Friday, April 2, 2010

my retreat.

Last week I blogged a quick little "see you soon" post. I wrote it on Thursday. The next week I had a couple of friends (who had read my blog) ask me how I was doing. You know--not a "How are you?" but a "How ARE you? No. Seriously. How ARE you?" They knew something was up with me. And it was. I've been trying to figure out how to blog about this--I do live a lot of my life online. I'm transparent. I feel like God has given me a platform to speak... and for some reason people like to listen, they like to hear what's up in my life. I'm forever amazed and grateful for that. I don't feel like my business blog is the place to write all this, however. So I ended up here.

God stopped me last Wednesday night. I was feeling sick all day which wasn't a helpful factor when added to a couple stressful conflicts and a growing exhaustion level. I stopped. Translation: cried. Haha! I was supposed to leave the next morning for the GC Conference in Seattle for two days as a youth leader with our youth group. As I cried with my friend Shauneille late Wednesday night, I knew I wasn't supposed to go. There's no way to express how I was feeling besides a craving for the Lord.

I want more of Him, I need more of Him. I look at my life: my business, my friends, my family, my savings account, my travel, my "following"--it means NOTHING compared to the joy of knowing my Lord Jesus Christ. For some reason, God chose last week to say, "Hey. Jamie. I want you to know more about me. I want you to spend more time with me. Twenty minutes each morning and faithful church attendance isn't enough. I made you. I want to know you." He was calling. I didn't go away that weekend. I woke up Thursday morning, wrote that blog post about "seeing you soon" and I retreated.

There were so many things that I came to God with... wrestled with Him about. What does it look like to live my entire life for Him? When it comes down to it, all I want, all I want, ALL I want, is for people to fall in love with Jesus. I don't want fame, money, success, popularity--I want to see the world changed by His love. But: I have a business. I have friends. I have family. I have church responsibilities. I need to fit in time to exercise. It can feel so mundane, so routine. I want to BE His hands and His feet to those around me. I struggled with the purpose of my day-to-day life--I don't want time to keep passing me by. Going through life, oblivious of the hundreds of people around me each day that are craving His love without even knowing it.

I spent three days reading, praying, resting with Him. One day I took a drive across a new bridge in my area... and kept driving until I saw a sign for a lake and thought, Okay. I'll drive there. I love the outdoors. God's so creative. Then I went to a coffeeshop and read. I didn't see any friends all weekend, I didn't text anybody and hey, guess what, I only checked email/twitter 2-3x a day. (I'm not kidding you: that was a huge deal. HAHA! So pathetic.)

I've been desiring to hear from God and He spoke to me through his Word. So many great things were learned and discovered this past weekend. Questions about life direction and purpose and ministry and calling. Here are a few things that I wrote down.

1. Everything in our lives is for HIS name's sake. Everything. Even our sins being forgiven--that's not for us, but for Him. "Because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake." (1 John 2:12)

2. Reading in Haggai 1... "Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew and the earth withholds its fruit." (Haggai 1:9-10) -- MESSED UP priorities. When the people came and began to repair and built the Lord's house God spoke, "From this day I will bless you." (Haggai 2:19.) Seek first His Kingdom.

3. "Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing." (Psalm 34:10)

4. In Deuteronomy 8, the Lord led his people into the wilderness. To humble them and to test them, to discover what was in their hearts--to see if they would still follow Him. I felt like I was in that place last week. We are not called to live by bread alone but "by every word that proceeds out of the Lord's mouth." Sweet. I love that.

As well as a lot of the Bible, I also read some sweet books:
Understanding God's Will by Kyle Lake.
Perfect book for me in this time in my life. PERFECT. What a great book.

The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne.
A little emergent-churchy, but you can't deny the simple truth of how we are called to LOVE. This book shook me up. I found myself so challenged by the last page.

In Kyle Lake's book, there was a great quote by Oswald Chambers.

"We have the idea that God is leading us towards a particular end of a desired goal, but He is not... What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the GOAL itself. His purpose is the process."

I find that comforting. All the questioning, the searching, the seeking--that's His plan. His plan isn't that we accomplish exactly "X" but that we learn A, B, and C on the way to Accomplishment X.

On Sunday, I eased back into my life and... talking to other human beings besides my parents in the hall. Hah! It was a weird experience though. Sunday was incredibly emotionally exhausting for me: church, lunch, coffee date with a friend, birthday party at night. To go from being alone for three days to that much talking? It makes me realize no wonder I arrived at a place of burn-out. I need to seek out alone time more often. By Monday night I was feeling back to my normal self and back to work and emails and friends and my Google calendar. That weekend honestly feels like months ago: even though it was just last week. Weird how life creeps back in on ya.

But. I'm changed. In such a good way.
I walked away from this weekend:
1. Refreshed by His presence.
2. With a greater desire to know Him.
3. Blessed by the assurance that as long as I desire to follow His will in all that I do, I don't need to worry about whether I turn left or right. He will be there with me.
4. Challenged to start taking one full day off (or at least a half day: 8AM - noon or something) a week to spend with Him. I'm blessed by a flexible schedule and I feel SO strongly the calling of the Lord upon me to just spend TIME with Him. I'm so selfish with my time. Jesus gave up his life for a bunch of people who didn't deserve it ONE BIT. I'm pretty sure I can give up my time to the creator of the entire world--who deserves it beyond all comprehension.

Woo, boy. Thanks for reading. God is so good and I'm so excited to walk with Him today and tomorrow and the rest of my teenage years and into my 20s and all the days of my life.