I recently reminisced with some friends about the weeklong retreat class we attended about two years ago for our graduate program. That week changed my life in some really significant ways. I had recently lost my nannying job, which now I thank Jesus for on the daily, but at the time I was pretty wrecked.
We spent some time with this picture of the Trinity sitting around a table together. The woman leading the retreat walked us through a time of imagining ourselves in the picture. I have this especially sweet and tender relationship with Jesus, so I naturally pictured myself sitting in front of Him, leaning back on His chest. In that space, the Lord spoke my identity over me in a way I will never forget.
I went back to read my blog post from right after that retreat, and I had to laugh:
God created space for me to slow down. And in the middle of it I journaled this: “What about this crazy idea – That maybe losing my job was a good thing and it was Your plan so that I would have more time for You? More time to be slow and still and silent…to hear You and know You. Not for answers but just to be with You. What about that?”
Make space for God to speak into your life, and He will. Or else He just might have to make the space for you. Isaiah 30:15 – “In returning and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.”
I kind of forgot that this whole “Creating Space” thing I’ve been thinking about recently wasn’t exactly new for me. What God taught me two years ago is exactly what I am still trying to learn now.
Life is a delicate balance of leaning in and leaning back. It is a rhythm of resting in Him and engaging with our purpose in the world. It is a rocking chair of dependence. We must engage the world and play our part in redeeming it back to what it was intended to be. We have to be participants in this life, advance good, and share the goodness of Jesus. But, we will run out of steam if we never lean back against the chest of Jesus, drinking in who He is and listening to Him speak our identities over us. We must live out of this place. This has to be our starting point.
When I put myself in that picture, leaning back and learning who God knows me to be, it was then and only then that I could start living out His purposes for me.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
Our good works are not what saves us, Jesus already took care of that. But they are what we are saved for. When we understand who we are in Christ, we can then engage in our purpose for our lives.
The only way to know what we are saved for is to know the One who saved us for it.
When I get so busy leaning in, I have to make space to lean back and be with Jesus. Leaning in and leaning back are both important, but one does not work without the other. Leaning back is the momentum for leaning in. (#science!)
So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” John 13:25
So for those who are feeling like they are lost or directionless, maybe it is time to lean back. Rest in Jesus the way John did (13:25) and trust that He will guide you. He might not answer the exact questions you are asking, or in the way you expect Him to answer them, but He will speak to you. Most often He likes to answer the question, “Who am I?” with “My Beloved Child, precious in My sight.” Let your rhythm have a little more leaning back, waiting on the Lord and letting His Presence be your lamp.
For those of you who maybe have been doing a lot of leaning back, and maybe have heard the Lord speaking a dream into your heart, maybe it is time to start leaning in a little more. No one else has your dream. No one else has your purpose. How could they? There is only one of you. God created you. That means you are already good, already loved, and already made to do good things. Lean into what He is calling you to. Success in whatever that might be doesn’t determine the value of it; you will learn more about who you are through the process regardless of if it “succeeds” or “fails.” That isn’t really what it’s about. Bob Goff says, “God doesn’t ask us to bring Him successes; He delights in our attempts.”
Develop a rhythm of life that starts from a place of leaning and depending on God. Then live out of that while you lean into the purposes He has set before you. I believe in you, friend. You rock.