Sunday, October 16, 2011

About Staying Put

photo source
Today in my desert spirituality class, we got a dose about what the monks say about staying put.  Out of the thirteen wise sayings, this one struck my heart the most:
Abba Poeman also said, "A man who stays in his place in life will not be troubled."
You see, last night I had a dream, a troubling one, in which I awoke five times and upon falling back asleep, continued to remain in the same unconscious world.  Although parts of it seem incredibly unrealistic and quite funny at first glance, there is an underlying message for me that I simply could not shake.

I was in a dirty warehouse district of sorts where there were all these spa pedicure chairs (I know, you can laugh).  None of them had any water supply to the foot tubs, so I was responsible for fetching the warm water and pouring it into each basin.  It would have been much easier if the water supply had been close and if I had a nice, sturdy bucket.  Alas, I did not.  I had to climb several flights of stairs to get to the faucets.  I had only this large, flimsy plastic bag with which to carry the water, and the pedicure chairs seemed to be always  moving from one building to another.  I seemed to never be able to carry the water without spilling it, it was often so heavy in  my arms that I dropped each bag along the way, and by the time I had arrived at the basin, the water I had remaining was cold.

I remember the mean looks of the owner and the pedicure customers.  I was coming up short.  No matter how I tried to get better at doing my job, I could never meet everyone's needs.

I awoke from the dream utterly exhausted.  Realizing my dream and how many times I had waked during the night, I asked God:

Do you have a message for me here?

Thus, after reading this saying by Abba Poeman, I felt the very gentle, but still convicting realization hit:

I have not stayed put.  I have travelled outside my place.  As such, I am often troubled.

God has given me very specific people to which I am supposed to bring water.  And I have gone beyond that in a way that has ended up depleting my own supply.  And so, in my Sunday school class, I repented.  I repented for trying to be a savior when we already have a Savior that is perfectly perfect for the job.

During the sermon after my class, my priest talked about how the busyness of our lives has distracted us from God.  He then gave a visual image of a mother and her child sitting in the wide expanse of an empty field.  The toddler would toddle off a short distance, always making sure that mom was still there and he was still safe within her sight.  He related this to us, challenging us to not wander too far, to make sure we could always see Jesus, to stay put where we are safe in His arms.  While this is a powerful message in and of itself, it had a particular impact on me, as just a few days ago my friend told me that I had made no space for myself on a regular basis.  She said something along the lines of this:
There is a field, Jen.  Open space for you to run free, not so constrained by the things you feel you must do.
 I remember the freedom within that Sabbath day I took a few weeks ago.  It feels like the wide expanse of a green field, a place to run free.  A place to soak up enough water to pour out again to those to which God has asked me to minister.  A place where I can stay put, safe in His gaze.

Linking with Michelle at Graceful and Laura at The Wellspring.


  1. I love that you look at everything in a "What is God trying to tell me?" way. And not only do you do that, but then you obey.

    Inspires me to try and do the same.

  2. you are a seeker. through and through. i'm with amy - inspiring.

  3. I love when you said, God had certain people you were to bring the water to but because you'd spread yourself thin, you had nothing left. This is a great point!

  4. Jen, this is one of those posts that I want to print out and read over and over. So much food for thought... have I gone beyond my place? Or not shown up there at all? Hmmmm....

  5. What a precious lesson, and look at the lengths He went to teach it. I"ll be thinking about this one a long time, Jen.

  6. i want freedom for you always. i want you to have that joy and light-ness that comes from living under the shadow of his wing. i rejoice with you when you experience it and long with you when you don't. love you, friend!

  7. Bringing water to people is so important. Trying to bring water to everyone is disaster. I'm glad He told you in a dream and you listened. I always spread myself too thin and end up getting sick or burned out because I don't take time to listen. I'm learning. Slowly. Glad to see your example, my friend.

  8. Multiple powerful lessons here - plenty to ponder. I too have struggled with staying put and a sense of frustration when I hear bloom where I have put you. I know I haven't always done this with a joyful heart. I love the concept of an open field with room to play and explore. Great image of God. I guess the lesson may be to be the child who may wander a little but always turns around the looks for God. Love teh desert fathers sayings too.

  9. now what are you going to do with this.
    the message seems important. I hear you saying you are receiving the message... what ways can you ~ will you implement it?

    The lesson is a good one...inspiring... but nothing unless you do the something it requires of you.
    I love LOVE how intune you are.

  10. I so WANT to be the savior sometimes, not even realizing it. I want to control it, not have to trust him to control it. And when I finally get desperate enough to give it up, it is such a relief.

  11. Wow Jen what a powerful post. It really ministered to me and moves me especially as I think about doing a retreat for missionaries called Sabbath Rest when I get to go to nepal. It makes me think of Psalms 18 where it talks about how God rescues us to take us into a BROAD place. Praying for your BROAD place!

  12. Open space. I so often forget to make place for myself. This was a reminder and I'm going to work on that this week. Your posts always give me something to hang on to. I love your spirit.

  13. I'm with Janice Johnson, Jen -- there is so much here, so much to ponder and soak up and process. That question: have I gone beyond my place. That's going to keep me awake tonight!

  14. Really, really great post. A great lesson for us all...and I love that you put it so simply: sharing your personal dream, and how God spoke to you thru it & other events.

    Thanks for listening...and for sharing His Truth with us!

  15. I love this, but it is very hard to do. Doing and being more calls like a Siren. I too am trying to be satisfied with my "portion".


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