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.

Pause with Four Principles from “Freedom in Christ”

the power of pause four principles

Welcome back to our series, “The Power of Pause”! We’ve talked about why we need to just stop and rest sometimes, what sort of things distract us, and why we need to pause even when it’s painful. Today, we have four helpful principles for you to look at alongside Scripture.

I mentioned a course I did at church by Neil T. Anderson and Steve Goss called “Freedom in Christ”. Today, I just want to share some points from the end of the participant’s guide. There were four out of eight from their “God’s Guidelines for the Walk of Faith” which spoke to me about what God wants from us regarding our time.

None of these points are my own. They come straight out of the book. I’ve just highlighted a few and added some thoughts. You can learn more about Freedom in Christ Ministries here.

Here we go! Pause with these four principles:


PRINCIPLE ONE – Significance comes from proper use of time.

“…their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of every person’s work.”  – from 1 Corinthians 3:13

 

“…if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” – from Acts 5:33-40

 

“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present and the life to come.” – from 1 Timothy 4:7-8

The Bible tells us that what we do (or choose not to do) with our time is important. And not only just important – it will be tested. If the purpose of what you do is of God, then that act is powerful. No one can stop you. Because time is important, we shouldn’t waste it on things not from God – like gossip, for instance. And maybe we shouldn’t click on ridiculous celebrity new articles and videos, either. It makes me want to do good with my time, knowing that God’s good inside of his people is powerful.


PRINCIPLE TWO – Salvation comes from living a quality life.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” – Matthew 5:5

 

“When there were no oceans, I [wisdom] was given birth… when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth. Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in humankind.” – from Proverbs 8:24-31

 

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing. – from II Timothy 4:7-8

Wisdom defined could be said to just be delighted with God’s presence – being delight with this world, with creation – and with all the people he has made. Being delighted in how he made you and in how he made others. My best quality of life comes when I find that contentment – being with God and seeing as He sees. And great is our reward, given us by God himself, with whom we have walked intimately – who has struggled alongside us, mourned with us, and danced with us.


PRINCIPLE THREE – Fun comes from enjoying life moment by moment.

“[After dancing before the Lord, David tells a criticizing Michal,] “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.” – From II Samuel 6

 

“Am I now trying to win human approval or God’s approval? Or am I still trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ… It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 1:10, 5:1

 

“So whatever you believe about these things, keep between yourself and God, Blessed are those who do not condemn themselves by what they approve… Everything that does not come from faith is sin.”  = Romans 14:22

Enjoying life, having fun, does not mean what most of the world wants us to think it means. What we see on TV or Netflix is completely different from true joy. Real “fun” comes from that joy of God’s presence – like David dancing in God’s presence without caring who saw him or how he looked. It doesn’t depend on anything or anyone aside from the creator of fun, the creator of joy and of true happiness and contentment. Once you’ve experienced that joy, clubs and meaningless relationships just don’t measure up. Dancing for God is where it’s at, ya’ll.


PRINCIPLE FOUR – Peace comes from quieting the inner storm.

“From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were hot serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.”  – Jeremiah 6:14-15

 

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

 

“The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness in the fertile field. The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.” – Isaiah 32:16-17

We’ve talked about all the distractions in life, and we’ve discussed that it is just plain hard to pause in the middle of all the madness. We want peace, but like in Jeremiah, there’s greed and deceit and false kindness all around. We need to find peace. Our minds are chaos. There’s fear, anxiety, depression, discontent in our minds. It really does feel like a tornado is rummaging all through the head. But Jesus promises peace. I love that last bit – “The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.”


If we chase after righteousness by using our time well – by spending time with our Saviour – I believe we can find peace and enjoy a quality life. It’s a worthwhile goal.

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The Power of Pause: Painful Pausing

the power of pause painful

The act of pausing is, indeed, powerful. Often, a relieving kind of powerful, and other times not. Stopping, even for a moment sometimes, can be painful.

A few weeks ago, these “Freedom in Christ” sessions started at our church on Tuesday nights. My husband and I thought it sounded good, but he had a lot of assignments coming up so I just decided to do it and report back.

Based on the verse in Galatians and books by Neil T. Anderson, the course is meant to help Christians claim their “freedom in Christ”. This is done by focusing on scripture instead of on distractions, finding God’s promises, and believing them – letting go of hurts and lies. Basically, it gives you time and space to pause and pray and just deal. By the end, you have a toolkit of principles and scriptures to help you live in freedom.

But, the course made me stop and think about some stuff that I didn’t really want to stop and think about. And that was not a nice feeling.

Pausing can be painful. Because if we let our bodies stop, our minds might wander. And they might wander to our past. They might wander to our present. They might even go on a longer trip all the way to our future. They might take hold of worries and hurts we didn’t want to admit we had.

So… Is it worth it to stop and let yourself feel something painful?

I don’t know. I am neither a doctor nor a therapist.

painful pause

I do know that pushing on a bruise doesn’t make it go away. Push too hard and it’ll even make the bruise bigger. Time is the only remedy.

But there’s something magical about Christianity. Christ was a healer.

So, I believe that if we pause and listen to what God says about us – if we claim his promises and take him at His Word – we can be content. We can be free. We don’t have to be in pain.

But for this to happen, we have to stop and take time to follow him, push through the crowd and the junk of our lives to touch the hem of his robe. He will just turn around, love us, heal us, and always be with us.

Check out “Freedom in Christ Ministries” and print out some of their free downloads. I love the “Significance, Security, & Acceptance Restored In Christ” list that they encourage you to read out loud every day for a week or a month. Most importantly, take time to pause with Jesus – no matter how painful it might be at first – because Jesus can take that pain if you claim the freedom He gives you.

Much love and blessings,

Ashley Ruth

The Power of Pause: Distractions

the power of pause distractions

I don’t have a “real job”. In all honesty, I don’t really have any job. This blog is a blessing for me – one which receives no payment and needs no payment. So my days are filled with rest, relaxation, and oftentimes, coffee. One would think that being able to pause would be easy for someone like me. But, one would also forget this thing we call “distraction”.

Most of us probably get distracted in our day-to-day life. We are walking along to the train station or to work and there it is – the cutest little puppy dog you’ve ever seen! You stop and pet said cute little puppy dog and forget all the cares and worries in the world! Distraction. A very, very good and healthy distraction.

Puppy dogs are the best.

Might I suggest some distractions that are not sooooo good and healthy as cute little puppy dogs? They may not be bad all of the time, but they sure do pile up! These are some of a few distractors I deal with:

  • Cell phone, including but not limited to games, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, & looking through photos
  • Laptop, including but not limited to [all of the above plus] Netflix, Pinterest, YouTube, online shopping (Sevenly, TOMS, Ebay, Amazon, Trademe), photo editing, blogs, photo contests, my own websites
  • Other media and technology, like Spotify, radio stations, television, fancy billboards, notebooks, and more.
  • People can be distractors as well – Haven’t you ever procrastinated by calling a friend to do something you’d rather do instead of what you should be doing?
  • The Inner Voice, because sometimes the biggest distraction is that voice in my mind that’s 1) telling me I’m not good enough, 2) telling me all the things I should be doing, or 3) telling me all the things I should have done better.

I have seven tabs up on my internet right now. Two of them are pottery glaze shops, another one is Facebook, another is ViewBug, then this blog is open with a graphics website beside it, as well as Pinterest (because who doesn’t always have a Pinterest tab open?). And I’ve just clicked out of Netflix, which was open on another screen while I did some photos. I’m typing on a messenger from the laptop while I go back and forth between my computer and my phone because I am playing a game called “Township” and I have to harvest wheat and carrots and silk so I can make bread and hamburgers and fabric because my pretend people need to eat and shop. I’m sitting by my husband who needs me to look over his CV so he can put it in a portfolio that is due soon, and he is also doing several things at once. We are both suffering from over-stimulated brains.

Why have we made life so difficult and stressful for ourselves?

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Here are three challenges for you. Challenges that I, too, desperately need to take on.

List the things, people, and technologies that distract you. Decide what you need to cut out for a while – a day, a week, forever. Pause and think about it. What can you cut out in order to make your life better?

 

Make a list of the things and the people that should be priority for you. Just pause and re-evaluate. How can you get rid of distractions so that you are not distracted from the people you love?

 

Begin to think about the distractions that come from your inner voice. Pause when a negative thought pops up, and think about what thought should replace it. This will go a long way in making life easier (and more satisfying) in the long run.

 

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.