In the Stillness

“In the Stillness,” © 2017 Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

©2017 Lynn Abbott

Each holiday season, I long to paint Norman Rockwell settings: brightly festooned, Christmas trees; beautiful bedecked and holly laden mantles; candles lighting snow-smothered paths; and the jing-jangling of sleigh bells…

Such traditions delineate  picture perfect days.

My life? Not so much. Yet, I give it my feeble best.

You’d think I’d learn.

However, like a modern-day Don Quixote, I stubbornly persist.

You betcha.  My family will attest; I transform into a Holiday Tasmanian devil, spinning wildly as I attempt to recreate every holiday tradition.

In short, I attempt to juggle a large number of holiday platters.

Quite honestly?  I’ve never been particularly good at juggling.

And so it was…

One fateful evening, I felt especially rushed. An upcoming deadline for a landscape painting had consumed my time that day, and dinnertime caught me unprepared.

I juggle a large number of holiday platters.

Yet, in the spirit of all things Martha Stewart, I threw together a pot of homemade, cream of tomato soup and set it on my gas range. As dinner simmered, I put a few finishing touches on my landscape.

I felt confident. After all, with the exception of one multi-tasking mishap (I had absent-mindedly dipped a pigment-filled paintbrush in my teacup instead of my paint bucket), I had escaped my usual disasters.

Given the lateness of the hour, I decided to streamline meal preparation and to eliminate one step in my “gourmet” ritual. With cheese grater in hand, I stood tippy-toe over a pot of soup.

As the sharp cheddar flakes fluttered from grater to the bubbling tomato base, I suddenly asked, “What’s that smell?”

“It smells as though something is burning,”I added, to no one in particular.

As I put the grater down, I discovered the source of the malodorous affront. My baggy, favorite sweatshirt smoldered.

Indeed, the flames were growing by the moment.

Apparently, I had leaned rather too closely to the open gas flame.

“Oh, help,” I whimpered rather piteously. “Oh, dear. Oh, help.”

No immediate help forthcoming, the volume of my cries increased exponentially.

“What is it?” said my son, finally looking up from the computer. With two sparse words, he assessed the situation: “Not Again…”

He rolled his eyes, and then, launched his holiday homily.

He recounted all my epic kitchen fails–my close encounters with gas flames–and he finally concluded, “You shouldn’t hurry, Mom. You’re no good at multitasking. It always ends in disaster.”

“What’s that smell?” I said to no one in particular. “It smells as though something is burning.”

I had no time to consider his wise words. Instead, I madly dashed for the kitchen sink.

In a matter of moments, while my son pontificated so articulately, I successfully doused myself and the kitchen floor…

And lived to see another day.

That’s right. Consumed with frantic activity, my days from November through December nearly go up in flames.

In fact, I have learned that the busier I become, the more prayer becomes a necessity… for the sake of my family’s safety.

Nevertheless, if truth be told, I must admit that I often put off time with Abba when I get overly focused on my “to-do” list.

Thus, the necessity of a good fire-extinguisher in my kitchen.

But my Savior teaches a better way… After all, if anyone ever had a massive “to-do” list and limited time, it was Christ.

Enormous crowds demanded Christ’s time. Human hearts desired comfort, broken bodies needed redemption, and souls longed for God.

With such an incredibly vast ministry to fit into three short years, Christ certainly could have justified working ’round the clock.

Yet, He took time away to sit with His Father. For example, I read in Mark 6:46 that after feeding the five thousand, Jesus sent his disciples to Bethsaida by boat.

Mark significantly writes, “After leaving them, He went up on a mountainside to pray.”

Even as the tasks increased, Christ did not neglect time with His Father.

It seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? To set aside quiet time during an extremely busy season runs contrary to human reason.

“I don’t have time for that today,” I frequently tell myself.

Yet, in the midst of frenetic activity, human need for God is all the greater.

Jesus, God incarnate, knew this to be true not only for himself but also for us. Just prior to feeding the five thousand, He invited His disciples to “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest,” (Mark 6:30).

With such an incredibly vast ministry to fit into three short years, Christ certainly could have justified working ’round the clock.

Yes, Abba knows us. He understands that we fray around the edges if we neglect our time with Him.

In fact, without Him, my life can easily devolve into a simple list of traditions, obligations and “must do’s.”

I forget that without Christ’s strength, my human efforts invariably go up in flames.

Grace, however, offers another way: a relationship with the Father supersedes and ultimately frees me from platter juggling.

Instead, He calls, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls,” (Matt. 11:28-29).

And when I collapse in exhaustion–my best efforts having gone up in flames– I eventually hear the Shepherd call, “Come away.”

Like a weary Elijah, I unload my cares before my loving and compassionate Father. I imagine He smiles tenderly when I echo Elijah, “I have had enough, Lord,” (1 Kings 19:3b).

Abba is like that. He gives grace upon grace.

In fact, when Elijah awakened from well-earned sleep after the victory on Mt. Carmel, an angel provided him nourishment.

Then, scripture records an event that captures the tenderness and grace that God offers His children.

In the midst of frenetic activity, human need for God is all the greater.

You see, Elijah was not reprimanded for his weariness nor was he scolded for his complaints. Rather, God met him where he was.

Just outside the mountainside cave where Elijah hid from his enemies, a mighty wind passed; an earthquake and fire followed.

Yet, God did not speak to Elijah through the wind, earthquake, or fire.

Instead, a gentle whisper restored Elijah’s weary soul (1 Kings 19:12).  And God provided for His prophet, rest and support for the remainder of Elijah’s journey.

Abba’s yoke is that of grace.

Yes, in the quiet, Elijah heard Abba’s gentle and compassionate whisper. In the stillness, the child finds God’s gracious plan.

For this reason, when tasks and responsibilities overwhelm, I  run to the heavenly throne room and climb into Abba’s lap. I give Him my Christmas lists.

Abba’s yoke is that of grace.

When I stumble in weariness, He lifts me.

He transforms tasks into treasured time.

And that is why–no matter what the season–I have found that still moments with my heavenly Father are an absolute necessity.

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of our cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him…” ~Psalm 37:5-7a

89 Replies to “In the Stillness”

  1. Ok, I’m laughing—you’re on fire and your son just rolls his eyes with a nonchalant “not again”—never mind mother is about to go up in flames—that is so the story of my life…
    don’t worry about the crisis at hand….just use this moment of possible disaster to chide me for my errant ways…..
    and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dipped a paint brush in my drink rather than my cup of painting water or linseed oil…..
    and I drank it anyway…..

    and are we on the same page or what—each seeking silence during a season of noise….

    Great words Lynn—and know that you are not alone as obviously great minds act and think alike 😉

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I KNEW I could count on you, Julie, to read this in the spirit with which it was written! I still laugh when I remember that evening! And how funny is that? You and I are soo alike! I do truly wish that Georgia and Virginia were neighbors. I think we would have some great laughs… and would encourage each other also through life’s tears. Your friendship here is such an amazing, unexpected blessing of blogging. I’m so thankful to God for introducing us! Merry Christmas! Love you! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The guy in the flat below me seems to set off his fire alarm most days, I think he uses it as his kitchen timer! I would laugh if I wasn’t afraid of him burning down the house!!

        Thanks, Lynn, you’re a super star! 😁 Merry Christmas to you too! ☃️

        Liked by 2 people

  2. 🙂 Lynn, the to do list is always long, and you are so right…the holidays to do list is huge, making Santa’s naughty-nice list look pale in comparison. I too become way overly task oriented, but you are way ahead for I have not set my self on fire yet! Lol. Love the story, and your art, as always, is beautiful!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha, ha! I think I have a lot of my friends beat in this area since this is not my first kitchen fiasco! Ha! 😉 Thank you for your wonderful encouragement, Jeff! I respect you and your teaching and writing so very much; thus, your kind words mean a great deal to me. Merry Christmas!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Always beautifully written! Gosh! It can’t be argued that you have the gift of writing. I love this “Nevertheless, if truth be told, I must admit that I often put off time with Abba when I get overly focused on my “to-do” list.” because it’s so true about me. My alarm bell when i am running on low is that i get really overwhelmed and i get easily irritated. I was feeling this way recently and i quickly went to Abba for a refill as i promised never to underestimate my daily devotion with Him.

    On another note Lynn, have you thought about writing a novel? I think you will be fab at it. This blog made me feel like i was reading your novel. I think you should pray and see what the Holy Spirit says.

    Blessings sis!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Efua, you are such a wonderful and encouraging friend! How can I adequately thank you for such kind words? Thank you and thank you again! Yeah… I was preachin’ to myself here. I’m so glad it resonated with you, too! It’s nice to know that I’m not alone… you are truly a soul sister! Love you!

      About a novel… I did write one… but it is out of date now since it was a political thriller. So, perhaps, sometime in the future, I should tackle fiction again. I will do as you suggest and pray about it. Thank you for prompting me to do so. God uses you through your posts, your comments and now your encouragement here to truly impact my life! Merry Christmas, dear Efua! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love when I can be still. I suppose it is only because of His grace. This is really appropriate for this time of year. I also liked the picture. It is a great reminder for me to strive for quiet moments with Him.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Me, too, Scott… but it really takes effort for me to carve out time to be still during the busy Christmas season. Sigh. I have to make a conscious decision to follow Jesus’ example. Thank you for your thoughtful words here! It means so much to me. God bless you greatly this Christmas, Scott.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Anthony! Your words encourage me more than you can know. I was feeling tired, a little like Elijah today…but God has sent you to offer your kind encouragement to buoy my spirits. You have truly blessed my soul today! May God bless you greatly for your goodness to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lynn, the feeling is mutual, my dear sister! No words can accurately quantify how amazing it is seeing God be God, and seeing God do what He does! Blessings my sister, blessings. Oh by the way, while reading yesterday, the Lord dropped “live art” into my spirit. Is live art part of your repertoire?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Anthony…by “live art” do you mean painting before an audience? I paint what is called “en plein air” (outdoor and on location painting) and often people stop to ask me questions as I paint. But I have never painted before a worshiping congregation, if that is what you mean. I have a dear friend who does that, however. And yes, God is beyond amazing!! I’m so grateful to Him for allowing me to tag along. 🙂 Merry Christmas, my wonderful brother!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I certainly can relate to this post and thank you for sharing it. When we remember to stop, breathe, and rest a moment in God’s presence, we are able to accomplish more in less time than we would have in our stressed out “gotta get it done in a hurry” state of mind.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Hi Lynn. This makes me want to climb into that painting, sit beside that still stream, and listen for “Abba’s gentle and compassionate whisper” and find His “gracious plan.” Thank you for this needed refreshment today. Love and hugs to you!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Great counsel here, Lynn. I am a “doer.” I also think that without my constant supervision, the world will cease to function as it should. Giving myself down time is not what I do best and it certainly impacts my closeness with God in a negative way. Thanks for this.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I LOVE your posts! Practical wisdom, practical examples and practical focus point with a surrounding softness like a favourite sweater. Regardless of the “rolled eye”s you may receive, I’m sure your family loves you with all their hearts for who you are. A delightful child of God! Many blessings!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My over six foot son’s favorite comment, as he pats me on the head, is “Funny Mom.” Ha! It’s a term of endearment, I’m sure. 😉 Thank you with all my heart, Bruce. You know that I love your posts! They are life-changing, and I am continually referencing them in my discussions with said son. 🙂 God bless you, my wonderful brother in the Lord. And Merry Christmas to you and your lovely bride!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thankful you weren’t hurt, but what a great seque into your post! I’m so thankful that He is grace to me. And rest. And security. And comfort. Truly our Lord gave us examples all throughout scripture of who He is and who we are to be in Him. I pray He continue to show Himself mighty on your life Lynn! And in the lives of all believers!!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Ah, I can so relate to this! I am always convinced I can multitask, and yet something tends to slip into the cracks if I do, especially when I’m not getting enough rest! I find it heavenly to occasionally leave unfinished tasks until the next day and go to bed at a reasonable hour. I awake with much more enthusiasm, ready to hit the new day with restored energy and renewed brain power. And I also agree that it’s during our busiest times that we need the Lord the most. I remember reading somewhere that Luther used to pray for several hours each morning. When asked how he could afford to spend all that time in prayer, his answer was, “How can I afford not to?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Exactly. I thought of Luther’s words as I wrote this, Meredith. Thank you so much for mentioning his words here in the comments! I’m delighted! There is just never enough space in a blog post to say all that I wish to say, and invariably the “good stuff” gets cut. Obviously we are on the same page regarding the multitasking and the things we read! You are certainly a kindred spirit. I love that. God bless you big time, and Merry Christmas to you and yours! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh Lynn, this is not only beautiful illustrated and written, but so heartfelt. As I sit here in dark at 6 am (in So Cal), I am so thankful for the quietness and ask to hear that still small voice. I enjoyed your story of Christmas frenzy…and admit to quite a bit of the same. For me, it is usually preparing for a speaking event (back and forth from the computer) while trying to prepare a gourmet meal and decorate the house…all at once, of course! 😄 I felt like I was with you in spirit and disasters! 😆 Your statement, “I forget that without Christ’s strength, my human efforts invariably go up in flames” is one that rings true over and over again. As I invite Him into each day, each moment…as I felt your heart as well…it is there and there alone that we find true peace, contentment and victory…not only in each task or challenge, but in our very lives. I am so blessed to know you as a dear friend and to feel your love and support for me as well. We truly are kindred spirits in and through our Savior Jesus Christ! So much love to you, my friend! ❤️❤️❤️

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    1. Dearest Dori… I don’t know how you do it… speaking and all the other responsibilities? So very much to juggle. Truly, you are relying on the Holy Spirit because otherwise all of that would be so overwhelming. You are such a wonderful example of a truly godly woman! And yes, you are truly a dear friend and such an encouragement to me! What a blessing blogging has proved to be as it introduced me to you! I have a simple question for you about your speaking plans/schedule… and if you wouldn’t mind, I will email it to the address that WordPress gives me for you. Love and Huge Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, Lynn, the Lord truly does empower, sustain, lead and direct each step… for without Him I could do nothing! True confession: I quote Philippians 4:13 to myself often… “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” …this simple jar of clay. I pray He is the One who is exalted and glorified through it all…for if that is not so, all I do would be of no value. I truly have to trust Him for all of it, otherwise, yes, it could get very overwhelming. Add to His sustaining strength wonderful sisters (and some brothers too) in Christ who encourage my very soul, and you have the perfect combination. Thank you with all my heart for cheering me on!🎉 As I’m guessing you know, sometimes the race can get hard and I don’t hear our Heavenly-Father-Coach as clearly as I want to, so a cheer from a teammate can often be just what I need to keep on going. You, my friend, have a supernatural, God-given gift for encouragement, and I am sure I’m not the only one to notice this. The love of Jesus pours through you! And I agree with you… blogging has brought me to you and what a blessing that is!!!❤️ I don’t know if you’ve met Margaret from soulfood101blog, but I just know you two would love each other as well. And yes, please feel free to email me…I will be happy to answer your question(s). Have a blessed weekend, my dear blogging friend! ❤️❤️❤️ HUGE HUGS! 🤗

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      2. Oh, yes, Dori! I LOVE Margaret’s blog!! And thank you, thank you for your beautiful words of encouragement here! Yes! Without Christ, I would live a very discouraged life… I love Philippians 4:13! There’s a song by Toby Mac that kinda sums it up for me…”Beyond Me.” And truly, when I look at the things God calls me to, they are way beyond me. But not beyond Him! Encouragement from other believers is so important. You are so right. And I’m incredibly grateful that Abba has brought you into my life! (Will email in the next week. I’m going out of town tomorrow, unfortunately). Love you much!! ❤ ❤

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      3. Oh my, that is so incredible…you know and love Margaret too. 💕💕 Now I can picture the three of us sipping coffee or tea at some little bistro together. Ya never know, it could happen! 💁🏻‍♀️💁🏻‍♀️💁🏻‍♀️ Just listened to the Toby Mac song… yep, sums it up! No worries about the timing… I will be out of town too, but will try to check email. So whenever you a chance! Be safe… Blessings! 💖

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      4. Thank you so much for your prayers, Lynn. 😘 We arrived safely and are here now, thus my responses may be short (and hopefully, sweet) as I am with three little ‘busy’ (of course) grandkids…and loving every minute of it! 😄 I recieved your email and will respond asap! Blessings to you, dear friend! ❣️❣️❣️

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      5. Oh, I’m soo glad. But I must say… you are waaaay too young for grandkids! ☺️ Enjoy those busy ones! Of course, I know you will. And no hurry about email. I’ll be happy to hear from you whenever! ❤️ and hugs!!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Ha ha… you are so kind… It’s just a good picture. I’m older than you may think! LOL But thank you for the compliment, I will take that! 😘🎉💖 (P.S. I answered you last night. 😉)

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  12. You paint quite a picture of your nonchalant son’s acceptance of your trouble from multitasking. 😀 You move that story into so much we need to think about – especially, regarding the fact that we generally try to get head of time by giving up our time with the Lord. Never pays. Thanks for the like on my Don’t Give Sugar in January. I appreciate your visits. I’m sure I could find some wonderful blogs to read if I just have time to run “home” with some of them. Let’s see, now if I cut back twenty minutes with Jesus tomorrow I could come and follow somebody home….Nope, I’m joking. 😀

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    1. You are hilarious, Oneta! Yes… time is such a factor in this world, isn’t it? No worries. I just enjoy reading your posts. Thanks for taking time out of your incredibly busy day to sit here with me for a while! God bless you big time, Oneta! Hugs!

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  13. This is so relatable my life is so crazy right now and I need to find time to be with God, whether it be through my blogging or prayers. These moments of connection and His grace are what keep me going! People like you are examples of His love❤️ blessings! Xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I can well imagine that your life is crazy! Even if you were only doing half of what you have mentioned on your blog, you’d be super busy. I don’t know how you juggle it all! Truly it must be a God- and grace- thing! 🙂 Prayers for strength and God’s blessing in all that you do in 2018! Huge hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. A very good message Lynn and very True to Scripture, God Bless you greatly in your Walk with Him and yes He will indeed as we “Commit our way to Him, Trust in Him and wait patiently for Him…..

    Make our Righteousness Shine like the Dawn, the Justice of our Cause like the Noonday Sun.
    Psalm 37:5-7a

    Christian Love Lynn and God’s Blessings,
    Anne ( Grannie Annie)

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