Happy New Year! Thought it would be a good idea to get 2016 off and running finally with my first blog of the year. How is this year going to be different from the last one? It seems like every January, we all set the same goals, most of them unrealistic, and by February we are feeling bad while tucking in to a pie or bar of chocolate that we had vowed to give up at least until Easter. Last year, we got one day into our fast when our year got lives got flipped on its head with Emma having her first of two back surgeries a year ago yesterday. A lot can happen in a year.
So far, this year is different in that we have had to make zero hospital visits, and long may that continue. For me, I have begun this year with one simple goal: To give God my best. I don’t want to be giving Him my second thoughts, or rushing to read a verse before going to bed at night, but I choose this year to give God my best. I felt like God was challenging me on this about a month ago, and so this is my response to that challenge: to begin each day with devoted time to Him, on my own but also with Emma. I am choosing this year to, if need be, get up earlier just so I can have time with God. Sounds simple, but life can get crazy busy some times, and if we don’t set standards within our lives from the outset, then we will simply meander through life without much direction and without much connection with God.
So, may 2016 be the year for you, the year where long awaited hopes and dreams become fulfilled, where relationships are renewed and where you enter into a more full and real relationship with God. When we put down our busyness and make time to give God our best, everything else will come into alignment. God is speaking to us, always, but it’s up to us to make the time to listen out for His voice.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5,6
For the last couple of weeks, I have found myself thinking of this verse, and thinking of what it means to acknowledge God in ALL my ways. The word acknowledge means “to show or express recognition, appreciation or gratitude”. It’s when we express our gratitude to God and give Him all the glory for all the good things that come our way, we give Him room in our lives to “make our paths straight”. I have been trying to remind myself daily to give God thanks and recognition for all He has done in my life, each day. He is always at work in our lives. There is never a day where God is not involved in our lives. His promise is that He will never leave or abandon us. If we truly believe that, then would can hold us back from stepping forward into all He has for us, trusting in Him in every area of life, even when our own understanding of the situation may be contrary to what God does. We should never limit God to what our understanding thinks He can do.
Last week, my fiance and I received news that we had been successful in our application for an apartment, which I will move in to in 3 weeks, followed post wedding by Emma. During the process, we had to supply all sorts of paper work and background checks, not an easy thing to do when I haven’t lived in this country for six years. On paper we were unlikely candidates for the apartment, but we believed God wanted us to have this place, even when we walked in for the viewing, we felt such peace there and assurance that we would get the flat. I remember when we left after viewing it, we made a declaration that the flat would be ours, despite the fact we lacked much of the information they required! God really wants us to move in there.
I am still believing God for a ministry job to open up for me here, I am trusting in Him even when it might seem bleak to someone looking in from the outside. I want to always acknowledge Him in every breakthrough in life, no matter how big or how small it is. In doing this, according to this verse in Proverbs, He will make our paths straight. The thing about a straight path is that, well, it’s straight. You don’t need to worry about when a corner is coming up, or whether you are about to go through a crazy mountain pass. It’s just straight. I love this image as for me it means that I don’t always need to know everything that is coming up in life, I just need to be putting one foot in front of the other, confident that God has got me on the straight path, and that I don’t need to see exactly where I am going right now, but I will trust fully in Him all along the way. God doesn’t want us to be stationary, so He makes it a straight path. He makes it really easy for us to keep moving into all that He has for us.
In my own personal life, I am believing God for healing within my own body, which is a strange place to be in after witnessing so many healing’s in other people’s lives. I believe God will heal me, and soon. As each day goes by, I get a day closer to my healing. You can help me reach this by believing for this with me as well. That doesn’t mean that I am sitting back expecting God to show up in a dramatic way. He might do that. He might also want to heal me through other people, through doctors.
So, this week, acknowledge God in all your ways, whether it be financial, relational, physical, whatever. Acknowledge Him for who He is. Surround yourself with Bible verses supporting who He is for the situation you are faced with. Trust in the Lord, not on your own, or other people’s, understanding.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel up to Oregon with a team from Bethel, where we ministered to the people of the city of Bend, as well as met with local churches. It was an amazing trip, full of joy, healing and restoration. In the days leading up to the trip, I kept hearing God saying over and over that He was bringing restoration to the people of that city. Because God is a God of restoration. You don’t have to look too deep into the Bible to find a story of God bringing restoration to His people, it’s just in His nature to do that.
God has been doing some incredible things in my life, especially in the days leading up to my Oregon adventure. Last Wednesday I felt God was telling me to go for a walk with Him down to the river. I had just seen some postings on Facebook from people I know that were against God and against the existence of God. As I was walking down to the river, my heart felt burdened with this and I began to ask the Lord what was going on. I felt like God was giving me insight into how He feels when those He dearly loves reject Him and choose to turn from Him. I continued to walk down the path to the river, with a heart broken for those who have turned from God, and with tears rolling down my face.
God’s desire is to bring restoration to all people, even those who reject and deny His existence.
As I walked along the riverside that day, God was showing me something. He was breaking my heart for what breaks His, and it has since filled me with such compassion for those who are not in relationship with Him. We were not meant to live in isolation, or with hurt from past life choices weighing us down. God is so good, and He soon replaced these burdens I was feeling with joy, and I began smiling and laughing as I continued to walk. God never leaves us in a place of sorrow or pain; if we are continually experiencing that in our lives, then perhaps we are not allowing God in and we are blocking Him from bringing restoration into our lives.
I saw many incredible sights during my weekend in Oregon, from God restoring people’s physical bodies, to entire families experiencing God’s love and promises for their future. I watched in utter adoration of the Lord as we spoke life into a family who were experiencing difficult situations and were even at the point of turning from the Lord altogether. I watched as the husband broke down, with his wife by his side to bring him comfort. God brought restoration to this family in such a powerful yet gentle way. There is nothing as amazing in life as seeing the God of the universe step down and comfort those whom He loves.
God’s desire is to restore to us those things that have been taken from us. The devil would love for us to remain broken, hurt, lonely or lost as a result of past choices in our lives, but that is never God’s plan for us. We spent some time in a homeless shelter, where I had the chance to speak to a man in his late 50’s. I listened intently as he explained to me the transformation he has seen in his life over the last few years since he allowed God into his life and has since then been off drugs and alcohol and is even planning on attending evening classes at a local church where he will learn more about God’s love for him. Because God is a God of restoration.
My prayer is that you may take heart from this entry, that you may allow God to move within you, to mend any brokenness you have felt in your life, and to be fully restored to the life God has planned for you.