Saturday, March 11, 2017

Let Him be your sunrise

I'm headed into a transition in my life. A big one in fact.
I've decided not to return to teaching 5th grade next year. Somehow, it became clear to me that it was time to leave the greatest and best job I've ever had. A job that has overwhelmed my life with blessings in every single facet of my life. I can't begin to list how God has used this job to revolutionize my life, to bring me blessing upon blessing, to show me His grace, His love, and give me the best friends a girl could ever ask for.

In 2009, I left something hard and God brought me to something beautiful. I came out of a time where death seemed to surround me and God used this job to breathe life back into me.

But this time, I'm leaving something good.

And you know what, though being resolute in my decision, I'm scared to think of what that decision could mean.

Though I know it's time, I see what all I have been given in this place and I can't imagine walking away from something that has been such a gift.

Yes, there's an excitement of what could be ahead, but mostly, there's fear. What if all I can do is this one thing in life? What if I'm not enough for anything else? Wonder if I've ignored God for so long that I'm headed for disaster or dry ground? What if I think He's talking to me, but it's not Him?

What if?

Yes, I can answer all those things with spiritual platitudes, but what if my life has been so spiritually dry that I feel like those platitudes don't apply to me right now?

As I head to this unknown, these thoughts were starting to consume me. They were beginning to win the day.

As my mind swirled with the what if's, I tried to ignore them as I had so much to accomplish that weekend. I needed to tackle more chapters for my accounting class and I needed to write the devotion book for my New York adventure that was quickly approaching. AND, I needed to finally organize my closet and clean my ridiculously untamed room FOR THE LOVE of all things good.

But, when Saturday morning arrived, I was paralyzed from doing any of that. And because a single girl, with her son at his dad's can hide from life with no one knowing, that's what I did. I never left my room and I hid from all things because I was petrified of the unknown in all of it.

What if I can't pass this class? What if it's too much? Has it been a mistake?
How can I write a devotion when all I do is spend my time begging God and asking Him why I feel so lost in life?
What on earth am I going to do for a career that provides for retirement? Pays for Cade's college? That makes enough money for me to live on? And continue my Starbucks habit?

So...I hid.

But, by the grace of God, a friend and I began to text that Saturday night.
She too was having a less than stellar day, for better reasons than mine, and as we joked back and forth for a while, one of her final texts was, "there's always tomorrow."

Yes, tomorrow, we begin again.

And on Sunday, I did.

I conquered the world of accounting, chapter 8 with a solid 80. I stood in my closet and thought about organizing it, put one pair of shoes away, put a load on to wash, and called it good.

And then Monday...

Monday, was the day I would approach the mountain of God, asking Him to help me write about Him, even though my time with Him seems to be limited at best and complete avoidance at worse.

I am the deer panting, thirsty in a dry and weary times I feel like there's a calling on my heart but I'm too scared to follow it. I'm afraid of chasing an unknown.
I'd rather stay dry and weary, than head somewhere I don't know where it's leading.

As I opened my Bible that morning, I thought that's what I'd write on: Listening to God as He calls you to something new...even though I was proficient at ignoring it at this stage.

And as I began in Exodus with the enslaved Israelites, something prompted me to go back to Abram in Genesis, which then took me to Hebrews 11...the chapter of faith.

As I meandered along the path God had me on, I found myself staring at Hebrews 11:8-16.

In fact, I couldn't move on from it. I wrote a few things down, but I knew this was the garden of goodness God had in store for me.

I sat amongst His garden for a bit but lingering there placed that call on my heart again.

The unknown, God's plan, though we know that plan is beautiful and is written about in books and transforms lives, it's UNKNOWN, so I moved on. I closed my Bible, put my computer back in my bag and headed to breathe and think about avoiding Him.

Some might say, and I would even agree with them, much in my life these last 9 years has been about living in the unknown, but also a rhythm came, a simple, predictable rhythm has become my life. And I keep choosing that rhythm of predictability instead of following Him into further unknowns even though I keep hearing Him beckon me.

And as my decision became resolute around Christmas time to leave my job at the end of the school year, I feel like my safety net of simple predictability is threatening to leave me and that thought is paralyzing.

As I began to write the NYC devotional, I mentioned how in this western world, everything is known. We can solve almost any problem. "Have money, will fix" is the mantra of the day. Keep things at arms length, stay loose, have a back up plan, and create your own destiny.

We put our hope n all things seen.

But, then there's God. A God that beckons us to faith, that says that faith is the crux to all things eternal.

"It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith - for he was like a foreigner, living in tents... Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.
It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep His promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead - a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.
All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised them, but they saw it from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them."

You know, I had a plan for my life, a vision for it.
I had hopes and dreams and wishes and longings.

And though I see how God has brought immeasurable blessing and gifts upon my life that I couldn't have even fathomed, in my loneliness I can convince myself that I'm tired of being lonely and that my dreams were better.

And then I get scared because I'm being called out to a land that feels even lonelier.

And then in the calling out, I'm reminded that I am alone, and doing this alone, and that I better not screw this up because I am the safety net, and wonder if this safety net isn't enough.

And then I start to miss my mom and wish my life was different.

So, then I hide.

I live a life of predictability, too scared to have faith in the unknown, and begin the circling in the dry and weary lands of desert living.

It's a vicious cycle really...reminiscent of people can see why I thought my lesson for these girls would be found in Exodus. ;)

How else does one get out of a desert, if not through a great Exodus.

The lesson I seem so desperately in need of learning...again.

And, as I thought my answer would lie there in the desert, instead, He took me to Hebrews to talk to me about faith.

And reminded me of the stories of how these greats of faith, had many days of doubt and days of wonky, messed up ways of not believing in God's plans.

Having faith is hard.

It's truly the art of believing in something unseen...of watching your life plans get really jacked up and praying to the depths of all within you that there truly is a moment of rescue and that there is a garden and not more desert at the end of His path.

But see, what is crazy ironic about faith, is that the only known and guaranteed element in all of it is God.
We, the seen, are the crap shoot, the wanderers, the unreliable factors in this equation, but God, He's the constant. He's the faithful. He's the unshakable stalwart.

He's the sunrise of tomorrow.

For a solid 3 years I've been scared to have faith and to trust God in many areas of my life. I've chosen the seen and the predictable instead. I've chosen, more often than not, to hide. And then, I've beaten myself up for being one of such little faith and being a runner from God instead of a runner to Him, because I've been too scared to see what that would mean for my life.

But, as I read about Abraham's faith in Hebrews, I also reread his complete lack in all things courage while he traveled through Egypt in Genesis. He basically sold his wife out to prostitution to preserve his own life.

And then as I read Sarah's beautiful testimony in Hebrews, I couldn't help but remember how her lack of faith and patience produced in her the need to solve her own problem and "help God" by having her husband sleep with the maidservant, which led to the birth of one of the most life altering shifts with Ishmael.

Both of their life stories could very well frighten us with the consequences of what lack of faith leads to...

But, what is better than that, is that their stories are great reminders that having faith is hard for people...even those who have been the pinnacle of it. Part of being human is this struggle to surrender our lives and our visions for what we thought it would be like, and taking hold of what life is really about.

On that Sunday, I thought my answer would be found in a great desert, but God had another place for it.

What if in life, where I thought my answer lied, it really wasn't there?

What if I showed up looking to prove my point, but God had a completely different one to prove?

I can't help but think that faith could be about showing up with a question for Him.
And then letting Him answer it.

And then asking Him to give me the courage to keep showing up and letting Him lead me through the unknown to His path and following it as it meanders around to His garden of goodness.

Are you feeling alone? scared? or stuck?

Let Him be your sunrise in the darkness. If you don't know where you are or where to go, start in the desert...He will always be your Exodus.

In Him,

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