Friday, October 3, 2014

4 Steps to....?

Hello friends!

Today I am coming to you from the porch swing on the deck at my little ranch house in Ohio. I won't lie, being thrown back into suburban America after ANY time (let alone a month) spent in a different culture, always requires an adjustment period for me. I usually struggle with reverse culture shock most.

Thankfully, October is in full swing and so at least suburbia has THAT going for her! It's helping quite a bit with the transition. It also helps that the thoughts I am going to share today, are thoughts that Jesus brought to my attention while I was sabbatical-ing in Mexico :) Also being back with my adorable puppy isn't too bad either.

{That's supposed to be a view of the porch swing and fall and me loving both...just go with it, okay.}

{I still can't believe I survived an entire MONTH without this kid!}

At about my half way point in my personal sabbatical to Mexico, I had a little sit down with Jesus. Also, I really needed to do laundry and so I was sort of stuck up on the roof of the house alone. I had done a great job (I thought), of showing up in Mexico with literally NO plans and NO agenda. This, after all was one of the main objectives. Mexico was sort of like my reset button. A chance to get away from everything I knew and to spend less time dwelling on what came next. My hope was that all of the new culture and people and scenery would sort of serve as a distraction and keep my mind elsewhere.

{If you haven't figured it out by now (see previous post about duct tape) I am a planner. It is very difficult for me to "float" and to sort of sit back away from all of the action. BUT, God has recently brought to my attention that it is time for me to give it up and to let go and to just let Him take care of things. So, I am doing my best. The first step for me was to do something a little crazy and that didn't make a whole lot of sense. So, at almost 26 years of age just after leaving my first place of ministry and a really great, really well-paying job, I moved my life back to Ohio and then up and went to Mexico for a month. }

It really was JUST what I needed. I love that God always takes whatever pieces we give him, and turns them into some beautifully, creative masterpiece. 

Okay. Back to that sit down. At that point in the trip, my letting go and not planning or thinking ahead "plan" was going rather well. Though it had been a challenge, I had managed to force myself to leave my planner behind in Ohio, and I hadn't paid for international cell service which made for a month of separation from my smart phone (minus taking a gazillion pictures). I had spent my days writing and working on things I normally hadn't had time for and then exploring in the evenings and on the weekends with my dear friend Suzy.

After being in Mexico for less than a week, I had randomly ended up substitute teaching in an American school that Suzy attended and that her parents work at. I was loving the randomocity of the trip and the adventure that sort of just seemed to be finding me now that I had finally decided to just let go and take each day as it came! The experience because of that decision was so much richer!

But of course deep down inside, there were still those little nagging thoughts and questions...."what happens when you get home? Will you get a job? You are going to start running out of money. Should you start back up on the Africa plan? You could move to Mexico....SHUT IT RACHEL!"  Gosh I wish saying that to myself actually worked.

Thankfully even though I still struggle to keep my mind quiet, I do know enough to get out my Bible when it gets really bad. While I was waiting for the rinse cycle to finish so I could hang my laundry to dry in the hot, Mexican sun, I decided to flip through my Psalm and Proverb for the day. Good reminders always. I must have decided to keep flipping after I had read those, because somehow I ended up in Psalm 37 (which is more rare since there are only 30-31 days in each month.) Anyways, I stumbled upon a few of my favorite verses that I hadn't read in a while. As usual, they caught my attention in a fresh way.

Here are some selected verses from Psalm 37...

"Delight yourself in the Lord, 
and he will give you the desires of your heart...
Commit your way to the Lord; 
trust in him, and he will act...
Be still before the Lord
 and wait patiently for him...
The steps of a man are established by the Lord, 
when he delights in his ways. "

I had read these particular verses several times before and I always loved them, but this time around something caught my eye that made me a little uneasier than ever before. These verses are so vague! And right now, the last thing I am looking for is vague! 

This passage gives a lot of instructions as to what we should do and how God will respond...but there's really nothing very clear cut in any of it! If I delight myself in the Lord, He will give me the desires of my heart...which leads me to do I know if I am delighting in the Lord and what in the world are the desires of my heart!? If I commit my ways to Him, He will act. How in the world will I know if I have actually given up my ways to Him or in what way He will act!? BE STILL AND WAIT PATIENTLY FOR THE LORD....WHAT AM I WAITING FOR!? And then we finish out with this thought that God will direct the steps of the person who indeed delights in Him...which leads me back to the beginning... How do I know that I am actually delighting in Him and WHAT WILL THOSE STEPS BE!?


My attitude when approaching this passage is the whole issue in the first place. When I choose to follow Jesus, I am choosing to do JUST FOLLOW him. If I knew all of the next steps or the results of every move I made, I would have no need for following in the first place. And believe me when I say, as much as I hate not being able to see ahead sometimes, I also know more than anything that I NEED to be following Jesus. 

The truth is that when we follow Jesus, we get a lot of how to steps and not a lot of knowledge as to what will happen when we buy into those how to steps. Hello, Rachel...this is called FAITH! That's what this whole following Jesus business is all about after all...having faith that where He is leading and what He is doing as we are following is in JUST the right direction. 

So, this week I am offering you a 4 step process. One that I took directly from scripture. We like those right!? We LOVE step by step instructions that are clear and simple and easy to follow. We love having things laid out for us. it is. 

#1 Delight
#2 Commit
#3 Trust 
# Wait

There you have it. That's it. 

The hard part won't necessarily be following these steps, the tricky part will be following these steps without knowing what you are getting yourself into or where you are going to end up when you follow them. But, have no fear...I am RIGHT there with you...and even better...JESUS is leading. 

So, kick back, relax, enjoy Jesus and the journey He is taking you on. Give it ALL to Him! And then when you have done all of that, WAIT and be surprised by where you will end up and how He will put it all together!

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