This summer definitely heated up. The hours and days of anticipated margins filled up during these vacation months quicker than the neighborhood swimming pool. And this momma? Well, I feel like I’m doggie paddlin’ to keep my head above water—yet again! You too? Well, the more I chat with my Jesus loving sisters, it seems that most of us are not just doggie paddlin’, we feel like we’re treading water with weights on our arms rather than floaties! Although there were splashes of refreshment, my soul level kept lowering as I tried to keep up with “all the things.” Yes ma’am, a full life can drain us dry.
While gasping for air this summer, God threw me a grace-filled life raft of His Truth to climb into so I can not only stay afloat but actually reclaim my soul during these full seasons. And ladies—there’s plenty of room for you to hop in and join me.
In Mark 1: 32-33, we see that Jesus understands our “full” lives.
“That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick… The whole town gathered at the door.”
Like Jesus, it can certainly seem “the whole town is at our door”—day AND night. All the demands keep knocking, don’t they? Jesus’ reaction is the life raft He offers as verse 35 describes,
“While it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.”
Even while “Everyone is looking for Him” (v 37), Jesus practiced the habit of frequently disengaging— detaching from this world.
Jesus invites us to join Him in this practice. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus throws us His life ring,
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. 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.”
Think about it. Neighborhood pools across the globe have a common practice every hour. You know what it is, don’t you? The lifeguard blows the whistle and just like that—everyone has to get out of the pool and take a break!
Everyone. Needs. Breaks.
If neighborhood pool workers understand this important practice, we should too. Can you hear it? Jesus, our loving lifeguard, is blowing His whistle as a call—to rest…to RELEASE!
First Step— Release
Our first wise response is to take some moments throughout each day to step out of the action and let the Holy Spirit still our souls as calm as the water surface of a pool during break time. He’s calling us to take needed breaks—holy moments—to come up for air, breathe deeply, exhale and say, “Lord, I release everything and everyone to You!”
John Eldredge explains in his book Get Your Life Back, “You’ve got to release the world. You’ve got to release people, crisis, trauma, all of it. There has to be times in your day where you just let it all go. All the deadlines, the pressure, tragedy of the world, the heartbreak, the latest shooting. The soul was never meant to inhabit a world like this. It’s way too much. You cannot carry the pressure and sorrows of the world. Only God can do that. You are finite. Only He is infinite…
…As you practice release, what you’re doing is creating soul space; you are literally carving out the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual space for God to come in with greater power.
Release is divinely directed EXHALE.
Okay—so picture me blowing a whistle right now. Stop reading, sisters. Close your eyes and RELEASE. Deeply exhale as you pray, “Lord Jesus, I release everything and everyone to You.” Repeat with every exhale until you sense His peace overtaking your soul. Don’t be like our kiddos who resist the pool break time. Lean in and RELEASE! Now repeat throughout each day.
Once we release everyone and everything again to Jesus, we then have the capacity and desire to receive more of Him! Our retired pastor, Bob Russell, used to say, “Believers constantly ask, “Fill me, Lord! Why? Because we leak!” Once we release, we are ready to receive; we are ready to be re-filled. Once we exhale, we are ready to inhale.
How do we inhale to receive more of God? Sunday School answers immediately pop to the surface like a submerged beach ball in the pool—“I need to add more Bible study, worship…prayer,” my mind recites. While these disciplines are certainly oxygen and water for our souls, this summer God added a beautiful new way to receive more of Him into my being. This refreshing new practice bubbled up from “inhaling” Psalm 27:4.
“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, TO GAZE UPON THE BEAUTY OF THE LORD and to seek him in His temple.”
Do you see it? Woven in with prayer and worship etc (our oxygen and water supply) …is “GAZING UPON HIS BEAUTY!”
Gazing AT God’s Beauty
“Now we all know that human beings need oxygen in order to live. Lots of it. So, our loving God provided us a world completely engulfed in oxygen; we swim in life-giving air like fish swim in water. God has even arranged for the daily replenishment of this planet wide ocean of oxygen through plants, flowers, trees, and even the algae of the seas. We take it in all day long and all day long He renews it. Lavishly.
He’s done the same with water. We need it daily…Nothing can live without water. Our planet is called the blue planet because of its immense amount of water. We see the generosity of God here too.
Now with the same generosity and care, God also filled the world with a renewable supply of something our souls need daily – beauty. Yes, beauty.
The fact that our world is so saturated with beauty, breathtaking in so many ways, great and small— this ought to let you know God feels it’s something you need for your survival. We are absolutely swimming in it. Most people do not intentionally pursue beauty as nourishment. But beauty is one of the richest graces God has provided to restore our souls and absorb His goodness” (Eldredge).
God’s Beauty Rescues
God uses His beauty to rescue, comfort, heal. Why else would we send flowers to the sick or sad? Or position our loved ones by a window while recovering? Elaine Scarry writes, “Beauty is life-saving, Augustine described it as ‘a plank amid the waves of the sea.’ …Beauty quickens; It makes the heartbeat faster. It makes life more vivid and animated. It is as though one has suddenly been washed up onto a merciful beach.”
God’s Beauty Restores
God is calling us to gaze more upon His beauty. If we are wanting to be filled with more of God, drinking deeply of Him through His creation is a great place to start.
“The whole earth is filled with His glory.” Isaiah 6:3
As mommas, let’s intentionality get outside more. Studies sadly reveal that humans spend 93% of their lives indoors. Yikes! It’s as though we are experiencing God’s world encased in “plastic wrap.” So as mommas and grands, let’s throw these stats a curve ball and GET OUTSIDE….and take our kiddos with us! Let’s get our feet wet in the dazzling dew or sandy beach. Inhale His glorious sunsets, butterflies, and flowering trees. Let’s actively receive His glory into our souls.
Restoration vs Relief
As we choose to inhale more of God by gazing upon His beauty, Eldredge warns that the “carnival of the world” will relentlessly offer us quick relief—like a cookie or a drive through iced coffee latte as a pick me up. Those treats do offer relief—but not soul restoration. This world offers us relief—but God’s Word and His beautiful world offer us restoration. Relief is momentary. It’s checking out, numbing, sedating yourself. Television is relief. Eating a bag of chips is relief. And relief is what we reach for because it is immediate and usually within our grasp. Most of us turn to relief when what we really need is restoration.”
This summer, gazing upon His beauty, Gods offering us a refreshing form of restoration.
Psalm 23 whistles out, “He leads me beside still waters. He RESTORES MY SOUL.”
Gods Beauty Reassures
Inhaling “God’s beauty reassures us that goodness is still real in the world. More real than harm or scarcity or evil. Beauty reassures us of abundance, especially that God is absolutely abundant in goodness and in life. Beauty reassures us that there is plenty of life to be had. Beauty reassures us that the end of this story is wonderful!” (Eldredge).
Gazing AS God’s Beauty
Before we leave this “beautiful moment,” God’s reminding me of another powerful beauty source that hits even closer to home, to YOUR home. As His image bearers, let’s inhale the beauty of God’s daughters—our children. Gazing into their faces we are seeing the crown jewels of His creation. Because the enemy of our soul is insanely jealous of our God-given beauty, as moms we must proactively speak this truth to them—over them,
“Listen daughter and pay closer attention; The King is enthralled by your beauty; honor Him for He is your Lord.” Psalm 45:11
While you are at it, moms, look in the mirror daily and receive His truth into your own soul today. Yes. Even when the powers of darkness whisper condemnation regarding stretch marks or wrinkles or extra pounds, apply His truth about the beautiful temples (that’s us) He created and inhabits today!
Psalm 84:1 “How lovely (beautiful) is Your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty.”
Translation: God says—YOU are beYOUtiful! Inhale this truth into your soul until you believe it. Then we will live radiating His beauty everywhere He leads us. We will be His beautiful source of restoration to others.
Well, our Beautiful Lifeguard is about to blow the whistle again. Like a team huddle—it’s time to clap in unison and say “BREAK!” But sisters, we are ready! Ready to inhale deeply and cannonball into the deep end of this day— gazing upon His beauty…
…Living AS His beauty!
So, AS God’s bathing BEAUTIES, let’s do this thing!
Let’s make a BIG SPLASH—spraying the refreshing “beauty of the Lord” on everyone and everything around us!
Gazing on Jesus, we’ll have a beYOUtiful summer,
Kim Wigginton and the Heart of Womanhood Ministry Team
If you were refreshed by this blog, then check out the creative Heart of Womanhood Bible studies for moms and daughters to enjoy at https://heartofwomanhood.org/ These are designed to unveil God’s beauty in each of His girls (both young and old)! Also, several of the quotations in this blog were inspired by John Eldredge’s book entitled Get Your Life Back. I highly recommend diving into this book as you keep releasing and receiving more of God and His beauty into your souls!