Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me?

Why didn’t anyone tell me THIS is what it feels like?

I’ve been around church people my whole life. I used to get so mad when my mom would make my younger brother and I go to church with her on Wednesday evenings. I remember how annoyed I was when I went to school the day after the blinky do shoes episode of My Wife and Kids aired, and everyone was talking about it. I was mad I didn’t get to watch it because I was at church. I couldn’t comprehend why people would willingly spend a week night in church. And then there were the night vigils! Those I really couldn’t understand. Whyyyyy would anyone want to be in church on a Friday till 2am? I remember many night vigils when my friends and I went down on our knees, faced our chairs, and pretended we were praying. We were actually taking a nap with our heads buried in our arms.

I remember car rides with my mom always meant worship music was the genre of choice. Sometimes when I was in the car with my mom or dad, I would find them mumbling to themselves. But they always insisted they were praying.

I remember learning the Sunday school mantra – read your bible and pray everyday. I learned all the major bible stories and many praise and worship songs. Even after leaving home, I continued to go to church and hold God in high esteem in my life. By high esteem, I mean calling on God mostly when I needed a crisis manager.

But now that I’ve come into this deep relationship God, I’m so confused why nobody told me THIS is what it feels like! It’s so much more than just going to church late at night, praying in the car and singing songs of worship. They were feeling something! Something deep down on the inside of them that cannot be explained. Something that made it a blessing to go to church at night. They were feeling the unexplainable peace and joy of God. The joy that won’t let any situation hold them captive. They were experiencing the presence of God. A presence that will have you waking up with the biggest smile on your face, simply because you know him.

Most times when we learn about God, we’re told so much about what God can do for us. How God can fix our problems. But there’s something so much deeper than that. THIS feeling. I really can’t explain it, but it is the most amazing, life transforming feeling ever. If someone would’ve told me THIS is what it’s like, I would’ve been here the second I came out of the womb.

I remember looking at people that were obsessed with God and thinking that their lives must be so boring. I wish they told me what they were experiencing! It’s more fun, more fulfilling and more amazing than anything this world has to offer.

Striving to live a life of worship to God in everything we do, rather than turning to God only when we need a crisis manager, leads to a far more fulfilling life. THIS feeling is a part of living a life of worship. THIS unexplainable feeling.

 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth. John 4:24

I Want To Be Free!

“I thought by now everything would have worked out. I thought by now I would’ve accomplished my goals. I thought I’d be there by now. God if you love me so much why am I still struggling? God when will I be free?”

Do any of these things sound familiar?

When everything is going wrong, it’s easy to turn to God and say, why me? Don’t you love me? But it’s important that we don’t equate God’s love for us with what he’s doing or not doing for us. When things are tough, we might want to console ourselves by thinking God will move swiftly to free us from a place where we feel trapped, because of his goodness and love for us.

But what does it mean to be free? Freedom is what Jesus did on the cross for us. Freedom is knowing that we have eternal life with God. Freedom is finding peace in a place where we feel trapped. Freedom is still being able to worship God in spirit and in truth even when everything else around us is falling apart. Freedom is having God so deep down on the inside of us that external circumstances don’t shift our view of God’s love and goodness.

God did so much for us when he sent his only son to die on the cross for us, so that we could have relationship with God.

But even though God did all of that for us, he still wants to move in our lives. Yet it’s important that we don’t equate what God can do for us with how much we love him, or how much he loves us. Because you know what? Sometimes we’re trapped a lot longer than we thought we would be. Sometimes goals aren’t achieved. Sometimes that sick person we’ve been praying for still passes away. Does that mean God isn’t good? Does that mean God doesn’t love us? No it doesn’t.

The issues we’re dealing with will most likely be resolved, but there’ll be another one after that. How we see God, can’t change every time things don’t turn out how we would like them too, or aren’t moving at the pace we’d like.

I’m not saying we should become comfortable when life isn’t going great, or shouldn’t work towards making things better.

But loving God just as much when everything is great, and when everything is bad, is a huge step forward in our relationship with God. When everything around you seems to be crumbling, but still feeling that peace from God that passes human understanding is amazing.

Then there’s also remembering that God will work the situation together for your good.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to HIS purpose. Romans 8:28

He’s going to use the current struggle to help you bring words of wisdom to others in the future, and to keep you stable during the next struggle of your life. Yes, it’s amazing to be free from bad circumstances and hard situations, but the ultimate freedom is God himself.

What To Do When You Feel Like Your Prayers Aren’t Being Answered

So over the past year, I’ve been praying some specific prayer points. Some have been answered, and others I’m still waiting for them to get answered.

But the prayer points I’m still waiting on are some of the major ones I really want to see answered in my life. Sometimes I find myself crying out to God.

Why haven’t you answered me yet?

You’re God Almighty. You have the power to change my situation with the snap of a finger. Lord, I trust you. You told me to give you my burden and take yours because yours is light Matthew 11:28-30. I don’t even stress about what’s going on because I’m trusting you. Why haven’t you answered me?

It gets frustrating sometimes, but I know the God I serve. He loves me and wants the best for me. I want to share a few tips on what I’m doing, and going to do while waiting on God to answer my prayers.

  1. I’m not going to lose faith or be idle. Like I said, God has the ability to change my situation with the snap of a finger. Today it might seem like nothing is happening in my situation, but tomorrow everything can change. I was reading 1 Samuel 4-6 today, and it was about how the people of Israel had the Ark of God stolen from them by the Philistines. It was very sad for Israel and it caused the people to cry loudly. For 7 months the Ark of God was in the possession of the Philistines. One day while the people in Beth Shemesh were busy harvesting their wheat, they looked up and saw the Ark of God. (The Philistines had to send it back because the Ark caused the people to suffer. Kind of like when we try to walk in someone else’s purpose, or enviously desire to be like someone else. But it’s hard to be successful in an endeavor God hasn’t given to you. But that’s a post for another day). So one day Israel had no Ark. But just like that their situation changed. They also weren’t idle during the waiting period. They were busy harvesting their wheat the Ark came. Just because I’m waiting on God to answer a prayer doesn’t mean everything stops. I keep on doing the work I need to do and trust that God is working. Cause he is even though it doesn’t look like it.

2.I‘m not going to stop praying. Like I said, God has answered some of my prayers points. So the same God that has answered those prayers is the same God that can answer the remaining.

3. I’m not going to let my unanswered prayers steal my joy. I’m still going to praise God and give thanks to God in all things. Let’s be honest. We’re human. Even before the prayers I’m waiting on to get answered are answered, I’ll have some more prayers points that I want to bring to God. If I keep putting off my joy till my prayers get answered, I  will never have peace. Which is why I love Philippians 4:6-7  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. It doesn’t say we should bring our request to God so that God will answer all our prayers, but that God will give us peace beyond understanding. That peace is so key. And that peace is what enables me to pray prayers that lead into my next point.

4. I ask God if there’s anything he wants me to learn while I’m waiting. I ask God to refine me in the waiting period. I ask God to work on me and use my current situation to strengthen me. As much as I want my prayers answered, my ultimate goal is heavenward.  Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. So I ask God to use my situation to refine me to make me more like Jesus. I love the way Romans 8:22-25 is written in the MSG version. It says we are enlarged in the waiting but we don’t see what is enlarging us. But the larger we become the more joyful our expectancy. We don’t always see it like this, but sometimes waiting can be a gift.

When I first drew closer to God, I went to God for things. I wanted the things more than I wanted God. But as I waited for the things, I grew closer to God and desired God more than I desired the things. And from my experience over the past year, not a single thing even COMPARES to having a relationship with God.

5. I don’t accept my situation as permanent. Yes, there are some circumstances you’ll have to face in life, but don’t get stuck in them because you believe that God desires to keep you in that situation. God doesn’t cause bad situations to happen in our lives, but he will allow us to go through them. You may need to be in that situation for a while to learn something, but not forever. Please don’t let a test turn into bondage. Like I said, God has the ability to change your situation with the snap of a finger. In the book of Judges, every time the Israelites cried out to God for help, he intervened. They would suffer for years and then cry out. And suffer for years again, and then cry out. I truly believe if they had cried out earlier, they wouldn’t have had to suffer for years at a time. It also didn’t take God years to answer them when they cried out. God wants us to live a life of abundance. We do not need to be so caught up in our situations, and always struggling to the point that we can’t even see the needs of others.

These points aren’t conclusive, but just what I wanted to share about waiting on God. In all of this, Philippians 4:6-7 is so key. Present your request to God with a heart of gratitude. You may not have everything you want, but you definitely have something to be grateful for. Then there’s the peace that comes with that. And being filled with that peace is so amazing. While waiting for God to answer our prayers we also want to be praying in alignment with God’s will for our lives. We do that by having a relationship with God. Spend time in the word. Spend time in prayer. Have your own relationship with God and be intentional about it.

Psalm 27:14  Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

It’s Valentine’s Day, I’m Single, But I’m In Love!

So it’s that time of year again. It’s Valentine’s Day! Around this time of year I used to get kind of sad if I didn’t have a man to spend time with on Valentine’s day. I always wanted someone to be around just for the sake of having someone around.

But this year it’s completely different. I almost forgot about Valentine’s day altogether. This year I am filled with the greatest love I’ve ever known. Yup the love of God. And no it’s not an excuse because I don’t have a man this Valentine’s day, and I have to fall back on God. I’m truly filled with the greatest love I’ve ever known. In the past if someone asked me out for Valentine’s day, I would jump at the opportunity to have a date for the day. If it’s a guy that I can talk to and get along well with, I would’ve said yes without thinking twice. This year I got asked out for Valentine’s day but I decided to say no.

Not just because my worth isn’t in having someone around for Valentine’s day, but also because I’m filled with so much love from God. God truly fills my heart and I am in a place where I am content in my singleness. I’ve learned to love God and have God’s love be enough for me. So I’m waiting on God’s best for me, and no longer entertaining relationships that aren’t God’s best for me.

There’s a joy in my heart that I really can’t put into words. I wake up filled with joy, spend my day filled with joy, and go to sleep filled with joy. I can honestly say it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced. It’s a joy that doesn’t change based on circumstances and situations, because I know the God I serve.

The void I tried to fill with a man could not be filled by a man. Only God can fill it and he has. That’s not to say I don’t wish I had a man sometimes. I do hope to get married one day and fulfill the purpose God has for me and my one day husband.  Some days I’m like “Ok hubby! You need to show up!”. But even with that, I always come back to focusing on God, and focusing on accomplishing the purpose God has called me to fulfill in this season. Even when I do get married my husband won’t take the place of God’s love in my heart. He’s not even capable of doing so. It’s so important come to a place of feeling complete and content with God’s love while single. That way when we do get married we’re not putting expectations on our spouses to give us the love that is only possible from God.

So yup! It’s Valentine’s day, I’m single but I’m very much in love!

Being Spirit Led In Fulfilling Our Purpose

I like to know everything. I want to know how things are going to turn out from the beginning to the end. I want to know if I start wearing my hair in a new way, if it’s a hairstyle I can still wear when I’m 50. I want to know if a guy and I start getting to know each other, if we’re going to get married or not. I want to know the full plan. So when God starts leading me in one direction, I like to fill in the rest of the story. For example, if God led me to move to a new city, I would start to plan my entire life out in that city. From getting married in that city, to buying a house, starting a business, and raising my kids there. But God might only want me in that city for 6 months.

I thought being spirit led meant God would lay out the plan and the purpose for my life, and I just had to make sure I spent time with God as he led me to fulfill the purpose he called me for. I thought I could just hold on to the plan for my life no matter what I go through because I know exactly where God is taking me. What I’ve come to realize is being led by God doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s going to layout the plan for me for the next 10 years and all I have do is follow it. Don’t get me wrong God can definitely tell you where he’s taking you. I’m also not saying that being spirit led doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan for your life.

But being Spirit led is not always about knowing the detailed plan God has for your life. It’s an everyday thing. It’s not having to know the full story but still saying I will follow you. I will go wherever you lead me. I will fulfill the purpose you have called me to accomplish for today. That purpose might just be to have a conversation with someone. You never know what God could use that conversation for. Maybe that conversation could lead to your next breakthrough, maybe that conversation could stop the person from committing suicide, or maybe that conversation was just to put a smile on that person’s face for the day.

The point is we don’t always need to have the entire plan to be led by God to complete our purpose. Being spirit led is to be obedient in the day to day and taking the steps God has told you to take even if you don’t know the complete plan.

IT’S BEEN AN UNCOMFORTABLE YEAR

This year has been one of the most uncomfortable years of my life. But you know what? I wouldn’t change it for anything.

God really took me through a process this year and brought me into deeper relationship with him. Right from January God pulled me in and I’ve really seen John 15 at work since. A.k.a a pruning process.

I learned so much about myself and how to better myself this year. I learned how much I gossiped about people, how being lazy hindered me and how I was chasing the wrong things for validation. But I’ve also learned how to have an attitude of gratitude in every situation, how to be more patient, how to be more selfless and so much more. I am seeing the negative characteristics being worked out of me and my behavior reflect Christ more and more.

I’ve seen my relationship with God go from the occasional prayer and devotion reading, to spending time in the word and prayer on a daily basis, to praying and speaking the word constantly throughout the day.

I know I’ll look back at 2016 as a turning point in my life. The year God stripped me of everything that made me feel secure and filled me with him. The year God turned my focus from myself to him.

This year has been the most uncomfortable year of my life (my life so far) but it has also been the best year of my life!

I don’t know how many times I cried this year and how many times I got frustrated and worried about the outcome of a situation. But it was in those moments I cried out to God that I found myself depending on God more and more.

The relationship I have with God now has been worth every bit of discomfort. I know God is working in me and preparing me to fulfill the purpose he has called me for. I plan on hungering after God everyday for the rest of life. But I also know it’s a process. Even though I learned a lot this year, I know I still have a lot of learning to do. The growth I experienced this year hasn’t stopped. I still have a lot growing to do and always will. I know it won’t always be comfortable to relentlessly pursue after God, but I’m not after a life of comfort. I’m after a life that glorifies God with everything I do. I’m excited to see what God will use me to do.  And I know it’s more than I could ever do on my own.

So thank you 2016! Thank you for the trials. Thank you for the lessons. Thank you for the process. Thank you for the discomfort. Thank you God for pulling me into deeper relationship with you. Thank you for filling the void in my heart. Thank you for thinking me worthy enough. I love you God. I love you sooo sooo much.

Getting Back To A Place Of Rest

Have you ever been so scared to do something because you didn’t know how it was going to turn out? Well that was me not too long ago.

A few weeks ago I spent a couple weeks just being really sad and full of anxiety about the future. I was really stressed out because I was so scared how different situations were going to turnout. I spent entire days talking myself into and out of doing something. I was trying to figure out what the outcome was going to be for every decision I made and in trying to do so I didn’t do anything. I was in a state of unrest and confusion.

Then I had a wonderful conversation with a friend and it changed everything for me. She told me that me trying to figure out everything on my own is me not trusting God. I was trusting in my own abilities and my own strength to be able to move forward with my life. God used that conversation to show me how indecisive I was being and how that indecision was leading me to stagnancy. Instead of just taking a step forward I was trying to plan everything out. But if I say I surrender my life to God, and I trust in his unending plan for me, I shouldn’t be worried about the future.

I’ve come up with a motto whenever the thought “How’s it going to turn out?” pops up in to my head.

It’s none of my business.

It’s not my job to worry about how it will turn out. If I say I’m trusting God, I need to pray and trust that God will fulfill the desires he has put in my heart.

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. James 1:6-8

The two weeks of depression, anxiety and indecisiveness I went through were really annoying to me because before that I was resting in God. I was full of peace. I was all about Philippians 4:6-7.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Then my friend said something else to me that also got my attention.

It’s one thing to get into God’s rest, it’s another thing to stay there.

The are so many distractions in the world that can easily get our attention and pull us away from God. We need to be actively guarding our thoughts and discerning the information we consume.

So after that day I went on a mission to get back to that place of rest and stay there.

My control problem hasn’t magically disappeared. I’m still working on not worrying so much about the outcome. It’s a process and it’ll take time but I fully intend on releasing the need to have control. I’m resting in God, taking steps to move forward with my life and not focusing so much on how everything is going to turn out. Because it’s none of my business.