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Weekly Wellness Word: Center

Today I am settled in here in my home library for a short reflection practice and I would like to welcome you to join me. I have tried to create a cozy little atmosphere here in the library. I have my fuzzy blanket over my legs. I lit a candle that is putting off a very pleasant scent. I have my favorite soothing music playing softly in the background. And today I have chosen to pull out and dust off my old leather bound Bible. Most of the time I read on my phone or my Kindle, but sometimes just feeling the weight of the Bible in my hands, smelling the scent of its pages, seeing the gilded edges - it just calms my spirit.

As I begin my reflection, I remind myself that God sees me, He loves me and He is with me. He wants you to know that too. Friend, this book says that God sees you. You are never out of His sight. And God wants you to know that He loves you.. He feels a deep affection towards you. You are precious to Him. At all times you are under his long and loving gaze. Can you feel His eyes on you? His presence is with you right now.

In this season, many people are struggling. We are crying out to God, "Save us!" We feel vulnerable and helpless. The Bible tells story after story of people who have called out to God in this same way from generation to generation. We know that the Holy Days we just celebrated tell us that God saves us. He is the victor over the cross and the grave. Yet, there are days when it feels incredibly hard to appropriate that truth into our lives. You might be asking the question, "I hear you and I believe what you are saying, but how does this work practically? You know God has given you salvation and strength in your head, but how can you drop it down to your heart? How can you find peace emotionally right now? How can you vitalize your whole person ~ body, mind and spirit ~ in this season?

The Bible is an incredible gift to us. It does not leave us in suspense. It tells us not only the truth of God's salvation and strength, but it tells us the means of receiving it from the Lord. Today I want to reflect on a verse out of the book of Isaiah. This verse gives two very practical steps on how we can experience God's salvation and strength right now, in this moment.

Isaiah 30:15 (NIV) This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.

That's it. It's very simple. You don't have to do anything. It's not in the striving, in the busyness, in the chaos of your life that you experience God's saving help. We are not our own savior. Salvation and strength comes in the quiet moments. It's there when you're resting because your body is worn out from trying to adjust to all that life is throwing at you right now. It's in the quiet, when the TV has been shut off and the computer goes into sleep mode. It's when you bring your body, mind and spirit into stillness and let God breathe His beautiful Spirit into your whole being.

Yet the verse says, "but you would have none of it." Ouch! Lord, You know I want all the gifts you want to give me surely! But He says, "No ~ you don't." This is when I repent. You're right, Lord. Too often in this season I have allowed my thoughts to run towards chaos rather than towards Your peace. Too often I have allowed my mouth to speak anger and frustration rather than love. I have made choices that I am not proud of. You have stretched out your hands to me filled with gifts and I have turned away. Forgive me, Lord. If you can relate to that, will you pray that with me? Forgive me, Lord. Help me to rest and trust in You alone.

So, since this verse gives us very practical steps on how to rest and trust in God alone, let's practice, shall we? If you're like me, you might struggle with rest and quietness at first. Perhaps your thoughts are going 100 miles per hour. Your foot starts twitching impatiently. Let me encourage you, that is very normal! One way that I have found to help enter into stillness is to go through a structured process to welcome my whole person into the stillness. I start by reading a verse or inspirational quote. For our purposes today, let's use our verse out of Isaiah.

Isaiah 30:15 (NIV) This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.

Read this verse slowly, a couple times, let it invite your mind to be still. Notice what word stands out to you most in the verse and focus on that word. Now set a timer for two minutes. For just two minutes you are going to quiet yourself in the presence of the Holy Spirit. If you get distracted ~ whether that be in your thoughts or by a sensation in your body ~ repeat the word you chose in your mind to help you refocus on the Spirit's presence. Ready? Got your word fixed in your mind? Okay, here we go! Start your timer to start your two minutes now.

So as your two minutes come to a close, how do you feel? Do you feel more rested in your body and your mind? Savor that feeling a moment. It's nice, isn't it? Just let it wash over you and enjoy it. Now notice how strong you feel right now. Do you feel revived and renewed in your being? What about your trust in God? How much faith, hope and love do you feel towards God right now? Notice if you have a greater sense of His care for you, His control over your circumstances. Let yourself settle into that trust. Strap yourself into it. Let it secure you, enfold you, calm your fears. Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Father. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for guiding my friends in this practice today.

Thank you for sharing this practice with me today. I hope you have been blessed by the time you've spent with the Lord. If you found today's practice helpful, I want to encourage you to try it on your own. I find it really helpful to set a timer so I don't have to wonder whether my two minutes are up or not. You can do that with an egg timer from the kitchen or set the timer on the clock app on your smartphone. If you want to experiment a bit more, I encourage you to try out the Centering Prayer app. I have it on my phone and I love it! It lets me choose a verse or spiritual reading for my mental focus at the beginning. I get to pick a soothing sound to mark the beginning and end of my time. It even let's me set my background theme according to the seasons of the year. My favorite is the Spring theme with it's beautiful bright green leaves!

Whatever you do, wherever this season takes you, please remember that “In repentance and rest is your salvation, and in quietness and trust is your strength."

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