July 10, 2008

L.A. Or The Bahamas?

Imagine you're sitting in your car during rush hour traffic in L.A. (Don't close your eyes to imagine this or you won't be able to read the post...just imagine while you read.)
O.K. Back to your car during rush hour. For some crazy reason your radio is stuck on "On". Not only that, but the station you're stuck listening to is a talk show. The host speaks in a hurried, shrill voice. She's whining, complaining, criticizing and seems full of anger over world events, rising food and gas prices, and her annoying husband and children.
As if all that weren't bad enough, the temperature outside your non-moving vehicle has risen to 93 degrees and the humidity is high. Suddenly your air-conditioner decides to quit. You sit there, stuck. You have no choice but to listen to the shrill commentator as she babbles on and on while sweat trickles down your back. You're stressed because you know you have to stop at the dry cleaners on the way home, then pick up something for dinner, and money is tight. You begin to understand how the talk show host feels. She's right. The world stinks. My kids are hopeless. How on earth are we going to make our ends meet this year? Lord? Where are you? I'm so weary and sick of everything!

Now imagine this. You are alone, sitting on a beach in the Bahamas. The waves are gentle and soothing and the sun is just setting. A cool breeze moves through your hair and caresses your cheek. As you sit there enjoying the silence you have an overwhelming sense of peace and safety. The Lord is near. You know He adores you and promises to be with you through everything you will ever experience. Refreshment reaches deep into your heart and you feel joy seeping into your bones.

Now I want to ask you a question. Are you rush hour in L.A. or a beach in the Bahamas? When people spend time with you, are they glad they did? Or do they tear themselves away from you feeling weary and beat down? Do they feel comforted and has their faith been shored up? Or are they dying to get home so they can crawl into bed and hide from the noise and stresses of life?

Last year I read a book called Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. Have you read it? One of the things I got out of the book was the question: What kind of woman are you? Are you "rush hour traffic" or a "beach"? Maybe that wasn't their point, but that's one of the things I took away from it, and I've been asking myself that question ever since. And praying about it. I want so badly to be a "beach". To refresh others. To sooth them. To let them know the Lord is near. Wouldn't it be wonderful to know the Lord had used you to shore someone up? To give them hope and joy? Do I drag others down or point them to the One who can lift them up?
I'm not looking for answers to these questions here. I am praying about them and asking the Lord to continue molding me into the person He wants me to be. I just thought about the book this morning and decided to share some of my thoughts with you.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil. 1:6


  1. Great post, Jan! Hmmmm...I'd liek to think I'm the beach, but I'm probably LA more often thatn I like to admit.

  2. What a scintillating post! Hmm...
    Certainly, my prayer is to be a well where others can freely draw the pure, refreshing Truth.
    But how easy it is to be agitated by the world's frenzied rhythms into the L.A. mindset! We must strive to remain in that cool, calm oasis of Christ's awesome presence, whether our week is laden with delights or despondencies. Although we tend to perceive the Bahamian circumstances as a more spiritual climate (and at times such a retreat is needed to reconnect), we must remember that God is just as real in the middle of our most "rush hour" days as He is in those soothing moments on the beach. The trick is learning to tune out the drone of the world and mentally stay on the beach, no matter what circumstances we are in. What a struggle that is! Thankfully, we don't fight any of these spiitual battles armed with just own own puny strength. God is in control, and when we let our defenses crumble before Him, and acknowledge his omnipotence, we can and will be victorious! We can be havens of tranquility...more accurately, channels for Christ's peace, a peace which "transcends all understanding".
    This week, teach us, Lord, to spread your rejuvenating peace as lavishly as we spread fresh whipped cream on fresh Indiana strawberries.
    Thanks again for another fantastic post, Mrs. Nilsen!

  3. You're a beach, Jan. I loved this post. It was just what I needed this morning.

    Love ya! Sniz

  4. Hmm...I'd like to be beach, but it's more likely rush hour...

  5. Life's a beach and then you...NO, NO NO. I really intended this to be a serious comment, so here goes.

    YOU are a beach (heh, that sounds like something else--but again, I'm trying to be serious here). I don't know this so much from my own interactions with you, but I know it's true because my wife and my sister-in-law are refreshed when they spend time with you. I encourage my wife to spend time with you when she can.

    I hope that makes you feel good.

  6. "I am my ideal. But YOU are my idol." Eric Von Zipper, Beach Blanket Bingo


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