The Art of Tuning In

The Art of Tuning In

You don’t always get what you think you will.

Here’s my challenge: truly hearing His voice.

Yes sure, you can sit in church and hear what the pastor is saying through his sermon. And when it hits you right where you need advice, guidance or clarity you’re thankful for how He works in your life. Or a song during worship may expresses exactly what you feel and you have that ‘Aha’ moment of ‘this is where my strength is found’.

But what happens once you get home?

This morning I was praying for someone who I care deeply about. My prayers over the past few weeks have been of empowerment, protection and healing. All the right things. Right?

But I felt it wasn’t getting anywhere. I didn’t see what I thought was necessary in this person’s life.

Do you see that?

There are way too many ‘I’s in that sentence.

Once thing someone told me at church recently was that I will start hearing His voice more clearly. Kind of like tuning in an old-time TV that needed the knob set just right in order to get a clear image. Those words stuck in my mind. I’m praying for real change.

art of tuning in
Photo by Marc Schäfer on Unsplash

I wasn’t sure how the growth will take place. Let’s just say it’s been enlightening.

It Takes Time

Something in me—the Holy Spirit right?—constantly prompts me to listen. But not listen as I used to do. The old Christel loves rushing through things: I want to get as much done as possible in very little time. My husband calls it ‘cramming’…I used to cram our holidays and we just end up exhausted.

And yes, I even rush through my prayers.

Time
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

That means mentioning clichés: blessing, power, wisdom…They could be powerful but what if these characteristics are not what a person really needs?

What is more powerful than praying cliches? Waiting to hear what He KNOWS they need. For me, that takes a moment of absolute silence in my mind before I start praying. When I stop my own thoughts for a moment His Words form inside my mind.

And that’s when I discover His heart for someone.

What Should Really Change?

When I get to this point He also surprises me in what I end up praying.

For months I was focusing on what divine wisdom this person needed. Surprise surprise! When I at last started tuning that dial, what I discovered wasn’t so much what I needed to pray over this person’s life that mattered to God at that moment. He actually prompted me to look inward; to myself.

My revelation (TV screen with clear image) was that ME changing could help this person get through a situation easier.

you
Photo by Etty Fidele on Unsplash

I was praying for a situation to change elsewhere. Meanwhile, what would have been really helpful to this individual was me simply being a safe space, a soft landing and a calm environment whenever we got together. I’m embarrassed to say I was quite the opposite for a long time; wanting to figure out the problem, find solutions and force everyone in a direction I thought best.

So what ended up changing when I started tuning before praying? I changed. Nothing else. But I think that’s what the person has been praying for all along.

My Will vs His Will

So this morning I’m seeing a new angle of what I can be as His ambassador on earth. I often want to be the force that helps people out of the ruts they find themselves in. And yes, I perceive that as a worthy goal. But it’s not always what people need at that moment.

Seeing His ways more clearly then—tuning in—may be that I stop applying general spiritual applications to all people’s lives. He caters in His Word for comfort, for power, for strength, for healing of sorrow sorrow and so much more. It takes Godly wisdom to determine which of these someone needs in a specific scenario. I often think I know what’s best. But who knows better than the One who made that individual?

me
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

I surrender.

My will for Yours.

So I Got Bad News Yesterday

So I Got Bad News Yesterday

So, I got bad news yesterday.

bad news

It’s not a life or death situation, but close enough. It’s dire enough to leave me confused, disappointed, unsure.

Not unsure of Him – More than ever, I know He’s there, because He showed me His presence this past six months. So powerfully that I can’t lie to myself and say He hasn’t got this. He’s got this. Me. Us

But I’m sore. And alone because only I know how I deal with this. Others go through similar trials and survive. I will too. But my struggle will be unique based on my personality, values and experiences.

So I want to run to the place I always went to: My best friend. Only…I lost that friend this past year as well (not to death, only to choices), so that’s not an option. But I want to pick up the phone and find comfort and advice where I used to.

But God’s not letting me. And I realise: He has a different plan.

What He has in store for me is that He’s sending two of the best people I know into my life this week. He knew this was coming and two sources of infinite wisdom, grace, love and Godly insight…they’re on their way.

friends

They’re not my habitual go-to cry buddies. But I know they are fully geared for this job of helping me find whatever I need to get through this:

  • To see His perspective
  • Determine what I’m supposed to pray (as I’m so confused about His will for this situation)
  • To find comfort in a heavenly manner
  • To cry and use the Godly way of dealing with hurt and sadness

The person I wish was here may never be there for me again. But He knows what I need to work through this trial. And He already planned to send them to my city this week, even though they live far far away. He scheduled them into my calendar even before yesterday happened.

That’s how practical, caring and in control my God is.

So, thank You. For once again making plans I didn’t even knew were necessary.

You always provide…not in what I WISH I can get…but by giving what I really NEED.

I Don’t Need to See the Future; God Does

I Don’t Need to See the Future; God Does

So, today I’m preaching to myself. But I do hope this helps you as well.

I’m in an unplanned hole today. I did not expect to feel this alone, sad, dejected and tired. I was having a pretty good day yesterday. And then, all of a sudden ‘poof’…all my energy just seemed to go out of me. I don’t know where it went. I don’t know what pushed it out. I just know I arrived home from grocery shopping (happily I might add) and all of a sudden I could barely lift my arms. That’s how tired I was.

I don’t do tired. I don’t do weak. I don’t do complain. I wanted to get over it and just be fine again. But my body didn’t want to…so much that my mind couldn’t make it do what I wanted it to do.

So I had to surrender and spend the afternoon on the couch.

ben-white-194220-unsplash

Is this a bout of depression? is this physical? Yes, but also emotional, since I haven’t cried like this in a while. So I’m just going through the stages until I feel myself again.

No, I’m still not 100%. But at least over the past few years I’ve learnt what I should do when life throws curve balls. For you it may be going for a run or reading a book or talking to a friend or painting. For me it’s writing. My diary is my refuge. That’s where I find God and where His voice becomes clearer when life seems to thunder over it.

So here’s my first piece of advice: When you realize you’ve been pushed past your limits, use the tools He gives us: Writing, singing worship songs, surrounding yourself with good people, the Word…whatever works for you.

So what did I find when I turned to my pen and paper? That’s what I need to share here. That’s what I need to proclaim so I don’t forget it; that the enemy can’t keep me down with a lie anymore. Because in my moments of utter fatigue, sadness and loneliness I keep thinking of what’s wrong and forget what is glorious.

In this bad moment I’m having I felt to just write about how He always provides and perhaps that’s my weapon for this moment. I’m thinking that by sharing this, reminding myself of what He is capable of, I’m fighting the negativity with the right words.

I seem to never plan my life very specifically. I would like to say that I know exactly where I’m going and what I’m going to have in 10 years’ time. But it never works out that way. I’ve taken steps of faith where I believe I’m inviting Him along on a journey with me. Somehow, the things I initiate never seem to work out. But what He starts always blossoms. So I want to proclaim the things He has brought to pass in my life.

  • I wanted to go overseas after school, but God suggested I stay right here in South Africa. What He kept me in this country for ended up being the best few years of my life.
  • 10 years ago He prompted me to move to the coast and write. I was too scared, I took a detour…but a decade later I’m living near the sea…writing. (I wish I listened earlier, but I’m thankful for His patience).
  • The friendship with my best friend disintegrated over time. Only in hindsight did I see how He positioned other friends in my life in the months leading up to it. He knew. He knew who I would need. He knew I needed a support system. Though I don’t know anything about my used-to-be friend anymore, I want to believe He’s doing the same for her. He loves us all and his long term plans are amazing.
  • I left one job for what I thought was to be my dream job. The company didn’t make it (long story), but 10 months before it went down He led me towards another job. I didn’t pray for that one (I didn’t even think it was necessary to pray for a job). But it’s perfect. It fits me like a glove. As I’m sitting here writing I realise all its facets suit my skills perfectly.I’m a ‘Jane-of-all-trades’. Not all jobs can keep all my interests entertained. This one does.

Here’s the bottomline: He knows. He cares. He plans (even if I don’t, and even if I do). His plan is always better.

I have more stories. I realize there are many of them. For now, this soothes my soul. I hope it does yours.

martha-dominguez-de-gouveia-738789-unsplash

Take care out there everyone. And share your story below if you have a glorious one. Remind yourself.

A Letter to my Friends. Please Read. It’s About You

A Letter to my Friends. Please Read. It’s About You

Moving is tough and I’m not talking about packing boxes.

I may never see all of you again. When I think of all your faces I think of all the value you added to my life.

There is this urgency in me not to go before you KNOW what you mean to me. That’s what I’m all about I guess: that people may know their worth. Maybe because some individuals have helped me find mine and now I can’t bear the thought of you not knowing the impact your life has made on me.

I’m moving far away and for a few years you have helped form me and guide me through the waves of life. And now that season is over, but what you’ve accomplished in me is not. Your marks made me stronger, wiser and happier. And you have to know that that is a legacy you leave in this world.

Yes, I know with the technology of today we’ll still communicate. But I’m going to miss the times around the kitchen tables and feeling your comforting hugs or seeing your smile. So here’s me trying to say thank you for all those moments.

Thank You for Making me Laugh

Is there anything better than making a serious, complicated person like me get out of her usual box of reference and laugh ecstatically? You made that happen. You made me see the lighter side of life. You made me ENJOY life when all I wanted was to ACCOMPLISH life.

Thank you.

Thank You for Being Wise when I Couldn’t be

I’m used to being the counselor and advisor. But there were times when I couldn’t be and I became the student. And wow, your authentic way of living and “practice what you preach”-ways and your experience made me trust your insight. Thank you that you had the guts to go through trials so I could learn at your feet for a change. I will never forget what you did for me.

Thank You for Listening

I prefer listening. I love hearing stories. But then occasionally I need an ear. And you were there. How can I say thank you enough that you heard my sorry stories without judging or even advising. Safe spaces are hard to come by in this world and you gave me one. Thank you.

Thank You for Drying up My Tears

I love crying. It cleanses me. It’s God’s way of getting all the junk out of my system. And you allowed me to vent. You made me okay again. Most of all you made me feel safe even though I was vulnerable. There is no greater gift a friend can give. Safety. Wow. I’m going to miss that.

But as God always sent you at exactly the right time when I needed you, I also know He will send me new safety nets in my new home. I pray that you will always find the right friends at the right time. You deserve the best.

Thank You for Making me Dream

You helped me realise dreams, dream new ones and encouraged me every step of the way. How do you say thank you to someone who saw potential in you even before you knew it was there yourself?

Thank you for bringing me one step closer to my God-given purpose. Thank you for the insight and inspiring me by chasing your own dreams. You’re amazing and I pray all your goals will one day be reached. I will be praying from afar. I will cheer you on always.

Will We Meet Again?

I don’t know who of you I will see again. I must make peace that seasons change. I don’t want unrealistic expectations because it hurts too much when expectations aren’t met.

But whether this is farewell or only ‘until we meet again’, know that the memory of you makes my life richer. It gives me the strength to move onto the next chapter of my life. You have been good to this person and may God bless you immensely for that. You have been His hand in my life and I have been so privileged to know you.

Today words aren’t enough to express my gratitude.

I hope we meet again. In my heart our friendship lives on. Thank you for the footsteps you left in this heart so far.