A few weeks ago I felt a deep heaviness in my being, in my spirit, as if the Lord was calling me from inside myself. There was no audible voice but rather an intense yearning to stop. Rest, as if He was saying, “Don’t try so hard. Don’t push or pull. Be still. Know who I am. Surrender.”
The Lord has been patiently attempting to teach me something for probably the past 4 months. Our little world has been undergoing some changes, not in a bad way, but definitely enough to cause some irritation. You know how it is! Stretching isn’t always comfortable, unfamiliar situations can cause worry, prayers being answered seem to always come with a learning curve. And through it all I’m not one to be still. I can pretend to be still on the surface pretty well, but underneath I’m treading water ferociously. This is a learned trait of living of life of needing to be more. Even as a child I equalized my worthiness to how hard I work.
For years if anything went wrong in my life ( ie: didn’t turn out the way I expected) I immediately told myself I wasn’t praying hard enough, I didn’t give enough, I didn’t do enough and the Lord must be displeased with me. Now in my late 30’s I’m starting to learn His love for me isn’t contingent upon what I do but rather what He did. His plan and purpose for my life isn’t in MY hands. Sometimes life is just life. Sometimes hard is just hard. If I’m surrendering to Him, and seeking Him in all I do, His promise is to direct my path. And just so you know Christians never stop learning and growing, I’ve been a Christian for 30 years.
I mulled over what the Lord was asking of me. Was he really asking me to be completely still?? What did that mean?? I couldn’t stop working. I have a house full of people to take care of and chores to do. We are in the middle of a move, I have several furniture projects I need to finish. Was the Lord asking me to stop it all?
I was drawn to Proverbs 31 and the scriptures of a virtuous woman.
She works with eager hands (v 13)
Provides food for her family (v 15)
Extends her hands to the needy (v 20)
She makes garments and sells them. (v 24)
She watches over household. (v 27)
While she was DOING all those things, what she wasn’t doing is worrying. In fact....
She has no fear for her household (v 21)
She laughs at the days to come (v 25)
And so according to these scriptures, I chose to surrender in an effort to be a virtuous woman. I chose to be a wife and a mother taking care of my family, my home and the needs of both. I chose to work on what the day allowed - both in business and in the move and projects. My focus would be on what I was capable of doing within that single day and I wouldn’t worry about the next day. I wouldn’t work harder or plan for more than what was necessary.
But in all honestly I struggled. My personality is so far from knowing how to be still. Even in only focusing on what was in front of me at that time, I couldn’t turn my brain off. I was always wondering about the “what else” there was I could be doing. My brain just wouldn’t stop turning and that was leading me to feel anxious, worried, even depressed. It seemed my busy hands controlled my busy mind - in a good way - and without the busyness my mind felt out of control.
I knew this longing for stillness was necessary for me to yield to, but how could I control the inward struggle to do more?
Isaiah 11:6 “and a little child shall lead them”
Fully taken out of Biblical context, but for this next part it felt fitting.
Hollis walked in from the garage holding a 750 piece Disney puzzle he had found. “Mommy, lets put this together.” I’ve always been a puzzle lover and even during school breaks or extended family times I will leave one on the table. Inevitably people will gather around to try and fit the pieces together. Conversation will start and before you know it, you are sitting with a cup of hot tea in hand reliving old times, talking about future plans, laughing, and making memories. You’d be really surprised the power a puzzle holds!
So Hollis and I started the puzzle. Hollis left the table after about 3 minutes, but I continued. He busied himself around me occasionally coming back to check on my progress and before I knew it, the outer edges were complete. I stood up and left the table to start on dinner.
That night I sat back down to sort pieces. I made small piles of colors and patterns connecting the obvious pieces along the way. The next day I started piecing together the characters. Each time I had a few moments I would find myself standing over the puzzle fitting a piece or two together. There were other times where I’d turn on worship music and sit longer, losing myself in the unfinished project. It felt like deep breath of fresh air for my mind.
For the first time in a very long time I felt my spirit at peace. My mind wasn’t worried about what I had yet to accomplish in business or what plans needed to be made so I could be come better. My brain wasn’t trying to figure out the whys of things I had no control over. Those tiny puzzle pieces were consuming my brain in the best way possible. That puzzle was giving me rest.
Once the puzzle was completed I stared at the somewhat finished project. Three pieces had gone missing. I was okay with that. I asked myself what did this teach me. In the stillness of all my puzzling what had I learned? I thought back over the past 7 days and each moment I sat down, whether short or long. I thought about the seconds, the minutes, the hours complied together. While I knew there was time that went into finishing this puzzle, I couldn’t remember anything specific. My mind didn’t worry. It wasn’t rushing. I wasn’t making a list for tomorrow. I wasn’t thinking up new projects.
The Lord had given me rest in the exact way I needed it.
We often quote 2 Timothy 1:7 when being faced with fears. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” We focus on the fear aspect saying the spirit of fear is not from God, but what about a sound mind?? An unsound isn’t from God. This scripture tells us that.
Whatever a sound mind means to you, understand that is what Christ has already given you! Maybe a sound mind means less worry, less anxiety, less self deprecating internal conversation, overthinking your past or your future. You know these thoughts that are all consuming to you!
Romans 12:2 tells us not to conform to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The Greek word for renew is anakainoō and means to make new. When used as a verb it means to move from one stage to a higher stage.
If you are struggling with all consuming thoughts I encourage you to pray for a renewed mind.
The Lord may not choose to send rescue your way in the form of a puzzle. When you hear the word “puzzle” you may roll your eyes and get immediately frustrated with the disaster of broken pieces. Your puzzle though could be a good book, a long run, painting or drawing. Your puzzle is whatever gives your mind a break, whatever allows your soul stillness, whatever it is that removes to constant turning of a mind that simply needs rest, that needs to be renewed.
I’ve already pulled out the next puzzle. It’s much larger. 2000 pieces. The pieces are smaller and the focus it requires is greater. But as I’m sorting through the pieces I’m even more mindful of why I’m doing it and I’m enjoying for the complete stillness of moments.
Have you found what your puzzle is?