Freedom through obedience: The hard but right choice

I am not letting go until You bless me!

Genesis 32:22-32 Jacob wrestles with an angel of God.

Have you found yourself at a place in your life, where you have felt like you are wrestling with God? I have! I am very strong willed, stubborn and outspoken and I tend to go at life with determination. I like for everything to be in its place and organized. I am fairly flexible when change comes, map out a new plan, adjust and move forward. I will not fail, I will not back down. I am determined. Did I say that already? Yep. So, I can identify with the story of Jacob because in some ways I have found myself wrestling over one thing or another in my life when it comes to God's purpose for me. I know what I'm capable of, what my skills and my gifts are. I get my mind made up, pray it over with God and when He gives the green light I don't slow down. I'm on a path, I am moving forward. What happens when the circumstances of life throw us off our path, our certainty is shaken, and even though God is not moved by it, we are and so we stop. We question, we worry, we panic. God, what happened here and what does this mean in terms of the path to meet my goals? How do I move forward now, because this is too hard, and I don't understand why it is happening now? I thought I had it figured out, and perhaps that's the point when I realize, I think I know God but truth is---I don't. Truth is, we will not fully know God in our lifetime. Our life long quest as Christ-followers is to know God. Is it hard for you to wrap your mind around that, because I have to admit it is for me! I think as Christ-followers, it is easy to get confident in what we think we know, and our outward appearance exudes this confidence that we have it all together, we are full of the knowledge of Christ, we are strong, we are confident, and we are complete. To an extent, yes, Christ does complete us because we are forgiven, we are a new creation, the old is gone and the new has come. With our new salvation, we must recognize that it is only the beginning of our lifetime of achieving righteousness and wholeness in Christ. So, as I am wrestling with God recently, this new awakening I am experiencing in my faith journey, the reality of my weakness hits me like a brick wall. I have for far too long fought to hold on to what I thought I had control of, what I thought I needed to control because forces within my life had failed me and I felt I had to step up and lead where others had failed. I realize and can testify to this today: I am nothing without Christ. I can try with all my might, heels dug in, white knuckled, and teeth gritting down hard, muscles pushed to the point of absolute shaken fatigue, but.....I will fail every single time when I don't give it up and recognize the power of Christ is what truly compels me. I cannot boast in anything but the power of Christ in my life. I can wrestle with God and resist His complete power in my life, insisting that somehow my own plan will work well because it's just so well thought out and organized but it is only when I reach the point of breaking....I can fully embrace the power God has provided to me all along!

Like Jacob, I sense God speaking new life into me in this season, that in fact I have wrestled with Him and I am coming through! I may be limping a bit the next day, because I tend to fight with all my might, the human will is stubborn! I am so certain, so expectant of what God has for my life, so I will take my firm grasp from what I think I know to what I truly know, that I know, that I know....that God's ways are so much better than my own. I cannot fully fathom His ways, His understanding is beyond my complete comprehension. I cannot claim to have seen an angel of God or God himself face to face, but I can claim that Christ has won me and my affections, and He has my full and complete trust and obedience! It is hard to admit at 42 years old I have more freedom in my faith than any time in my life before now. It is hard to break out of a mindset that we develop over time, by the way we are raised and our childhood influences, by what others tell us is best. Advice and wisdom from those we love and admire is good, but God knows best. We have a choice in life, I have a choice to balance what I know and consider the wisdom of my Father: His wisdom and guidance should be the priority and all others are secondary.

I am not done wrestling with God. I know I have some things in my spirituality yet to work through, but in time I intend to be made stronger, made wise, made more into what my Father God has always intended for me to be. His. Fully and completely, His. I am not there yet, but I am closer than I was before.

What are you wrestling with today? Work it out with God, consider what He has to say and to do in your heart and soul, to mold you more and more into the Beautiful You He has always intended for you to be! I want to live to tell my story, all that the Father will do in me yesterday, today and tomorrow because I know His plan for my life is far beyond what I have in mind.

Shift

I can't deny it, as much as I'd like to say I can ride it out and claim it's all good, not having any trouble over here, life is good. Life is hard, it is painful, it is stressful, and it is just plain impossible some days to deal with everything coming at me. The past few weeks have been some of the hardest days of my life. I was a bit reluctant but at the same time felt very strongly that God wanted me to go with a group of ladies for our church women's retreat, Women's Encounter. The week leading up to the retreat, was hell. I know the other ladies in my group will tell you the same, satan was gunning for us to the very last moment before we stepped into the vehicles to head out. Though we struggled, we all agreed and encouraged one another through that week to stay on course, not give up, reminding one another we needed this retreat and it was a specific time that God had appointed for each one of us. The retreat was amazing, brutal but amazing. I came clean, truly emptied myself of so much junk I've carried for nearly 3 years now. It's hard to admit we are beat up, in pain, burdened, weak, heavy hearted, angry, bitter, and ready to walk away from the very thing God has called us too. When Ryan and I made the transition to Missouri, we were coming out of the most difficult ministry experience we have ever had. It is hard to pinpoint exactly when things started going down hill, but at some point there was a shift in what we were doing to this incredible pressure of somehow we weren't doing enough, the to-do list was not meeting with someone's satisfaction, and from there you can imagine the tearing down that occurs in a person's pride and confidence, and overall abilities. You start to question, you start to doubt, you start to fear. You start to question if you can move on and maybe you aren't up for this calling anymore. It sucks when man gets in the way of what God intends for His called. And I didn't see us moving past it anytime soon. I was done. Ryan and I were both dealing with varying degrees of anger, doubt, disappointment, heartbreak, and grief. How do you work through this stuff and somehow prepare to move into a new ministry opportunity? You can't bottle it up, you can't put it off to deal with later, you can't get over it quick and put on a happy face for the sake of jumping right into the next thing God has for you. It takes time for this kind of wound to heal. So, how do we make this transition? We found ourselves stepping into a short term worship role at a small store front church, but we felt a bit shaky going into it. It was good, but somehow there was something yet to experience and we knew it wasn't going to be long term. We found ourselves at the close of that opportunity and through some connections, introduced to another ministry opportunity. As we continued to nurse our wounds, figure out a way to heal and find restoration, we felt compelled to step into this new opportunity. I cannot describe it any other way that a breath of fresh air for both of us. Little did we know that God intended for the shift in our healing process to truly begin with this opportunity. Shortly after the holidays, just as we began a new year in 2014, the hard truth of what we had to face, own up to came slamming down on us both. There is a point in our lives, when we've experienced so much disappointment and so much of life that didn't go exactly the way we had hoped, that fear and desperation causes us to determine, "God, I cannot let go of this. I don't trust you completely with this, and I can't seem to find you when I need you most. I need to do this for myself. It is just too hard. I am desperate. I am tired. I'm losing hope." What do you think happens when that voice drowns out the voice of Truth? When that voice starts to win, to dominate to the point you act on something in a way that puts everything most precious in your life at risk? Panic. Betrayal. Disappointment. It is an incredibly helpless place to be. More so than any other time in my life I think. We had a choice right away to give up, or to give it all to God and acknowledge He was never far away. He was right there with us in the absolute worst of it. He was in that pit right beside us.

The worst of it? The immediate realization that I felt so unworthy, so horrible to have ever questioned God's ability to take care of me and my family. There is this guilt, this self-condemnation that wedges its way deep into my mind, and then it starts to infect the heart like a virus. I was crying out to God, searching His Word for answers, answers that were right there in black and white, and yet....I hadn't completely let go so I couldn't really grasp it! I couldn't grasp that simple truth that He was right there all along! I was in my own way, I was getting in the way of the complete restoration God has always had for me. All of this garbage that Ryan and I have been experiencing, holding on to, was so unnecessary and exactly the point satan wanted us to be all along. Can you imagine the reality I came face to face with on that retreat, because I finally let my guard down and dropped it all at the foot of the Cross? Can you imagine the humiliation and disgrace I felt in that moment? And then, can you imagine the utter and indescribable relief? Oh the joy of knowing my Savior in a fresh and new way! Oh the freedom in knowing I could be released from this bondage I'd been in for so long! How could I question God was not enough, at any point in my life? You know how. The human mind is a wondrous but terrible thing. I am convinced now more than any other time in my life, we have got to take our minds captive for Christ! Whatever we think we are doing right in our day to day time with God, whatever our habits, our schedules, our routines--stop and consider what more can I be doing to guard my mind, my thoughts? We must be on our guard, daily, throughout our day, because satan will do things in the most subtle way over a long period of time to tear us down! This is a life long battle and particularly for those of us who are prone to anxiety and OCD/perfectionist disorders. We have to be on our guard, we have to arm ourselves, and we also need to breathe life over one another, be an encouragement, be an accountability partner, be Jesus to one another and not just to people around us who don't know Him!

Ryan and I are in a season of brokenness, and we are so in awe of how God is using our church family and especially our leadership team to walk us into a season of restoration. As we walk through this season, we have chosen to stand firmly on the commitment to full obedience to Him with our finances, with our marriage, with our children, with everything He has given us. Everything we have and everything we are has been laid bare before Him, and we are walking into this new season of ministry with a church leadership team and family right beside us every step of the way, offering us the unconditional love and accountability we have needed for so long.

Can you feel it? Can you see it? There is a shift taking place in our lives this year, and God is ready to pour out His abundance at just the right time as He wills it. God, we pledge our lives to your ministry, we are thankful for renewed hope and as you continue to break us down and build us back up, we will step into the good, the bad and the ugly knowing we have such freedom to share with a world that needs You so desperately!


Zechariah 4:6 (NIV)

6 …‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.


'that word “spirit” in the Hebrew means “breath.” it’s saying, it’s not gonna happen just by our talent, connections, who we know; it’s going to happen because God breathes in our direction, God shifts the winds and blows healing, promotion, restoration our way.'

(Check out the full blog entry: "How you're coming into a shift", Bizarrely Blessed, http://formerheathen.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/how-youre-coming-into-a-shift/)

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