When Images Help You Move Forward

Sunday Quiet Badge.jpg

In last week’s letter, I shared that I’d found myself feeling stuck in a pit and that when Kirk prayed for me, I felt grace descend and then lift me out. I shared that the word dependence kept resounding in my ears. I shared that afterward, I spent time just resting in God’s arms.

This past week, the image advanced.

It happened while listening to last week’s lectio recording. (Did you know I pray with the weekly lectio recording, too, after mailing it out to you each Sunday? I do!)

It was a meditation on the first two verses in Psalm 40 — the psalm where David talks about God hearing his cry and lifting him out of a pit. I chose that passage intentionally, given what I’d shared with you in my letter, and when I sat down to listen through the recording, I wondered what would emerge during my time of prayer.

The part that stood out to me as I listened was the line, “He set my feet on solid ground.” As I ruminated on that phrase, it was as though I could see the hands of God that had lifted me from the pit then set me down on solid ground, and then God and I walked forward together on that solid ground.

It was a reminder of the journey I’ve walked with God. It was a reminder that God has been and is still present. It was a reminder of who I am.

In this image that continued to emerge, I could see the pit I’d been lifted out of — it looked like a manhole with the cover taken off of it — to the right in my immediate line of vision. But up ahead, there was me and God walking together on a sandy stretch of ground toward the horizon.

I was leaning against his arm as we walked.

Near the beginning of this past week, I received an email from an acquaintance who asked for a favor. For some reason, the request didn’t sit well with me, even though it was a really small request and completely in my power to do.

And so I froze. I felt a lot of shame around the idea of saying no, and so I wondered if my feelings about honoring the request would change if I just let myself get used to it. If my feelings didn’t change, I wondered if a gracious, clear response would materialize for me to say — because I just couldn’t imagine how I’d say it.

I ended up sitting with the request for several days. I kept revisiting it, reviewing the information, trying out in my mind what it would be like to say yes. At one point, I even tried to move forward in executing the request.

But something kept stopping me. It just didn’t feel right. And the tough thing was, I didn’t know how to tell my friend that. The request was small. Simple, really. I could oblige it so easily.

Except for the part of me that felt like I couldn’t.

It took me about four days, but I finally realized I could talk to Jesus about it, especially since the fact that I hadn’t responded to the request kept preoccupying my attention. And so, in order to talk to Jesus about it, I went back into that image of me and God walking together on the sand.

Immediately, what I’d been feeling in my gut all week was confirmed as I brought it up with Jesus. The difference was that with Jesus, I could be more free in my truth about it. I knew I didn’t want to do what was asked of me, and I wanted so badly for my simple no to be sufficient.

And so I began to draft my response.

It’s probably the most vigilant I’ve ever stayed inside an image while doing something else. With every word I typed, it seemed, I had to return to that image of myself with Jesus on the sand. I had to keep revisiting what I was telling him. I had to keep revisiting my answer to the question, “Why don’t you want to do it?” I had to keep writing every single word of my response from the truth that came from that vigilant practice.

It was such a picture of that dependence I wrote about last week. It was such a chance to practice it. 

How is God showing up in your life right now? What is the reality of your spiritual practice at the moment? 

Much love,