still & small

Words for the Year: still + small || sarah sandel Last year I knew well into January that my word for the year was simple, straightforward, all-encompassing: Jesus.

I knew I wanted to hear Him and know Him and be drawn up into the fulness of Christ in me. I wanted to know my only hope and my only grace and my only way, through the Son. And, as He does so often, He honored this little word and my hopes and my restlessness and showed me Himself.

This year was not the year I prayed for. But it was the answer to my prayers.

I asked if Jesus would be enough for me. And I have been brought low.

Low to the feet of Him who made me, low to the manger and to the cross.

Low enough to see that my efforts are but dust and my heart wanders if not tightly bound to His.

I have seen my earnest hopes be waylaid by wretched grumblings. Hopes that turned to discontent when I made demands of the Father. In fact, at one point a few months ago, God laid down the law and it came to this: I would intercede for others and I would praise and adore...but I simply was not permitted to ask Him for things I felt I needed/wanted. Because my prayers turned into grumbling faster than you can imagine and I was whining at the foot of the throne, an impudent child not believing her Father would care for her. And that silencing, that quiet? It made room. It made me go lower still.

And so I have laid low, still and quiet, so the Father could do the work required to burn away that discontent. He graciously showed me what I looked like, sounded like, when I grumbled. And I realized I was entertaining the age-old question that made mother Eve stumble right up to the fruit: did God really say...? Because the serpent was the craftiest of all God's creatures...and sometimes when he whispers it sounds so like my own voice that I require a King to step in. I need Jesus more than I ever knew, because His Kingship is what protects and comforts and defends. I need the hope that serving in His Kingdom offers, otherwise I am dismayed and my heart grows weary.

And He proved to me, though He had no obligation to, that He is a strong and capable King.

I wanted to know if Jesus was enough this year. And He brought me low and showed me that He is all in all, that He is sufficient. He's made peace for me, through the blood of His Son and the power of the cross.

I haven't had anything to say in quite a while. I've been real comfortable with this, too. I believe God is doing a deep and quiet work in my heart and in my family, as He moves to provide and make known the paths of life for us. I'm reading so much about the importance of not dashing to the computer every time we think we hear God speaking or moving - about how not every word is meant for public consumption. About the importance of letting His words and His life just sink deep into us as we sink deep into Him and not being quite so verbose about every little thing. It's what sweet Mary did when the magi brought their gifts to the Christ child, right? She kept all these things...and pondered them in her heart.

I am going to do more pondering this year. Less preaching. More inviting people to sit in my home. Less event planning. More listening to my friends. Less offering answers or quick fixes. More reading the Word and being silent. Less frantic pleading with God.More small steps and intentional ones. Less hustle.

Do I have goals? Sure. It's good and smart to see the things the Lord is requiring of you and to obey. I am hoping the silence and slowness allowed me some space to truly receive from the Lord's hand. I'm hoping it provides space for my book writing. I'm hoping for some personal things as well - things that I am not so readily posting to social media or writing about. You'll hear from me less and this is, undoubtedly, good for all of us.

So my words for this year? still + small

I want to be these things and practice these things and receive in the stillness, so that I am cultivating the "still place deep within", as my favorite writer calls it. Here's what she says:

But it’s good and right to carve a little time to sit in the silence, stare off at nothing, and consider the place where you are right now. Not to figure it out or to make an agenda for change, but simply to consider it, to be with what’s real, and to bring it all into the presence of Christ.

Sometimes that will hurt and other times you’ll be so thrilled with life you can’t possibly be still. Most times it will seem so dreadfully boring or painful or frustrating that there doesn’t seem to be a point in dwelling there.

Maybe that’s the idea – your soul already is there. Maybe it’s time the rest of you acknowledged it so you can move on.

So if you're looking for me, I'll be over there - being real quiet - right in the silence and stillness - bringing all things into the presence of Christ and letting Him move.