I kind of just went through a counseling session where I was both counselor and counselee, and my little blog Eeper was the medium. I was looking for a certain post and ended up reading a bunch of old posts from the spring and summertime. Wow. You know how in movies when people are lost in the forest or something, and they have that moment when they come around to a certain tree stump and realize they had already passed it, and have just gone in a circle?

I just passed that tree stump.

Last summer, I was going through the re-entry process after a year in Europe, and I desperately needed rest.  Then I lost my job, and the idea of free time that had been so appealing was suddenly terrifying. Cut to six months later and here I am again. I went about my first quarter at Fuller all wrong – wound up and anxious, trying to prove myself to whoever I could, losing sight of everything that was important and why I came to Fuller in the first place. I burned out, and now I’m in desperate need of rest again. But, oh, how everything inside me resists that!

Last summer I wrote about this amazing quote from Anne Lamott:

“Rest and laughter are the most spiritual and subversive acts of all.  Laugh, rest, slow down.”

That was the first time I passed the tree stump. Guess what? I didn’t learn how to rest. I fretted through most of those long summer days when I was unemployed and could have reveled in the abundant gift of time I had received. Now, I’ve been led through a tough season and I’m primed for this lesson of rest again. Can I say no to the cultural pressure to run around like a chicken with my head cut off?  I hope so, because I don’t want to go in this circle again. I’m ready for some new terrain, to see what’s off this trail.

Back in April, I wrote about all the truth God had showed me during my time in Europe, and how that truth and the breaking of my framework had radically changed me. Then I wrote these words, which I now think were quite prophetic!

The challenge now is to return to the place where my old framework was built, and to hold onto this radically different view of reality that God has given me.  I’m not worried though…when we let Him, He always finishes what He starts.

Yep. That’s what’s been happening this year. Let me tell you, it’s not as fun as when God first whips the veil off all his beautiful truth, but I know that this phase is just as important. The first shoots of a newly planted seed are exciting, but they don’t help anyone much. I want to hang in there through the rain and sun so that the seeds God planted in me in these past couple of crazy years can grow into huge trees, providing shade and fruit and a place to nest. Words I wrote in August that encouraged me then lift my spirits now:

…I found encouragement in Jesus’ cryptic words about the Kingdom being like a mustard seed.  I thought about how He planted a tiny seed in my heart last year, a small desire for His Kingdom.  And if it goes like He says it will, that seed will grow into something larger than I could have imagined, bearing fruit and giving shade and beauty.

It’s good to know that God is someone who finishes what he starts, and that even when it seems like I’m moving backward, I can remember that there’s a mustard seed somewhere in my confused, tired, lonely heart. It swells with love for the one who made me, and out of it bursts a tiny green tendril. Sometimes things grow in secret, and we’re totally unaware.

I’m going to build a little altar on this tree stump, and I’m moving on.


3 thoughts on “Stumped

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  1. Wow Joy…I totally feel you there..the image of a being lost in the forrest and then passing the same tree stump you keep walking by is totally what it feels like.. When you said.. “he challenge now is to return to the place where my old framework was built, and to hold onto this radically different view of reality that God has given me. I’m not worried though…when we let Him, He always finishes what He starts.”

    The key word here being “let” and it really comes down to letting go and trusting Him to finish what he started….

    Thanks for the reminder!


  2. I love your blogs, Joy. They seem so effortlessly witty and soulful. I SO hear you with this. It can get frustrating to pass the same stump, but since we’ve seen it before, hopefully we can recognize it and truly surpass it and know if we’re starting to approach it. I applaud you taking time to sit still and I’m really glad you can share this. The balance of accomplishing the necessary and avoiding the busyness can be a tough one to strike to say the least. Thank you for the reminder that God finishes what He starts. Our seeds are alive, well, and growing. 🙂

    Oddly enough, I started writing something last night that turned into my first blog entry in months, and it involves trees….and needing to sit still. Wow, double-whammy, God! 🙂


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