When your world shakes

May 10, 2024

I painted with the Lord again for the first time in quite some time a few weeks ago. This painting was the result. Some things I create are not for sharing. They remain in my journal and will most likely not be seen by anyone. This one, I was sure would be one of them. But today I felt like it was time to share.

In recent years, I have found myself in a place of wrestling with many things. I’m not sure any of us are quite the same after the great pandemic, but it certainly was a good time to sift our hearts. A time to see what comes out when everything shakes.

The things that came out of me was anxiety, idolatry and offense. Yes, there were good things too, but these things were more concerning. In fact, for the past 4 years, it feels as if with every shaking, be it in my professional work environments or personal relationships, the shaking would come again and again. The pandemic was the initial earthquake, and after that the tremors would come in waves. With every shaking, more things seem to come apart.

When God shakes the foundations, when things come to the forefront, I have learned that it is normally for two reasons.

1. There are things in my life that God desires to get rid of. And He’s waiting for me to desire it too.
2. He wants to give me something in return.

The Bible makes this comparison – He gives joy for mourning, he gives beauty for ashes (Isa 61:3). There is always an exchange.

So, what would be the trade for anxiety, idolatry and offense?

Anxiety

For anxiety, God would give a heart at peace. In 2020 I started to struggle with panic attacks for the first time in my life. I felt anxious about life, the future, and I felt anxious about being alone. I didn’t have the revelation that God is truly with me. So anxiety had to be shaken, so peace could reside.

Idolatry

For idolatry, I would encounter a faithful King and Father. When my relationships started showing cracks, I realized just how much of my value I got from a feeling of belonging. That if others rejected me, then surely I am worthy of rejection? Surely my portion is loneliness? No no… until I find my belonging in Him, everything else will only serve as a counterfeit.

Offense

For offense, nearness and tenderness. Oh this one… how this one challenged me. There was a seasons where I think we all just kind of, hurt one another. Not on purpose, but there was just so much to deal with, that it was hard to consider others when we were just trying to make it through ourselves. I was collecting offenses, hurts… well really, I was collecting unforgiveness.

Forgiveness is just one of those things that is easier to walk out under perfect conditions. They acknowledge how much they’ve hurt you and say sorry, you own your side and apologize too, everyone hugs and it just feels a little better. But what about the person that never acknowledges? What about the one that has no idea how much you’ve been hurt? What about the one that doesn’t even care to know?

I feel like this lesson is important, based purely on the sheer volume of times and instances where I have needed to walk and wrestle this one out in the last few years. But I have realized that the only way I was going to have a soft enough heart to walk near to the Holy Spirit, was if I let go of my offenses. If I released all the hurt to my Father who would act as my Protector and Defender. An exchange needed to be made.

Holding up a mirror

Circling back to the painting. I woke up one morning, wrestling with emotions and I wasn’t entirely sure why. I share a bit on this experience and process in this video. It was early morning, and instead of trying to reason things out, I grabbed some paint and invited the Holy Spirit to come and create with me.

I had the color green on my mind and so I started creating a green background. I created a few different shades of it and with my palette knife, smeared my emotions on a piece of mixed media paper. After finishing, I just looked at what I created. I didn’t know what to do from there. So, I sat. And I waited.

After a few minutes, it become apparent to me that green is the color of envy. I had become envious. My heart was envious of what others got to have, that I was missing out on. Others got to be friends with the people I used to be friends with. Other people got to take opportunities that I tried to take and failed. Others seemed to not care about things that I couldn’t stop caring about, but wished I wouldn’t.

A few splashes of green became a mirror I held up to myself. And I wasn’t thrilled about what I saw.

I left the painting there, and went to the gym. I kept thinking about this envy that took root in my heart. God was shaking, things were coming to the forefront, so it was time to make an exchange.

Making an exchange

I got home and spoke to God. I said that I really want to give Him this envy in my heart. But what would He do in return? What would He accomplish with the gap that feeling would leave? I just sat for a moment, when the colors purple and pink came to mind. I could see within the green page, flowers blossoming and blooming. So I started creating them. While I painted, I felt the Holy Spirit remind me of the prophetic meaning of colors.

PINK: joy, compassion, healing, softness, friendship
PURPLE: sonship, abundance, infilling of the Holy Spirit

Here were my promises from God to replace that emotion with.

God is always looking to make an exchange. It’s easy to focus on the part where we surrender and lay things down, but there is another component at play. We surrender, but what does He have for us in return? It might not be what you envisioned or something you thought you needed, but I have learned that I would rather have what He thinks is best, than hold on to something He doesn’t have for me.

I don’t suppose any of us will ever truly arrive. I used to hope the shaking would stop, that no more tremors would come, but my prayer has changed. Now I pray for them to come. Come and shake me, Lord. Let everything that is not of You fall to the ground, and give me the wisdom and courage to leave them there.

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