Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
We are upstairs in my father-in-law’s house, in the bedroom quarters our family shares during our little house’s remodel.
We have the laptop set up on a cardboard box on top of the bedside table so we can easily see the screen. We sit side by side on chairs borrowed from the kitchen table, watching this couple’s faces over Skype. They are kind, wise, gentle. But strong. They nudge us forward intentionally, inviting us to listen carefully for Jesus’ words to our hearts.
When Justin and I gather with our mentors over Skype, they invite the four of us to listen together, asking what Jesus wants to say. For me, I hear silence. Nothing. Not a mental picture. Not a thought–no sentence or idea. But I am not distressed about this. I am not anxious.
But I must be depleted of energy, or distracted. And I tell them this. For I hesitate to ask Holy Spirit to use my imagination, like I usually do. I struggle for energy, desire, to say yes to Jesus’ invitation to be in the presence of the Father. I am not sure I want to listen to any invitation Jesus might have to make.
But I sit. Seemingly empty. In quiet.
But it is not dark here.
And I am not alone.
I wait. I let the openness of my heart be enough. It is all I have, right now, to give.
But I have a feeling my soul knows what it is Jesus is saying. So I wait. And I become aware of the barrenness surrounding me. For I am seeing now–I see myself in a gray, depleted, washed out place of no water, no green, no life.
I look up.
“I am in a desert place,” I say aloud.
I tell them I see myself depleted. Tired. I recognize that my soul is hungry for God, but I sit here, blind to resources, deaf to life singing loud and long–life I can claim if I only stand up, let Him restore my heart, receive.
It feels impossible to receive God’s goodness when we are more intent on jumping through hoops and pleasing the world rather than slowing and taking action to let God care for our hearts.
This message has been coming at me from all sides this past week. Through podcasts, in books, in articles, in talks with friends. My Father is trying to tell me, over and over, how He is here, wanting to care for my heart. If I do not let His love cover me, restore me to Himself, then I remain hollow, my heart not healthy and whole. I need to make space for my Father to speak to me, over and over.
When our mentors use the word “rhythm” to explain how it is the seemingly small, daily choices we make to create room in our hearts to be with God, I am reminded of my friend Shelly Miller’s book, Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World. I needed Shelly’s wisdom during the whirlwind of my book launch, staying up late to read chapters that spoke right to my heart. Shelly’s book invites the reader into a new way of life with God, a life of being intentional with how we spend our time, a life of slowing to specifically spend time with God, in the unique and beautiful way we are each made to do. This is the way to receive the gift God has made for us to receive: rest, restoration, peace, joy, fulfillment in Him and in nothing else.
Oh, how I needed the wisdom of this book. And oh, how my heart rebelled against it.
When I read Shelly’s book, I was reading her words but not letting the meaning penetrate my heart. I am just now hearing it. I am just now ready to receive the wisdom and new life she offers in this beautiful way to live: a life of being open to God’s presence in each moment, open to interruptions, open to intentionally changing the rhythm of one’s life to make space to hear and be in the presence of God.
For He is here. He is all around. He is in you. He is in me. There is so much, this moment, I want to see.
This depleted, desert place where I saw myself? I am not staying here. I am trying to listen to my soul. And new rhythms–daily choices of intentionally turning my heart, my soul, my mind, to the heart of the Father restores me to Him. And I am becoming myself.
What can be better than that?
When you are quiet before Jesus, where do you see yourself? Are you depleted, energized, at peace? What specific things do you do to intentionally choose to spend time with God and be restored?
Shelly and her publisher, Bethany House, are giving away three copies of Shelly’s beautiful book, Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World. Entering is easy. All you need to do is share a comment to this question, “What specific thing do you do–or do you hope to do–to intentionally choose to spend time with God and be restored?” Each share on social media will count as an additional entry in the giveaway. (So let me know when you share.) I will draw three random winners on Friday! (I am afraid the publisher can only send to addresses within the U.S.)
This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com