So I’ve been back in the swing of out of state relational ministry travels this winter. It has been such a full, beautiful time with many opportunities to see God’s movement in the lives of so many and encourage those near and far from Jesus to come closer.
During this particular travel season, I’ve found God stretching me a bit further in my faith than before. Over the years, the Lord has shown me in this itinerant, relational ministry work we’re doing together how critical it is for me to pray, consistently abide in Him, and seek His direction for where He wants us to go and when and how long. And as usual, He’s been faithfully giving answers…
But lately it definitely hasn’t been in quite the timing I prefer. =/
THE BEST LAID PLANS
As travel plans have taken shape, I find the Lord often giving me direction in a timing that feels kinda last minute to me and keeping a lot of the details shrouded until I (apparently, I guess) need to know them. Sometimes that’s meant booking tickets for flights mere days ahead of leaving rather than weeks…
Or getting homestays confirmed just days before arriving…
Or not finding myself at peace to set an appointment or send a text message although it seems urgent to as I see my window for accomplishing such a thing is drawing to a fast close…
Or wondering how my “loaves and fishes” resources are really going to facilitate all that is required for the next few days…
And definitely not having immediate answers for those inquiring minds (like mine!) that want to know what I’m up to.
Now, here’s the deal: I honestly used to believe that I was a planner by nature, but over the years with Jesus I’m learning that what I really like is…
a 10,000ft view of what to expect.
and details. Oh yes, details!
a sense of empowerment through knowing ahead of time.
and did I mention security?
And what it all seemed to point to is a warm and friendly desire for…
Because I don’t like feeling out of control…
Like life is happening to me and is getting a bit unwieldy…
And like the warm and positive outcomes in life I desire aren’t going to happen if we don’t do it a certain way…
(Which, by the way, just happens to be the way that makes sense to me. =\ )
A STILL KNOWING
In past I’ve found that by being proactive in planning ahead certainly facilitates this preference of mine. Sure, I like order, and structure, and details, and find it quite helpful and it can be of service to many in giving them something solid to lean on.
But as the author of Ecclesiastes so ubiquitously reminds us, there is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11), and this time, God is making sure I learn the lesson embedded here. In these present circumstances, God is whispering (sometimes I think He can shout loudest in His quiet whispers)…
I am God.
And after nearly 10 years previously in a professional role where I helped set the pace, schedule, and direction for our project teams, I find remaining in this “God is in control” awareness can still be a bit of a stretch. =/
THE OPPORTUNITY OF DOUBT
So recently, I was second-guessing the decision to make a short trip back out to California as part of my travel journey this year. I originally sensed the Lord in it, but after awhile, my human sensibilities started taking over. It just seemed to make sense to stay put, focus on the present opportunities where I was, and not have to repack my suitcase yet again. =(
Frankly after several weeks on the road remaining available to the Spirit, walking by His lead in each moment, and seeing Him move in incredible ways through me and in others, in me and through others…oh just all around us, I was so amazed at Him, overjoyed, and contented…
I was also really tired, missing my family, looking at my “loaves and fish” resources and time, starting to wonder in the midst of not being exactly sure of what I was back in California for, starting to wistfully think of a more “normal” life, and then wondering again how prudent a trip this was… Sigh.
getting His clear direction in prayer and confirmation.
seeing Him come through so many times before and presently.
already seeing God fill my cup as I traveled back to CA and orchestrate such good interactions with people from various faith perspectives.
But in the midst of my doubts and worries, Jesus continues to teach me that it’s the best opportunity to pause, get alone, and hear what He has to say about things. The irony it’s also often the easiest place to run away from and just double-down on more effort, fill up on more activity, or drown out the noise with louder noises and sounds.
Oh, but it’s as we lean away from the crowds and the noise that surrounds! As we lean into the quiet! In the process, we can find the voice of the dear Savior Who loves us best whispering, “‘Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.'” (Mark 6:50c)
And as He and I spent time together sitting in my parked car alone (praise God that any space can be a holy one thanks to His Ever-Near Presence!) a much-needed rain began to fall from the sky and the words of fear and doubt and struggle and exhaustion came pouring out alongside.
Then by His Holy Spirit, He helped me listen and remember…
His promise to never leave nor forsake me.
He’s sovereign and good.
He is for me.
This journey is His, bathed in prayer and confirmed through His Word, surrounding circumstances, and His unexplainable peace while walking without a detailed plan.
He’s bigger than my fears, worries, and doubts.
He loves me and is delighted with me no matter what I “accomplish.”
This is His ministry, His time, His resources, and His good, good, good agenda that I’m invited to join (not run, direct, or sustain).
And as He helped me express the concerns of my heart and requests, surrender, remember, He poured out His deep peace that brought comfort and security. And even though I still had no clue what we were doing (how familiar a place that is on this walking-by-faith journey! ;)), I knew that He did and we were doing it together.
Ah! What a difference the pause with Him makes! =)
ON THE OTHER SIDE
“Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, ‘Let us go over to the other side of the lake.’ So they launched out.” – Luke 8:22
And that very evening, Jesus orchestrated some of the best, heart healing, Spirit-directed, and deeply encouraging one-on-one conversations that I totally didn’t anticipate! Praise God for His help to keep going and not fall prey to the arrows of discouragement!
It’s incredible what God does as we yield and make ourselves fully available to Him and let Him take the agenda of our day. The beauty of it is that as He pours His Beautiful Presence and blessings, He always pours into both cups simultaneously! As I was reminded during one such talk with the sweet mom of one if the ministry gals here: “He who waters will himself be refreshed.”
Ah yes, how true God’s Word is!