Bonnie Gray is author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, garnering starred review praise from Publisher's Weekly, named as one of PW's top 6 notable new religion authors. Bonnie is a featured contributor at (in)courage and her writing is nationally syndicated, spotlighted by Relevant Magazine, Catalyst Leadership, Today's Christian Woman, and Christianity Today. A UCLA graduate, Bonnie has been a missionary, ministry entrepreneur and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. Bonnie serves up shots of faith for the daily grind on her blog Faith Barista.com. Bonnie lives in Northern California with her husband Eric and their two sons.
I'm not sure where I'm heading.
The morning has barely breathed its warmth on the grass. Winter still blankets the hillside, with tree limbs stretching out and bare, like the arms of a child sleeping, tousled out of her grandma's quilt.
I just know I need to keep walking.
Otherwise, I'd just stay in my bed.
I'd pull up the covers and close my eyes, even though I can't fall asleep.
And then, when the hands on the clock tick tock towards noon, I'd get up to make myself some lunch.
I'd ready my heart and gather my strength. To pick up the kids from school.
I'd ask how their day went, as I walk with them, arm wrapped around their shoulders. I'd hear about Ronny and blacktop soccer, how TJ and his friends played Star Wars at second recess. I'd make a big fuss over the cottonball snowman with crazy eyes that sweet CJ squished together with Elmer's glue that left his little fingers sticky from preschool.
I'm present with my children, as I pull out the fridge door, count two mozzarella cheese sticks, slice some apples and place some Wheat Thins on plates for a snack.
But, as they munch and the afternoon sun starts to cast it's rays through the window, touching my shoulder, stretching long and warm into the room, onto the wooden floors, I remember.
I remember how I spent my morning.
And how for this one day, I tried to live in the here and now. With Jesus.
I whispered tears as I lay on the pillow --
Jesus, Savior, pilot me
Over life's tempestuous sea
Unknown waves before me roll
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal
Chart and compass come from Thee
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.*
I play this song over and over. They form the only prayer that feels strong and true.
Chart and compass come from Thee
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
Living in the moment sounds beautiful when you have the freedom to rest -- when you are able to reminisce the good times and dream about the future.
But, what if God brings you to a place in life, where all you have is the here and now -- when all that surrounds you are the problems of today, wounds of the past and fears of the future?
And what if the here and now is painful, disorienting and difficult?
When rest doesn't come easy -- when you are overwhelmed by life's breakers -- where does someone like me go?
I know that some of you will tell me, Be still and know that He is God.
I know this because this is what I've been telling myself over and again, like a magic wand whose pixie dust has somehow run out after so many shakes.
But, how can I be still when my head feels dizzy, my stomach nauseous and I can't stop the memories?
You don't have to suffer from post-traumatic stress like me to understand there are storms in life we can't avoid.
This place of no man's land is where I've met my Savior, crying out among the waves and the winds of what I don't understand.
How long do I have to stay in this place of just the here and now? I want to get back to moving forward -- get back to doing -- even if it's just a work in progress.
I'll do whatever it is you want, I plead. Just tell me what to do.
Maybe that's how Noah felt, as he stood in the ark, lurching and chaotic, with wild animals screeching and his wife, sons and daughters' tummies seasick and unhappy.
Maybe after so many weeks passing by, closed in by the same monotonous storming, with death and darkness wiping all signs of life outside the ark, Noah longed to see the stars twinkle again.
Maybe Noah struggled to fathom what life after the flood would look like, when life as he'd known it could never return to be.
Perhaps even though Noah knew God would not forget Him, his days still dragged on like a thousand years each morning he woke up to more rain -- and still more months of waiting after it did stop, because the waters still left him stranded.
God took painstaking effort to give Noah the blueprints and details of the ark that would save him from the flood.
But, among all the minutia of measurements of timber, windows and even the door, God left out two specifications.
There was no sail. And there was no rudder.
The ark was not designed to be navigated.
The fate of everyone who trusted God enough to walk into the hollow of the ark -- and allowed the door to be closed -- was placed in the hands of God.
Maybe we were never designed to steer this life, to go the way we want.
Maybe peace isn't instantaneous, but a conviction to run into the arms of the One who can love us in midst of our storms.
When all we have is the here and now, we can allow Jesus to pilot us where He wants us to go.
Living in the moment -- when we are doing it by faith -- calls us to let go of trying to steer the ark.
Living in the moment -- means surrendering to --
-- the realities God wants us to live into,
-- the things God wants to do in us,
-- the people, dreams and places He wants us to let go of,
-- the friendships He wants us to enter into,
-- the beauty He wants to soothe our hearts with,
-- the words of love and deep acceptance He whispers for us to receive.
Maybe you might be tempted to feel as I do, that feeling sad, fearful, or anxious is dangerous territory we shouldn't travel through.
But, for some of us, these are the very waters God has safely charted us to enter into.
Because with Jesus, we are being rescued from all that needs to be let go.
With Jesus, He can take us through the flood and all that it's washing away.
With His arms of compassion, heart heavy with our pain, Jesus is strong and gentle enough to carry us safe through the water.
Even though the waters may run wide -- and life as we know it is being all washed away.
Jesus will guide us to safe shores -- even as we lean weary and unable -- onto His chest.
Jesus whispers to us,
I know you are weary. I know you are worn.
You can be sad.
You can feel lost.
Don't wait until you're no longer fearful.
Come now as you are.
I will pilot thee.
These are the words that follow me, like the first petals of spring wafting through the air.
As they drift into my heart, I drive to the mountains where I begin my steps along a dirt path.
Today, I've decided that I will get up from my bed and go walking.
Even as my thoughts tell me all my cares are still with me, I look down and I notice.
Petals have just scattered so softly, the morning rain hasn't drowned them into the asphalt.
I look up and see the wind blowing cherry blossoms from the stem -- and I see beauty staring at me.
In this moment, my here and now lies in these petals.
Because I know Jesus just brushed them to my feet.
One day, our days of trusting will bring us to Mount Ararat.
We will remember it wasn't sin that kept us in the ark.
It was our faith in Jesus that gave us courage to stay pressed into His embrace.
Even as the storms swelled and swept.
We will remember the few and faithful who kept company with us in the ark, as they spoke as friends, pitching in the dark.
On the days that are hard, remember a time will come - when tomorrow will be kinder.
Then, you will be able to shed tears as I have, a little less silent, more held and beloved.
You don't need to know where it's all heading.
The One who loves us -- who calls us His Beloved and carries your tears in a bottle -- does.
And He's with you.
Here and now.
How is God calling you to live in the moment -- in the here and now -- with Him?
Pull up a chair. Take a moment to speak from your heart.
Click to comment and read each other's thoughts here.
* Lyrics taken from "Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me" by Robbie Seay Band. Click to listen.
Bonnie Gray is an inspiring Christian writer and blogger, offering encouragement to keep faith fresh in the daily grind. Her writing springs from the belief that the beauty of faith often takes place when life goes off script. Bonnie is the Founder of FaithBarista.com and featured writer for Hallmark subsidiary DaySpring's (in)Courage. Bonnie is currently working on her debut book, to be published by Revell Books. Bonnie is a native Californian living in the heart of Silicon Valley with her best friend Hubby, wrangling their two heaven-sent boys on the homestead.
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Photo Credit: Bonnie Gray/FaithBarista.com