Sunday, October 24, 2010

Navigating the Wilderness

So many thoughts lately... let's see if I can write a cohesive post!

God has been doing some very interesting and unexpected things in our life over the last six months. I knew God had a lot planned for our life when he brought Zach and I together, but I had no idea it was gonna start off like this! It has been quite a whirlwind and what one might call a "wilderness time" leaving us with lots of confusion and even more questions. Questions like,

"Why Lord are we so far from Allie?"
"Why Lord don't I have a job?"
"Why Lord are things so much more stressful and complicated than we ever anticipated?"
"Why is this happening? Do you really work like this?"

I will confess at times I have been practically paralyzed by fear and anxiety, not knowing what to do next when everything we seem to try fails. We feel confident we are in God's will and have been constantly seeking it, but I would be lying to say we haven't asked ourselves a time or two... "Did we hear Him correctly?" One thing is for sure, our faith has been more challenged during this time than ever before as God has asked us (among all our constant questions):

"Will you continue to trust me for everything even when life is completely upside down?"

This is much harder than it sounds when the pressure is on! Honestly, I have struggled with disbelief and fear... believing God wants to do immeasurably more than we could imagine, but deep down asking,

"But...does he really want to do that for us? Will he really work miracles and provide for us like he did for Israel?"

The answer of course is a hugely emphatic, "YES!!!" but I have suffered (as Whit calls it) that dreaded 'grace amnesia'... forgetting all God has done for us in the past - even just the past year alone! I have allowed my perspective to be limited by our circumstances instead of God's character. And what do I personally know God's character to be?

I know God to be loving...I know God to be kind... I know God to work for the good of those who love Him... I know God to be faithful... I know God to work in creative ways... I know God desires to do immeasurably more than we could imagine... I know God wants to work miracles... I know God's plan is deliberate and intentional and personal for each one of us.

How do I know this? Because in the past year God has:
  • brought Zach and I together in a dramatic and marvelous way (this alone is more than I could have ever asked for!)
  • worked many wedding miracles (like getting our venue for 1/3 the price, our generous musician friends (and non-musician friends!), my custom-designed dress by my dear friend Corinne, etc)
  • provided a new ministry opportunity for Zach at Beachside
  • helped us pay for our new rental house and a new car through my car accident (yes you heard me right! He works in very creative ways.)
  • blessed us with a free car to leave in Alabama so we have transportation when we visit Allie
  • provided non-stop direct service to Allie's home town through AirTran's new route 
  • enabled Allie's fear of flying to vanish and be replaced with excitement and joy
Even among all this blessing, I have sadly allowed my joy and peace to be stolen by a lack of understanding and fear of the unknown as critical needs seemed to go unmet. Only recently, through some friends, books, and studies have I solidly come to find freedom from fear as I place all my life in God's hands with the confident expectation he will answer prayers and work on our behalf.

Recently I started re-reading "Shadow of the Almighty" by Elizabeth Elliott and watching the Priscilla Shirer study, "One in a Million."Wow... how encouraging these two things have been in my life! To think that one of Christianity's most known missionaries, Jim Elliott, who died so prematurely by our standards while doing mission work, had a wilderness time...a "waiting for God to reveal a path time" while being at home in Oregon. That's crazy to me! Didn't God want to use every second of his short life? Didn't God want him to do more? It is very apparent these times of unknowing and waiting are critical for our development in the faith and God's refinement process. It is terribly painful, but purposeful. That whole "dying to self daily" Paul talks about is really challenging when the rubber hits the road! Even so, I want to be the type of person with child-like faith, the type of person who completely believes God still does the impossible even during these times when our way seems undetermined.

Years ago I told God I want an extraordinary story... a story that can only be explained by His love and active involvement in my life. I promised I would share it with whoever I met. So this is me, following through on my end of the promise since God has so obviously begun to unfold that story through some already extraordinary circumstances.

Although it has been hard to see God working during this wilderness time, he has been fast at work, uncovering potential in us and developing our character. Oh how I have clung to James 1! Due to this intense refinement process I am so unbelievably excited and joyful to see what God has in store for our future, our ministry, our marriage, and our family. In an effort to understand and see what God is up to, here's what I have seen him do in us:
  • strengthened our new marriage immensely and completely unified us in everyway (mind, body, spirit)
  • expanded and encouraged our creativity (together and independently)
  • increased our dependency on Him and our firm belief that what we can accomplish is by His strength and not our own
  • stretched our faith like dang playdough. Ha!
  • invested in us and the refinement of our character
I am so unbelievably excited to see what God has planned for us in the next month, year, and decade. To think how far we have come in such a short time! His plan is great and nothing is impossible for our God. How blessed we are to know him and know that following Christ is not a lifestyle, it IS life! Nothing compares to the peace and joy of knowing Him and the presence of the holy spirit reigning in your heart!

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