My husband and I recently had the pleasure of hiking several trails in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur, OK. We spent twenty-nine kid-free hours reconnecting with one another, surrounded by natural beauty.
Before setting off on our hike, we chatted with a park ranger who proudly spoke of the natural features we would encounter. She told us her favorite trails in a friendly fashion, but her demeanor became a bit more serious when we asked which water sources were safe for drinking. Looking us square in the eyes, she explained that only one spring on the trail was safe drinking water, as it is filtered through miles of underground rock, but the streams — in spite of the flowing waterfalls — were not safe because they originated from stagnant sources. Important information, no doubt!
We returned home from our mini-getaway refreshed and ready to tackle the daily grind of life. The past several months have been busier than we could have anticipated — sometimes it’s difficult to come up for air. A new job for my husband, birthdays for all three of my guys, gearing up for homeschool in the fall, a discipleship class on Thursday nights, and a marriage enrichment course on Sunday nights. Bedtime routines have been in disarray since the beginning of our evening classes — which seems to overthrow daily schedules and nap times, too. Motherhood takes no breaks; some days I tread water, sometimes the current pulls me along nicely, and other days are hard-fought battles where I’m forced to swim upstream.
In the midst of this season of life, God has been gently speaking to my heart, pruning the overgrowth. He’s been drawing me into his arms, inviting me to sit at the table he has prepared specifically for me. For so long, I’ve danced around that invitation with the excuse of demanding children, laundry piles, and dishes that spill out of the sink. The thing is, I pride myself on not leading a busy life. I do my best to limit our commitments so we’re not constantly pulled in different directions…but the pace of my life still managed to overtake me. I’ve allowed the static to creep in and drown out the rhythm of Shalom. I did not protect the quiet places reserved for hearing the voice of God. Day in and day out, I drift past the table He set for me, letting my cup grow cold and leaving my Ultimate Companion with an empty seat.
I recently came across a quote by Derek Webb that deeply resonated within my core…
It gut-checked my newly-busy routine and harried schedule. The ugly truth is that I’ve been telling The Creator that I am too important for him.
When I filled what should have been quiet spaces with Facebook, articles, and other social media outlets, I drank from stagnant waters that could not satisfy. Sure, that stream may have looked appealing — babbling and bubbling with excitement — but it wasn’t a potable source for my soul. When God called me to sit at his feet and drink the cup in his hands, how many times did I walk away? In the spaces that should have been reserved for giving my children my full, undivided attention, how many times did they see a phone in front of my face?
Months ago, I felt God specifically speak to my heart that it was time to permanently walk away from Facebook. Please understand I’m not saying Facebook (or any social media) is wrong or evil or un-spiritual. That is absolutely not the case, and that’s not my intent for sharing my heart on this personal issue. At the time, I knew deep down what I was supposed to do, but I wanted to do it on my terms. I deactivated my account for a while…then logged back in and eventually resumed business as usual…then logged out and changed my password for a bit…then a couple of weeks later logged back in as usual. Each time, I was able to justify my actions; each time it was selfish disobedience. In my prayer time, I felt God telling me (time and time again) that I wouldn’t be able to fully hear him until I submitted this area of my life. I even wrote it down. More than once.
There were plenty of times I heard it again and again without writing it down…over a period of nine months. I could take the cute angle and joke about how stubborn I am, but I’m taking the honest angle and calling out my blatant, willful, repetitive disobedience. There even came a point when I knew full well that I wasn’t going to get the next piece of the puzzle, hear any sort of next steps or instructions, until I did what was asked of me. Yet I continued to ignore it, convincing myself it wasn’t truly significant.
It became so easy for me to justify keeping my account because I wasn’t engaging in anything shady or unscrupulous, I was simply connecting with friends and staying semi-active in a few photography, fitness, and mom groups. Nothing illicit or scandalous. Just run-of-the-mill, stay-at-home-mom Facebook stuff. But I was willfully ignoring a “small” thing God had asked of me. I wasn’t yielding and submitting in a very specific area of my life, which spilled over into my relationships with my husband and children. How could I be an attentive, graceful, loving wife if I wasn’t drinking from the Spring of Life? How could I be patient, merciful, and understanding with my children if I kept inviting distractions into my mind and heart?
I finally pulled the plug this month and deleted my account. Sure enough, as soon as I chose obedience and submission to God’s will, the static began to clear. The voice of truth once again became audible. My delayed obedience (which is actually disobedience) had, in essence, dammed the flow of living water within my spirit. Repentance and right action brought restoration.
How about you, dear friend? Are you joyfully plunging headlong into the reckless raging fury they call the love of God? Drinking deeply from his living water? Dripping with overwhelmingly abundant life? I pray that you are! Maybe you’re like me…sipping stagnant streams and searching for Shalom. All it takes is one willful act of obedience to begin to break the barrier. Be willing. Your table is already set — he is ready, willing, and waiting!