A couple of months ago, I hit a pandemic wall. I determined that the literal walls of my house would no longer hold me and my exasperated sighs. Like so many of us over the past year, I needed to get out. I needed just one day to escape the claustrophobia of pandemic life. I needed to find a way to rejuvenate.
I tentatively asked my husband how he would feel about my leaving him with the kids for the weekend while I stayed in a hotel. By myself. My heart lightened immediately upon reading his “yes” text, and I booked a night at the Marriott in Petaluma.
The weekend arrived, and needless to say I was grateful to be there. I spent the early afternoon sitting outside in the sun at a coffee shop, sipping a lavender latte and reading a book. I strolled the quaint streets of Petaluma’s little downtown. I made a reservation for one at a restaurant by the river. At that point I decided to head back to the hotel, check in, and do a little writing in the quiet of my room before dinner.
When I opened the door, I was more than a little disheartened by what greeted me. It was a dreary first floor room with the moldy smell of old cigarette smoke. People walking through the adjacent parking lot glanced over at me through my window as I stood there, feeling a weight settling in my stomach. This was not what I had imagined for my one and only night alone in over a year. I sat down on the bed, took out my journal, and tried to make the best of it, but I was on edge. I couldn’t settle in.
Now, I recognize that for most of you, the idea of heading back to the desk to ask for a different room may be an easy choice. For me personally, it was not so simple. Fear and I have always been in a bit of wrestling match, and only over the last few years have I begun to gain the upper hand in any sense. Asking a stranger directly for what I needed? Absurd. My natural self would much rather settle with less than to lean into that discomfort.
Overcoming fear is a funny thing. I have found that sometimes it’s the smallest steps I’ve taken that have made the biggest difference. This was one of those steps.
I finally heeded that unsettled feeling in my gut and summoned the courage to stand up, walk back to that desk, and ask for what I needed. When I entered the elevator with my new room key in hand, I felt empowered and expectant. And I believe that that small moment turned into the most significant reason I came home to my family refreshed and rejuvenated.
Over and over and in seemingly small moments like these, the Lord has been teaching me a simple lesson.
So often, the only way forward is to push into discomfort and take one small step.
When things are awkward, hard, new, or uncomfortable (which for me currently seems to be most of life), I think sometimes we just want to run. We want to hide under a rock, avoid conflict, or stick with what we know. But sometimes the answers to our hardest questions, the path to our greatest breakthroughs, the journey to our most intimate relationships...they’re all found by pushing into that uncomfortable feeling. By believing that our Lord Jesus has something good in mind for us. Trusting that He is God with us, and He will take the weight of the future from us when we abide in Him.
He knows what we need. Our only job as followers of Christ is to walk with Him, learn to discern His voice, and take the next step. And then the next.
I love what Mark Batterson says in The Circle Maker:
“Praying is more than words. It means acting on your prayers because you expect an answer. He didn’t tell the widow of Zarephath to pray. He told her to bake a loaf of bread with her last batch of dough.”
Batterson is referencing the story in 1 Kings 17:7-16. Elijah is instructed by God to go to Zarephath during a severe drought. He is told that there he will find a window who will supply him with food. This window believes she has nothing to give. In fact, “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”
God, through Elijah, asks her to bake him a loaf of bread with those last ingredients. Regardless of the uncertainty and discomfort I have to believe she felt at the idea of giving the last of her food away during a time like this, the widow trusts in the Lord, leans into that feeling, and takes the next step.
She simply bakes a loaf of bread.
And the Lord kept his promise. “For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.”
Today I want to remind you that you have the power of the Holy Spirit inside of you. Abide in Him, and He will allow you to summon the courage you need for those little moments and small choices we all make every day. In the end, it’s the seemingly insignificant moments that make up our lives.
Let us trust our God with such fervor that even when we feel like we’re using up the last of what we have to give, we do so in expectation, believing for the continual rejuvenation the Lord has in store for us when we abide in Him.