I awoke naturally to the sounds of elated chirping birds. Soft sunlight peeped through the partially opened curtains. It was a new day in my quaint Big Bear cabin. Today my friend and I were heading home from our personal retreat, but I had one more morning with Jesus. I glanced over at the Bible and journal I left beside my bed and sat up. I prayed for God’s direction for the morning, ready to begin.

God reminded me of a Bethel song called, “A Little Longer.” It’s about spending a little longer time with Jesus, or so I thought. I played the song on my phone and something new stood out for me. The beginning of the song is actually about striving to connect with God, striving to work for God. “What can I do for you?/ What can I bring to you?/ What kind of song would you like me to sing?” the woman wonders. When Jesus finally responds, it isn’t about what she can do, it’s about how she can be. “Simply be with me and let those things ago/ They can wait another moment/” It is sometimes easier to do things for God than to be with God. Jesus invites us to be with him first—out of that comes everything else. We can become discombobulated if we reverse the order.

After spending some time in worship, God took me to John 15. I’m familiar with the passage, and I knew it was about remaining in the vine and being pruned and producing good fruit. Again, I assumed the focus would be on the doing. It seems like God has to repeat himself a few times with me because that is not what God had in mind at all. God highlighted John 15:9, “As the Father loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love.” Yes, we’re supposed to remain on the branch and be pruned and produce fruit. But the only way to do that is first remain in Jesus’ love. As a reminder that I do not and cannot do this in my own strength, verse 16 says “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” He initiates; he invites; we respond by remaining in his love.

My little retreat was not what I thought it could be. There were interruptions, even disappoints as I strived for connection. The retreat, however, was exactly what I needed—throughout God reminded me to just be in God’s love. And since I didn’t get it the first time I heard it, God made sure to repeat it over and over again. As I enter something very new, motherhood, I want to make space to just be with God, even if it’s only 5 minutes. To take a deep breath and reflect on God’s great love for me. To whisper my thanks. To worship with awe. Then I will get up and move into all that God has for me.

Movement Step: Spend quiet time with Jesus today with no other purpose than to just be. Start with 5 minutes and then slowly increase every week or every day as you can. Have paper and pen ready to write down any distractions that may come up in the process. Give those to Jesus and then return to being.