Unforced Rhythms of Grace

My sister Judi in 2001

“Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” – Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 11:29 (The Message)

I’d been teaching full time and writing part time for a local newspaper for years. With the youngest in college and the older two on their own, now was the time to pursue my dreams.

While teaching was my passion, I wasn’t finding fulfillment in covering school board and county commissioners meetings and election results. And while I loved the camaraderie of the newsroom staff, getting up early Saturday mornings to drive 45 minutes in all kinds of weather to type obituaries wasn’t getting me any closer to my writing goals.

Of course I ignored the signs of dissatisfaction and pushed on. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?

Then a post-operative blood clot took the life of my only sister just when we were getting close again. I didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye. She was only 55.

I shivered on the love seat for days, in shock.

These things change you. Change the way you think about things. Change the way you live.

Change—it’s foisted on all of us. Whether we welcome it or not.

The key to surviving it is to look to God, knowing He has a plan and purpose for us (Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 139:16), knowing He takes the rough draft of the chapters of our lives and revises them so they shine (Romans 8:28) and lead to the ending He has planned. And knowing that if we follow our Shepherd, we will arrive at that ending without burning ourselves out.

But I hadn’t been stopping long enough to listen to God.

My sister’s death was a wakeup call—to pause in my headlong rush to fulfill my dreams and be all things to all people, and determine where I was truly headed.

Davis Bunn, in his 40-day devotional The Turning, writes, “When we read, we give no notice to the spaces between the words. And yet those pauses are vital. Without them, there is nothing but a senseless jumble. With them, thoughts are unique, words are clear, ideas fashioned, lives transformed. So it is with the brief pauses we make to stop and listen. Our thoughts and actions take on new clarity.”

And so it was for me. If I were to die suddenly in my mid-fifties, I thought, would I have realized my dreams? Within a week, I resigned from the newspaper job.

I still get too busy, lose focus, and drift away from God’s path for me. It’s refreshing to pause, still the clamor of life, rest and recharge spent batteries.

“Are you tired? Worn out?” Jesus says. “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” (Matthew 11:28–29, The Message).

I’m a slow learner, Lord. I have to force myself to slow down. Sometimes my body, mind, and spirit are just too exhausted to push on. Remind me often to pause to reflect, rest, and recharge. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 23.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Season of Realignment

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established.   – Proverbs 19:21 (RSV)

 

I called my ’97 Explorer my clunker because it literally clunked when I turned the wheel or drove over a rough section of road.

I made an appointment to get it aligned, but the guy told me something was wrong with a tie rod end or something like that, so I cancelled the alignment. After DH fixed the tie rod end (or something like that), I still didn’t get it aligned right away. Just too much on my schedule. But it wasn’t too bad. I got used to driving it. You see, there’s a trick to steering a misaligned vehicle.

When a vehicle is aligned, you can hold the steering wheel straight and the vehicle will go straight. But when it isn’t aligned, you have to hold the steering wheel in a slight turn to keep the vehicle going straight. If you hold it straight, you’ll end up where you don’t want to go, like in the ditch or on the other side of the road. Alignment keeps the steering straight.

Now, these Pennsylvania potholes are hard on vehicles, especially alignment. Hit one too hard, and bingo! Your vehicle’s out of alignment. The only way to correct it is to take it to a mechanic, who has the expertise and the tools to realign it properly again.

This whole year has been a season of realignment for me. Health challenges have been like potholes, knocking me out of alignment, slowing me down and even stopping me. I haven’t hiked, not even on the paths around home. My daily walk, either outside or inside following my “Walk at Home” DVD, has slipped onto the “Things of the Past” list. I can’t remember when I last went to water aerobics.

And those are only physical activities. 2018 was a year of transition, and, if you’ve been following this blog, you know all about that.

But years of transition – a.k.a. seasons of realignment – are part of life.

Back in 2011, I endured another season of realignment. Due to health issues, I had to resign from teaching, give up my radio program, and trim other activities from my schedule. Life wasn’t what I expected – or wanted – it to be. I was in a waiting room, where I learned to balance my life with work, rest, and leisure activities.

I was amazed at how busy I was at things that were good, but no longer God’s purpose for me – and abashed at how little time I took for fun. I understood this only when those busy things were taken away.

In time my energy returned, and with it clearer vision.

So it is with this season of realignment. You see, the master Mechanic is realigning my life with His purposes. To force me to stop, look at where I’m headed, and get my steering straight again.

I thought I would teach forever. I thought I’d do my radio program forever. I thought other things would last a lot longer than they did. I wasn’t ready to let them go. But God had other plans.

Are you in a season of realignment? Trust the master Mechanic. He knows what He’s doing.

Lord, keep me roadworthy and aligned with Your purposes. Amen.

Read and meditate on Genesis 12:1–9

(c) 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.