What unsettles you? I mean, what gets your heart thumping, your adrenaline racing, and your blood pressure escalating? There are a few things that come immediately to my mind: Conflict. Criticism. Crises. Complacency. Confrontation. Disruption, Indecision. Deception. Bitterness. The unexpected. Fear.
My assurance is that I’m not the only one in the world who has been unsettled. Moses lost sleep at night with all the responsibilities that came with leading a disgruntled group of people through the desert. Elijah was fearful, even amid victory, because of one woman who was after his very life. Saul was troubled to the degree that David’s harp playing was the only thing that settled his troubled soul. Speaking of David, his soul was disturbed within him when he realized his sin. Martha was busy and bothered by so many things. The disciples’ hearts were troubled and confused as Jesus began disclosing His ultimate plan.
Perhaps one of the biggest things in my life that unsettles me is transition. And the past several years there has been no shortage of it. Culminating last year at this time when my husband and I commenced a new place of pastoral ministry.
As I enter into this New Year, like many of you I’ve taken time to review this past year. And what a year it’s been! For those of you who have been sojourning with me, you’ll know that since our move my heart has been blossoming, beating, racing, being, cleansing, expecting, savoring, hearing, and healing after several years of wandering.
There’s nothing like wandering in the wilderness to keep you unsettled! So, in light of my wilderness wanderings, my personal prayer as we sought out our new place of ministry was prompted by Psalm 107:35-38, ”He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs; there he brought the hungry to live and they founded a city where they could settle.” “Ah! A city where we could settle! Wouldn’t that be nice?” I thought to myself.
Given that one in pastoral ministry can never be guaranteed of spending all of his days in one particular place, and having already made four ministry moves in thirty-five years, finding a city where we could settle seemed like an unrealistic request. Regardless, that was my prayer. Who knew that the Lord would lead us right back to the city my husband grew up in…five minutes from his old homestead, no less! Ministering to some of the same sheep that occupied the fold when he left 35 years ago!
You have to understand that my search for a city where I could settle wasn’t simply to find a city where I could settle my belongings, but a city where I felt I belonged. A city where I could settle some things in my heart as well as in my home. And while I’m settling in, He certainly doesn’t want me to settle for anything less than what He brought me here to accomplish in this heart of mine.
I believe it’s with this heartfelt prayer of mine that the Lord brought some significant verses to my attention to hold onto in the year ahead from Deuteronomy 8:10-16.
”When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness…to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you.”
As I settle in, I’m not naïve enough to think that there won’t be more times of unsettling. Typically, just when I think I’ve got things settled, the Lord stirs something else up to work through. That’s why the above verses are pertinent as I settle in for the next leg of the journey. There are some things that the Lord doesn’t want me to forget as I make myself at home. Namely; Him: His faithfulness, His goodness, His mercy, His protection, His leading, His provision, His testing, His teaching, His blessing, His grace, and His love.
I began by asking what things unsettle your heart. A better question might be: what does it take to settle your heart down? Let me offer you a few things that work for me: Rest, solitude, stillness, time in God’s Word, encouragement, worship music, fresh air, and green space in my life that enables me time to invest in myself and to nurture my walk with the Lord.
How about you? Are you going through a time of unsettling? Perhaps there are some things that need to be settled in your heart? Are you wrestling with a decision that has created turbulence in your soul, a sin that has unsettled your spirit or a piece of your heart that’s been upheaved? Why don’t you consider taking some time with the Lord as you begin this New Year to settle these things with Him. That way, no matter what comes your way this coming year, your heart will find a resting place.
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
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Contact Lisa at: firstname.lastname@example.org