The announcement of new beginnings

Have you ever chronicled the bumps and bruises a year contained? In December, I did something unlikely, something decidedly counter-cultural. I scheduled three individual days of solitude with God at a state park that is mostly unpopulated in the winter.

Although I remembered the hard times in 2013, these times became more about healing, more about celebrating things like this:

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There is life, which is honestly often unpredictable and filled with things one has to manage, and then there is the wilderness, a forest of trees and animal tracks, and it is here that I usually hear God's voice loudest, that my ears are most finely tuned to his voice.

"Wait," he seemed to be saying. "Wait."

And what is advent anyway but waiting expectantly?

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And might I just add: here in the mostly unspoiled outdoors it seems entirely reasonable to wait on God. 

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. -Psalm 130:5, NIV

IMG_2242Spiritually speaking, these little retreats felt like working out the kinks in a knotted neck or a pair of strained shoulders. I felt myself standing taller, I felt myself more deeply believing God's love for me and his love for everyone. I felt myself stilled.

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OK, so I also felt my rear becoming like an ice cube during the snowy hikes, but I'm just keeping it real.

I would head inside the lodge, and I would sit and listen, and I would journal, and I began to be given new eyes to see what was really happening in my life, to glimpse the beautiful things dormant underneath the ground, waiting to sprout.

On the last of my retreat days, I sat on a couch by a Christmas tree, and I was reading about the importance of solitude and how it prepares us for the things God has for us to do, and I thought of this little book, Reclaiming Eve (amazon affiliate link), and how desperately we've worked for four years now to get it out into the world. To say with grace and truth, women matter to God! They are essential to his kingdom mission, and it is high time for brothers and sisters to join together to get on with the business of loving the world and sharing the gospel.

Then I remembered how vulnerable I feel, how afraid I can be to speak this important truth, to offer a prophetic word on behalf of the kingdom. And I felt God impressing an image on me . . . 

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Stand firmly rooted in my truth and my word, in the glimpse I have given you of my Kingdom. Do not waver. But as you wait, standing firm, extend your arms, stretching them out to meet these new opportunities to speak into the gender reconciliation the gospel provides. Sometimes the opportunities will stretch you a bit further than you're comfortable with, they will necessitate growth and risk and sacrificial love. But you can do this, if you remain rooted, abiding in me.

The next day, the fedex man rang the doorbell, and this arrived:

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And may I say that I can't tell God the wait wasn't worth it. But I can say that he calls me Beloved, and that he has provided the opportunity to birth this book with my coauthors, to launch it into the world.

May the new year hold opportunities for you and me that we could only dream about now—opportunities that happen as we remain still, rooted, stretching our arms out toward the things our Abba has for us. 

And may there be days of solitude, carved out purposefully, set aside intentionally, to hear his still, small voice. May there be beauty and praise. And at the end of 2014, may we be able to say with conviction: all is well in this stillness; all is well with my soul.