Friday, April 4, 2014

It's Just Sleeping

I am so happy to be writing today.  Last week was incredible- both what I went through and then the outpouring of love and support you all shared with me.  I have been very open and brutally honest with you all through my journey, and most of the time I wrote with tears in my eyes.  That's why last week was so special to me- I got to share a triumph with you.  A joy.  And it just felt great.

What powerful freedom I have been walking in!  When God breaks chains, he breaks them- no trace of their hold nor any ability for them to claim you any longer.  My life is the same, but I am not.  Each day I wake up I am greeted with the reminder that God is not only in control, but that He has ordained a destiny for me and my family.  It is a sweet privilege to walk that destiny.

Part of walking with the Lord means learning to hear His voice and follow His leading.  Three weeks ago I wrote a painful post...the week after, I was unable to let go of that post and just felt like I needed to remain still.  So I wrote a post saying just that- that I wasn't ready to write.  That I needed to wait.  It proved to be a crucial move because it was in the waiting that God had planned a divine meeting with me.  Had I rushed- had I written something "just because" then I would have taken my mind out of focus and out of the reverie it was supposed to be waiting in, and perhaps making it that much harder for God to get through to me.  To break my chains.

I want to tell you just how important and crucial the times of waiting really are.  We live in a fast paced, always on the move, on the go, in a rush, running here, running there, catch you in a text kind of culture that is often applied to our walk with God.  I feel that in this culture there is a temptation to just go- to take steps for the sake of taking them.  I think that is a mistake- I think you miss out on a rich depth when you do that.  You see, ever since I started following the Lord I believed that He had a plan and a path for me and I wanted to make sure I lived in it.  I prayed about decisions- not just prayed for God to bless my choice, but rather prayed specifically to find out what GOD's choice was for me.  Its just how Jeff and I live.  And I can say this: I have not taken a single step on my own.  Every decision, every choice, every move, every change was God ordained...and as such, I have developed a depth- a richness in my life.  I don't just "think" things will work out.  I rest on the promises of God- promises which extend to those who follow hard after Him and walk in His ways.

When Jeff and I got married we were in the middle of our junior year at Bible College.  By the time senior year rolled around, everyone was beginning to pray and to look for where they would be going upon graduation.  Jeff and I were doing the same- we prayed about several different options.  Jeff was eligible for a full scholarship to a seminary where he was thinking about getting his Masters of Divinity, so we prayed about that.  We also met with a pastor and his wife in Boston to discuss us coming there and helping with a church plant.   Two very nice options...but as we prayed we knew that neither of those were what the Lord wanted for us.  So we prayed some more.  And we waited.  Then we graduated and said goodbye to our friends, as each went their own separate way...but we still didn't know where we were supposed to go.

So here we are, living in the married dorm on campus saying goodbye to our friends and still not knowing what we were going to do.  Now the campus is very quiet.  And now family and friends are beginning to ask us what exactly we were planning on doing.  We could either just make a decision or we could look very foolish and continue to live on an empty campus after already graduating.  But here's the thing: in our minds, there was no question.  We move when God says move.  We stay when God says stay.  And we wait when God is silent.

So we waited.

Jeff worked in the kitchen on campus and we prayed.  Friends, it wasn't until August that we moved off the campus.  For nearly three months after we graduated we did nothing, or so it appeared to anyone watching.  While everyone was pursuing their next step, Jeff and I had no answer to anyone's question of "where are you going to go?"  God chose to wait- and it was during that summer while we waited that we began revisiting New Hope Church in Albany, NY.  We had met with Pastor Keith before but pursued other options...now we went back to New Hope.  And as we were driving up to the church to go check it out, that is when God spoke.  Jeff and I looked at each other and that is when all the pieces went into place.  We both just knew.  God had finally led us to the specific place He wanted us to go.

We finally knew our next step...and that step changed our lives.  It is still changing our lives.  But it was in that waiting time that I really began to understand just how important it is to be lead by God.  I knew that I did not want to have a life where I was the one making the decisions.  I wanted Jesus to move deliberately and specifically before I ever was to take a step.  And I can say this: I do not always understand why.  I do not always understand how.  And I do not always when.  But I ALWAYS understand that when you walk in full obedience you never have to worry for one moment about any situation, any circumstance, or any attack that may come your way, because you are moving and living under the very hand of God.  And that is a protected place.

But by God, don't do something just to do it.  Don't live your life and just include God in it.  Every single aspect of how you allow God in your life determines what kind of walk you will have with Him.  Everything is important and of eternal value if you have the courage to live that way.  The stays are important, the go's are important, the speaks are important, the silences are important, the runs, the walks, the stands, the falls- it all bears eternal weight.  Trust me.

Trust me.

My God if I have learned anything leading up to this past year of my life it is that there has been a reason- a PURPOSE- for every single moment I have ever lived.

So I urge you to obey.  To wait on God, to seek Him wholeheartedly, to put Him at the center of everything.  I have walked in zealous obedience with my God- many times without a clue.  Sometimes with major decisions, and sometimes with things as small as a blog post.  But there is a fullness- a richness in living in obedience.  It gives you a backbone.  A godly confidence.  It makes you ready in season and out.  It puts you in heavenly places and when you need God you don't have to shout- you are already in His company.

My life has taken many twists and turns- some completely unexpected.  But I am always, always under the protection of God.  And His promises can never be thwarted and the things I may see as a detour are really all a part of His plan, leading me to His promises.  Why am I so sure?  I am sure because God goes before me.  Because my actions and my speech and the very way I live are all done in integrity before God.  I follow his leading and do not take a step without His direction.

Challenge your way of thinking.  Challenge the way you view your life.  Don't get swept up in living your own life- but instead, "present your body as a LIVING sacrifice holy and acceptable to God."  If you give Him your life- every single part of it- then you will be in for the greatest walk you have ever taken.  And you won't fear the things that come, because God will always go before you.

I feel like a change has swept over- like the breaking of winter and the return of spring has ushered in a new season.  I believe the winter has ended.  God has begun a new work and a new season and I am seeing now more than ever that each new work He does is built upon each past season- that is why obedience and walking with the Lord is such a beautiful thing.  Because He ties your life together and the way you obeyed before is what ushers in the fulfillment of things to come now.  The winter kills all things living- or at least it seems to.  But they're NOT dead- they're just sleeping...waiting for spring to come and BREATH LIFE.  Like the promise God gave.  And I am excited.  Excited because I can see Him breathing life into things that seemed dead.  Things that were just sleeping...and now they are waking.  I am excited for what He has next and for what He will fulfill in my life and in yours.  Because promises were made- promises were made and I know I am going to see the fulfillment of those promises and it makes every difficult step of obedience worth it.

Next week you are going to be hearing from my husband.  The man behind everything I do- the love of my life and the man who makes endless sacrifices for me.  The last time he wrote on my blog was a year ago.  You have followed me through hard times this past year and you've heard it all from my perspective- now I want to give him a chance to talk to you from his perspective.  My husband is a true man of God in every sense of the word...he does nothing but by prayer and by seeking the Lord.  I have followed him as he follows the Lord and I rest knowing that my husband is a man who can be trusted and followed wholeheartedly because of his integrity.  He has lead this family.  He has guided me and our children and I am the person I am because of his pure example.  There is nobody I have ever respected more.

Looking forward to next week...and looking forward to what God is doing.  Be blessed and be encouraged today!


2 comments:

  1. Awesome :) Thanks for sharing so deeply with us. That "breaking the chains" is something that I needed reminding about recently and Christine helped me and prayed with me. Yep - it's necessary.

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  2. I have recently had two very important changes occurring in my life- one of which influences the other. I have been so tempted to put my hand into the mix to help the first area, in turn mixing in my human hand on the second as well. I have continually prayed for God to guide me on His path, for the Holy Spirit to break my will and for my feet to be placed in front of me by His will. The last two days I have found nothing but God's pleading for my patience- this blog being more of that caution. Thank you for this message and the reminder that the wait is hard, often grueling- but very much worth it when the conclusion is written by the hand that created all. Please pray for me that I will be able to persist in patience so that all He has planned for these events in my life will turn out for the ultimate good. God bless you Ashley and family!

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