by Laura Forehand
Isn’t it great when you wake up at 3:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning? Being a school teacher means I covet those Saturday no-alarm kind of mornings. Today my normal alarm clock didn’t go off. Instead, I woke up with a vice-gripping headache. You know… the kind that actually feels like you have a vice gripping your head from the back of your neck to your forehead. Not cool.
Mornings like this rarely go to waste for me. Over the last 6 months, I’ve been on a spiritual quest, if you will. Not because I am in any way, shape, or form, super spiritual. Right now I’m feeling quite the opposite. I’ve got a lot of questions, and can I be honest? I’ve got some doubt. Not that God isn’t real, but is He who I have always believed Him to be? I have to answer that question with a heart-felt “No”.
A little background, but not too much… I don’t want to lose you in all the details of the last 6 months. Let me just take you back to yesterday.
After having a snow day on Wednesday, we had a 2-hour late start at school on Thursday. I have yet to sign up for our school’s text alert system (my own fault), so I didn’t know that we were starting late. I really wasn’t too irritated. I’m a morning person, so I’m happy to use that time before staff and children arrive to get some much needed work done. Maybe even organize the piles of whatever is on my desk and small group reading table? Maybe.
I have been doing a lot of reading lately. Authors like Brene’ Brown, Father Richard Rohr, Paul Young, and Peter Enns have brought not only healing to my soul, but they have also caused a healthy questioning in my spirit. Questioning can be a scary process when you’ve grown up with a certain belief system your whole life. Trust me, I’m NOT throwing out the “blame card”. We all have our belief systems we grew up with and I also raised my children to believe. But, I digress!
Anyway, back to the silence of my classroom. Because I had been reading so many books lately, I haven’t been listening to music very much. Prior to my new literary adventures, I listened to contemporary Christian music all the time, especially in the car. So, I decided that I would take a break from my book and listen to a Casting Crowns’ CD I had been given. It’s called “The Very Next Thing”. I love Casting Crowns. I’ve seen them twice in concert. Hands lifted high, I would sing at the top of my lungs right along with them… God love the people standing next to me… I didn’t care what I sounded like! I felt free in worship. And I love that feeling.
Then the song “The Very Next Thing” came on. Man! Good stuff! But it was the first time I ever really listened to the lyrics of that song. Listening to it this time, something didn’t seem to add up for me. The words seemed to be challenging me in an uncomfortable sort of way. Even after the song was over, I couldn’t shake the lyrics. In fact, when I woke up this morning, with my head feeling like it was in a vice, these words were still ringing:
With the very next words of love to be spoken
To the very next heart that’s shattered and broken
To the very next way you’re gonna use me
Show me the next thing
I’ll do the next thing
Beautiful, right? I mean, it is. The whole song is. Here’s where I got tripped up, however:
“To the very next way you’re gonna use me, show me the next thing. I’ll do the next thing.”
Now, I’m going to try my best to express my thoughts. You may think I’ve fallen off of some turnip truck. I think I’m ok with that.
When I had my amazingly, beautiful, wonderful children… Oh. My. Goodness. Do the words “life-changing” even begin to describe how I was feeling? They barely compare. You’ve heard so many moms say “Just when I thought I couldn’t have any more love…” And don’t even get me started on the depth of love I have for my granddaughter!
What an amazing capacity to love God has given us! Even if you don’t have children, you have such a great capacity to love… more than you know! In that great love, we would never think to “use” our children for our personal gain, would we? I remember hearing an author say that and I literally started crying. I love my children so much I think my heart may burst some days… the thought of having them in order to “use”, do my bidding, or gain something from that is heart-wrenching. No, we have our children because of the great love we have for someone else. We want to express… extend that love by creating another human being.
And so it is with our Father’s great love for us. We were not created for Him to “use” us. To keep running and running after the next thing, promising to do it. No. I believe He simply wants us with Him. No strings attached.
Stay with me here (if you haven’t already written me off). I promise I’m not trying to read too much into these song lyrics or accuse Casting Crowns of false preaching. Believe me… this is not how the church raised me to think! I mean, we are supposed to go out and let God use us. We are supposed to do amazing things in the name of Jesus. We are supposed to “go” and “do” and “go” and “do”, and then “go” and “do” some more. The problem with this cycle of “going” and “doing” is, for me, (be sure you catch those words… this is my story) it is never enough. How do I know when I’ve “gone” enough or “done” enough? And so I keep running. I keep trying to “go” more and “do” more. But, it’s never enough. Never.
This life has me exhausted. The reality is I can’t “go” enough. I can’t “do” enough. And my Father says, “Perfect. Because I want you to be with me.” The question is, can I rest in that? This world says that is not enough.
God says, “You are enough”.
The “going” and “doing” has me weary, friends. I am learning to be with God… Papa. I am learning to see His face differently. I am learning that in being with Him… you know… really present… just sitting and not even talking… just listening… in the quietness of a 3:30 a.m. vice-gripping headache wake-up call… THAT brings the outpouring of love and compassion for others. THAT allows His face to be reflected in mine as I look at the faces of the broken-hearted. The oppressed. The widow. The orphans. The refugee. The homeless. The persecuted.
I don’t have to “go” or “do” anything. I just have to BE.
Oh, my dear friends… this is so incredibly counter-culture. And scary. But, it is also so very good.
Be still and know that I AM God.
Be still and know that I AM.
Be still and know.