The Power of Pause: Out of My Hands

the power of pause hands

We’re at the end of our “The Power of Pause” series. I hope that you, like me, have learned a lot by stopping in the middle of chaos. Let’s end by realizing something very important: Much of what happens in life is actually out of our control. It’s out of our hands.

There’s a song that I used to listen to over and over by Shaun Groves, back in the day where contemporary Christian music was all we had. It’s called “Out of my Hands” and the chorus goes like this:

“Out of My Hands” by Shaun Groves

 

CHORUS

It’s out of my hands

It’s out of my reach

It’s over my head

And it’s out of my league

There’s too many things

that I don’t understand

So it’s into your will

And it’s out of my hands

I know that I am not the only one in the universe who feels like there is no controlling my own life. Sometimes the things we should be able to tweak, improve, or even change completely just seem “out of my reach”. I lay in bed sometimes and I reason and I make plans. And then I remember that one thing that prevents me from going after even the mildest of my wildest dreams. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Even if your “preventer” isn’t chronic illness, there’s normally something that stops you.


Right now, I’m relating to Job a lot (I mean, we all relate to Job at some time in our lives. Am I right or am I right?). Not the part where he loses everything he loves. The part where after a certain amount of time and a certain amount of friends judge him, he begins to question God’s goodness.

Optimism is a beautiful thing, and it’s one thing that I am just really good at most of the time. I can turn any bad situation around. I know all the tricks – like by telling myself that everything happens for a reason, or that I can use this situation to help someone else out later, or that this time of suffering will bring me nearer to God or to the people around me.

Job must have thought all of these. He must have known all the tricks. I mean, his friends were really quick to point them out to him. And I understand his friends because they say all of the negative things that I say to myself when optimism fails and my serotonin levels dip – that I deserve what I’m getting, that God is punishing me, that I must have done something really wrong.

But Job got tired of it all, like we all do when people give us advice without really knowing what’s going on inside of us. He’d been good through all his friends’ tirades, but he just melts down. And then Elihu pipes up against Job and the others. Then God speaks.

Job thought that he had rights. That what he wanted was somehow greater than what God had in mind for him.

Of course he does this! He is human. As a fellow human, I completely understand.


Questioning God is something that I’m sure every human has done at some point in their lives – though they may call God the universe, or chance, or Mother Nature. If there is something higher up there, then we feel the need to blame it.

But questioning God has always been foreign to me.

Now that I’m on the brink of my 30th birthday and I have been sick for the larger part of seven years now, I’m starting to get it. I’m run down. I LOVED that verse that said that God knew the plans he had for me – plans to give me a hope and a future. All I ever wanted to do was serve God and help people. I have insane amounts of ideas and dreams and visions in my head that don’t stop even with chronic fatigue. I have ideas that I truly believe come from God. And I run with them. I run with them until I remember that I can’t do any of it. Not on my own. Not with chronic illness.

I’m in bed every single day. I wrote a book where I proclaimed that I would not waste my life. What am I doing? Well, I feel like I am wasting my life.

So I cry out to God. I yell at him and tell him that this is not what I wanted for my life. I tell him that I don’t want to be sick anymore. I tell him that I want to build that orphanage in Romania. I want to open up a place where women can come and be together and help each other. I want to help stop human trafficking in Cambodia.

Thus, I ask the age-old question: Why do good things happen to people who want to do good?

For what have you been angry at God? How have you questioned his goodness?

“But the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding…. Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.” (Job 38:1-4; 40:1)

Does God’s response to Job answer my questions? Not really.

But it does remind me who holds the world in his hands. It reminds me who is in control and that it is not me. God reminds me that he created me and everything beautiful and grandiose around me. He shows me that I actually know nothing. He reminds me that the birds in the air and the fish in the sea praise him. They don’t blame him for anything.

So if all that He wants me to do with my life is praise him from my bed, then that’s what I need to do.

At the end of our series on pausing, let’s stop and remember this: It’s all out of our hands. And that, my friend, is okay. We don’t need answers all the time. We just need to remember who does. The one who holds the whole world in his hands.

The Power of Pause: Nature

the power of pause nature

I’ve been sitting with my notebook and my Bible open at a café in the Coromandel Peninsula. Getting here to this place involved a series of closed roads and closed restaurants. Sometimes, it takes a bunch of closed roads to get to the right road. I followed nature beside the seaside, around the harbor, and through the bush. And my car landed in the middle of an orchard, miles away from any town.

I needed to get away – to retreat from all the distractions of a messy house, of needing to go to the supermarket, and especially from being sick. I needed an adventure, so I drove through the sunrise into paradise..

I notice the yellow leaves of a tall tree to my right – and those leaves are clapping, dancing, and praising the name of Jehovah. The sparrows are singing their pure and innocent songs from the mandarin orchard to my left – the God of the universe provides their food and drink. Every living thing around me is having fun and I am enjoying each moment of God’s presence. This beats Netflix any day.

Written down above what my pen is inking now is a portion of what I’ve just read in my green and purple TNIV Bible: “I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” (II Samuel 6:20-23)

Sitting down by a packed out New Zealand café with a Bible open is not normal here. I struggled to even bring it out. Now that the birds around me are seeing and the children on both sides are playing and everything around me is happy and content, I don’t feel embarrassed.  But I did at first. And I am ashamed because David took off his clothes and danced before the Lord. He didn’t care. The sparrows never care what we think of their songs. The trees don’t care if we think their dancing leaves are out of rhythm.

Nature reminds me, causing me to pause, that there is a good God. It helps to refocus my life.

Does being in nature help you? Is there something else that helps you pause?

I once decided to make a list of animals and plants – anything in nature, really – and then think about what and how they reflected glory on God.

The majesty of lions, the tremendous strength of elephants, the delight of a father or mother over their child. These remind us of who God is.

The herd of sheep that depend on the shepherd or the sheepdog to keep them safe. The autumn leaves dancing and glowing as they fall in the midday sun. The way that child looks up at his father and mother in adoration. These remind me of our dependence on God.


“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1)


All of creation reflects the nature and the beauty of God and his goodness.

Pausing in creation, finding yourself stopped to smell the roses, is one of the greatest gifts we have. Nature allows us to rest and find peace.

Nature allows us to refocus so that we can live our lives more fully, away from the chaos, back to Eden where we can dance like David and praise like the sparrows and the trees all around us.

The Power of Pause: A Good Theme

a good theme

It’s the heart of summer in the States right now. My parents back home are busy with Vacation Bible School, youth camp, and all the other things that happen in churches during the summer. They have to sweat in 120 degree weather while I am cuddled up in my blankets with the space heater on full blast here. Weather, orbits, and the earth’s axis befuddle me daily. Sometimes I pause and have to think… wait. It’s not December – it’s July!!! The 4th of July comes around, and I feel like I need to wake up and open presents.

Another holiday that confuses me is Easter. Easter here in New Zealand is different than Texas for many reasons. For one, there are SOOOOO many chocolate bunnies and chocolate Easter eggs and chocolate dinosaurs and chocolate rugby balls. They don’t decorate the hard-boiled eggs like we do or use the plastic eggs to put goodies and quarters in.

Another confusing difference is that churches have youth camp on Easter weekend (four day weekend here for everyone) instead of summer. So they don’t sweat and boil and get heat stroke during youth camp like we do because it’s autumn at the time.

I signed up to go this past year and I was unbelievably excited about it. I mean, youth camp without Texas heat? Yes! I was so ready for that!

The theme was simple: “Pause”.

I thought this was a really good theme. I was all, like, yes. Yes, that is such a good topic for, not just teens, but for everyone. We get so busy, or if we’re not busy, we tend to create busy-ness to fill in the void.

I prepared myself. In February, I began to wean myself off coffee to give myself healthy adrenal function so that I could be my best self at camp. The last two summer youth camps I attended, I was sick in the dorms most of the time. And I hate disappointing people. I continued to stay away from sugar, and I took care of my body.

the power of pause theme insta

You know a person is really serious about something when they decide to say no to coffee for two month.

And I tried to pause. I wanted to prepare myself.

But, pausing was hard.

In the end, Mark brought home a stomach virus from the hospital and I got sick the night before we left. It was out of our hands. There were tears. The whole thing was made worse by the fact that I was off caffeine, too. Horrible, right?

Though I get sick sometimes and that makes me discouraged, I almost always neglect to just pause and spend time with Jesus. I learned some things in those two months of preparing my body, mind, and soul to go spend time with teenagers. I want to continue to journey into that mind-space of pausing.

Let’s spend a few days of just stopping. Take an intermission in the middle of the chaotic play of life. Learn to set aside our phones, our computers, and our spinning brains long enough to see God, to see each other, and to spend time with ourselves. This is good. We need to find the power in pausing.