pause-button-mdPause is defined by Your Dictionary as a temporary stop or rest.

As a verb, pause means to stop, for a brief period of time.

A few years back, my husband Brad and I did a ropes course with a group of friends.  We started with a name game, as several folks didn’t know one another.

Everyone stated their name as we formed a large circle.  A clock started as a ball was tossed in the center.  We had 60 seconds to keep the ball suspended in the air.  The object was to keep the ball moving at all times.  You couldn’t hold it.   Whoever had the ball would toss it to someone else after first calling out their name. No one could be a receiver twice in a row. Each successive round another ball was added.

The object was to keep everyone in the game as possible without losing balls.  If a ball touched the ground it was lost forever.  At the end of the round if anyone was holding a ball they were out.

The first round was easy. By the 3rd round, everyone knew each other’s name, but it was a challenge to keep the balls suspended.

The saving grace was that once in each round anyone could call “PAUSE”.  PAUSE stopped the game for 10 seconds, enabling us to regroup and strategize without losing balls or people.

It was a great illustration showing how complicated life gets the more we add.

The PAUSE factor didn’t buy more time, but it gave us mental pause to gain clarity on how to best utilize the time we did have.

The next event was to climb up a 30 foot post.  There was a 2 foot by 2 foot platform at the top. From there, you were to jump off the post to grab a suspended rod which slowly lowered you back down.  The climber was harnessed to a pulley for safety in case they fell or missed the rod.

I don’t like heights, but I absolutely hate having something that overcomes me. God created us to be overcomers right?

I opted to climb first. I was safe in a harness, but I didn’t trust it.

Visibly shaking, I made it to the top. I felt like throwing up as I crawled on top of the platform.

My friends were shouting cheers and instructions, but all I wanted to do was stop shaking and get my feet back on the earth.

My shakes became trembles.  This STINKS.  Why did I go first?  Stupid pride.

I remember my peers and holler out, “Guys, I might cuss!”

Laughter and more shouts, “You’ve got it Shelly.”  “Put your foot under your knee.”  “Turn to your left and reach.”

I don’t cuss, but a loud “P A U S E !!” defiantly escapes my mouth.

I’m startled to realize it came from me as I look down (yeh -why did I look down?!)

Everyone is stumped at my abruptness; except my husband.  He’s laughing his bu- – off.

He controls his laughter and shouts back, you can’t “PAUSE” in this one Shell. You’re okay.”

Despite my shaking, I attempt to regain a mental grip. I shout again to my friends. “Sorry guys, but… Can ya all not say anymore?  My head is all messed up here.”

(Don’t you wish you could push some magical PAUSE button in life?)

We can’t stop the clock, but we can take a mental pause any time we want. And we should.

Sometimes it only takes seconds to mentally regroup. Other times it requires more.  Occasionally you have to temporarily remove yourself from a situation or circumstance to gain a fresh perspective.

I did leap from the post that day successfully grabbing the rod, and I still don’t like heights.

I do, however, find myself continuing to use a silent PAUSE… a lot. It helps me remember to do a quick check with the Spirit of God.

It works.  My thoughts shift gears. I become aware of God, and His perspective.

He’s really not so hard to hear. Though He’s God, high and lifted up, spiritual and invisible; He’s also a person; concerned with matters big and small.  He’s both practical and spiritual.

In James we’re encouraged,

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

Next time you are in a bind, perhaps a little overwhelmed or ill-equipped (or precariously perched high up on a 2 x 2 platform) and could use clarity of mind, remember to PAUSE and sync in to the mind of Christ.

Change and Transitions

Whether you are going thru a time of change or just coming out of one, change is inevitable. Change challenges us to leave the comfort and security of the familiar.

Have you prayed for change?

Are you waiting for change?

Are you in the middle of change?

Are you in a season of change, finding it’s different then you envisioned it?

Are you wondering if you really heard God right?

Change doesn’t just happen. It’s usually a process.

As much as we hunger and cry out to God for it, when transition comes and change begins, it can be unsettling.

My brother always says, “Living things grow; growing things change.”

So we cry out for change.

And God answers.

Over the last several years I’ve prayed as a restlessness and hunger rose in me; a hunger for MORE. It appeared ‘illogical’ as we saw God answering prayers better than we imagined at our church. Serving on staff as Director of Adult Ministries, I should have been more eager than ever to remain in a place where God is moving in and thru people at an exponential rate.

I love the Pastors, the staff and all the people.
I love seeing the hand of God impacting new believers literally every day.

I had every reason NOT to leave.

And yet… I wanted more.

Two years ago during a time of church-wide prayer I had a dream that further fueled my hunger for MORE though I didn’t know what MORE looked like (see my post Step Into Your Dream).

Thru prayer and time and tears I began to take steps into change.

Surely I’m not the only one who finally surrendered to my “assignment” only to be surprised that it would be a long, sometimes exhausting journey that could get lonely.  I didn’t expect I would have to work at it since I did agree, “Yes Lord.”

I’ve prayed for change for years. I’ve asked “when Lord?” and “How much longer Lord?”

I had a long distance view of the assignment He’s called me too.

I’m so ready to do what You’ve called me to do; be who You’ve called me to be…

Eventually I started listening more and speaking less.

I found that in my silence, I heard Him more. It wasn’t that He spoke more.  Rather, I became more aware of Him and less aware of myself.

I’m in a TRANSITION period. At first I fought it and begrudged being held back.  I wanted to expedite things. I wanted to GO.

I’m used to being in an environment of strong believers praying and strategizing and talking about what we can share about God this week. I miss weekly meetings reviewing what God did the week prior.

In March, I asked for the Pastors’ blessing to step out of my role to pursue writing.  It was scary as I have no writing “experience” or education.

I’ve been tempted to write and blog and post on FB telling what God is doing.

But God said, “No. Not yet.”

At first I felt naked. I love PEOPLE, especially my people. “What will they think?” God, this is very anti-social.

Then I felt lonely. “Does anyone even care that I’m not there?”

I realized how fond I had become of the role and title I wore. Now it’s just me, a few close friends. And God. Stripped down.

Here, in the waiting; it’s as if God is saying, “Child, just spend time with me. Don’t be so quick to tell about me, to show about me. I want a season of just you and I.”

The other day I was spending time with Him.

me:  “I love this time. I could stay here forever, but I still don’t get it Lord.”

“It’s counter to my desire to serve others. That’s what YOU want, what Jesus taught.”

Lord:  “What’s a wedding?”

me:  “A ceremony where two people who love each other come together marking the commitment to share their lives together as one.”

Lord:  “Who comes?”

me:  “Usually friends, family, photographers, musicians. Lots of people.”

Lord:  “And what happens?”

me:  “The public exchange of vows and usually a big celebration.”

Lord:  “And then where do all the people go?”

me:  “They go home.”

Lord:  “Why don’t they go with the bride and groom?”

He’s not condescending in these questions. I understand He always has a point.

me:  “That time is special.  It’s set aside for the bride and groom.”

Lord:  “No one goes with them?” 

I know He knows. I’m searching for what He wants me to see.

me:  “No.  This is their time. To share each other. No one else Lord.”

Lord: “Yes. Their time. A special time. They begin as one.”

Then, with “Follow me.”, He left me with the impression:  “no one else is there when the groom carries the bride over the threshold.”

I can tell you right now: God is interested in your attention.

He wants your full attention presence.

WHAT HE WANTS FROM YOU more than ANY thing you can do or be is for you to spend time resting in His presence.

Have you found satisfaction simply being alone in His presence?

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

All that we DO is additional to what He seeks from us. If we do not first find peace and satisfaction in God’s Presence, then what we do will not be from Him, it will only own works.

Maybe you are taking steps to walk out the unique purpose God has called you too.

That’s great! You’re right on track. That’s part of what He created you for and how He reaches others.

If you are discouraged or frustrated or confused, or uncomfortable or overwhelmed or downright SCARED –I can totally identify with you!

I’m so glad God is not having me move forward yet.  It’s as if I’m in a spiritual pause. This is transition. And I’m loving it.

In this neutral place I am realizing that all those negatives I just mentioned are circumstantial.  And here’s the good news; we are not defined by our circumstances. Rather we are defined by whose we are.

Whatever God has planned for me, I am grateful that He drew me out to strip me down from the “good” identity I’d grown to love. I had become fond of my role. What I did was my identity.

Leaving reminded me that there is no higher call then to live simply as a child of God.

Sometimes we need extended states of “pause” to really grasp the bigger picture.  God is God, and we are His.  And He’s concerned with having our full attention.

As you process thru growing in whatever season you are in, remember to first and continuously the One who cares about you more than anyone ever can.

Spend time with Him. Alone.

This is where:

– He strips us down. The grime of earthly perspective is washed off the eyes of our hearts and we gain clarity of vision.

-We become accustomed to His voice in the quiet and recognize Him in the noise of the worldliness. He wants each of us to hear directly from Him!

-Our thoughts are made new as we receive a download from God Himself. We access the mind of Christ!

Practically speaking: Get in the Word. God speaks thru it.

Gather and worship with other believers. Something just happens when we do this.

But more than anything; take time alone with God daily.

If Jesus did this then how much more should we?

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

(Don’t worry about the words, just focus on His presence.)

God has plans for you.  You don’t have to figure it out, you need only show up and take Him at His word. Enjoy being with Him. Everything else will follow. Remember, He appreciates an expectant heart!

Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. “Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.  Isaiah 43:18-19