In a previous post, My Places to Be Alone, I shared some photos of places I like to go to be alone. These are creative spaces that draw me back and refresh me. These spaces inspire my creativity. They include . . .
QUESTION: Where are the creative spaces that you most like to be alone?
© 2012, David C Alves
The following journal entries describe what I was experiencing just prior to my six month sabbatical which began in March of 2010. The dark night of the soul was a difficult place for me. God allowed me to be sifted. At the time, I did not fully understand what I was going through. That understanding came months later:
How I desire to see you stretch forth your arm and your holy hand. We need to be touched by your love.
Some of what I have been experiencing, I don’t want to forget because I want to be able to identify with other pastors who are (or have) experiencing a similar burn-out or depression. I know that I am not the only one experiencing this.
- Decision-making difficult, even in the littlest things.
- Hiding from people I used to enjoy (and from those I don’t enjoy at all)
- Numbness of mind (difficulty focusing, holding details in mind)
- Short-term memory loss (intermittent)
- Desire to not do anything
- Extreme tiredness most of the time
- Seems like a heavy blanket of exhaustion covers me from time to time lasting a couple of days. Then lifts for a time. Only to return again.
“As one who knows righteousness, who has Your law in my heart, may I not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their revilings.” (Isaiah 51:7)
In the future (near or far) as more and more people deny you and my Savior, Father manifest in me the grace and love I need to lead many to you. May my most fruitful days be yet ahead. I will not look behind except at your command, to see what great things you have accomplished by your hand for your glory. I don’t want to get stuck in my “stuff.” I want to be free from it, standing solidly in the forgiveness and grace purchased for me by Jesus. Let me enter fully into my sonship. May I bring a sense of the family to everyone I meet. May I always cheer the best in them. And may I always call them higher (this thought inspired by a short-short film: The Butterfly Circus http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anR_7zM0Pkc).
I want to be like the circus owner who saw the best in people and drew it to the surface. Lord, please let me have your eyes with people. May I always affirm their BEST. May I always point them to you in themselves. Thank you Father.
Lord help me this morning to share what will build up all who hear.
Amazing how down I’ve been the last two days. That heavy, oppressive weight that comes upon me. I get so physically and emotionally tired that I feel totally immobile.
Just when I think I’m ready for anything the Lord wants to use me in, I feel that he’s finished using me. I told Marcy today that I sometimes feel like I have imagined that God has some great purpose for my life. And perhaps what the Father is showing me is that such a notion is full of pride. And has been the source of much ineffectiveness in ministry. Marcy believes that God is refining us and that He does have an important assignment for me to carry out. I don’t know. I’m too tired and disappointed, discouraged and troubled by my lack of interest in ministry. I feel like pulling my plane into the hangar. I’ve thought much about retirement, but know that I can’t afford it, nor would I truly be happy unless the Lord commanded it.
I’m extremely disappointed that all the years of writing my book seem to have been a waste. Perhaps several hundred copies have sold. But I have received only two or three emails or messages that the book has had a positive impact. Others have been silent. I cannot think of investing another couple of years for the same result. All my dreams have failed. Now I need a Savior again. To save me from my disappointment and discouragement.
I can’t think anymore about this. It’s too overwhelming.
* * *
David, crucified people don’t struggle. They don’t strive to figure things out. They’re DEAD! They live only for revelation. They are at peace. They rest in me. They wait for my word and then walk in it. You must surrender. Cease your striving. Wait in my presence. Be still and KNOW that I am the Lord. Go off by yourself and be quiet. Be still. Stop thinking about yourself and your future. Enjoy me. Be with me. Enjoy the quiet and enter my rest.
* * *
Thank you Father.
The sabbatical given to me by my church-family, gave me the time I needed to rest, reflect, and be refreshed. My wife, Marcy, and I had extended time to go to the mountains and the shore, visit friends and family, and spend unhurried time with the Lord. We came back from our sabbatical renewed and ready to serve from a more solid center–anchored in the love of the Father. He was refining, by allowing the enemy to sift me. I now understand that anyone who wants to know the deep love of God must pass through the valley of the shadow of death. This is the valley the produces trust, endurance, and perseverance.
I’m shifting gears. I just returned from a week at the Carmelite Monastery in our city. I spent the week there responding to an invitation to solitude, silence, and prayer. That invitation came by way of a deep inner desire to be alone with God and a divine discontent in my soul that had been growing more intense over the previous several weeks. I was actually thinking about discontinuing my blog and getting off the internet altogether. But I’ve changed my mind. I simply need to shift gears.
As I gave myself to quiet and prayer, reflecting on the goodness and love of God, something happened. I want to write about what happened. What my Father showed me. Things he has been, and is, doing to reveal his love.
We get enough bad news. We hear too much cynicism and skepticism. So I’m making a schism with “cisms.” He’s drawing me to deeper wells. I want to write about the love that surpasses knowledge. I want to write about the journey our hearts are called to embark on. I want to write from the heart about how to go farther up and deeper in . . . to the immeasurable love of God.
I’m hoping that I won’t lose those of you who are here because of my perspective on Islam and things I’ve written in the past. Hopefully, you will find something else here for your enrichment. Something for your soul. Something that calls to the deep places of your heart. In any case, I’m not sure yet exactly how we’ll arrive, but I invite you to hang in here, as we continue on a wonderful Adventure with our Father. Because, I do know the ultimate destination.
If it’s true that “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up,” then I’m inviting a handful of readers to stick with me and see what God will be pleased to do as we dialog together about the journey we’re on.
I’m not a great writer. Nor is my content going to be the buzz online. But I do have a deep abiding relationship with Abba. And my wife and daughter tell me that I’ve shown the heart of God for them. So why not share with you some of what I’m experiencing as I plumb that deep love of God. That love that is greater than any ocean. That love that has as its goal your heart too.
Thanks for being here. Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll stay for a while longer to see if there’s anything here that your soul will be able to feed on. Perhaps we’ll mutually encourage one another’s faith.
I’m still going to try to post 2-3 times a week.
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I hope you’ll take the time to comment on this and future posts. I’ll always moderate to ensure that comments are edifying. Let’s start a discussion that can enrich us all.
I found this post by Beth Moore to be an example of the best kind of sharing a blog can be capable of for encouraging us on our spiritual journey. Intimacy with God is essential to that walk. Beth does so well in honestly, from the heart sharing her own experience with us.
As a follow up to reading Beth’s post, you may like to check out Solitude, Silence, and Simplicity.