sunset

Be still and let go of these things

This past Sunday my morning started like many Sunday mornings do for me. The alarm went off and I hit snooze because I was exhausted from the previous day’s activities. After sleeping a good 30 minutes later than I should have, I finally woke up and went to check on the kids. They were leaving right after church to spend a few days with my mom, so they had been given explicit instructions the night before that upon waking they were to start packing for their trip and once that was completed to start cleaning their rooms. Of course, none of this had happened. I was bombarded by whines and complaints the moment I opened my bedroom door. My eldest was completely outraged that her brother had just woken her up by bursting in her room and yelling “time to get up and pack!” My son  was running around in circles yelling “I have no clean clothes!” And my youngest daughter who, to her credit, had at least attempted to pack, showed me her packed bag which consisted of 5 shirts, one pair of leggings and a dirty pair of shorts. We had 50 minutes until we had to leave for church.

snooze button
Image source: Shenandoah Country Q102

In fairness to my kids, they had all gotten to bed late the night before because we’d been helping the school they attend pack and move equipment and only finished about 9:30 p.m. with the last load. And because I had spent my entire Saturday helping to move the school and running my kids to a birthday party, I had neglected to do any laundry. But at this point, all I could think was how I needed to be at church early today because it was my job to set-up for communion and if everyone didn’t hurry up and get their act in gear I would never get three kids dressed, fed, packed, and teeth brushed, let alone shower and dress myself in 50, no wait only 45 minutes now! I should mention at this point that my husband had already left for church because he’s in the praise band and has to be there 2-hours before service, so I was on my own with this one. The next hour was a blur of over-cooked frozen waffles, yelling “did you brush your teeth” 500 times, putting hair into ponytails, time-0uts, and pulling clothes out of the hamper that looked “clean enough” to be sent with them to Nana’s house (every mom out there knows, if it passes the sniff test and has no visible stains, it’s perfectly acceptable to dress your kids in dirty clothes).

We loaded into the car 10 minutes later than I wanted to and I felt every bit of tension and frustration that had built up that morning. I started to list in my head all the reasons I was stretched too thin and something had to give. I started to resent the school and my church for the time they were taking (for things I volunteered to do, mind you) and for turning me into crazy, grumpy mom. By the time we pulled into the parking lot I had reached the point where one side-ways glance from someone would have sent me into a full-blown emotional meltdown. Thank God I go to church with the most amazing people and when I walked in I was greeted only with smiles and hellos. No one commented on my being late, and in fact, as if they could sense my stress, two other friends said they’d been having a difficult morning.

Lake Holiday
The lake in our community where we live and worship.

Those of us on the worship team typically gather to go through the service plan and pray about 30 minutes before service starts. Usually we meet in a small boardroom, but this day our Pastor had us follow him outside. I live in a community that has a 240 acre lake nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains and we are blessed to be able to hold church service in the community club house which is situated right on the lake. So we walked down to the fishing pier and our Pastor told us he had called us outside so we could take a few moments to just be at peace and let go of whatever we were carrying that morning and have a moment with God. I stared into the clear ripples of the lake and felt the frustration of the morning come flooding back. My eyes welled-up as I was hit with guilty feelings. Guilt for having yelled at my kids, guilt for hitting the snooze button when I knew better, and guilt for feeling resentful of my commitments to serve the school and church when I knew I had asked to do those things. As the hot tears slid down my cheeks I heard God gently say to me “be still.” Two little words, but they washed over me completely. Then I heard it again “be still, my child. Let go of these things and just be in My presence.” I felt such an immediate rush of relief and release at that moment, and I almost laughed out loud because it was such a simple statement, but just the exact thing I needed to hear.

I realized how bringing all of my negative “stuff” in the door was a distraction and could have kept me from fully receiving the day’s message and feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit. And I wondered, how many Sunday mornings have I entered the doors like this? (too many) And how often was the enemy using these every-day stresses to get in the way and prevent me from just being still and being with God? (more than I realize, I’m sure)

That night I happened to see a blog post from Christian author Jon Acuff that humorously addressed the fact that right before church was the moment of the week he and his wife were most likely to get into a fight. As I read his blog post and then read through the comments I realized that I’m in good company and Sunday morning conflict and stress is a pretty common occurrence. Well, duh! Of course the enemy is going to try and get in our way and do whatever he can to muddle our hearts, cloud our perspective, and maybe even prevent us from going to worship.

Ephesians 6:12 says: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” But, as my Pastor reminded us during the sermon that day, God has already given us all the tools we need to fight and defeat the enemy; and I believe forewarned is forearmed. There are things we can do to impede spiritual warfare, or at least lessen the impact. For me, I know my number one issue is time. By cutting my time too short I’m giving the enemy more ammunition to use against me. I realize I must start getting up earlier on Sundays so I can ease into the day and allow time for all of the things that might go wrong. Then, maybe, just maybe I can walk through those doors and leave it all behind. I can come in and “be still” and be truly present.

What about you? Do you find yourself consistently stressed, frustrated, angry or in conflict on Sunday mornings? What is one area you can change and give the enemy less ammunition? I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

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4 thoughts on “Be still and let go of these things”

  1. I totally related to your post but not on Sunday mornings. At least not usually. I suffer from this malady of stress, frustration, the pull to not do what I should or to do what I shouldn’t during the week. There are so many things that want to take my loyalties that I have to struggle to ensure I include those things that are immensely important like taking the few short minutes to read my daily spiritual motivation and turns a day into something I look forward to taking on. I set goals for myself for 2014 and one of those goals was to grow spiritually. I need constant reinforcement to achieve this goal and daily spiritual reading is critical for this to solidify and become a part of me. Another goal for myself is to be more fit. Getting up every day and doing my workout is part of achieving that goal. I have had to eliminate the use of the snooze button altogether or I will fail miserably at both of these goals.
    Now on Sunday mornings, it is not getting up or getting moving that stands in my way. My issue is ensuring that I go to church. I made the mistake of making one of my 2014 goals to go to church at least twice a month. I’m achieving that goal, but as I’ve grown spiritually, I have had to alter that goal to making sure I share worship every week, not just occasional weeks.
    All this said, I really like the analogy of “being still”. “Let not the busy world take all my loyalties”. That is the postlude each Sunday at the Methodist church I attend roughly half of my time. Very poignant statement.

  2. Your Sunday mornings sound so familiar! As I wake up on Sunday mornings I always think it will be nice and easy because I dont have to be at church as earlier as my husband neither and I get to sleep in longer than him, sometimes too long. But no matter how early I get up the enemy has a way of stressing me out before church or when I get to church about something. Most of the time it has to do with the kids fighting ir teenagers neglecting to get out of bed to help my husband set up for church in the morning and I am bitter about their decisions. That is where the enemy gets me, when others make decisions I can do nothing about, except lecture people about their wring decisions, and that gets me nowhere! But I still do it time after time. I realized last night that not everyone is going to make the same decisions I would about things and the best thing I can do is allow them to make those decisions and keep my mouth shut because all it will do is stress me out and hurt my relationship with them. I guess prayer is called for in these situations, when we have no control. I HAVE NO CONTROL.. And its ok… I keep reminding myself, because God has control.

  3. Exodus 31:17 It is a sign between me band my children for ever for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth and on the seventh he rested and was refreshed
    Isaiah 56:2 Blessed is the man that doeth this and the son of man that layeth hold on it that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it and keepeth his hand from doing any evil
    Isaiah 58:13 If thou turn away thy foot on the Sabbath from doing thy pleasure on MY holy day and call the Sabbath a delight the holy of Yahweh honourable and shalt honour Him not doing thine own ways nor finding thine own pleasure nor speaking thine own words
    Sabbath Strong’s number 7676 from the Hebrew shabath which is a root word, Strong’s number 7673 meaning, to repose, i.e. desist from exertion; cease, celebrate, leave, put away, rest, rid, still, take away.
    It seems to me Yahweh wants us to stop, set our lives aside, and spend the day with Him. I personally find the best way to do this is to spend the 24 hours of Sabbath doing only things that have me in His Word, either on my own or with others, with a minimum of fuss over food or travel or worry about what’s next. The best way to accomplish this is for every one to focus on preparing for the Sabbath all week so there will be minimum distractions during our time with Him on His day. This also focuses us on Him even more during the week as we prepare for this time He has set aside for us to stop and be focused on our relationship with him, The Sabbath is mentioned scores of times in Scripture not to mention being one of the first ten commandments. I assume this is because it is very important for his people to understand it’s meaning to Yahweh. (Exo 31:17) I often wonder if this sign is one of the identifying characteristics of the children he will reckonise as his when he sends his angels out to gather them into his new kingdom on his return.

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