In search of solid ground

I will never forget the moment my parents got in their car and drove away from me, leaving me at college for freshman year. We had spent the day buying articles, furniture, and food for my dorm room, and though I was excited to test out my new freedom, I felt odd saying goodbye to the people I had lived with my whole life. My dad and my brother got in the car after hugs and salutations, but my mom stayed back. She hugged me, teared up, and said something I will never forget: “Well, this begins a cycle for you until you settle down and get married; you’ll move to a new place every year.”

Those very words haunt me to this day. As I stretch out in my 26th year, anticipating my 27th, I find myself yearning for a stability that only a home can provide. My mother’s words didn’t meant anything to me when she first uttered them, but now that I am forced to examine my rental history since that day, I can’t help but confirm her accuracy. I have moved too many times for me to count. I have moved because a lease was up, because there was mold in the apartment, or because I was called (by God) to a new city. Though I haven’t moved because I was running from something or someone, I can’t help but feel like a nomad or gypsy. I feel like I have no foundation, and that doesn’t sit well with me.

I am aware that Jesus is my ultimate foundation, and I am constantly learning how much freedom comes with that stability. However, I feel like a transient at times; mainly each time I have to pack up, rent a U-haul, and sign yet another lease. I want to own property. I want to have a place that I can call my own, where I can spread out and make a HOME. I don’t want another apartment, another lease, another temporary address change. I want to plant my life on solid ground, and I have no idea how long I will have to wait until I can do that. I don’t want to buy a home before I am married; I don’t know how long God will keep me in Atlanta. I also know I am not in a position to buy a home right now, and in realizing this, I can’t help but feel a little lost.

I think the important thing to focus on right now is that this is temporary; eventually I will be in a place where I will own a home, and have the space to raise a family. Eventually, I will have land, or literal solid ground on which to build, and I won’t feel so lost. But for now, I find comfort in Christ, who is my only guaranteed stability.

Praying on what steps to take next, as I need to firmly decided if I should ride out my current lease in Midtown Atlanta, or rent an apartment or house down in Henry County (closer to my new job and my church). I wont make any moved until I feel God’s peace. Right now, I just have to wait…

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Bold as a Lion

It is always humbling, and often embarrassing, to have to admit when I don’t have life “all figured out.” I realize that no one, indeed, has all the answers, but sometimes I feel like I struggle with elementary issues that others easily push aside. Today, though, I am refusing to compare myself to anyone. My Creator will never ask me to measure up to anyone but The Son of Man; Jesus Christ. So today, I am not going to feel insecure about my struggles, I am not going to feel weak about my personal iniquities. Instead, I am going to deal with my thoughts and emotions, and come to solid terms with an inner demon who has outstayed a visit. I am tired of wrestling with indecision, and it’s high time I do what the Word tells me to do, and become bold as a lion. For Proverbs 28:1 says, The wicked man flees, though no one is pursuing while the righteous are as bold as a lion. I want to be counted as righteous, so I will have to take some bold measures to get there.

My struggle today is with second guessing my decisions. I have often battled with thoughts of, “What if the other option is better?” Or, “How do I know this is the best choice?” And, “If I stay, I will get x, y, and z. Why would I leave that?” In the past 2 weeks, I have literally learned one of the most valuable lessons thus far: when you follow the Lord, distractions will abound. A lot of those distractions are going to appear more appealing than the Lord’s attractions, which is why it can be difficult to differentiate between the two. Let me paint a picture for you:

I prayed for a job at a private/Christian school 2 years ago. Disenchanted by the public school system (but still admiring the students in the public schools) I felt a pull on my heart to be in a more intimate, structured setting. In short, I wanted to teach in a school like the ones I was taught in: small, private, secure. I wanted to be a teacher with a name, and to know the names of the teachers I worked with. I wanted students whose parents actually cared about their education and wanted them to succeed. I was desperate for parents who contacted me, instead of parents who avoided my contact. I wanted a change of pace.

Upon moving to Atlanta, I though it would be the perfect time to transition into that setting; I thought God would give me the desires of my heart because I was faithful to Him by moving in the first place. Instead, I spent 4 months unemployed and ended up getting hired into a school that was the exact opposite of what I had prayed for: huge student body, public school system, no diversity, little security. As you know, I harbored thoughts of quitting, but I knew in my heart I was exactly where God wanted me, so I stuck it out.

At the start of 2010, I decided to place my resume out in the private school sector, to see if I received any nibbles. I didn’t expect much to happen, and I was content (though slightly saddened) with the thought that I might have to stay at the same school for another year (or 20, if God so chose). Over the course of a month, I interviewed with a Christian school, the entire time being patient and trusting God for His will. Last week, I was hired. This school fits every prayer request and qualification I have, and the job is a promotion (which is more than what I asked for, or thought I deserved). God showed me unmerited favor by selecting me for this position, and I rejoiced when I found out the news.

However, the second I received a glimpse of God’s plan for my life, the enemy stepped in and began to whisper ungodly thoughts and ideas into my head. “This can’t be real! This is too good to be true. You don’t deserve this and God is going to snatch it all away from you. This is a set-up and God won’t follow through.” Whoa dude! Where did that come from? I don’t believe that I serve that kind of God; I don’t believe that God would do that. And, even if this job was/is taken away from me, do I serve the job, or do I serve God? Is not God my portion, not a job offer? Proverbs 10:22 says: The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it. Though I believe these statements in my spirit, my flesh is at war with the lies of the enemy. To top it off, as I turned in my leave notice this morning, my department head told me that he scheduled me for 5 sections of 10th grade honors next year, which means that I would be teaching all honors classes, and a lot of the same students from this year (which might alleviate some discipline issues). How funny that as soon as I make plans to follow the lead of God, I see an opportunity to stay back and follow some other plan. Then I consider that perhaps this is a sign, perhaps I should stay at my current job because this new assignment sounds like a blessing as well.

I have a check in my spirit today as I remember a devotional I read a week ago. It was about being double minded, and how that is sinful and not of God. So today, I am reminded that I cannot second guess myself. I cannot question whether or not I have made the right decision simply because a shiny distraction has come along. I have to go with my spirit, and The Spirit, and trust that though staying here next year might sound appealing, the MOST appealing thought is that I follow God. I can’t waver about what I think God is asking me to do. I can’t question whether or not I was wrong about the decision. I have to stand firm. I have to be a bold as a lion. I have to pursue God and God’s will, and leave the rest of it behind. How do I know the new job is of God? Too many doors were opened for me that should have been dead-bolted shut. Too much favor was shown on me when none of it was deserved. Too many arrows are pointing in that direction, when only one is pointing in the other. It simply feels right in my spirit, and I don’t think I could live with myself if I didn’t take the new job. To the best of my knowledge, I think it’s God’s will that go.

I was not created to understand everything. I doubt my human mind could understand why these 2 great options were presented to me at the same time, when last year I was struggling to find one job. I really and truly might be making a big mistake (I doubt it, though). If I am, though, isn’t my God big enough to catch me and protect me? Isn’t my God strong enough to restore me? Isn’t my God gracious enough to forgive? Isn’t my God enough?

Psalm 119

57 You are my portion, O LORD;
I have promised to obey your words.

58 I have sought your face with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.

59 I have considered my ways
and have turned my steps to your statutes.

60 I will hasten and not delay
to obey your commands.

61 Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
I will not forget your law.

62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks
for your righteous laws.

63 I am a friend to all who fear you,
to all who follow your precepts.

64 The earth is filled with your love, O LORD;
teach me your decrees.

“What If” Syndrome

In the past few weeks I haven’t really had any days to sleep in. My Saturdays are usually the one day of the week I get to wake up without an alarm clock, and I cherish them very much! Since I haven’t been feeling well this past week, I think I have gotten more sleep in than I usually would, so I can’t complain about missing a few Saturday slumber sessions. This morning, when I awoke bright eyed at 5:45, I didn’t think much of it. My body is probably tired of resting so much after being kicked around by some new allergies, and I figured I just needed to get out of bed and start my day a little earlier than planned. As I lay in bed seconds before getting up to shower, I hear that still small voice say, “I need to speak to you. Go read your devotional.” Ah, yes, it was God who woke me up early. There was something I needed to hear.

I’ve been reading Joyce Meyer’s “Battle Field of the Mind” 100 day devotional, and while I am only on day 45, it’s taken me well over 100 some days to get this far. I am as consistent as possible with my reading, but sometimes I just don’t get to it! I realized today that my imperfect pacing was used by God to give me a very powerful word, that came right at the perfect time!

Today’s excerpt was called “A Confused Mind” and as I started reading it I didn’t think it had anything to do with me. “God, are you sure you wanted me to read this?” I thought the lesson was going to be on keeping the faith even if things happen in the natural to make you waver. I think I am continually learning that lesson, and my mind instantly flashed to last summer when I had moved to a new city and found myself unemployed. These were memories I didn’t want to rehash! Then, as I flipped through the passage these words hit me so hard my heart literally felt like it weighed 100 pounds. Joyce was talking about Christians who make a decision, but the moment something comes up to counter that decision, they change their mind and start to question their reasoning. Quite literally, she said:

“The moment they feel sure they have made the decision they plan to stick with, they begin to wonder if it was the correct one. They continually doubt and question their reasoning.”

Oh my goodness! I am a “they!” I have only recently found myself in positions where I stand firm on my choices, and even then it’s for small stuff like food or clothing items! My mind started to think about all the major life decision I have made (moving to a new city, changing churches, accepting a new job) and in all of these situations, though I felt sure of my decision spiritually, I wavered in my flesh consistently until there was worldly proof that I had made the right choice. This is not of God. I realized today when God spoke to me through that devotional that I have got to make decisions, and rest in His peace WITHOUT doubt, without wavering, without contracting the “what if” syndrome. “What if I make a mistake? What if this ISN’T God’s will after all? What if this is the wrong choice?” This is a trick of the enemy of my soul and in most cases has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit or God. It’s time to stop this battle of my mind and get my flesh aligned with my spirit and The Spirit.

Pray with me:

Holy Lord, I surrender my will to you each day and I ask that your voice continually be the only one that touches my heart and soul. Lord, I repent of my transgressions and my doubt, and as your divine forgiveness as I walk in faith alone. I know there is a possibility that I will make several mistakes, and choose poorly, but I trust that the power of the Holy Spirit will guide me through each and every decision that I make. Thank you for showing me favor, thank you for opening doors that were locked and dead bolted shut. Thank you for making it clear what path I should take. To You be the Glory!

AMEN

Fear-sighted

My sinuses have been acting up all week. I have never been diagnosed with allergies, but after this week I think I might need to be tested again: these Georgia plants are doing a number on me. For this reason, I decided to wear my glasses to work today, which is something I rarely do. I have contacts, I love my contacts, and my short hair style doesn’t exactly look great with my glasses, but I am wearing them for comfort today. I took them off just a minute ago to wipe down the lenses, and the power of the Holy Spirit literally hit me. I can’t see a daggone thing without my glasses on: everything is blurry. I think I am near sited, if that means that I can only see things clearly when they are near me. Everything from a distance is a big old blur. To be honest, that distance is probably about a foot away, because as I was typing this I took my glasses off again and the computer screen was blurring. This is ridiculous.

Though I have known and lived with my eyes since birth, and been away of my poor vision since second grade, I don’t think I truly understood the correlation to God and my eyes until this very moment. The Word tells us that we only see in part, meaning we (humans) cannot possibly see of comprehend all that God is and does. Several Christians walk around not even fully understanding the spiritual realm that exists all around the natural, but that’s another post saved for another time. When I took my glasses off today I realized that my vision in the natural (in my flesh) is comparable to my vision in the spiritual. I am often trying to grope my way around what I think God is doing or saying, and sometimes God allows me to be correct in my assumptions by the power and divine wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, though, I am just groping around in the dark reaching for something I can’t even see. The type of vision is what I like to call, fear-sightedness. Because, when you are walking around a dark room, searching for something that you aren’t familiar with, the first natural reaction is to be afraid. What if the thing you find hurts you? What if it’s disappointing? What if you never find it and just keep reaching out with no success? This is some scary stuff.

So, without my lenses in the natural, my vision is blurry and I can’t clearly see things until they are close up. The same is true in the spiritual. I don’t begin to comprehend what God is doing in my life until something (literally) hits me in the face. A lot of times, I don’t get it until it’s already passed me (after the fact). This is why the Holy Spirit needs to be my corrective lenses, because without it, I am just groping around in the dark, reaching for answers to questions I haven’t even formed yet.

Is your spiritual vision blurry? Ask God for some correction, some clarity, and some cleaner lenses. It’s time to stop living in fear of the unknown, and start clearly seeing the will of God, and feeling the peace that exists even in the den of lions.

The Pursuit of being CONTENT

I think it just hit me, but for a little over a month now I have truly been content with my life. My friend told me she noticed a difference in me a few months back, but I didn’t take any notice. God had prompted me to allow Him to heal some major wounds in my life, and I have been so focussed on the healing that I haven’t even noticed what has already transpired. I am well on my way, folks! I truly see (and feel) like a different (more whole) woman.

One of the major areas I was wrestling with God on was the issue of a husband. I have been single for over 3 years and though some days I was really happy about it, most days I just wanted that season of my life to end. I realize now what it really means to be content in all situations, as Paul speaks about in the Word. I have really been able to see the true advantages to being single, and though there are times when I don’t really like it (“Uh, table for one, please.”) I genuinely see the overall benefit to allowing God to use the past 3 years for internal growth. So, if this season lasts another 10 days or 10 months, my prayer is that I am consistently content and open to what God is calling me to do in the NOW and not the THEN.

In addition to being content and finding joy while I wait, I have learned so much about myself. I am, for the first time, asking important questions about what I want in situations or how I feel about such and such. Before, I was more consumed with other’s and how they felt. Now, I realize how I feel and what I want are equally important (and, sometimes it’s more important). I am learning to become unapologetically satisfied with myself, and all that is ME. It’s more about self confidence and not at all about cockiness. It’s about consciousness, and not ignorance. It’s… wonderful. And as I grow into this new acceptance of ME, I realize how absolutely easy it will be to allow a man into my life, when the right one comes along. I used to think that dating was complicated and mysterious, but now I see it’s just a matter of being comfortable enough to accept the man who sees the me that I see, and pursues me without apology. I don’t need to convince anyone I am worth that; I am not in the business of match-making myself! My plan is simply this: I am going to keep on growing, and living, and accepting myself (faults and all) and when the right guy comes along, it will organically mature into a relationship. I might not even notice what is happening! If I continue to stay focussed on and running toward God, this guy is truly going to have to put on some track shoes and keep up if he wants to get my attention.

This is a good feeling… I will never have all the answers when it comes to this thing called life, but I feel so very comfortable with MY answers, the one’s I have discovered in God about me and about how to live my life. What answers have YOU discovered?