A Lot Can Happen in Three Years

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Three years ago when I stepped out of the radio studio I had no real clear goals other than the fact that I wanted to reach the lost with the Gospel, be involved in connecting with people, and help to build God’s Church all over the world. At the time, I knew what He had laid on my heart to do concerning the nations, and I’ve held Africa in the deepest recesses of my heart.

I didn’t know what the next step would involve, but God simply asked if I would trust Him in my next move.  Yes, I said move.  When that word first came to my awareness, I was a bit shocked.  I had been asking God to use me in a bigger way but was thinking (although very limited in my finite mind), I imagined a new plan would come to fruition someday.

I also believed that I would write books someday and several would be published for many to read. I never knew HOW or WHEN these dreams and trips would come to pass, but currently, as I sit here typing this, I see things unfold that I once could not even articulate.

Today on the fresh heels of Thanksgiving and returning from Africa, I am even more grateful and in awe of what has occurred in the past three years.  I have no magic formula, but over the years here is what I have learned:

Give yourself the space to dream again.

Get involved in your local church.

Do wholeheartedly whatever is before you.

Don’t have any agenda, but serve willingly.

Wait for God to open doors.

Submit to leadership.

Trust God because He is always in control when we are not.

There is no wasted experience; God uses everything.

God makes a way where there seems to be no way.

Have faith.

Be courageous.

Stay the course.

Be faithful.

Always remain part of something bigger than you.

Stay teachable.

Surround yourself with wise advisors.

Do nothing from selfish ambition.

Keep stretching and growing.

Continue gratitude.

Rally others to journey with you.

Bloom where God plants you.

Believe God for who He says He is.

Bonus: Obey God, He will not lead you astray.

Now I assume you are thinking, this makes a fancy pants list and all, but why should this work for you?  Or perhaps you have different goals than I.  Both could be true.  When you consider the infinite plans that God has for all of us, it’s easy to think small about what God can do through us.

The biggest truth I have realized over time is we rarely know the details of the journey when we start; like Abraham, we often go forth not knowing where we are going. But when you keep your eyes firmly fixed on Jesus and the covenant promises, He will always take you to your destination.  Whether you come kickin’ and screamin’ or run willingly to Him, either way, God always knows what journey is best for each of us.  He is the only One who knows us better than we know ourselves and has gifted each person the uniqueness that makes us who we are.

He is good at being our Judge, our Father, and but also our Friend.  Some additional thoughts about following God are (and it’s important to remember these things too!)

God’s plans will…

Take longer than you think,

Cost more than you think,

Hurt more than you think,

BUT GOD AND you are…

Braver than you know,

Stronger than you seem,

Smarter than you think,

And loved more than you know.

Recently I was shopping with my husband and he purchased the above saying on a wooden sign. I asked him why he wanted to buy that for me and he said, “I will not always be with you, but I want you to remember these things.” The Lord also encourages believers in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  As if you are the only one, God steps into time, to author your story, and to develop you with a unique plan all your own but He loves it when you partner with Him in the grander scheme of His plans.

When you don’t know what to do, take the next step and trust God. Sometimes it looks like you are going in a different direction than you thought, but obedience is worth it. And when you grab ahold of the Father’s heart for you, then you will realize you are loved more than you know.  His heart will lead you no other way but the right way.  Follow, trust, and take heart.  Oh and hang on, it’s wild out here!

 

When You Are Disappointed

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“Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always.”  Romans 12:12

There are times when life is full of one disappointment after another.  Or so it seems.  Disappointment comes in all shapes, sizes, and at different times.  There’s worry, fretting, and anxiety.  When reality actually shows up and doesn’t meet our expectations, it often leaves us with the lack of contentment.  Disappointments are hard to navigate through, so here are three heart-hitting questions:

  1. Are these just your unmet expectations?
  2. Have you forgotten to be thankful for what you do have?
  3. Is there something to change to turn your disappointment into a God-appointment?

Ever been disappointed and said “me too?”

Usually after self-examination, it’s best to look for what God is teaching through the unmet expectations.  Asking for wisdom and anticipating His better good, plan and purpose helps get you back on track.

Our good, good Father really does know you best and the best for you.  No matter how many disappointments emerge, there is always hope.  There are times to surrender your need to understand to override the doubt.  There are times when we don’t need to understand, but just obey.  There are times we need to trust more.  Often, God’s purpose isn’t realized until a later time.

There’s a little project on my heart right now that is finally birthing life.  It started with a simple thought but took a lot of hard work to pull it out and off.  Bearing the fruit took guts, courage, and a whole lot of prayer, but loaded with hope for the next generation.  It also came with many disappointments along the way.  I just kept focusing on God’s purpose.

I’m grateful that God had a purpose and a promise in it all.  We have a Savior that is in the business of reconciliation and hope.  Jesus never promised it would be easy.  While walking this earth, even He encountered many trials and troubles, but He died so we could be overcomers of disappointment and have joy and gladness in all things.  Disappointments often don’t feel joyful or make you glad, but the purpose may still be for your benefit.  I’ll never forget,  in the middle of searching for answers, those great conversations with the One who holds the plan in His hands.

So grateful that His love is undeniable and His peace is unspeakable.  We have a good, good Father and nothing is wasted in His purpose for you.  People can disappoint you but God never will.

 

Filling in the gap

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It’s so easy to loose sight of what God wants to do in us and through us, especially when there are gaps in the plan.   We want to fill the gaps with some kind of sensible understanding, reasoning, worry and purpose.  Let me tell you that if you feel this way, you are normal.

God often teaches trust, dependence, and awareness of the Spirit’s control in those gaps however.

I find myself depending on God more in this writing season.  I am waiting for God to move as I present my best work.  Waiting upon God is letting His perfect timing have its way. Waiting with peace brings a closure to the gaps.

Waiting with expectancy is different than waiting with expectations.

The less wondering I do about it all, the more the gaps are filled with patience, peace and provision.  My worry gaps are filled with peace and trust bridges over troubled waters.  My questions are bridged with understanding and His verses speak holy patience into my heart.  My empty gaps are filled with more prayer and seeking God in my empty places.

Pressing myself through those thin places to see more of who He is.  By doing this I give myself more opportunities to seek Him in a new way over old habits of fretting.  If I rely on my own strength or dependency I often I miss Him.

Have I told you that I don’t make a very good “waiter”?  The gaps help in my being more diligent in the time.  I think that waiting upon the Lord needs to be my constant thing.

My gaps are filled with His fullness.  I’ll take His fullness over my emptiness any day.  How about you?

I have stopped dragging my impatient heart with my list of dreams along.  God has been reminding me that His changes are right, good and needed in His perfect time.  I have to trust that He watches over me from His position of goodness.  Why would I want to run from that?

Don’t miss the gaps with your heart full of selfish expectations but rather come with an expectancy in your heart.  God has heard your anxious words.  God has heard what your soul can’t say.  God sees you, He is in control and knows what is going on with you and me.  When I think about how nothing catches Him by surprise, then these gaps that we could be experiencing are holy pauses that are well timed by His hand.

Ever think about how God creates gaps so that we will spend more time asking the Giver of our days?  There is power in making one change at a time when you are letting God have dominion over your life.  I laid it all out on the table again, letting God have my entire dream timetable.  In doing so, I have dropped my need to see the details and bringing God to the forefront.  I must practice letting Him bear His fruit in my life.

I can trust Him with fruit bearing in the perceived gaps.  It’s not what it looks like from here, the distance is shorter that it appears.  Yet i know it takes years to realize.  There is a divine order to things over what the world teaches within it’s shallow mentality.

Deep calls to deep in gaps of high places, low valleys, and all the in between.  There are those of you who are looking for a deeper walk.  That’s where I am headed.  Follow along if you are bold enough to trust where I have been.  I can’t go the ordinary way any longer.  I’m headed for virgin territory.  The problem with gaps is the closure, the ending.  The problem with an unclear vision, you can’t see the results.  The problem with the gaps is that God is still working on yours.  The problem with waiting is that we can’t see where there is hope.  The problem with us is that we want to escape change any which way we can.

The problem in seeing God in our changes is we have lost sight that He is Hope.

Changes train us to be set apart for more changes.  One change at a time is a binding and training ground, and stirring of our hearts for more changes.  A transformation happens when you believe that His changes will be made in His time to bring His fruit and to be set apart for his service.  No turning back to see what gaps are closed or what gaps are ahead.  Just keep looking forward.  There are no gaps in a focused hope.

How do you wait best?