It’s October 2nd. Three months left of 2018. I truly cannot believe how fast time has gone.
As I sit and reflect on the past year, God once again amazes me. Simply amazes me.
A little trip back to January and I recall the Lord speaking to my heart, “This is the year to flourish”. I remember asking myself, “Flourish or flounder?” I felt like I had been struggling. I felt like I was so far from where God needed me to be in order to move through me in the ways I sensed He was calling me to, flourish was the last word that came to my mind. Thank God we don’t move based on feelings. Thank God we move based on His Word, both written and spoken.
I wanted to flourish. I wanted to flourish in my relationship with God, my marriage, as a mother, as an encourager, and in my career. Because I wanted to, regardless of how I felt, I chose to lay hold of that word, like words I had laid hold of in years prior. But more important than my grip on the word, I knew I had to lay hold of the One who spoke the Word.
Early on He shared I needed to keep my gaze fixed on Him. Like Peter stepping out of the boat, I would be tempted to look at the waves around me. But I couldn’t! If I did, also like Peter, I would begin to feel as though it were all too much and begin to “sink”. Early on He also blessed me with a heads up. He spoke to my heart that it was going to get REALLY challenging and rough because the enemy was seeking to sift and devour what God wanted to do, and me. Again, I needed to keep my eyes on Him.
Like the GOOD Father He is, what He spoke began to take shape. Every single time my gaze began to meander from Him, I did feel as if it was all too much. Lovingly He would bring me back – through His Word and meeting me in prayer. The prayer He would woo and call me too. The heads up, it began to take shape as well…
The scrutiny and gnashing began first with my marriage, then moved on to my relationships with my kiddos, and culminated with my career. In one month it seemed as though all hell was coming at me and coming at me HARD.
You see, when we position ourselves to love and obey the Lord with everything we have, hell begins to shake in its boots, and twists and contorts in ways we may think we will be shaken too. But. God. God honors our obedience. He honored my obedience to minister to ten women from five different churches in our community. Because He blessed them with new vision, new hearts, community, contentment, trust, connection, hope and restoration – the enemy thought He would attempt to steal those very gifts from me. Not on God’s watch. Not. On. His. Watch.
While many of the tactics were straight from darkness, God was able to speak to my heart the truth buried in the rubble of lies seemingly compounding discomfort and creating pain. First, we do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but with powers and principalities of this world. This is truth. Second, those powers and principalities will do what they can to manipulate situations to manipulate thoughts, to evoke a non-Spirit-led response – and then wreak havoc. Third, God can, will and does allow those attacks and missteps to become lessons in our lives that point us back to repentance, deliverance and healing.
The attack on my marriage led to new conversations and a deeper connection with more support from my husband. The assault on my relationship with our daughters, led to understanding and a realization the time is approaching where they will need to fly on their own. A new dynamic in our relationship is not bad, it’s just different. Different can be good. The battering in my career led to my complete and total reliance on God to surrender and submit in an unfair situation and ultimately did a 180 in a matter of three months, with potential opportunities on the horizon. Opportunities I’m open to, but praying for God’s will to prevail.
God’ will to prevail is the heart of everything I hope for. As the battles raged, gatherings with gals continued. I arrived broken more than I wanted to. Confirmations were received to host a fall Rise Up Commitment session. Deep down? I didn’t want to. I wanted to rest. I wanted to take a break. My flesh was tempting me to focus on me.
Similar to my Gideon moment with the first commitment, I needed confirmation for the second. I needed to know He needed me to do this. After all, soccer season would be in full swing and there’s a whole host of activities to support the team. The first week registration opened, eleven women signed up. Eleven! In my mind there were three I knew were interested and one possibly repeating. But the seven other women? I had no idea they were even watching. I had no idea God was even speaking to their hearts. Four more gals joined over the course of a month. Again, gals I had not interacted with, but who were watching, totaling fifteen. Confirmation made clear.
Then suddenly, something happened. Around the same time things began to turn amidst the career bombardment, God opened doors to discuss matters of His heart with two co-workers. Those discussions led to twelve more ladies joining, in a new community. And then another hopped on board and another. Before I knew it, He had nearly doubled the number of gals choosing to Rise Up, from earlier in the year. He NEEDED this commitment to happen.
How? How does one keep from sinking deep beneath the shoreline and swept into an undertow? How do you keep going when it gets so hard? When you're so tired?
I sit and write this and think of God’s goodness. I think of everything He calls us to and how He equips to make it so. I love how He can increase time and call us to pay more attention. I love how He can take what is an already busy season, and somehow make it all not only “work”, but allow blessings to flow. I love how the same God Who calls us to trust Him with the intensity of one season, is the same God who calls us to step back and rest with Him in another. Which is where I sense things are headed.
There are just under five weeks left of the current commitment. I am trusting God to provide vision, tools to build, and inspiration to press in and press on to our race before us. God has so much in store for these gals. The remainder of the year, God will continue to pour out and into the connections made with all the sister connections established throughout the past year. My hope? They sense they too are flourishing and thriving at the revelation of God’s goodness.
When contemplating and praying about a subsequent Rise Up Commitment, my sense is to learn from the past two and continue to invest in the lives connected with. I honestly don’t know how Pastors shepherd more thirty people at a time. Shoot! I don’t know how they shepherd more than twelve or fifteen! My heart gets so intertwined, my prayers arrested for the needs of the gals I’ve grown to love, more often throughout the day than not. And “celebrity” Christians? Oh my! I would feel the need to reply to and connect with every single message, email and comment made. That’s why I’m grateful God is calling me to a season of cultivating continued connection, encouragement, and support to continue to transform – here in our community.
As He sets my sites on other areas, I know He also needs to do some pruning and stretching in order to allow new life to grow. He desires every area of our lives be submitted fully to Him. This – this is when we truly flourish, when we are fully given to all that He has for us, including His Name being honored through our lives.
I pray you are flourishing and I trust God to move you to continue on in your race and the vision He has set before you.
Where do you find yourself at this point in the 2018 journey? What are you believing God to do with the remaining three months? Do you have hopes and prayers? I would love to hear from you! Feel free to leave a comment or send me a message.