Rhythms of Rest

In December / January this year, my family, close friends and I had a massive, life changing revelation. It is possible. For Chantelle to… get a tan. *mic drop* The thing is, in the 16 years prior to now, I’d not allowed myself enough time to rest to even find out. I just believed I was pale white in summer and pasty white in winter. That’s just how it was.

Let’s laugh at that lie. *Hahaha*

Rest is a wrestle I’ve had with the Lord for a long time, not that I don’t like rest. I LOVE rest. I love holidays, and spaces where nothing is required of me – long periods of time.. What I haven’t understood is how to position the heart to approach a full life from a place of rest so that my soul doesn’t wind up tired and exhausted. I’ve had moments of ‘Yes! This is what it means!’ I’ve heard so many messages on the subject, but then over time self-care slipped into the ‘not a priority’ pile in my big list of to-do’s.

Now coming to Darwin, I felt like I would be walking into a season of rest, learning the Fathers song over me, learning more about the worlds that exist inside of me but have been left untapped, undiscovered and unearthed. However.. what I didn’t realise was just how serious my good Father was about this.

I believed I would come to Darwin, walk straight into a Youth Work role with kids in crime, and use the rest of my time to give myself to what God intended to do inside me. God however had a different idea of what this would look like.

I applied for every – every – available youth work position and all I received was emails about how someone more qualified than me had filled the role. I was confused. Until I cottoned onto what God was actually doing. He showed me that it wasn’t in fact hard to get a job; it just wasn’t what He was doing.

So I gave myself fully to what He WAS doing. Fathering me.

I made quality time with Him the first priority of everyday. In those times (and still today), He brought my heart into a greater level of freedom, He showed me that I am His priority, just Chantelle, and that He knows what I need isn’t necessarily what I thought I wanted. Thank God for that! He placed me in a family, with beautiful friends who gave me the space to give myself to what He was doing. Requiring nothing from me, loving me extravagantly and speaking life into my heart in such kind ways. Who does that?! Not even asking me to pay rent? But just be? Be Chantelle?! I’m so thankful for the ways these people have demonstrated Jesus to me in this season! (You know who you are).

*Side-note: I now have a job in retail, also not what I thought would happen, but thankful for the kindness of the Father knowing better than me exactly what I need right now.*

Fast-forward, I’ve found a special place I love to go to be alone with God, be still and listen, on a cliff overlooking the ocean. My greatest complaint since arriving has been just how BEAUTIFUL the ocean looks yet.. I can’t even swim in it. I’ve had SO many people (with great intentions, because they love me and want me to stay alive) warn me about swimming and even going anywhere near the ocean. So I settled for my spot on the cliff. I’d watch people walk by me on the sand below and even have their dogs running through the shallows and I’d think ‘they’re crazy!’ yet they looked so content. Unafraid. Then one day, while I was sitting on the cliff, I was reading a book called ‘Love Does’ by Bob Goff (for y’all who know me / Bob Goff, y’all know this bout to get good)… something he said hit me between the eyes. Prepare to get hit between the eyes.

There is only one invitation it would kill me to refuse, yet I’m tempted to turn it down all the time. I get the invitation every morning when I wake up to actually live a life of complete engagement, a life of whimsy, a life where love does. It doesn’t come in an envelope. It’s ushered in by a sunrise, the sound of a bird, or the smell of coffee drifting lazily from the kitchen. It’s the invitation to actually live, to fully participate in this amazing life for one more day. Nobody turns down an invitation to the White House, but I’ve seen plenty of people turn down an invitation to fully live.

Turning down this invitation comes in lots of flavours. It looks like numbing yourself or distracting yourself or seeing something really beautiful as just normal. It can also look like refusing to forgive , or not being grateful, or getting wrapped around the axle with fear or envy. I think God sends us an invitation to live and sometimes we forget to show up or get [tricked] into thinking we haven’t really been invited. But you see, we have been invited – everyday, all over again. (pg 80)

The Father used that to remind me of the time my ear drum burst, I was 15 and loved to swim, I was a water baby, I loved the beach, but now due to the size of the hole, I wasn’t allowed to get my ear wet – even a little otherwise it may lessen my chances of being able to hear properly again. In that time of my life, I allowed fear to govern me, I became so disappointed that:

  1. I couldn’t swim without getting my ear wet (not even molded ear plugs kept it dry 100%)
  2. God didn’t meet my faith and miraculously heal me. (I ended up having an operation, had to deal with the disappointment and then the operation wasn’t successful either).

So I developed a hate for the beach, mostly because it reminded me of the fun I could no longer have – until I decided not to allow fear to govern me anymore. I chose to plug my ear and swim anyway. I wasn’t going to allow circumstances stop me from participating anymore. I chose to participate, to engage.

Sitting on the cliff after this moment with the Lord, I slammed my book shut, took off my shoes and climbed down the face of the cliff. When I was young, my family and I used to walk along secret beaches and collect beautiful shells. When my feet hit the sand, I noticed there were beautiful shells decorating the waterline, left behind by a high tide. I felt the Father invite me into a walk along the beach to collect shells with Him like I did when I was a child. A childhood love. A long forgotten joy.

I felt invited into a moment with my Kind Father where He reminded me of the child within, of what it feels like to trust Him and not let fear govern my life any longer – even in secret seemingly small, unimportant ways. For me, walks along the beach with the Father where I can unravel my heart and be real with Him have become sacred rhythms of rest that I will treasure forever.

In this season I’ve been learning about the rhythms of rest that follow sons and daughters, the kind of rest that dwells within them and creates space for the people around them to participate in this state of peace and rest as well. I’ve never really understood what it meant to live from that space before, but through fleshing it out with God and trusted people, I believe it’s not about living a life that’s not full, sometimes we can’t help what a season looks like, but we can steward it. We do have choice.

Ask the Father what His rhythm of rest looks like in the current season. Maybe it’s saying ‘no’ to an extra shift to prioritise family, maybe it’s saying no to an event to prioritise time out, maybe its saying yes to a night out with friends for the sake of community and fun, maybe it’s saying yes to a walk along the beach without a schedule or another place to be. Maybe it’s about being present in the moment that’s right in front of us, fully engaged, letting go of having to move on to the next thing on the to-do list. I don’t believe there’s any rules, but about engaging with the lover of our souls and asking ‘Dad, what do I need right now?’ and being totally ok with that.

It’s a humbling space to be in, but the best one by far.

The Heart Journey: Land of Promise

When I was younger, my family and I lived in a caravan while we waited for our home in a different town to sell. My family used to make fun of me because other families would come to the caravan park on holiday, I’d make friends with the kids, then 3 days later when they had to leave – I’d bawl my eyes out. I loved so quickly and deeply it just didn’t make sense… But now it’s starting to..

A few days ago, the Father said to me ‘Chantelle, I give you permission to love wildly and deeply again.’ For those of you who know me, you might think HOW!? Mainly because the way I love is already pretty crazy. But this is the journey I’ve been on where it all started to come together.

Melissa Helser said ‘the Promised land is not the end destination,

it’s the moment the Father heals our eyes to see Him rightly’

In Numbers 13, Moses sends out 12 men to spy out the land God had promised to them. For 40 days and 40 nights they saw the same things, tasted the same food, walked the same roads.. Yet 10 spies brought back a bad report, and 2 spies brought back a report of hope, future restored, promise and freedom!

The report you believe will either empower you to possess the promise, or paralyze you with fear & keep you stuck in the wilderness.

Last year I was coasting along, and somehow it felt like this deep sadness pressed in on me everyday, everywhere I went. It was horrible. And no one would have known outside of my family because I believed the lie that ‘I’m a leader, a leader has to have it together.’ And so I shut down my heart and believed that being emotional was not allowed.

What I didn’t realise was that emotion, pain, was my hearts way of trying to tell me that something wasn’t quite right, something was hurting and there was in fact greater freedom I had access to but in shutting down my heart, and believing a detrimental lie, I was unable to possess that freedom.

REALLY long story short, Nate Johnson preached a word one night about heart healing and the Fathers love wanting to walk us through pain and not debilitating our hearts right to come alive any more. That was the very beginning of God pulling on what I call ‘the Golden Thread’ of my heart and bringing me into freedom.

A couple days after that, I flew out of the country of the trip of a lifetime and I desperately wanted to enjoy it but my heart was so hurting and in deep need of the Fathers love.

Fast forward. I’m in Germany attending one of my best friends wedding’s and I’m doing great. I haven’t cried – I shed a tear but I was holding it together. However I could feel something right beneath the surface that was ready to burst if something poked at it.

I’m in another country and I can’t speak German, so I’m already feeling a little isolated. And what I didn’t know was that Germans really, I mean REALLY celebrate weddings. They don’t see it as an event to get through and leave, they see it as a day to enjoy family, celebrate with close friends, have deep conversations, eat together and start all over again. A normal German wedding would last well past 5am the next day.

At the reception I’m sitting across from some of his German friends and I’m doing ok, it’s now 10pm and I’m like – I need to get alone with Jesus. However the people I’m sitting across from started asking me questions about my personal life and started speaking into some things I was feeling pretty sensitive about at the time. My heart was so hurting. And then it started. And I couldn’t stop it!

I started to cry, from deep in my belly, they prayed for me. I said thank you – really – thanks for that *sarcasm intended*. Then I went to the bathroom to collect myself, came back and some more people I love and respect checked in with me asking if I was ok. ‘I’m fine (insert fake smile).’ They poked the bear again.. I tried to collect myself, but I bumped into my friend that got married and he asked what was happening.. and that was it. I grabbed the keys to my friends car, excused myself and high tailed it out of there – locking myself in the car.

I wailed. I don’t mean politely shedding tears. I mean I wailed. The kind of gut wrenching grief that escapes when you least expect it. For 3 hours. I was due to fly out of the country the next day so that means I didn’t even say goodbye to anyone! (It’s pretty funny to lock back on, but at the time…)

 I sat in that car while I got it out, all the grief, disappointment, despair, hopelessness, and the father sat with me and comforted me, but He didn’t shut me down. He wanted me to get it out. And he just sat with me and loved me while I did!

What kind of Father is this?! That he would love us that much, he wasn’t disappointed that my hope had been misplaced; or make me take responsibility for the fact that my heart was in deep pain of my own doing. He just loved me.

That kind of love changes you! When you experience this kind of love, you can’t help but overflow with wilder love for the people around you!

Over the course of that holiday God showed me a picture of my heart, parts of it were alive and other parts were dead and black and needed his breath to breathe life into it again.

He showed me that I had believed a lie detrimental to my freedom that was so offensive I never would have said it out loud because I knew it wasn’t true. But the lie was this:

He left me.

This little lie had infected my belief systems and changed the way I viewed the world, people and ministry. And it was shutting down my heart. I was so disappointed that I was 28 years old and ‘this’ or ‘that’ hadn’t happened, that He had promised ‘this and that’ and it still hadn’t happened yet. That he said, his call over my life was ‘this’ and yet, here I am and nothing had changed.. I was absolutely gutted.

I was living from the belief system that my Father had left me.

Hebrews 13:5b) says “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!”

I had tried to ‘truth’ my way out of this deep grief, however I had missed part of His heart for me! See, the same Jesus that turned the tables in the temple, is the SAME Jesus who put Thomas’ hand in his side to pour water on the fire of his fear!

He’s such a good Dad – he’s made us in his image. We reflect his glory in every way! He is emotionally passionate, wildly free and fun, and recklessly loves us! We were created just like him! And when we shut down our hearts and invalidate our emotions, we’re shutting down a part of who he intended us to be!

In the old covenant, the spirit of God dwelt in the holy of holies in the temple. In the new covenant, the spirit of God dwells in the holy of holies – our heart – we have become the temple.

I’d like to propose that maybe in the new covenant, the promised land is not a destination, or the sum of his calling or certain things coming to pass in our lives, what if the promised land is us being able to walk in the fullness of freedom he died for us to possess he on the earth?

What if the promised land is – your – heart – you, being fully you, totally free, choosing to believe with everything you have that he is faithful, He is trust worthy and true to his word. Us being childlike and in humility receiving what we had no part in earning – being totally free here (heart) so we can be totally free here (with people) to love, to be Jesus on the earth, to need nothing in return, to owe no man anything except to love them? That He would receive the full reward of his suffering? That we would be free?

Melissa Helser said ‘the Promised land is not the end destination, it’s the moment the Father heals our eyes to see Him rightly’.

Father showed me that I had viewed his lack of answering as absence, when it was really his very active presence at work in my life, he healed my eyes to see him rightly when I stopped and listened to my heart!

See, he cares more about our hearts, what matters to us matters to him, and if our hearts are hurting, he’s not so worried about us ‘being effective and doing.’

In the midst of my heart pain, while I was Youth Pastor, the Father said to me, Chantelle, I care more about your heart, than about you running a youth ministry of hundreds. Come here, let me love you. That’s all that matters right now.

Numbers 13: 1-2 NKJV

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.”

Send: H7971 Let loose, stretch out, let go, set free.

Maybe the promised-land isn’t a destination, maybe its Jesus. Maybe it’s not a place, maybe the promised-land the Father wants you to possess is your heart. Maybe He’s not so worried about what you will achieve for Him, maybe he’s more concerned that you know just how deeply you’re loved, so that you can experientially and intimately know and live in the fullness of the freedom He paid such a high price for you to have?!

Maybe it’s not about ‘getting there’ maybe it’s about enjoying the journey. Daily being held by the hand that created you. Embracing the moments of joy, and the moments of pain – with Him. If it was just about getting there, we’d miss the intimacy and joy of truly knowing Him through it all!

Today I believe he’s shifting perspectives, He’s revealing lies that’s held us captive in the wilderness for too long. I believe he’s giving our hearts permission to come alive again and enjoy him daily.

To possess and walk in the fullness of freedom he paid for us to freely receive – so we can freely give!