On the Shelf

The past two weeks proved to be a wonderful, interesting time for me. I felt impressed to take a break from Twitter since that’s the only social media I do unless you count this blog.

I know Twitter has a bad reputation: “cesspool,” “bullying,” “unwholesome content,” “vicious comments.” I see that kind of stuff is out there, but not in my neighborhood. I’m pretty careful about who I follow, although I don’t have control over who follows me. I’ve rarely blocked anyone, but I’ve used the mute feature occasionally.

I don’t agree with everyone on various topics, but I like the diversity of opinions. Most people in my feed are some flavor of Christian. I’ve included folks with other belief or non-belief backgrounds if I like their content. Most of what I see every day is pretty positive, and I’ve formed some good relationships with many people. I’ve loved my four years on Twitter.

Because I’m retired, I have the luxury of spending as much time as I choose on creating content. I consider it a form of ministry and witness to the love and goodness of the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus. I want it to be a blessing to others. I also spend a lot of time reading and sometimes responding to others’ Tweets. Reciprocating those relationships is essential online, just as it is IRL. (That’s “In Real Life.”) I finally realized it swallowed up a huge chunk of my time, energy, and thought processes. Thank goodness I’m not on Facebook also. I need to be a better friend to those I have IRL.

I had taken breaks before, but this was the first intentional, Spirit-led pause. I needed to back away to clear my head and find some new perspective.

To some degree, I was influenced by my friend J.D. Wininger’s “anti-social media” fast when he was gone most of February. Many other Twitter friends also take occasional time away. Some friends (IRL) made social media breaks what they “gave up for Lent.” I didn’t start hearing from the Lord about my doing it until Holy Week and began the break on Easter Sunday afternoon. It lasted from April 17 – 30.

It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I might have cheated a couple of times, but I wasn’t tempted to go there. Instead, I became aware of what I have to describe as “a space that opened up,” making new choices possible. I felt more productive in other areas. I had more “think time” because of less random input into my brain.

But I was listening for some great revelation from the Lord. I sought Him for it. I was expecting a lesson. But, as usual, God is full of surprises. He was quiet for the first nine days. I worked in my garden, had lunch with friends, puttered around the house, went to church events, and napped. Honestly, that’s not much different from my normal routines, but this break was more internal than external.

I had the opportunity to evaluate and plan as I prayed and studied my Bible in my quiet time. I received some good insights and tidbits from reading and podcasts. I felt less scattered with that open space for “think time.” But nothing had struck me, so far, as my ah-ha moment. I supposed He was speaking in His still, small voice. (I Kings 19:12)

Then, on the tenth day, I read J.D. Wininger’s blog post, “A Forced Rest.” There it was! The message I heard was loud and clear, like the wind, earthquake, and fire.

You can read the full blog for yourself here:  https://jdwininger.com/2022/04/27/a-forced-rest/

Through the story of his dog, Bubba’s forced rest for recuperation, J.D. compared it to the Lord putting us into “forced timeout.” It made me remember that, although God has given, even commanded, a weekly Shabbat for rest and renewal, there are other periods when those sabbaticals are extended. I learned this decades ago and called it “being put on a shelf.” I got this image from mountain climbers who spent the night on a shelf – a cleft in the rock – where they rested until the next morning when they started their climb again.

I used to think God had forgotten me during those times but came to know them as expressions of the goodness of our Father if I knew how to use them wisely. What jumped out at me was when J.D. wrote, “Something else I realized was that God doesn’t always force me to rest in Him to teach me anything. Sometimes He does so I will allow Him to sit with me and speak His love, peace, and comfort into my life.”

So I got my lesson, and here it is:

  • Resting in Him is not just taking a nap, but neither does it have to be because of illness.
  • There doesn’t have to be “a lesson” coming out of those times.
  • It’s a time of communion with Him for clarity, healing, and refreshing.
  • It’s when He prepares us for His next phase or assignment.

My rebellious self finds ways to resist resting in the Lord, even when I have no responsibility to be doing something else at the moment. I often feel guilty for not being continually productive. After all, our culture teaches us to find our value and worth in what we do. Being retired, I’m blessed to have so much control over how I choose to spend my time. But it’s not about being busy vs. resting. It’s not about doing good works vs. being lazy and selfish. It’s more internal than external. It’s about surrender, yielding, and obedience.

I’m still in this time of spiritual respite, although my Twitter break is over. The internal reorganization is still occurring. I have some upcoming health challenges, but life always presents us with “the next thing,” so what else is new? God’s great big grace is sufficient for everything we face.

My first Tweet this morning said:

  • I am thankful for time apart to regroup, reprioritize, and recenter.
  • I am thankful for making space where God can speak.
  • I am eternally thankful for God’s patience with me.

Being in God’s timeout is not without purpose. He often pauses before giving us new revelation, because we aren’t walking in the light He has already given. If He puts us on a shelf, it is a temporary situation. We are awaiting His timing for our next instructions or mission. If we need a breathing spell, He can provide for our renewal and refreshing in the midst of everything else going on. He is our peace. Our rest is in Him.

Does any of this resonate with you?

Blessings and shalom! Dottie

2nd Image from Shutterstock.

6 thoughts on “On the Shelf

  1. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words Ms. Dottie. Like your posts often do, I pray mine can help someone in their walk with God. Knowing that something I wrote helped bring clarity and insight into your walk was a double-blessing indeed ma’am. As with your expansive and entertaining garden tours, you have once again provided me with the blessing of resting among friends today. Thank you, and God’s blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad you took a break. I think we all need a lot less social media and a lot more just Jesus. But, that’s me. I am on social media a lot less these days. It can be very time consuming and I have to be conscientious of my time. I love your concept of shelf time. It’s so important. Makes me want to crawl up on a shelf with Jesus right now. Thanks so much Dottie!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. i am so glad to have found you here on WP– thank you for your witness! i selfishly hope that you continue to be a voice here in this space as i am in need of healing and your words soothe me (not to mention the fact that you occassionally post garden pics, and gardening is such JOY!).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linnie, I’m oh so sorry to have taken so long to reply! I’m glad you found my blog if it’s a blessing to you. I appreciate your comment, since sometimes it’s hard to tell if the effort is worth it. I’ve often said that posting on social media is like having a handful of change, tossing it up into the bleachers at a full stadium and hoping that a few people can benefit from picking up this little offering. Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

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