Monday, August 26, 2013

When Plans Fail

"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps."
Proverbs 16:9

When I came back from Ellerslie in April, I longed to go back for the Advanced Ellerslie Training course. It was about 10 months long, which seemed like a perfect time. Still pretty long but not too long. The course sounded absolutely wonderful and I believed the Lord was leading me to pursue it for the Spring of 2014.

So, I began working as a part-time nanny and raising money for Advanced. I had my plans (which I truly thought were from the Lord), but all of that has suddenly changed.
I just found out recently that Ellerslie is changing their Advanced program. Because of all the changes (they're wonderful changes, just different than what my plans were), I don't know if the Lord is calling me to go back to Ellerslie. I don't know where the Lord has me next year (He certainly could lead me to Ellerslie), but essentially, I'm back to square one: the unknown.

business,businesswomen,confusion,figurines,metaphors,puzzled,question marks,symbolsIf you know my family's story (the Lord's leading in all of our moves), then you know how often we were faced with the unknown of where to live, what the future held, etc. And because the Lord had led us through those situations so often, there was a part of me that believed I had the whole "trusting in the Lord" lesson learned. Oh, how prideful! How foolish!

And praise Jesus, He has taken the blinders off my eyes! By removing all my former plans for next year, I was faced with the unknown again. With all my neat, little ideas gone, would I gladly trust and follow Him? What if He chose not to show me what next year holds...until next year?

These are questions the Lord has been bringing to the surface over the past couple days. And He has been so faithful to lead me back to Himself! Yes, is it easier to have the next year figured out, but there is such joy and beauty in learning to let go of "my desires and plans". For in the unknown, I am pushed to learn a greater dependence on Him. Praise the Lord for the precious, little ways that He continues to break us of ourself and turn our eyes to Him! 

I also love the timing of all of this. The Lord so perfectly chose to remove all of my plans, right before my family's vacation back to Michigan. Even though I hadn't blatantly said this, I was excited by the idea of knowing exactly what to say when all of my old friends and family ask me what my plans are. How self-reliant I still am! Jesus, save me from myself! I wanted to have a pretty "normal" answer to give to everyone, not the "I don't know, I'm just waiting on the Lord" answer that I've always had. But, why? Why would I want to remove the ability to proclaim my absolute need of and dependence on Him? To make myself look better? The Lord knows I need to be broken of that mindset as well! How gracious He is!

So friends, if any of you are wondering, I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing in the next year. And I am so excited about that! Today, I am looking to Jesus. In His perfect time, He will show me the next step. What a sweet Savior we have!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Lesson Re-Learned

Dependent: unable to subsist or to perform any thing, without the aid of

Isn't this the perfect definition of a Christian?

I know. This word, dependence, is the absolute opposite of everything that our culture seeks to attain. Independence is the cry of the American dream.

And yet, as a follower of Jesus Christ, I know my own inadequacy. I'll shout from the rooftops that I am a miserable wretch without the grace of God. I see in my own life how selfish and utterly sinful I am without Him.

babies,children,feet,kids,men,peopleSo, why do I need to keep learning this lesson, this lesson of dependence?

Why do I so quickly forget what it means to be dependent on Him, to know that I can do absolutely nothing good on my own? (John 15)

Over the past couple weeks, my main prayer has been, "Lord, make me like Jesus!" 

Over the past couple days, He's begun answering my prayer in a way I hadn't expected.

He's been showing me my sin. A neglect in abiding. A lack of love-induced obedience. My failure to completely depend upon Him. 

I've been so caught up in the busyness of life lately, that I've failed to give Him the first priority. Instead of allowing Him to wake me up in the middle of the night to pray or early in the morning to spend time with Him, I determined the amount of sleep I needed. Instead of giving Him the best hours of the day, I decided what I wanted to do.

And I wondered why I had been struggling to sense His presence? To be obedient? To know the Spirit's leading?

Oh friends, I have to keep learning this lesson...over and over again!

When will I learn? When will this finally sink into my thick skull? 

Oh, He is worthy; He deserves so much more than my half-hearted love and obedience! And praise Him, praise Him, praise Him that He is so patient with His children! Through it all: every failure to abide, every negligence to depend, every time self reigns, He is faithful and His love has never changed! He is making me more like Himself by revealing my inability. He shows me out of love, so that I am led to depend upon Him afresh.

What more do I need to invoke me to worship, to joyful obedience? I have a Beloved like no other! No other Lover would bear with my weaknesses, love me through every failure, and graciously draw me back to His forgiving arms again.  And to think, He took my countless transgressions and gave me His spotless perfection! The God of the Universe sees me as righteous! Oh, what love! What glorious grace has been shed upon me, the chief of sinners!

"Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die."
Rock of Ages, Augustus Toplady