Thursday, August 6, 2015

Wilderness Selections and Reflections

This evening when I sat down to blog, my heart full of sunshine and anticipation, and gratitude, I couldn't resist a "quick" stroll down memory lane. Something inside of me was itching to revisit my Wilderness blog series from this year, and I am so very glad that I did. Because here on the other side of the wilderness, I am ready to say exactly what I knew I would be able to eventually say all along. It was all worth it. I would wander that desert place all over again if I knew that it would lead me to here. I am forever thankful that God called me out into that wide open space so that He could love on me for a while, pull some things out of me, teach me, and grow me. And in all of the wandering and confusion, finally He could get me on His path to where He wanted and needed me to end up. If not for that space and that season, I would not be here right now. That may not necessarily have ended badly, but it would have been the fast track, my track, and those tracks though more direct ALWAYS pass by all of the best scenery and stops along the way. I am so thankful that He helped me to discover and embrace the beauty in that place so that I am able to experience the beauty of here.

So because I am here. Because this is the post that all of those other posts were leading up to, I thought I would share with you some selections that sort of sum up last season. Perhaps they will encourage you to keep trusting and wandering and anticipating all that God is doing in you and preparing you for!

"I have done a lot of crazy things through the years. Taken a lot of crazy risks. Jumped off a lot of preverbal cliffs blindfolded. But honestly, I have never been more afraid or insecure than I was on that red eye flight from Seattle, Washington to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania via Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Why you might ask?

I mean it's really rather ironic when I pause to think about it. For once I was returning to a sort of base. This safe, familiar place. But somehow even in comparison to all of the places that were once complete mysteries and unknowns, this season felt more uncertain than any other.

This season and this place I decided was my wilderness call. "

"Time and time again we see the wilderness referenced and revisited throughout scripture. Different people from different places and in many different generations. In each case, the purpose of the call is unique, but always ALWAYS it is to get people to a place of full trust and reliance on God and to bring them away from distractions so that He can shape them and prepare them for whatever is coming after the wilderness."

This is where I find myself currently. I am finally getting a grip on the calm element and now I am focusing on the standing still, patiently waiting part. I have this feeling I'll be working a little longer to get a grip on this piece. But I look to this scripture often to remind myself that waiting on God will most certainly be worth it, and when God does finally begin to reveal where we are headed and the steps that we need to take to get there, I will be on my way! And I know without a doubt that He will lead me and walk with me every step of the way."

"I am essentially saying this again. Enjoy being out of control. Enjoy not knowing the next ten steps or having to figure out the next ten steps or how you will go about taking them. Enjoy the place for what it is. Enjoy the endless expanse of sky above and the sweetness of the unpolluted air.
The point is. When we are calm and still and enjoying the wilderness, there's no telling how or when or where God will show up and get you moving forward again! Give him that space and freedom to work in your life! You will not regret it."

"The very condition of our hearts can serve as our greatest resource. If our heart is open to whatever God has and wherever He wants us for however long, then the wilderness can be a beautiful place to explore and a wonderful experience. When our heart condition is such, our attitude will naturally follow and we will be able to embrace the place rather than simple facing it. And believe me--embracing life (ALL of it) with positivity and joy rather than just facing it ALWAYS makes ALL the difference."

"'WHAT ARE WE EVEN DOING HERE!?' is one that has slipped out numerous times. I have wondered often if I made a mistake and if I am just bound to make more in the choices I make moving forward."

"#10 What is yet to come.
 I know that even though right now I have no idea what's to come and I feel really unsure and uncertain of pretty much everything, that the very best is yet to come. I am excited for all that lies ahead because I know that God is in it and that's ALL I need to know!"

"But here I am. No matter which way I look, there is wilderness. Nothing exciting close behind and nothing big and adventurous that I am about to walk into. Just more cold, more snow, more soap selling, more uncertainty.
This is the point in my wilderness journey when I can either turn around and stomp my way back to wherever I came from (which offers just as much uncertainty and uncomfortably as the alternative although we often don't see it that way) OR when I stomp forward with strength and determination to find out what is over the edge of that distant horizon. And if I don't start singing and expressing gratitude on the journey, I will not find the strength to arrive at that edge. And then I really will be stuck and miserable with no strength to reach the edge in either direction. "

"It's going to look different every single day. But mostly it's about learning to sing when I would rather scream and learning to take one tiny step forward when I would rather run 47 backwards. It's about deciding to see silver where there is lots of gray and to say thank you when I would rather say thanks a lot. "

"Rachel. Do you see how I brought them to a place where they had no choice but to rely on me? If they stood still, they had to trust that I would somehow keep that army from destroying them, and if they moved forward, they would have to trust that somehow I was going to make a way through that sea. But either way, they had no choice but to fully rely on me. That's what's most important to me. Total reliance. I want you always in places where you must fully rely on me. So, you can choose from here. If you stand still and decide to stay here in your wilderness until I open another door, that's fine because you will have to trust me through the dryness and waiting for another opportunity. OR, if you choose to move forward through this particular door, that's fine too because it looks nothing like you imagined and will also require you to rely fully on me. You aren't stuck, you are out of yourself." -God

"This immense, overwhelming sense of fear and doubt and the flood of questions and uncertainties were simply Satan weakly attempting keep me from following and obeying after I had already decided to...and in my humanity, it took something as silly and as small as my little puppy to make me think twice and reconsider REFUSING this call. This is a moment when I can either leap into something lovely, or stay cooped up "safely" in the nest wishing I could fly forgetting that I could all along. I can decide that if He's pushing me out of the nest then He has made my wings ready to soar, or I can decide that I just don't think I am ready and miss what's waiting for me over the edge. I can take my own route in my own time or I can trust that if He knows the ending He also knows the best route to get us there even if it doesn't make much sense to me or anyone else.
It took a day or so, but slowly and gently, Jesus began to show me, in the very sweet, very personal way that He speaks to me, that this was indeed a leap He wanted me to take and that He had been leading me this way all along.
Of course by this point I knew that I knew that I knew that this was most certainly the next step I needed to take. God was affirming in my spirit that it was no longer my time to stand still, it was indeed time to "move forward through the sea..." It scared me more than I even know how to express. It still does. For all of the usual reasons. I didn't see it coming, it doesn't seem to fit into the "plan" it blows my timeline and my vision of ministry and missions out of the water. It changes everything. I have been mentally prepping for Africa for more than a decade and now I have to somehow mentally, spiritually, and practically prepare for an entirely different place and culture in under six months. I don't know how to be a preschool teacher let alone to bilingual kiddos. I could go on. "

"The leap, the risk, the call looks different every time for every person. It seems that no matter how many times I think I have figured out where we are going and how we are getting there, there is inevitably a rerouting instruction or another detour. Every time the fear and the doubt and the confusion and struggle is the same. Every time it is very real. "

"But every time, no matter how many times I forget, God is faithful. And every time, no matter how many times I try to convince myself otherwise, I realize that I wouldn't have it any other way!"

"This is life with Jesus. This is the adventure! It looks and seems and feels reckless and crazy and risky and messy and absolutely STUPID! But the last time I checked, it shouldn't look anything but! We...I have got to be willing to go or stay, risk EVERYTHING at any moment that Jesus calls. TRUST me when I say it's all worth it for the thrill of living life in His presence and under His hand and His favor!"

(If it was a little hard to follow this post, or you would like to catch up on the whole story that led up to this post, please feel free to journey through my archives and read anything including the word "wilderness." My prayer is that my journey with Jesus would inspire and encourage you always.)

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