I was preparing dinner the other night, peeling and chopping onions as the butter began to sizzle in the pan. As I did this the house was kind of quiet so I said to the Lord, “What do you think I should talk about at the network meeting?” And I sensed in my heart that His response was “Clare, I don’t mind if you talk about onions.”
God is like that, He uses His Holy Spirit to communicate with us. This year He has become such a phenomenal friend to me. When I lean in, or when I take the time to be quiet, when I still my anxious thoughts, I hear Him. He is very close. He is incredibly real. He’s more real than we stop to notice sometimes.
Religion has done so much to complicate God and distance people from really knowing Him.
I laughed to myself and began to play with the idea, imagining that I might actually speak about onions. I thought “God is there even a scripture in the Bible that talks about onions?” and I discovered that ‘Yes, there is but all it tells us is that the Israelites wanted to return to Egypt where they grew food in abundance, amongst which were onions.’
I left the idea there, finished dinner, folded washing, all the things we do. Then in the middle of the night I woke up still thinking about onions and felt the voice of the spirit wooing me out of bed. I got up and made tea and I prayed. “Talk to them about being ‘rooted and grounded in my love.’
“May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted in love and founded securely on love.”
The Bible tells us that whom He foreknew, He also predestined.
1. Know that you are prepared
*Onion fact: onions are best stored hard and dry before planting. They should be nurtured inside before being replanted outside.
For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].
God knew all my life that my daughter was going to get diagnosed with Leukaemia. All my life He has been preparing me.
I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].
So often when we are confronted with something that is really difficult we don’t go to faith, we don’t feel equipped, we don’t feel prepared. We just feel incredibly overwhelmed. I have felt overwhelmed time and again this year. The waves have been over my head. They have swallowed me up but somehow deep below the surface where there is hardly any sound I’ve heard His voice and I’ve gone after it anxious to find my breath.
When I wait on Him, He reminds me that I am prepared. In fact this year in January three weeks before we discovered Sam had Leukaemia, God was getting me ready. The truth is, He has been getting me ready for years but in January something shifted. I’d been in a rut for a while in my walk with God. I was going through the motions, doing all the things a leader does, connecting with people I led, running groups, teaching at Day of Change, doing what I could but I was dry in my intimacy with God.
2. Get planted.
*Onion fact: onions can survive in storage through long cold winters.
I needed to get planted again. I needed to let my roots go down deep.
Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving.
I felt dry and desperate. I wasn’t particularly excited about another year of teaching Kindergarten. I felt pretty stuck really as I wrote in my journal
“January 9, 2009 “Here I am, 6 am. The whole house sleeps. I’m on an endeavor to reconnect … I guess with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
My once constant companions. My walk with God has changed. It’s not His fault, it’s completely mine. I know that it’s me that allows the disappointment of dreams not fulfilled to place a shut door between us. Sometimes the door is iron, bolted tight, Sometimes its timber, or glass or even just a fly screen but I think the door is always there.
This book, this journal thing is an attempt to open that door again. Above all things I want God, to know Him, to be found in Him, that I may share in His sufferings, that I may attain Him. “
I wrote like that every day, 3 pages a day for the next 3 weeks. In my determination to rediscover my passion for God a new intimacy happened.
“But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your mind and in your heart, so that you can do it. See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil.”
God doesn’t give up on us even when we think we should give up on ourselves. Life gets hard sometimes, we feel dry but he is preparing us for fruitfulness.
3. Un-clutter your life.
*Onion fact; Onions need well drained soil
In the three weeks before Sam was diagnosed (remember I didn’t know she was about to be diagnosed) I began to pay close attention to the company I kept.
I began to clean out all my cupboards. I literally spring cleaned my whole house. I bought a book called “Sorted” and I got all my drawers, my cupboards and even my classroom in order.
I began to redecorate my classroom since this is where I thought I would be spending my year I made my space a happy space. I made polka dot cushions with pom-poms, spent a fortune at Ikea, covered my day book in lovely paper. I’m a visual person so I made ‘what I see’ everyday as beautiful as possible.
I also took some time out to do some things I hadn’t done in years. I went and swam laps by myself in the pool at Lady Macquarie’s Chair. I went to my favourite home decorating shops in Willoughby and bought fabric and ribbon and things to start a project. I enjoyed ‘me time.’
4. Discover your value.
* Onion fact, the word onion comes from Latin UNIO meaning pearl.
Remember that you are made in God’s image, you are precious. Jesus is referred to as the pearl of great price.
“Again the kingdom of heaven is like a man who is a dealer in search of fine and precious pearls,
Who, on finding a single pearl of great price, went and sold all he had and bought it.”
By the end of my three weeks of journaling, de-culling, prettifying, me-timing I was so excited to go back to school.
Days before we discovered that Sam had Leukaemia I began to really hear the voice of the Holy Spirit like I hadn’t heard for years. My blockages were cleared. I began everyday to wake up and ask Him, what scripture today and then begin to meditate on it and write in my journal before anyone else got out of bed.
This one particular day He said
“All things have been entrusted and delivered to Me by My Father; and no one fully knows and accurately understands the Son except the Father, and no one fully knows and accurately understands the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son deliberately wills to make Him known.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]
Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.“
It came as a surprise that Jesus whispered that on that day. I felt so rested, refreshed, prepared and ready for 2009. I even questioned the Holy Spirit about it. I said “are you mocking me?” I’m so rested. And His response was comical really, I guess. He said “it’s up to you, you can take it easy or you can labour to enter my rest.”
I look back and realize how important it was for me to grab hold of His rest. I had no idea what I was about to be up against less than a week from that moment. But God knew, he always knows.
5. The external reflects the internal.
*Onion fact: the number of leaves above the soil represents the number of rings in the bulb beneath.
Stephen Covey is famed for his writing about living from the inside out. In times of great despair what is inside will come out. Praise God I was ready.
When you take a few steps toward God He takes a massive step toward you. He’s a gentleman though. He waits for you. He doesn’t invade your world but He is leaning toward you, He is waiting.
“I will be leaning towards you with favour and regard for you, rendering you fruitful, multiplying you and establishing my covenant with you. And you shall eat the abundant old store of produce long kept and clear out the old to make room for the new. I will set my dwelling in and among you and My soul shall not despise, or reject or separate itself from you. I will walk in and with and among you and will be your God and you shall be my people. I am the Lord Your God who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt that you should no more be slaves, and I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect as free men.”
6. Stay hidden in Him
*Onion fact: Onions can be harvested at anytime but the longer they spend in the ground the richer and greater the onion.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say all year I have wished this journey could be over. I’ve felt isolated (even though people have been tending the soil around me all year) I’ve felt the darkness (though onions in fact need lots of sun to grow, it’s only the outer leaves that get to enjoy the sun) I’ve felt like I might die in this place of despair. If you read my blog you know the truth of my journey. If you don’t read it you can start now but all along I’ve known that God is restoring me (And Sam) and building us for His purposes.
7. Lose your desire for approval from others.
*Onion fact: The external leaves die when the onion is prime for harvesting.
“You can always tell when onions have stopped growing. The leaves will lose their color, weaken at the top of the bulb and flop over. Each year a few new gardeners watch the leaves die and wonder, “What’s wrong?” There’s nothing wrong; it’s Nature’s plan. The leaves’ job is done – they’ve put the last of their energy into the bulbs. “(The National Gardening Guide Association)
Its God’s plan that we die
He wants us dead to our own agendas, to what people think of us and all of that stuff we worry about.
He wants us to be found in Him, happy to be under the shadow of His wings. Happy to be hidden where no one knows. Imagine, you could be mistaken for long grass when in fact there’s an onion down there.
8. Be fruitful in your season, give, gather, heal, restore and multiply
*Onion fact: Onions contain B1, B6 and folic acid. B6 and folic acid are lacking in most women (most need to take it as a supplement) They also increase circulation, lower blood pressure, reduce blood clots. Onions reproduce clusters of onions.
What’s on your life? Who needs your story?
We need each other, we need to do life together.
I am so privileged to be part of an amazing community of believers at myC3church. Wherever you live in the world, I am sure there is one near you.