It’s time to go

It takes more faith to follow than to wait.

Have you ever noticed that?

Well, Ok. I digress. I don’t think it takes more faith, but it definitely takes a different kind of faith. I’m finding that obedience looks one way when you’re in a “waiting season”, and a different way when you’re in a “following season”. To be honest, I actually don’t have much experience with “following” seasons.

Let me try to explain what I’m talking about. Most of my twenties were spent waiting. I can give you a few quick examples to help clarify:

  1. We waited about a year on a specific job offer for my husband.
  2. Then another year waiting for that job offer to evolve into a full time position.
  3. Many years were spent waiting for the right time to buy a home. The first time we looked into it was in year one of our marriage. We bought our first home in year eight, after living in five apartments in two states.
  4. I spent a couple years in a very difficult job, pleading with the Lord to move me to something else.
  5. Four heart-breaking years were endured trying to find community after a cross-country move…

A time of waiting could be explained as a time of unfulfilled dreams or unmet desires. In all of these situations, I had to learn to be content where I was, and believe that God would bring things about in due time.

I’ve found that when you’re waiting for something – for God to move in some way or to give you a green light for something – often, obedience is trusting God’s timing and letting go of your expectations of what it should look like. It’s resting in peace, knowing that he’s working in ways that you very well might not be able to see.

It’s also having an open heart and being willing to be made more like Jesus. There’s never a shortage of things he wants to teach us (like love, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control…). He has provision ready for us every single day, regardless of the season or stage of life we’re in. We just have to both submit to him and partner with him.

But then when he’s finally moved in that big way or he’s given us the green light…?

Yup. It turns out this is new territory.

lili-popper-29472-unsplash

I feel like I’m back to square one. Like I said earlier, I don’t have much experience in this. All of a sudden God is on the move, and he is beckoning me to follow.

And I find myself flailing about and stumbling with every step I take. He’s leading me, but I’m tripping all over myself as if I’ve forgotten how to walk. I’m falling down and getting my hands bloody and ripping my clothes. I’m collecting bruises. I learned how to be obedient in those waiting periods by surrendering to Jesus and putting him first, but I’m having trouble applying the lessons from the past season to this new one. I know they translate and that God has given me everything I need to continue and learn, but it’s tough figuring out exactly how.

To put it bluntly, I feel like I’m being a bad follower. I feel like my faith should be stronger and I shouldn’t be so easily distracted.

After crying out of frustration to my husband and seeking his advice, he reminded me of what Paul said in Romans 7:19-25,

I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?

Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus has died for me and set me free from my sin. I’ve sought forgiveness and he has given it to me. So even though I stumble, even though I fall, I can rise up and keep going because of his grace. Even though I am attacked, I am not defeated. Even though storms come, I am not overcome. If I have to war with sin, it doesn’t mean that I’m a failure and I can’t do this. Jesus has forgiven me. Not only that, but he’s ready to help me. Paul couldn’t get it right all of the time. I can’t get it right all of the time. But Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

There are new lessons to learn in this season of following. But it turns out that the first one I need to learn is to trust in Jesus. The very same thing I had to learn in the waiting season, but with an added level of difficulty, coupled with the added bonus of his grace and the double added bonus of the history of the last sixish years.

Maybe this doesn’t look so different after all.

My first lesson in obedience is to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.


Featured Photo by Lili Popper on Unsplash

Hidden

She made her way through the kitchen. She gathered her cup and moved to her place at the table. It was dark, so she lit a single candle. There she stayed – hidden away from the world.

She was wonderfully hidden there. She was safe from her fears and worry could not touch her. She was in a sacred place of peace.

What she found there gave her strength and courage to face what was before her. Past hurts were uncovered so they could be properly bound and healed. Truth sustained her through trials and error. And a deep joy and hope settled within her that could not be shaken.

She was not alone in this place. She was answering a call that was beginning to become an anchor for her soul.

She had found a place and a time with just her and her savior – her Jesus.

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
    And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
Psalm 27:8

But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.
Psalm 1:2-3

I will bless the Lord who guides me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the Lord is always with me.
    I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
Psalm 16:7-8

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
    for the Lord holds them by the hand.
Psalm 37:23-24

Keep Walking

Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Psalm 13:4 NLT

I’m on board with what you’re doing, Lord. I am laying aside my own plans so that I can have a part in yours. Show me what you would like me to do. Help me to know your voice and to stand firm on what you’ve said.

This verse in Psalm 13 stuck out to me the other morning, and the prayer above is what I wrote in my journal. I keep going back and forth between feeling pretty confident of the things that God has called me to do, and thinking that I’m way off base and I’m trying to manufacture a calling that he never actually issued. Have you ever felt that way?

Have you ever been doing something for God and felt conflicted, wondering if it was actually God who asked you to do it or if you were mistaken? Maybe it was actually just your own idea? It’s such a hard place to be in. It paralyzes you so that you can’t do anything. You want to do what the Lord asks, but you get trapped in fear that he never asked you to do it in the first place. And so the battle rages on.

My husband had some wonderful advice when I told him about my conflicting emotions. In a nutshell, he told me not to let the enemy win by succumbing to doubt, meaning that the enemy will try to put a halt to things by making me just unsure enough to stop moving. In light of that, I need to keep walking in obedience until I know otherwise.

I don’t want to look back a year from now and realize I’m still in this place of uncertainty – waffling back and forth and back and forth. I want to be so far down the track that this is just a distant memory.

If that’s you and you’ve experienced what I have where you’re so scared to do the wrong thing that you just stop and stand still, then start again. Move forward. But do so in faith and in prayer. I believe God will show us when we need to change directions. Or, he’ll address a heart issue when it’s needed. But we’re not to stop serving him. We’re not to stop ministering to people and pointing them to Jesus.

Let’s spend time in the Word this week and dedicate time to prayer. To be honest, it all comes down to this anyway. If we ask God to show us his will for us, I know he will do so.

Move forward in faith, and trust that God is going to determine your steps.