A Day Of Rest!

A day finally just for myself, I take a deep breath, order my bagel and coffee and set myself up outside on the back patio. The sun is shining brightly down on my little café here in Auburn and the courthouse across the street stands out like an old friend, ready to greet me. It is a bright clear day here in the hills, looking more like springtime and less like winter. Eagerly, I sit and wait for the sun to reach down and plant a kiss upon my face. I prepare myself to just enter into a much-needed time of rest, while reflecting on my past week. It has been quite sometime since I have made it to my little sanctuary in the hills by myself.

Five years now since I accepted the challenge from a visiting pastor at my church, a challenge that has forever changed my life. I could tell by the passion in his voice that he had a desire for those sitting in the pews; it was to grasp the importance of pulling away and sitting before the Lord. In doing so, he assured us that we would then be prepared for the work set before us. I had become accustomed to serve until you had nothing left and then serve some more. At this particular time in my life, I had been serving almost fulltime and found myself pouring out in all areas of ministry. I was encouraged to serve but never encouraged to rest. I quickly learned back then that Sunday was not a day of rest for those serving in the church. I found I was going to have to be deliberate with his challenge as well as consistent in pulling away.

Therefore, here I am in my fifth year of consistently pulling away and deliberately finding time to just be still. With the sun on face and a breeze in the air, I go to a place inside my heart where I find peace in the moment and I start to really listen to the still quiet voice of God. I am overwhelmed with the gratitude I feel in my heart and overcome with emotions as I realize how much God is teaching me while I am in a place of stillness. The preparation for ministry has not come from doing but rather being, being still and knowing I am not God.

Today I am reflecting on my most resent journey, following in the footsteps of Jesus. Last week at this time, I was preparing to go into L.A. county jail to minister to the most beautiful broken women in California. I joined a team of passionate sisters in Christ who also have a calling to reach out to those in the gated community. The hardest part about serving in this capacity, about going behind the bars is saying goodbye and leaving. I know all to well what it is like to serve time, to be locked up with out any hope of being pardoned. Though my bars were invisible, they were there. I was broken, beat up and believing the lie. The lie that I was forever ruined because of what I had done and what had been done to me. It took others coming beside me, wearing Him well, which I called “Jesus with skin on “for me to really grasp how deep and how wide God really loved me. I cannot help but to give back what was so freely given to me.

As I finished my day of rest, in the quiet hills of Auburn, I decided to pop into a tiny little boutique at the end of the town. I felt like I had been transported back in time to my great grandmother’s living room. As I entered this shop, the sent of gardenias flooded my nose bringing me back to many early childhood memories. Her home always seemed to be like a museum, we were never aloud to touch, only look. I quickly came back to the present moment when I noticed an older gentlemen approaching me.

As we made eye contact, I immediately noticed the sadness in his eyes that seemed to speak of something broken deep inside his soul. He greeted me with a smile and asked what had brought me up this way. Apparently, I did not look like a local and being the storeowner, he probably knew everyone in this small town. I shared with him about my day of rest and the years I had spent coming up the hill, I had met his wife many times while walking through their shop but this was the first time I had ever met Don.

Don had deep lines in his face and creases in his hands, he had many years on me and I knew a story was behind that grin of his. The grin he gave me when I told him I was a minister. His reaction was one of surprise and almost disbelief. He followed me through the store continuing to just chatter away about his day when the bell on the door jingled, letting him know more customers had arrived. He excused himself and left me to my thoughts. I felt the Lord nudge my heart, preparing me to reach out to my new friend. How at this point, I was not sure and then he returned with the winning question. The question that opened the door to the answer I was looking for. I wanted to know about the sadness in his eyes but being a complete stranger I knew I had not earned the right to ask such a question.

The winning question was simple; he wanted to know how I ministered and what it looked like. He was so cute in the way he genuinely wanted to know. At once, I stopped what I was doing, looked him in the eyes and gave him all my attention, I knew there had to be more to his inquiring mind. I shared with him about my calling and how I had just returned from L.A. He appeared to be intrigued with what I was sharing, his eyes seemed to pop open and he perked up as I shared my love for those beautiful broken woman I get to minister to. I was silent after I shared; we broke eye contact and then I started to look around the shop once more. I felt the Lord calling me to pray over my new friend but I silently cried out to the Lord, for what? Once again, there was Don, with another question; he wanted to know what brought me into the prison ministry besides the call. This was the actual question that opened the door to the answer I was looking for to the sadness in his eyes and the for what, in regards to prayer. I shared my two-minute testimony of my background in addiction, how God had restored me through His son Jesus Christ and how now I have become the kind of person I use to make fun of.

He slowly walked away; he stepped behind the counter and was fiddling now with his cash register. He looked up at me after a period of silence and said I understand. He continued to share his story, the one that explained the sadness in his eyes. He had lost one daughter to addiction and was afraid he was about to loose another one to alcoholism. He had this faraway look in his eyes as if he was picturing his little girls now. It was at that moment I just placed my hands out to him he grabbed them and we stood there holding hands as I prayed for his broken heart and the lose of his children. His fragile hands in mine, a broken father’s heart and a powerful God who does not waste a hurt allowed me to represent Him that day. After I prayed, we exchanged information and I promised him I would keep him, his wife and daughter in prayer. He then placed something in my hand, a gift he wanted me to have, and a beautiful silver chain with a pendant. I just smiled, there were no words left to be said. We made eye contact for the last time; I nodded my head and walked out the door.

It was time for me to leave the sanctuary of this little town that I have come to love. My day of rest had ended and once again, I was in awe of God and His divine appointments. I am so thankful for the challenge that was placed before me five years ago; the preparation is truly in the stillness.

1 comment:

cautious1 said...

What a GREAT story! Isn't it amazing to see how God works through ordinary circumstances in our everyday lives?? Love this story!