I had a Ford Focus full of people,
and pulled around the corner far too fast.
I knew that bend well– I travelled from Welcome Bay to Te Puke every day for a few weeks during university for a school placement.
But I’d never driven it myself.
Before you envision flipped silver Fords in ditches, don’t worry. I slammed the brakes, crossed the centre line with no other cars around, and simply frightened my friends and probably more so, myself.
Sorry, sorry, I’m so sorry, I repeated.
They forgave me instantly.
The only one who really needed to forgive me was myself.
This was around the time I was reading Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest by Bonnie Gray. I’d been following her blog for a few months and found myself often in awe with her writing, her heart. I read a lot, but it’s not often that I get stopped in my tracks. So when her book came on Kindle sale, I snaffled it up. And started reading.
It was poetry, it was story, it was like a morning ministry time on DTS (heart surgery, rest, laughter and tears all wrapped in to one). And the writing prompts– which to be honest, I usually avoid in books– actually grabbed me and when I bothered and did them? I got closer to Jesus. I heard Him. I loved Him all the more.
That was in June. At that point the idea of “whitespace” was fresh and new– I was working as a preschool teacher and practising rest. Bonnie explained rest as the blank space in an art piece or in a room– she spoke my language. As an artist, I knew the thrill of a fresh new canvas. I knew the extravagance of sketching something simple and not cluttering it– letting it be what it is.
Because nurturing our souls is a dare to believe the outrageous: I was created for beauty. Because protecting the “negative space”, the “empty space” in us says: I am wanted. As is. What if our brokenness revealed more about God’s love for us than our efforts to cover it up? (p. 68)
Yet the season I was in perplexed me. Memories of university, where almost every minute was jam-packed, contrasted with my slower-paced, flexible schedule of preschool teaching. It certainly felt like a season of rest but I didn’t know why. I was planning on working until I could go back to Australia, that would be several months at least. So I kept reading, when I wasn’t remembering how to speak adult English at the YWAM Bethlehem staff houses (aka hanging out with friends).
Putting what I read into practice, I used the whitespace of driving-alone-time to talk to Jesus about that speedy corner situation. What did He say about that? Well, first of all, it was forgive yourself. Then something else that surprised me.
“You’ve got to slow down before a corner.”
In other words, I needed to rest before a transition.
For those of you that have been following my journey for the past six months, it’s not a shock. It’s obvious that God would tell me to rest a couple weeks before I ended up staffing a DTS with YWAM Bethlehem. But what do you do when God tells you something completely counter-cultural in the moment? What if He tells you to take the time to just be even when everything screams to take that corner fast?
I had my Ford Focus full of friends,
and pulled around a corner far too fast.
But it was only when I turned down the radio and let myself
(someone that sometimes makes mistakes)
that I discovered precisely what my heart needed.
To hear Jesus.
So, in the clutter of Christmas holidays and the din of New Years dinners… make some space.
He’s a bit of a chatterbox.
#1 Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
#2 When God Whispers Your Name by Max Lucado
#3 A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
#4 C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller by Janet & Geoff Benge
#5 Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
Photo: On the road to Ruatoria, East Cape, NZ. November 2016. Credit: Anna Griffith.