A few months ago, a package arrived via UPS. I wasn’t expecting a package. My big black dog, Maggie, doesn’t like the UPS man or his big brown truck so she let out a stern warning to the man in brown, announcing the arrival of this delivery. What was inside that package would change me.
Thomas Nelson Publishing had sent copies of a book called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young to some of the staff members at my company. To my astonishment, a handwritten message on the inside cover said:
To Emily –
May Jesus bless you with His Peace.
I got all giddy! This surprise arrival came at a time when, for a number of reasons, I felt overwhelmed. Just that simple, handwritten note felt so nice to receive that day, and the thought of Jesus blessing me with His Peace sounded so incredibly good!
In short, the book is changing my perspective of what a relationship with Jesus looks and feels like. Each day’s reading offers a very short but powerful reminder of why He loves being with us, how He longs to relieve us with His Presence… how He sees our lives from an eternal, all-knowing perspective. He doesn’t add to our pile of troubles. He removes and lightens our loads.
I have a tendency to be a “God-helps-those-who-help-themselves” kind of girl. As I’ve made my way through the book (and there are still four months of readings ahead), I have started more days asking Christ to set the agenda rather than trying to take matters into my own hands. I’m doing more listening and waiting. I am slowly learning how to release the death-grip I’ve had on my thoughts and plans. I see now how hard I have tried to control God instead of just trusting Him.
I have started more days soaking in all the love and peace I previously tried unsuccessfully to “achieve.” Out of a lighter, clearer soul has come better thoughts, more rest, better ideas and less clutter. My soul has felt more refreshed and less overwhelmed because, maybe for the first time ever, I am beginning to get a clue that His burden really is light, just like He has been trying to tell mankind for 2000+ years. I’m a little slow, apparently. Slowly the mire that has held hostage my freedom, my joy, my confidence, my hopes…those weights don’t seem so heavy anymore.
As I begin more days just “being” in the Presence of the One who created me, I find it a little easier to allow His thoughts to overcome my own. (Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got enough small, snarky thoughts for five lifetimes. But at least they aren’t the only thoughts I have.) Angst I felt for years in various areas of my life is starting to seem trivial – silly, even. As I learn to enjoy Him, I am finding that He orchestrates moments I would’ve otherwise completely missed.
Most recently, He has been giving me a heart for my family’s finances. This hasn’t been a favorite for me in the past, but with Him in the driver’s seat and the help of some great experts and bloggers (my faves are Dave Ramsey, Pete the Planner, and Luvabargain.com), I have a new enthusiasm for budgeting, couponing, saving, giving, planning and finding creative ways to be an all-around better steward of our resources. And it is a joyful experience, believe it or not!
I didn’t see this coming. I didn’t anticipate Jesus talking to me about finances. But He did in a completely wonderful, gracious way. So much of my resistance in this area of life was my own head-junk – lies that I believed and now feel silly for ever believing. But inevitably, spending time soaking up His perspective replaces head junk with truth.
Whatever held me back before in this area has been released. (And trust me, tomorrow it will likely have to be released again, and again the next day.) This journey isn’t perfect and I constantly slip back into my own thoughts. But His goodness is taking me to a new place – a much better place than my own thoughts tend to take me.
I hope to meet Sarah Young someday and thank her personally for listening and writing God’s heart the way she did in “Jesus Calling.” Whatever she went through to experience Him at this level was profound. But, even if I don’t meet her until Heaven, I have been re-introduced to my Savior because of her obedience. And my obedience, in turn, is allowing Him to change things in my sphere of influence. I think maybe this is how it’s supposed to work.
Jesus is calling out for our hearts every moment of every day. And it isn’t about work, or guilt, or angst. It’s about rest, peace…love like we have never known. Finding His heart and walking to that beat (even for a few minutes at a time, at first) is a beautiful, transforming experience.