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Posts Tagged ‘restoration’

We all experience valleys at one time or another during our lives.  In fact, usually several times.  Life is a series of mountain tops and valleys. While we know God cares about our suffering, many of us wonder at times why he allows it.  No one likes the valleys of suffering. Most of us would rather spend our time on the mountain top.

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Time in the valley can be a place of rest and solitude.  It may not be what type of valley we find ourselves in, but rather, what we do when we’re in the valley.  Do we complain, groan, and allow bitterness to enter our hearts – if we are honest then probably yes!  There is one unique thing however that we can only find in the valley – rivers.  Perhaps time in the valley is time to rest, drink and be refilled.

You restore my soul. You guide me in the path of righteousness for your name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Psalm 23:3-4

In the valleys of life, we learn that we need help, restoration and guidance.  Other people may be able to help, but they may also offer too much advice – remember Job’s friends? There is only one God who can provide full and complete restoration. It’s an issue of trust and of waiting.

If you find yourself in the valley, take heart. God is up to something, because you’re worth it. If you feel like you are in an endless, uphill battle and can’t do anything right to get to the top of the mountain. Stop climbing. Breathe, and take in the fresh air from below and drink from the river. He has so much for you.

Grace and peace.

Mountains and Valleys

The mountain holds
The mystery of where
I long to stay and learn
About how to be here

In the anticipation of
The climb to the summit
In the place where we gathered
And experienced the present

The knowledge of the ending
And the sad leaving of
What was never known
Back to the future

The mountain holds
The mystery that can never
Be unseen or unheard
Where disappointment forms

The valley is where I live and work
Where my life is refined
Through hope doubled by wonder
Yet the mountain still beckons

So for now I will learn what
I can from even from this
In the valley, while longing
For the restoration
Of all things

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Have you ever noticed the wind blowing through the trees or the waves lapping up on a sandy shoreline? There is a rhythm about them that is natural and calming to the soul. The rhythm is something organic, not man made. It is unforced. The natural, calming, unforced rhythm of blowing wind and crashing waves reminds me of the perfect unforced rhythm of God that resonates within me, even though some times I am unaware of it.

Creation displays this rhythm after which I believe God desires us to pattern our lives.

In life, being in the groove is feeling “the unforced rhythms of grace.” Or to give a fuller context from Jesus’ offer in Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

This unforced rhythm of grace – the groove – happens when we find the right rhythm of notes and rests within our own life.

Psychologist and researcher Mihaly Csikzentmihaly outlined it best in his book, “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience”: “When consciousness is harmoniously ordered,” a flow experience is “so gratifying that people are willing to do it for its own sake, with little concern for what they will get out of it, even when it is difficult, or dangerous.” Finding flow, Csikzentmihaly discovered, arises when we live in that sweet spot, the “Goldilocks” point, between too much stress and too little stress or boredom. Simply put, the right rhythm is when we’re in the groove.

We start to get into this groove by stopping and listening to the ultimate space of silence.

What is also important is to find and look for opportunity to rest and experience these rhythms. I hike regularly in the hills high above Wellington. There is an old wooden seat at the top of a steep track high on a hill. I always take time to sit, rest and drink in the amazing view. It’s a special place for me and a place where I feel close to. God. A place the Celtics would describe as a thin place – where heaven seems just a bit closer to earth, and where I talk with God.

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May you this week find a place, even if only for a moment to rest and experience the unforced rhythms of grace. It’s easy not to, but it’s important to make it a priority. It may just be a place and time, a thin place, where for a moment you could lay down your burdens and troubles, and then look at them and decide whether they were really yours to carry at all.

Rhythm of Grace

At the crest of the hill
Sits a old wooden seat
Battered by time
Passed by hundreds of feet

At the seat lies the rest
That the world left behind
Carrying burdens too heavy
With weary faces resigned

For those that will come
Rest and be still
And sit with The Maker
On the seat on the hill

To drink wonder and beauty
A landscape renewed
Of burdens laid down
By the seat on the hill

Grace has its rhythm
Only when you are still
Rest for a while
On the seat on the hill

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Sometimes in life everything you do seems to go wrong. Your faith may be strong and your commitment deep, yet trouble will come knocking on your door. Try as you might you may not just be able to pray these troubles away.

It may be that God has a purpose for not allowing you to be on top of your game and successful all of the time. Growth requires seasons of struggle as well as seasons of success. Seasons of struggle destroy pride and dependence in your own strength and ability, and increase your dependence on God.  These experiences can be very hard and humbling experiences, but I think we may just need them.

Life can sometimes be a bit like a tree,  in winter it lies dormant renewing its strength, preparing for the next season of fruitfulness.  As you look back on your life’s successes and challenges you will notice that they are seasonal. There are seasons of rain as well as sunshine, seasons of despair and as well as hope. Each season serves a purpose.   Sometimes the situation doesn’t call for any action, it calls for patience and trust and falling into God.

God’s ways are not our ways. Perhaps in ways we cannot understand, God uses these times to work on us.

Open Season

There’s a tree outside my house
The branches are all bare
It shivers in the cold
And aching midnight air

In winter the tree is pruned
It looks so different from before
Some would say so broken
So desolate and poor

The pruning now has finished
Its wounds are weeping sores
But deep within its restless soul
Its heart has been restored

It knows the seasons well
And that winter leads to spring
New life, new growth, a brand new hope
Death has lost its sting

 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,  while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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