If you are like me when you hear the word tension your mind probably conjures up images of nervousness, unrest, strife and possibly underlying hostility. And you would be right. Tension is defined as the force which stretches something. That’s a pretty simple concept unless you are the thing being stretched. And I’m not talking about a relaxing yoga stretch.
When God gives us a vision for something He intends for us to accomplish, it is always something we cannot accomplish on our own in our own strength. If that were the case we wouldn’t need God in order to fulfill it. In order to fulfill God’s vision we often need to be stretched beyond our comfort zone. In typical fashion God has given me a vision which I cannot accomplish it in my own strength.
I started this year with a God directed project. I began with a well formed strategic plan, for approaching the task. And while I am still on track something uncomfortable keeps happening. The vision keeps expanding which adds more to the task. I was already slightly overwhelmed and stretched to my max with the original assignment. I knew going into this that it would be a vast undertaking. I shook the dust out of my retired for fifteen year brain. I busted out my agenda and made myself a schedule. I created an outline for accomplishing each step of the process. I made it until the end of February before I realized that God had bigger plans than I initially thought.
He slipped in little things along the way, slowly enlarging the vision and stretching me beyond my capacity. One by one this got weightier and a bit more cumbersome. I took a break in March after reaching my first major hurdle. I needed to regroup and readjust. When I came back to my mentally tasking assignment I was ready, or at least I thought I was ready for going forward. But then slowly since then this thing has grown even bigger. It has become more than I can carry. I feel like this jackass dangling in the air. Since God has used jackasses before I assume I’ll eventually be okay. In the meantime I’m helplessly suspended in midair.
Proverbs 16:9 (NLT) We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.
Twists, Turns and Crossroads
It is possible to gain perspective when all you can do is dangle. Not being a suspended dangler by nature I have had to work hard at appreciating retirement. It didn’t come easy. But it did finally catch up with me. Being retired you do things from a different place than when you are in the daily grind. I’m not a hamster on a treadmill anymore. I don’t work to produce. I work to create. I am not trying to produce a blog. I am creating a space which is uniquely mine. And creation takes time. Sometimes you have to bookmark your place and know that you will come back to it when you can give it your attention.
I am the type of person who likes to work on one thing at a time, finish it and then move on to the next. I am a firm believer that multitasking is more than often counterproductive. I used to live my life in multitask mode. I found out the hard way that doing more than one thing at a time means nothing is getting my undivided attention and therefore everything suffers for it. I’ve been known to be reading up to five books a time. At the end of the day I got through the books but they didn’t get through me. At a very strategic point in my life God quite viscerally showed me that I was spread too thin. I had to make changes. I did. That was fifteen years ago. I don’t regret the changes I’ve made.
What Started as One Now is Two
I began this blog in January. It was supposed to be an extension of my journal, chronicling my writing process. I started it as a way of acclimating to writing for an audience and working on my writing skills. That has been great. After only a few months I much more confident. I am getting used to writing just for the sake of writing. It is a huge facilitator for my overall vision of getting this book eventually written.
However, since starting Beyond the Dalet something has developed I didn’t expect. I believe it has been at God’s direction. But that doesn’t change the fact that it was a plot twist I didn’t see coming. I am a bible teacher of sorts. I have had a hard time defining myself because I don’t know exactly where I fit. I am not associated with organized religion (anymore). I used to have credentials and was in ministry. I ditched it a while ago. I left at the direction of the Lord. Since then I have been free to pursue my passion which is the presence of God. I love God. I love His presence. I love His Word. Another passion of mine is the Tabernacle which I have been studying and meditating on for many years.
Frankly, because of the multitude of doctrines and mindsets that are out there I have been reluctant to go public with my thoughts. Then one day while reading the gospel of Luke and something caught my attention. Luke starts out his gospel by saying that several accounts had already been written, nevertheless, he felt that he too should give contribute his insights. (Luke 1:1-3) My response to Luke was to pull up my big girl panties and take the plunge.
Having said that, not only is there this Beyond the Dalet blog, but now I am developing a second site: Dalet, Beyond the Shadow Side. The Shadow Side is devoted to things pertaining to the Tabernacle. That includes the Feasts, Sabbaths, Rosh Kodesh, and how this pertains to Christ and our spiritual lives as modern New Testament, Western gentile believers.
A Crossroads or Just a Confusing Intersection
While I appreciate the twists and turns which have brought me to this place I find myself at another crossroads. Maybe crossroads isn’t the right picture but it feels like it. Here in Chicago we have a number of six corner intersections. Making a right turn can be a bit tricky. Making a left turn can be nearly impossible at times. Unless you are familiar with the streets you can easily end up going a direction you didn’t intend.
I am hard pressed between focusing on developing these blogs and getting this book written. I don’t know how to walk two paths at once, much less three. They each will take an enormous amount of time and mental energy. I am torn. I can’t stand in the intersection forever. I will eventually have to make the turn. I know I don’t necessarily have to abandon one thing over the other. But it is a matter of priority. Which one gets the bulk of my attention first?
The tension that comes with the creative process can either be the thing that freezes you or pushes you forward. I can usually navigate my way through creative tension. The pressure to choose one direction over another has the potential to derail me. It also carries the propellant to catapult me somewhere wonderful. When dealing with tension I try to step back and shift my focus to something else and then come back at my dilemma with fresh eyes and a new outlook.
I try to remember what is important to me, not what I think I should do. When I get into shoulds and have-tos I know I’m moving into the arena of religious duty rather than creative flow. The tension I’m feeling doesn’t have to be responded to as if I were sitting in an intersection and the light has changed and I HAVE TO MOVE. It doesn’t mean I have to make a quick decision. It means I wait on God to fill the gap. I don’t believe in MAKING IT HAPPEN in our own strength. I believe in following the ever guiding direction of the Holy Spirit. He will give us wisdom us if we ask. (James 1:5) I choose to trust God’s GPS (Guiding Peaceful Spirit). I can be uncomfortable without losing my peace. I can only do that as I lean upon God, know that He has a plan, and that He will lead me and guide me in the way that I should go.
The Unfolding of the Vision
Visions unfold. They don’t burst on the scene with all of their features and attributes fully in place. They start out more like a sketch and the colors fill in along the way.
According to Psalm 119:130 the revelation of God’s word unfolds. Revelation is spiritual and therefore eternal. And being eternal it can be received by way of the Spirit in an instance. Yet bringing that which is spiritual into the natural occurs more slowly. And our understanding unfolds like a flower.
Psalm 119:130 NASB
The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.
This work is unfolding. It is evolving into something. It isn’t fully bloomed. While I sit back and enjoy the process I will sip my tea and rest in knowing that God’s plan is still unfolding. And while I don’t possess the capability to bring about God’s vision in my own human strength I can accomplish what He empowers me by way of His Spirit to do.
2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.