“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.”1 John 3:18-20 MSG
Last week, I was so excited to get some time at the beach that I forgot my beach chair. I stood perplexed staring at the empty trunk of my car and wondered what to do. I need my chair…. don’t I?
I had my bag but the bliss of the beach for me is reading and writing as I listen to the gentle waves tickle the shore a few feet from where I sit. My beach chair is an important part of the experience.
I thought about going home and getting it. No, that would take too long. Then I thought of going and buying a cheap one close by. Then I thought, “What if I just allow today be a different experience?” I could feel the love of God, my Abba Father, drawing me towards this thought, “What if He had a different plan for our time together?”
I closed the trunk, grabbed my bag, and took the short walk to the beach chairless. I went to my regular spot but someone was there, of course. I went a little farther and found a pleasant little spot to lay out my towel, and sit down. I pulled out my journal but couldn’t get comfortable. I pulled out my book, but couldn’t concentrate. I was a little paranoid about the ants and other bugs that seemed way too close for comfort.
After about ten minutes, I got up and went into the water. All the way in. Then I stayed in the water for longer than I ever have before. I let the warm water flow around me as I allowed a prayer of thanksgiving to flow out of me. Soon the prayer turned into a silent awareness of the holiness of God’s beautiful creation. I was silent. My mind was quiet, my heart content and I was fully in the present.
This doesn’t happen to me very often. It is something that I am working on but I always end up thinking about what needs to happen next or what went wrong before that needs to be fixed. I am always reading, writing, preparing, and pre-visioning for the future but there, in the clear water with the warm sun shining down on me, I was fully present and at rest.
Later, I went for a long walk along the waters edge down the “other side” of the beach. It was a side I never went to because I was in the habit of doing the same thing, the same way in the same place.
I know that one of the struggles for all of us in this quarantine is that all our routines have gotten side-wiped. All our normal ways of doing the same things the same way in the same places have been disrupted.
Routines are not bad. In fact, healthy routines bring powerful momentum to our lives.
But what if some of our routines are keeping us from experiencing God’s best? What if your Abba Father wants to shake up your routine? What if He wants to use something as small as forgetting a beach chair as an opportunity to answer a prayer?
I am so glad I forgot my beach chair.
I am so glad that my Abba, Father nudged me to experience one of my favorite places in a new way with Him. It ended up being exactly what I needed. He knows what I need.
He knows what you need.
One of the most amazing things about living in the reality of God’s love is that it gives you courage.
Courage to step out of your comfort zones.
Courage to redo some of your routines.
Courage to change your language, the way you talk to yourself and to others.
Courage to not live in old habits, coping mechanisms, or escape tactics.
Courage to face your frantic feelings and allow Him to quiet your soul.
All the above requires change and change requires courage.
My friend, you are loved completely, unconditionally, and fearlessly.
God is greater than your debilitating self-criticism and greater than your worried heart.
He knows you.
He knows that what you really need is an ocean of comfort instead of another day in your favorite chair.
Let Him disrupt your routine.
Let Him draw you into a new experience.
Let Him love you.