whips, the chains, the prison isolation, the shipwrecks. He’d be dashed and wrecked about the rocks of life without that firm anchor of love. And maybe that’s all we’ve known.

 

We are so often like adopted children wondering where home really is, insecure, fearful when my dear friends, our Abba is firmly here with us. “I will never leave you or forsake you,” (Mt 28:20)

Every moment we:

stop and look into His eyes,

whisper “Jesus” in joy or wonder,

search the Word for his self-revelation,

fill up the lungs, drink deep breaths of His love,

bring our fears to his lap,

take our sins to the cross,

listen, getting used to the sound of His voice,

worship with arms outstretched,

or double back, saying thank you.

All this roots and establishes us a little deeper.

It is the constant abiding John talks about, the branch coming in close, attaching firm to the Vine.

 

 

Christianity is less a lifestyle of trying hard and more a constant doubling back, coming in close.  And the most beautiful service, the most powerful wave-walking trust and firm obedience? It comes naturally out of the coming in close.

 

The beauty will come. One day it fill unfold into bloom. And my friend, I can already see in you the tight nubs whispering of future glory.

Here’s one of my favorite ways to get rooted and established in God’s love, Lectio Divina.

Rest in His Presence. Receive his Word. Respond.  It’s a doorway to prayer.

 

I wonder what you will hear from today’s scripture? 

 

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Renewing our View of God

 

It’s easy for us to view God through the grimy lens of our own imperfect parents. Honestly, it makes sense. It’s the only lens of love we’ve got. But the problem is that we have a horrible tendency to anthropomorphize God. We put human features and characteristics onto a perfect, holy, and all-loving God. We think he’s as fickle and capricious as those we witness walking around this solid earth.

 

We fear His love morphs with our attempts at holiness. We imagine He showers us with compassion on the good days and withdraws his love, hiding in the shadows, leaving us in the cold, when He’s not pleased.

 

This. Is. Not. God. This is not unconditional love.  Psalm 103 is a good place to sink into in order to let God share his self-revelation.

 

Listen. Savor. Pray. Ask God to reveal Himself to you. Ask Him to tell you how He sees you!

 

Thirsty? Want more?

 

“The gardeners at the Center where I bought my white hydrangeas said to chop off the big snowball blooms for two full years. The roots’ establishing was more critical than beauty, she lectured, tenderly patting the black plastic base. Let them spread all their energy to the tightening, spreading roots and then, she promised, they’ll bloom strong into the years.” Read more here.

 

Want a daily practice to resting in God’s love? It’s a simple practice called the 3 R’s that can be done anywhere.

Read more here.

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Invitation to the With-God Life

Listen. Savor. Pray.

 

Are you feeling thirsty for more of the with-God abiding life? Here’s my story and why practicing God’s Presence has become one of the chief desires of my life: http://www.athirstforgod.com/tag/practicing-the-presence-of-god/

AND, by the way, did you know every Tuesday we have a lectio divina from the lectionary for the following Sunday? Come back on Thursdays (today) and pray through scripture using a lectio divina series I’m calling The WITH-GOD LIFE. We’ll be soaking in John 15 for a few weeks and then head out to the Psalms. I promise it will be strength for the journey.

Join the Slow Word Movement and subscribe to become a part of the community! I’ll be making a video on Five Simple Ways to Deepen your Scripture Meditation and sharing it right there next week. We also have a lovely Facebook Community for subscribers that’s continually growing.

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Are You Addicted to Big? Matthew 13:31-33 *SLOW Word video*

Come join me in the Presence to listen to Jesus remind us that the Kingdom is made up of small.  In a world addicted to big, it’s a powerful reminder. Below is my story of big addiction. Want to receive these Lectio Divina, these invitations of Word to prayer, straight into your inbox? Subscribe on the right:

 

 

 

I knelt on the blue berber carpet at the front of the church as often as I could.

We were a Christian Missionary Alliance church and rated an “A” congregation for all the big missionaries to make their circuit through during their furlough year. An altar call was always given, “Just as I Am” was played, and I walked forward, knelt and spread my palms on the berber carpet. I smelled adventure. I wanted to do big things for God.

 

But the mustard seed kingdom life doesn’t work that way. We are not plucked out of obscurity into big. We are taught to get down on our knees with a basin and a towel and rub tiny feet, wrinkled feet, and the tired feet with cracked heels. The Spirit teaches us to plant lines of seed one at a time. We learn to love big, not work big. They are rarely ever one in the same.

 

We learn to cup our children’s faces and linger just a little bit longer than necessary. We learn that small acts of kindness watered by grace feed a marriage. We learn the particular accent of the woman next door, the village where her people are from, and her favorite type of tea. We learn to become a collector of stories, that a vulnerable heart listening well is the building block of trust.

 

We learn to sit in the dark and quiet and sow seeds of prayer which will never be counted, nor should they. They should be massed in our hands and thrown out liberally, generously.

 

We learn that who we become for God is infinitely more important than what we do for God. We learn that becoming a good news person means listening to the heartbeat of God first, leaning on His chest like John the Beloved at the table, and finding our home in that steady pattern. Sometimes we are encouraged to whisper what we hear into the next waiting ear. Sometimes we become a container for the secrets of God and hold them tenderly in our hands in order not to crush them.

 

It’s been a long ten years of unlearning the siren song of Big. I tied my worth to it. I tied God’s love to it. I made vows to it which had to be cut off. But the Kingdom is built by small offered to He who is big but was planted in a womb, a tiny seed.

 

What are your small Kingdom beginnings today, friend? Join me in the comments.

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Learning to Follow the Shepherd

Hello dear ones, it’s time to sink into the word again, to allow the Scripture to wash over us and show us new revelations of Jesus. It’s time to do the SLOW Word Movement. Know anyone else who may need this gift?

 

A friend sent me this piece from the interwebs. It wrecked me a bit…then came the lectio divina. Here’s my response, a gathering of a story from last week:

 

I sat on the leather couch feeling like the wind had been knocked out of me and if I’m honest, a tad bit angry. Our Journey group which had traveled through this last year of a spiritual direction program was saying good-bye. But that’s not what had me angry. That was tender. We were passing out parting gifts, blessings really. One of our members has a prophetic gift and spoke the word he saw for me. But here’s the thing. It’s a word that’s been spoken over me three times in the past three years. Different metaphors. Same message. They feel like signposts, signposts which whisper of blessing but when I’m straining here in the seat of disappointment, these signposts sometimes scoff. Because today as a homeschool mom in a ministry setting that’s deeply humbling, I couldn’t feel farther away from that word. It’s as if I’m walking a labyrinth and the path has turned away from the center. Cold. Colder. Colder.

 

These days I feel completely hidden.

 

I received the word and then gave it back to the Lord. “You can have it. If this is Your will, You accomplish it. Please don’t let me place walls in the midst of the path You have for me, but I refuse to idolize the sign.”

 

Because it’s easy to walk out of shame, to fear that I’ve missed the trail somewhere back there. Shame feels like a second skin. And shame has always been easier for me to wear than freedom.

 

I exhale. Stay on the path, I hear. Deep inside I know that the true journey is a pilgrimage to the center of my soul where the war battles.  There’s still a lot of work to be done. There’s cleaning to do. Where do I find my value? There are gates to swing wide to the Spirit. There’s an infant trust that’s recently been born but still naked, fragile. A necessary humility has begun to spread my arms out cruciform, wide enough to love the broken. But, some days I still feel the fight. Like today.

 

If I’ve learned anything on this road, here’s the extravagant reward of the struggle: my Shepherd’s love is fierce and if I get silent a while, I can drink deep of that love. That’s when I remember that He Himself is completely worth the uphill trek I’m hiking. It’s the Via Dell’Amore, the hard road of love. When all is stripped, and we’re alone on the trail, there are no other voices. No other faces. Alone and listening to the Voice of Love I discover again that it’s Him I desire…not the thing, the ministry, the story, the sign.

 

The Shepherd.

 

And yes, every once in a while I notice, when I learn to follow the robes of the shepherd closely,

 

He fills the frame and I no longer need to look where He’s taking me.

 

Dear one, in your spiritual life are you in a season of hiddenness or adventure?

 

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How to Renew a Heart of Worship and Slow Word

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Intentional silence, even for a mature Christian, can often feel either scary or superfluous. But when we make time for silence we are carving out space for transformation.

 

My first experience of communal silence was on a visit to a French Benedictine monastery. It was a field trip from Canterbury to Le Bec Heloin the monastery which had sent the first Archbishop of Canterbury on mission north into the wilds of the Anglo-Saxons. That first experience of communal silence was awkward in the extreme. I can still remember the discomfort of eating soup at a table across from others I didn’t know in silence. Now I find I crave the type of silence where God’s voice has less competition.

Read the rest at AnglicanPastor.com

 

Today’s Slow Word is from Psalm 91:

 

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