Revue: In Stillness…

“Spring Green on a Gray Day,” © Lynn Abbott

© 2015 Lynn Abbott

My mother–God rest her soul–could tell tales a plenty of my youthful impatience.  Fortunately for me, she took most of those stories to her grave.

But there are a few stories that some of my immediate family yet recall and I highly suspect I will never live those personal fiascos down.

“You shouldn’t hurry, Mom,” my 19-year-old wisely advises.  “It never turns out well…”

And he’s right.  When I am hurried or impatient, I invariably take a wrong turn, and head in a disastrous direction.

In fact, I’m certain that eventually my family will make good on threats to embarrass me with the retelling of one particularly memorable, “hurry up” mishap. So let me beat them to it… At least, you’ll hear it from me first.

My husband and I had returned from England after a lovely two-year sojourn.  Since we had been far from friends and family for some time, we made a stop-over in California to visit my folks.

During our visit, I offered to run errands for my mom. And of course, I glanced at the list and sped out the door.  However, I was on home turf.  How difficult could a few errands be?

After making a brief stop at one shop, I climbed into the car and pulled from the parking lot out onto the road.  I made a logical turn… logical, that is, if I had still lived in Great Britain.

As it was, I turned the wrong direction onto a one way street, and found myself driving headlong into oncoming traffic.  Multiple vehicles honked horns and flashed headlights.

At least, you’ll hear it from me first.

The alarm raised, I quickly recognized my honest but dangerous error.  Needless to say, I swung my car into the next parking lot entry, and took time to regain my bearings.

I meant well.  I wished to help Mom who had her hands full taking care of my Dad who was ill at the time.

My husband loves to remind me that while I certainly exhibited the best and most sincere intentions that day, my instincts carried me in a sincerely wrong direction.

Yup.  If I had only slowed my pace, I could have avoided a lot of stress.  To paraphrase my kindergarten teacher, one should always “stop, look and listen.”

But when life swirls around me,  that isn’t easy for me.

I suppose I’m not the only one.  Considering the lives of many around me, it seems that “being still” is difficult for most in this modern world.

“So little time; so much to do” seems to be our contemporary mantra.

Come to think of it, I don’t believe “being still” has ever been easy for the humanity.  We know exactly what needs to be done, what needs to be said, or what needs require filling.  And we restlessly plunge ahead without giving our direction much forethought.

To paraphrase my kindergarten teacher, one should always “stop, look and listen.”

That’s what gets us into trouble.  Solomon definitely knew what he was talking about when he wrote,”There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death,” (Proverbs 16:25).

My guardian angel works overtime. Truly.

I find tremendous comfort, however, when I read Paul’s history in the book of Acts.  As is often the case for me, Paul, aka Saul, also rushed into things.  Most of us know his history well.

Indeed, as far as Saul was concerned, those trouble-makers known as “followers of the Way” (as Christians were called) needed to be silenced.

A member of the Pharisees, Saul was sincerely committed to following Yahweh.  His love for and loyalty to God were indisputable.

But Saul had taken a wrong turn.  In his zeal, he hurried to eradicate Abba’s children, those that Saul had deemed a threat to faith in Yahweh.

At first, his goals seemed reachable. After the stoning of Stephen,  Paul must have believed that he held a popular mandate for persecuting Christians.

Acts 8 reports, “And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him [Stephen] to death… And some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him.  But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house; and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.”

Had Saul waited upon and sought Yaweh’s leading, many believers would have been spared terrible suffering and Saul himself would have avoided the Damascus road.

But Saul knew he was right, and rushed to apply his sincere, albeit faulty,  remedy to what he saw as a significant problem.

Eagerly, Saul requested letters of introduction from the high priest to pave the road to Damascus.  Saul planned to corral and arrest Christ followers.  Thus, with a heart zealous for God’s good name, the young Pharisee set his own plan in motion; he planned to put things right.

Sincere Saul was sincerely wrong.

He turned the wrong way on a one way street. Destruction loomed. His compass needed realignment.  And it took more watt-age than mere headlights to stop him.

My guardian angel works overtime. Truly.

Scripture says, “He was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.”

The light, in fact, blinded Saul.  Thus, the impassioned Saul fell to his knees.  And Christ spoke.

In that moment, Saul’s life changed forever.  With the help of those traveling with him, a blind Saul entered Damascus and waited to hear what he should do next.

During the three days that he waited in darkness, Saul probably did a lot of soul-searching.  In the stillness, he listened for word from God.

And there…Saul, the zealot with all the answers, faced the ugly truth about himself.

In fact, after a name and life change that reflected his new identity in Christ, he wrote, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all,” (1 Timothy 1:15).

You bet. Paul had regrets.

There is a way that seems right…

But ultimately it falls apart.  Paul initially placed his confidence in human wisdom but a genuine encounter with Christ showed him the futility of racing down the wrong avenue.

“Saul, Saul…”

And yes,  God’s timing and path are frequently unexpected. I’m sure no one was more surprised by Saul’s conversion as much as Saul himself.  Before the Damascus road, he had not considered the possibility that he might be wrong. Saul had simply rushed into the fray.

And that’s how I, too, get into messes.

I do know better.

Sincere Saul was sincerely wrong.

After all, God’s Word tells me again and again to wait on the Lord.  Lamentations 3:25 exhorts, “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.  It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the LORD…”

Ah…there’s the rub.  Waiting silently.  I’m not so good at that.

Even so, grace remains. God’s “compassions are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23).

And Abba intervenes because He loves.

“Saul, Saul…”

Gently, Christ calls.

At Horeb, when a shattered and discouraged Elijah most needed direction, God spoke.  However, His voice didn’t howl in the powerful wind.  Abba did not shout through the earthquake.  Nor did He roar through the fire that followed.

Only when all the noise died down, did Elijah receive answers to his questions through Abba’s voice, soft like a summer, seaside breeze.

And so it is with you and me.  When my pace slows, when I stop and listen, I hear my heavenly Father’s gentle whisper. His grace guides me.

Gently, Christ calls.

Without a doubt, I’d avoid a lot of regret and stress if, before driving, I would first consult Abba’s Word, His road map.  Abba’s truth helps me recognize those one way streets.

Yet, even when you and I have gone our own way, Paul’s life demonstrates that our God will gently and graciously redirect us.  Paul definitely got it right when he recognized that his weakness demonstrated God’s patience, and that his story would encourage all of us who, in all sincerity, make wrong turns (1 Timothy 1:16).

Paul, the apostle who spoke most of grace, understood fully that grace covers it all.   In fact, grace calls me to be still and know that Abba is God.  When I slow down in His presence, I willingly allow Him to handle whatever my day entails.

That’s right. He has this day in hand.  And with our heavenly Father at the helm, there will be no regrets.

“Be still, and know that I am God…”~ Psalm 46:10

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future is laid up for me the crown of righteousness…” ~ 2 Timothy 4:7-8a

68 Replies to “Revue: In Stillness…”

    1. Hello, dearest Julie!! Thank you!! So sorry that I haven’t been commenting as much lately…I have been reading, but, quite frankly, work has overwhelmed me. More about that later. I so appreciate and love you, my kindred spirit! Sending you huge hugs!! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Lynn, what a pleasant surprise! In line with your post, I was thinking that using a GPS is kinda like having God as our road guide, but it has to be turned on in order to receive the guidance. Too many of us don’t bother to consult Him because we think we already have it down pat. Committing our day to our Lord is a prudent step and I find from experience that when seeking His consul and guidance before moving in any direction, at the start of every new day He gives us, ….. well let’s just say that things have a habit of just turning out better, especially when it comes to how we react, patience and our overall survival. Isaiah 30:21 comes to mind. Reading your post is like putting on an old favorite sweater, it fits exactly like it’s supposed to and provides that level of comfort that is hard to find. Thank you for taking the time to share your wisdom and warmth with all of us again. God’s grace and blessings as always Lynn, to you and yours.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ahh, Bruce! Hearing from you makes my day! You are an older brother I always longed for! And your encouragement and wisdom mean the world to me! I truly miss being more active in the blog world. Still overwhelmed by all that I am doing in the art world. I started writing another post over a month ago and got interrupted by work. Still haven’t completed the post, but hope to do so soon. I miss you and all my blogging friends…hope to be around more in the coming months! Grace, peace and Christ’s love to you and yours, my wonderful friend! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When taking histories during patient visits, I learned that it was never a matter of whether or not someone felt stressed, for everyone did, but for me to find out what was the cause of the stress. It’s both humous and sad how, in younger years, I used to carry a “hurry and get ‘er done” attitude approach into prayer. I now routinely use what St. Teresa of Avila calls the Prayer of Quiet.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. What a striking painting Lynn! Just stunning! What a scary incident that happened to you, I would have done the same…I don’t think I can ever drive in England for that reason 😬 Thank God you didn’t get hurt! I am the same way..I always feel like I am rushing around..I think our area has something to do with it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I totally agree, dear Denise! This area has incredibly crazy traffic! Thank you for your very kind words about my painting. I’m painting like crazy right now trying to complete paintings for my autumn featured exhibit before we leave for some travel overseas. So, I guess I needed to remind myself to take time to be still 🙂 ❤ ❤

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  4. So much to do, too little time! You certainly know how to rouse the Spirit to convict me, dearest Lynn! In my own defense, I must say that the older I get, the more my multi-tasking has turned into a constant “I better finish this now or I’ll forget,” which leaves me running in circles! Ha! Thank you for the much-needed reminder and lesson and, of course, your wonderful painting which evokes that stillness we all need in order to hear His whispers. Hope you are doing well. XO Much love and prayers for blessings over you always.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ahh, dear Vicki! You are such an encourager and your friendship means the world to me! Sigh… I had to rearrange my life quite a bit this last year since I’ve been going in too many different directions. So this is once again an example of my preaching to myself! 😉 Love you bunches! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Lynn, how good to read your thoughts during the overwhelming times. You reminded me that Paul’s foolishness was turned from following his false teachers to Christ. He, then, was led in the right lane by the right Spirit to see his true purpose and destination. We, like Paul, praise the Lord and rejoice in Him as He leads us by His Spirit and His Word, showing us the goal of our eternal home with Him. Much love and blessings as you continue to follow Him. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen! Thank you for your wise words here, Frances! I so admire and respect you! And thus, your encouragement means a great deal to me! God bless you greatly and your ministry! You touch so many of our lives with your faithful teaching of God’s Word! God bless you greatly this Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautifully said, as all your wonderful stories are. This one gently reprimands, in painting a mental picture of what happens when we forget to “stop, look, and listen”. As you have implied, slowing down our pace, thinking things through we can clearly see where we’re going.

    Our God is awesome in sending what we need when we need it.
    If only we took a little time to take the time to absorb what’s in front of us, with the patience and the humility to find truth in it. A lesson that only gets better with time. Thank God for His patience and grace.

    The painting to me reflects beauty hidden within. (well chosen for this piece).
    Thank you for the reminder 🙂 Pray all is well with you and yours! God bless you richly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you! Well, quite honestely, I was preaching to myself. I’m thankful if my thoughts here touch others as well. Thank you for your so very kind words! Your encouragement means the world to me! God bless you big time, my thoughtful friend! A blessed Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. May His blessings be with you and your family as well, as you also celebrate this most important Day. Our Redeemer lives! May we carry this joy of infinite love throughout our lives.

        Thank you again for being an inspiration 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. We are so blessed that God works all things together for our good and His glory! Even when we hurry / make mistakes / boldly walk the other way / listen and obey, He works it all; He loves us that much.

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  8. That is my favorite verse. I would call it my life ‘s verse, but I’m not sure I’ve come to the point of living it yet. 😉

    I feel your pain of embarrassment with the mishap on the road. My children well remember a day when I tried to go up an off-ramp. Then when I realized my mistake, I put the car in reverse and backed down back into traffic! So my guardian angel also gets hazard pay! Lol

    Beautiful painting, and a timely reminder to Be still and know that He is God. Thank you, dear friend. ❤

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  9. Loved all you said here……..there is nothing like “being still” in HIS presence. I have also found that if I go too long without being still that GOD has a way of stopping me in my tracks to pay attention!! So blessed by your post and love visiting your page Lynn!! LORD, slow us all down……so we don’t miss YOU!

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  10. Reminds me of one of my mantras (can a Christian use that word ;>), one that reminds me to going back to square one (God’s presence): “In returning and rest shall be your salvation, in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

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    1. Oh, I absolutely LOVE that verse, Mitch! Thank you; thank you for sharing it here! God bless you for your wisdom and love for Him! You inspire me daily and I’m truly grateful for your friendship! What a blessing it has been and continues to be! A Blessed Good Friday and Happy Resurrection Weekend to you and yours, my wonderful friend! 🙂

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  11. Lynn, So good to see you writing again! I think I am in a different place from you, in my senior years. I spend a lot of time now in the stillness, in the quiet. We don’t even have schedules anymore, unless we are out of town, or unless we are needed for something or we have an appointment with someone. I move pretty slowly. I have a lot of time to think. I am not saying that I never make quick or emotional decisions anymore. I still have to guard against that. But, my life is at a much slower pace than it was when my husband was still working full-time. We have a lot of time to just sit and talk or to go for a walk or to take a ride or to read something together. I have a lot more time to work on writing, too.

    So, the Lord talks to me a lot throughout my day, and he gives me regular guidance and direction, a lot of times through scriptural songs. I used to have lots of things on my plate, running here and there, very scheduled. I am at a good place now, on God’s time schedule instead of mine, for the most part. Sometimes he has to rein me in, though, when I get ahead of him, or when my emotions are getting the best of me, and it is then he reminds me that he is God and that he has this all under control, and that I am to just trust him with my circumstances. And, then I take a deep breath, and I rest in Him. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I love what you share here, dear Sue! Praise God for the quiet reflection and intimate communion He has granted you! What a blessing! Grateful for the wisdom that you receive from our Lord and His Word. And particularly thankful that you share what God teaches you with all of us! God bless you, my friend! ❤ ❤

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  12. Amen-Amein Sweet Sister in Christ-Messiah Jesus-Yeshua Lynn!! GOD Bless You and Your Family and Friends!!

    Our ONE True GOD’S LOVE 💕 is ETERNAL THROUGH HIS SON Christ-MESSIAH Jesus-Yeshua for Today and Everyday Forevermore Everyone!!

    I Love you all Everyone through Jesus-Yeshua Christ, because HE LOVED EVERYONE FIRST!! 💕 Praise Jesus-Yeshua Christ-Messiah for Today and Everyday!!

    ( John 10:27-30 KJV ) “My Sheep Hear My Voice, and I Know them, and they Follow Me: And I Give unto them Eternal Life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My Hand. My Father, which Gave them Me, is Greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s Hand. I and My Father are ONE.”!!

    “Happiness keeps You Sweet, Trials keep You Strong, Sorrows keep You Human, Failures keeps You Humble, Success keeps You Glowing, But Only GOD keeps You Going.”!! Amen-Amein Praise Christ-Messiah Jesus-Yeshua Hallelujah!!

    Love 💕 Always, YSIC \o/

    Kristi Ann

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This is an amazing post, Lynn. I really like when you said, “… When I am hurried or impatient, I invariably take a wrong turn, and head in a disastrous direction.”

    I think this describes me alot of the time because I don’t want to take the time to be still and make sure that I have everything in order. 😅.

    Some of your quotes that I really, really found helpful for my own relationship with God include but not limited to:

    1). “We know exactly what needs to be done, what needs to be said, or what needs require filling. And we restlessly plunge ahead without giving our direction much forethought.”

    2). “There is a way that seems right…
    But ultimately it falls apart.  Paul initially placed his confidence in human wisdom but a genuine encounter with Christ showed him the futility of racing down the wrong avenue.
    “Saul, Saul…”

    3). “Waiting silently.  I’m not so good at that.
    Even so, grace remains. God’s “compassions are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23).”

    4). “And so it is with you and me.  When my pace slows, when I stop and listen, I hear my heavenly Father’s gentle whisper. His grace guides me.”

    The quotes of number 2 and 4 really touched me because I have a tendency to rush into things with my own understanding of what I need to do without taking into consideration the path that God has called for me and I think this applies to every Christian and human.

    One thing that needs to happen for us as Christians is to learn to wait and listen. Learn to listen to God’s voice and only His voice for the direction He wants us to go in. Sure, we may falter from time to time but that’s what makes us learn our lesson and reorient ourselves to Christ.

    Thank you once again Lynn for the reminder of what it means to rest, wait and listen to God’s still small voice.

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    1. Thank you so much, Josh, for your kind, thoughtful and encouraging comment! You are truly wise, and you most definitely have the gift of “encouragement.” What a blessing your friendship is to all who know you, including me! God bless you big time,my friend!

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    1. Oh, my… I have been traveling and had trouble with internet…and I didn’t realize you had honored me so, dear TR. Please forgive me for being so tardy in expressing my gratitude! You are truly a thoughtful and generous friend! ❤ and huge hugs to you!

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