Written by Louise Douglas.
Psalm 31: "But I trust in you Lord, I say ‘You are my God’. My times are in your hands."
I hope something of this post resonates or encourages you. Thanks to Peter for inviting me to contribute – after three weeks of thinking about it I figured I’d better commit some of my garbled thoughts to paper! This post is about what I have learned over the past year, and where I find myself now.
How it started:
Despite my inconsistent approach to spending time with Him, God has been faithful in presenting me with opportunities to learn over the past year. One example is that I feel God was introducing me to the contemplative spiritual disciplines even before the pandemic arrived. Silence, solitude, simplicity, sabbath and retreat became relatively new concepts and a source of much needed strength around that time. I had already identified that my life was full of peripherals and busyness just as the pandemic cut them out for me, and had been thinking about the journey to the Promised Land / how to address unhelpful ‘Egypt- thinking’ before I hit the Covid-19 wilderness.
In March / April 2020, when there was so much uncertainty – I read and re-read Psalm 23 and listened to Kari Jobe’s ‘The Blessing’ on repeat and gained much encouragement from it. As the situation continued to evolve, it became clear that this would be a marathon effort, and that I needed God’s presence more than ever.
How it’s going:
When I write about ‘how it’s going’, it’s hard not to write about work, as it remains such a central feature of my life at present. I am sure anyone working within the NHS can identify when I say my current biggest challenge is finding a way to balance significant lack of resources (including time), overwhelming need, and trying to deliver good care. At times it has felt impossible to achieve.
Matthew 11:30 (The Message): "Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly."
When I feel the weight of what we are dealing with in these times, I find His Word and His presence sustains my hope. These verses are like streams of living water, and as I read them I can allow my focus to shift away from all the problems I am wrestling with, to abiding in Jesus. Choosing the ‘Mary’ approach rather than the ‘Martha’. I love the verses above that God is ‘holding my times in His hands’. Going further than relinquishing my terrible time management issues, generally I can relax in the knowledge that God has got it all in control.
For those who find themselves frantically paddling beneath the water, or trying to keep all the plates spinning, my prayer would be that you would be excessively gentle with yourselves, and discover the unforced rhythms of grace.