WHERE ARE YOU?
This is the classic question that God asks Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, after their disobedience. I am fascinated by this question. Why would the only ONE who knows EVERYTHING, and is EVERYWHERE need to ask such a question? Didn’t He know where they were?
OF COURSE HE DID!!! So why the question? I am convinced that this question was about Adam and Eve’s awareness , and not God’s ignorance. The goal of the question was to awaken them to the reality of their present moment.
Is it possible that God is asking you a question that is meant to jolt you awake from your slumber to your Present reality? Could God have drawn you to this blog because you’ve been sleep walking through 2020, and you don’t even know it?
It was around the mid-to-end of August that I sensed God sound an alarm in my own life. The purpose of the question I heard was very similar to Adam and Eve’s, but it was not the same question. The question I heard from Heaven was,
What Do You REALLY Want?
What a loaded question, right? When I heard the question, it sounded like there was an added emphasis on the word “Really.” I started to think of all the things that I really wanted for my life. I thought of all the promises that I was believing God for, and as I reflected on the things I “really wanted.” I felt myself getting more excited as each desire came to the surface. But then another question broke through, and this one did not make me feel as warm and fuzzy,
WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
What was I doing? I was SURVIVING. I know I don’t have to remind you, but by this time, COVID-19 had claimed, and was still claiming an unconscionable number of lives, the match that George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s murders lit across our nation, and the world, was still burning hot, and the NBA was reminding me nightly that I, too, needed to demand justice for my own black life. Add to that, professionally, I was being trampled by the expectations that were on me to effectively lead more than a dozen people scattered across Georgia inside of their homes, while I was in my own.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE
On top of all of that, I am living in the most chaotic, divisive, and confusion-filled political climate of my lifetime, and around that time, it was kicking into overdrive. So yes, I was merely SURVIVING, desperately trying to make it to the next day with my sanity in tact. Plowing though my endless professional obligations, showing up for my husband, loved ones, and friends, which left barely enough energy, if any, for me to show up for myself.
I know, I know, I’m preaching to the choir, and your, “Amens” are much appreciated! 🙂 I also know, and am sensitive to the fact that if we compared notes, you likely can add-on so much more that you’ve been enduring.
We can agree, 2020 has relentlessly delivered blow-after-blow, uprooting our comfort-infused constructs, and First-World conveniences, leaving us uncertain about tomorrow, and much less certain about our futures. With very limited places to go “safely” away from home, and few people to spend time with outside of our homes, we’ve learned to celebrate things like showering , combing our hair, putting clean clothes on, from the bottom up, slipping on shoes with soles, and eating food other than comfort snacks. Understanding first hand how we got here, that second question I heard, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?,” confirmed that I could no longer stay.
The question, “What are you doing” was so startling because on the one hand, I was listing all these great things that I was expecting for my life, yet my actions were inconsistent with what I was expecting.
Survival mode is a goal-less, progress-less state that makes no room for hope. And here’s the thing,
Surviving is not God’s will for your life!
By the time I received my wake-up call, I realized up until that moment, I had no idea where I was. The circumstances in front of me, had not only paralyzed me, but I was also leaking hope! As the months ticked by with no indication of when this would all come to an end, or how far it would actually go, the need to focus on what I really wanted, or what I was really believing God to do in my life, seemed unnecessary. Suddenly, things that would have otherwise mattered to me, did not. Being “awakened,” forced me to remember how ESSENTIAL hope is for day-to-day living. Having something to look forward to makes the tough times endurable, Jesus is our greatest example of this,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
(Hebrews 12: 1-2, NLT)
“Running [our] race,” can’t only be a priority when we feel like it, or when everything is perfect. In this journey of life, we have to KEEP ON GOING! Our pace may not be the same from experience to experience, but we must stay in motion, even if it’s a slow stroll. The way we do this is by keeping in front of us the things we are looking forward to.
Jesus was looking forward to the promise, on the other side of the cross. And though He realized He’d have to go through the pain, shame, and cruelty of the cross in order to get to the Promise, He deliberately decided that He would “FIX” his focus on the eternal Promise instead of the temporary pain. Jesus chose to HOPE!
Hope does not deny present realities. Hope does not disregard the pain and hardships of others. What Hope does is remind us that our “present suffering” is temporary, (Romans 8:18). When our pillows are soaked with silent tears of uncertainty in the stillness of laborious nights, it is Hope that whispers,
I know it’s tough right now but, THIS TOO, WILL PASS.
Life can be HARD, and it’s okay to feel how we feel, but it’s best not to allow our feelings to control us. A wise man once said,
“Feelings are like children, you wouldn’t put them in the trunk and forget about them, but you also would not give them the keys to the car, and allow them to take you wherever they wanted to go.”
Our feelings are not the best guides to lead us, especially through the tough seasons of life. But our Hope in God’s unwavering character of goodness? Now that’s the BEST place to anchor ourselves. When our Hope is ALIVE, and believing that we will experience the promises we are hoping for, our hearts are healthy. And healthy hearts, increase our ability to Endure well.
I have spent the months of September and October getting out of my feelings, and back into motion. The realization of my proverbial “location,” helped me to shape my prayers. I needed healing in my heart, so I asked for healing. I needed my hope restored, so I asked God to restore my faith in HOPE again. Those prayers have led to me focusing on living instead of surviving. Instead of thinking, “Will this ever be over” I started to think, “WHEN THIS IS OVER, who do I want to be?“
These days, I have been pleasantly nudged along by Hope. What’s going on in the world around me has not changed much, but I am no longer rendered stagnant by hopelessness. I am not where am going, but I am no longer where I was. I can see clearer because I have taken ownership of my focus. I am so grateful for the work God is doing inside of me.
So what about you? How have you been taking care of yourself during this year? I hope you’ve been able to remain hopeful in the midst of these challenging times. But if you realize you, too, have been surviving through this year I want you to know that you don’t have to wait until something changes outside of you to live! I would like to invite you to answer these 3 questions.
- Where are you?
- What do you REALLY Want?
- What are you Doing?
You may be surprised, and challenged by your answers, but you will also be in a better position to make the adjustment from merely Surviving to LIVING.
When I write, I pray that God would draw people that need to hear what He has given me to share, so you being here is no coincidence.
I am glad that you are here!
I would love to hear your insight, let’s chat in the comments or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In my next blog, I will share the most important adjustment you will need to make when shifting from Survival to Living.
I hope to see you there!
May you be found with your hope ALIVE.