For 31 days I have been going against my very nature. As I have focused on the qualities of keeping a quiet heart for this month, I have worked largely without a plan. I mapped out ideas as the beginning of the month, different Scriptures or thoughts I’d like to explore.
But each day I came to my computer or journal with that list and just asked God what He wanted me to write. I wanted my writing to be in the moment, recording what He was actually teaching me every day.
It was so draining for a Type-A, ISFJ, Enneagram 1, and perfectionist planner to work this way! There was also a strange freedom I found in it.
I tend to like to know the plan ahead of time. Actually, I like to make the plan, to be in control.
God knew this when He created me as a writer. Maybe it is why he gave me this gift.
This writing world is strange and goes by anything but a plan. You can send out a pitch to a magazine and not hear back from them for a couple months (as in, you forgot you even pitched what article you pitched to them by the time you got a response!) You may get a piece accepted that you love and after the edits you don’t even recognize your words anymore.
This writing journey has helped me let go of the plan more than I ever dreamed possible. Now if I could just do that in the other areas of my life!
I find I have to constantly ask myself one question - Are you looking to the future or to the One who holds the future in His hands?
This is a season in my life where I am faced with a lot of unknowns. I come each day to an empty page and try to make order out of the chaos that characterizes my heart most days.
I am clinging for dear life to the wisdom of Elisabeth Elliot who said, “Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now.”
I know my heart will never really be quiet if I am anxious about what tomorrow holds.
As we all walk on towards keeping a heart that is quiet before God, that trust the future into His hands, may the words of Colossians 3.15 be my prayer for you.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.”
So, I release these words out into the world each day and I pray that God would change me through writing them. Maybe He will even give me the incredible gift of knowing that reading them helped someone.
And tomorrow I will do it all over again. Well, maybe not tomorrow. It is November tomorrow. Write 31 Days is over and I think I need a nap…
When I was young, both in maturity and in my faith, I threw myself into my walk with Christ with abandon. I wanted to soak up every bit of knowledge about God I could, to do as much for Him as possible. I wanted to be around believers constantly, to be a part of the church I had never experienced as a small child.
When I got my wish and was around believers constantly…and my faith was utterly shaken.
I quickly saw hypocrisy in the friends who knew all the “Christianese” to speak at church but who were equally adept in keeping up with our high school culture of sex and drugs.
In college, I witnessed the pervasive speeches about the love of Christ given by campus ministry students literally right next to the guys set up in the student center berating those with different beliefs. All in the name of Jesus.
My heart cried out to return to the church I had left as God drew me back to Himself but I was shaken by what I saw in others, in the church, in beliefs I couldn’t hold to.
I found a group of girls to meet with weekly and we prayed together, struggled together over all kinds of theology and faith issues. I found the reality of believers being real about their faith and I saw something for the first time.
Our theology can change over time. I can sit in the same room with someone who doesn’t hold to each tenant of my particular denomination as we worship the same Jesus. There are a lot of issues we get hung up on in the church that make us throw up our hands and walk away or that make us push others away that don’t believe exactly as we do.
Cultures shift. People grow. All of those little issues that divide us really don’t matter at all. There is one thing that is unshakeable.
His name is Jesus Christ.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” says Hebrews 13.8.
“What do I most unshakably believe in?” asked Elisabeth Elliot. “God the Father Almighty. Jesus Christ His only Son. The Holy Ghost, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, the life everlasting. Not a long list, but all we need.”
My heart is full of confusion and pain when I forget this and look to the individual issues and the people around me to define what I believe. To have a quiet heart, I have to look to that short list of what really matters and keep my heart tethered there.
God says in Malachi 3.6 “I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”
The shifting sands all around us can either consume us or we can choose to stand upon the rock of the Unshakeable One.
Thank you for joining me in this journey towards keeping a quiet heart!
You have just a couple more days to enter to win a copy of Elisabeth Elliot's Keep a Quiet Heart. Enter through October 31 and a winner will be chosen November 1.
If you have children or have spent any amount of time around kids, you know that learning to lie happens very early in our lives. I am not even sure it is something we have to learn but a natural instinct to protect ourselves.
My daughter is a people pleaser and wants to please her mommy above all else. She is hardly ever openly disobedient but oh, how she will weave a little lie so quickly if the truth makes her look bad in my eyes!
The moment I realize there is a smudge on my heart that tries so hard to be quiet and good, I quickly try to gloss over it and hide it from God. I lie about what is really going on inside my heart and head, like He doesn’t already know!
Not six chapters into the Bible we see that God saw the human race for what we really were “and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” (Genesis 6.5)
As much as I might want a pure, holy, and quiet heart I cannot have it on my own. God knew this all along! It didn’t stop Him from sacrificing it all to win us back and it doesn’t stop Him from pursuing us today.
“Be persuaded, timid soul,” says Archbishop Fenelon, “that He has loved you too much to cease loving you.” Nothing in you is ever going to separate you from God!
In those moments, I find I come back to the words of Psalm 139 – Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”
Be honest with God. Ask Him to search the heart that He created and knows so well. Ask Him to point out anything in you that offends. I know those are the things you want to hide. But He sees them already and He will blot them out completely if you let Him!
I know sometimes though the things you feel burdening your heart, that you feel you can’t bring to God, might even be doubts about what you believe. For nearly a month now, I have looked at keeping a quiet heart but I realize sometimes what we need it to speak our minds in order to quiet our hearts.
Next week I will be discussing a book that I think will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled with doubts or questions, a heart that can’t be quiet even when you want to force it to be.
I have been privileged to be on the launch team for Sarah Bessey’s forthcoming book Out of Sorts and have been slowly digesting all she has to say about “making peace with an evolving faith.”
For anyone who wanders, who has questions in their heart they haven’t been able to be honest about, this book candidly wrestles with issues of who Jesus is, with theology, the Bible, the church, and so much more.
As Jen Hatmaker says in the forward of Out of Sorts, this book will give you “permission to leave behind the stale trappings of religion in order to find Jesus again. He is as good as we ever hoped.”
I hope you’ll join me then. Until then, two more days of a Quiet Heart to go!
I love my husband, my kids, my home, and my life. But I have this dream.
I have a whole day to myself to spend with God alone, in prayer, journaling, or just resting and reflecting. Every now and then my amazing husband makes sure I get one of these days. At least once a year I get away for at least part of a day spent in this way. I wish I could do it weekly instead…
Because this world is so full of noise. My mind is so full of noise. Most days I feel pulled in a thousand different directions and so often lately one of those directions is not towards prayer.
In this season of my life I know exactly what Elisabeth Elliot meant when she said, “Prayer is no easy pastime. As I grow older I find that I am more conscious than ever of my need to pray, but it seems at the same time to become more of a struggle.”
Whether it is a child calling out or a deadline looming, a lunch to be made or an appointment to be kept, it seems there is always something pressing.
For me, this is why prayer can become a struggle and my heart can become cluttered with thoughts and worries instead of kept quiet by prayer and surrender.
If I get distracted in my day and forget to pray, then I feel guilty for having forgotten and the vicious cycle begins. I feel unable to come to God because I should have remembered to pray first. So, my shame over thinking I should know better keeps me from the throne of God. I can go a whole day this way, running from prayer.
But here’s the thing – God never said prayer would be easy. Even those closest to Jesus asked Him to teach them to pray because they weren’t certain how.
No matter whether we feel the prayers rolling off our tongues easily throughout the day or we feel hard pressed to utter a word, we must continue struggling. It’s our lifeline to God, the way we stay connected to the Good Father who is waiting to hear our hearts.
Romans 12.12 says for us to “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
Does patience come easily in times of affliction? I don’t know about you but it doesn’t for me. And neither does faithfulness in prayer. But the struggle is so worth it!
Prayer itself can be a wrestling with God. If we are really coming to Him with the deep needs and desires of our hearts, we won’t just be uttering platitudes. We will be struggling against the flesh and against the darkness.
Keep struggling. Keep fighting for a heart that can lay it all down before God, quiet and resting in Him.
“Please accept my distractions, my fatigue, my irritations, and my faithless wanderings. You know me more deeply and fully than I know myself. You love me with a greater love than I can love myself…Look at me, see me in all my misery and inner confusion, and let me sense your presence in the midst of my turmoil…Take my tired body, my confused mind, and my restless soul into your arms and give me rest, simple quiet rest.” - Henri Nouwen
Thank you for joining me in this journey towards keeping a quiet heart. This last week I will be giving away a copy of the book that God used to prompt me to seek hard after the qualities of a quiet heart. Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway and a winner will be chosen at random on November 1 to receive Elisabeth Elliot's Keep a Quiet Heart.
I have been a writer since I was a little girl. I was cleaning out my garage today and found a paper I wrote for my third grade class in which I said I wanted to be a professional dancer and if that didn’t work out, I wanted to be a writer. I also found the book I wrote and illustrated in seventh grade. The funny thing is, I recognize my writing. I still have the same style I had then.
This writing bug has always been in my heart and soul.
When I was in high school poetry flowed out of me like a steady stream. I thought like a writer, saw the world around me in rhyme and expressed my emotions in meter.
Reality caught up with me and I put writing aside for many years. I had to get a “real” job and my art lay dormant inside of me. I stopped thinking like a writer. The well of creativity dried up.
When I started writing seriously again, a part of me awakened that I had forgotten existed. I started seeing the world again through eyes that saw titles and topics in every nook and cranny of daily life. I jot down ideas on post-it notes and start draft emails to record thoughts that I want to explore later. I have voice memos on my phone with story ideas that come to me mid-day.
I see the world through the eyes of a writer again because I have focused on that creative life in me.
There is a part of me that I let lie dormant, just like my creativity did for so long. It is the part of me that knows this life is not the end, that realizes only what lasts eternally really matters. This world around me is all I see – the beauty and joys as well as the pain and worries. I get so caught up in this life and in today.
I need to instead, take the advice of E.W. Faber who says:
How shalt thou bear the cross that now
So dread a weight appears?
Keep quietly to God, and think
Upon the Eternal Years.
When this life seems too much, we don’t need to try to fix it, fret and plan, carry the weight and struggle on. We can keep a quiet heart as we train our eyes to see the Eternal Years instead of this world.
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ,” Paul says in Colossians 3, “set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.”
I don’t think like one who is hidden in Christ, who knows that things above are what matter because I let the matters of this world take precedence. I stop thinking like Christ is my life when I stop focusing on the eternal and instead focus on the temporal.
I will see life through the lens of the eternal when I start setting my sights on the realities of heaven.
Thank you for joining me in this journey towards keeping a quiet heart. This last I will be giving away a copy of the book that God used to prompt me to seek hard after the qualities of a quiet heart. Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway and a winner will be chosen at random on November 1 to receive Elisabeth Elliot's Keep a Quiet Heart.