The Journey Part 3/3 – Grace To Navigate These Times or What Now?

Jeremiah 29:11Fear can grow in me when I choose to be present looking at reality as it is, not as I want it to be. Is it a fear of being in the moment? How about a fear of fading into the facts of the current situation? What to do?

Faced with a situation that just IS I can panic and run away. There are more ways to run than I can imagine. I can run emotionally into denial, not accepting God’s way for me, even as it involves a measure of pain. I can run physically away, changing locations or moving. I can even run away spiritually, not wanting to look at God, thinking He doesn’t have my best interests in His heart. Look around, lots of people are running aren’t they?

Faced with a situation that just IS – I can also sink down into discouragement, feeling lost and trapped. I live life from a subdued place of hopelessness, thinking that it will be like this forever. Thinking that nothing will change, I resign myself to suffering without purpose. There is always a purpose to suffering.

Submit to the process. More importantly submit to God’s hand holding me in a place where I don’t necessarily want to be. His ways are good, right, purposeful, meaningful, justified and filled with love and grace. Like a good Father, He sees the end from the beginning. He knows process is essential for growth and maturity. Since when is Christianity all about ‘me” anyway– my desires, my wants, my needs? There are numerous verses that support suffering in this mix called life. Life is kaleidoscope of it all – joy, peace, suffering, freedom, pain, hope, mercy and love, lots of love – shifting and changing as we journey through each season.

Jeremiah was speaking to a people intent on getting out. He said, “Settle in.”  At this point, there are very few choices. Obey God, even when you can’t see the whole picture. Don’t fight the process. You will end up constantly stressed and strained in life. Jeremiah did say, “Settle in.” He also went one step further than that. He said “Bloom where you are planted. Live. Love. Grow.” (My words.) Not only submit to God but also submit with joy. Ouch!

So what now? There are three ways that work for me when I don’t want to do what God says to do but I love Him so I submit to His plan. He’s a good Father. So, settle into the present and trust Him. It’s all about seasons. Seasons change and this one will too but there is something to learn here and I don’t want to miss it. I can’t always get what I want.

So, in the day-to-day how do I go about this?

Be PresentBe present in the moment, in submitting to the way, His way. Don’t dwell upon the ‘what if’s’ or ‘what was’ – look at the ‘what now.’ Doors will open while walking in the present moment. These are hidden doors in the Spirit, doors that open as I mature in wisdom and grace. They are readily available to all of us but many simply don’t see them because they refuse to submit to these times of refining. Jesus encountered many opportunities on His way to the cross – the woman at the well (John 4:7) and the woman with the issue of blood (Matthew 9:20), to name a few. His life was filled with a keen sense of seeing through moments of time with the eyes of eternity. At these moments, while in submission to His Father’s will, eternity invaded earth. Be present. Allow Holy Spirit to draw us into the present where creative opportunities await where heaven will invade earth.

IMG_5508Focus on the Way, the person of Jesus Christ during this time. Focus. I may be unsettled but His way for me is sure, filled with light and life. As I walk in sync with Him, like the guys on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24), my eyes will open to SEE. Just walk and listen. This is a great time for listening. I don’t settle into passivity, apathy, or inertia. I settle into Him and He is moving in my life. Day by day, He shows me how to navigate the NOW by establishing my coordinates in the Spirit. He gives me wisdom concerning this time, if I listen. He leads the way and I follow. The next season is on the horizon. I keep my eye on it while being present. Time differs for each person. Don’t look at anyone else. Look at Him. He knows that NOW is part of my process into my next season. Just keep walking. Focus establishes hope again and hope does not disappoint. Hope grows and passion stirs in each step of our journey. Don’t run, don’t fear – submit to the process.

Be Real IMG_5508Be real. He can handle it. My emotions go up and down along the way. I am not robotic or cloned. I still question, get upset, and cry. Religion confines me to clichés. Here in the now, clichés are broken in an atmosphere where my authentic life is developing. I can’t say what I don’t mean. I say what I feel to a Father that loves me and does not disregard my weakness. In my weakness, He is strong. I don’t like this. I’m not happy. Isn’t there another way? I’m angry. This hurts. I can’t handle the pain. Keep walking. Express your emotions to Him but don’t let them stop you. If they are so intense, just lay down on the floor and let it out. He can handle it. He’s our Father.

There are seasons in every Christian life. In these seasons, we draw deep from the wells of our salvation, giving it new depth and meaning that enhance our life’s purpose in the coming days. I can’t say that each step on this journey has been easy. Just yesterday, I was in a ‘mood’ wanting out, wanting to get away, wanting life to be a bit different. Then after brooding for a bit, I began to worship and talk to the Lord. He was right there with  me things changed over the course of the day.

So how long does one find themselves in this place of settling? I don’t have an answer for you. I wish I did. Unlike Jeremiah’s day, I don’t think it will last 70 years. It could be a season of a few days, a few months, or a few years. He knows. Each of us is quite unique and different. Just trust Jesus in the process. The purpose of process is rooted in relationship and intimacy in Christ and there is no formula for that. Be present. Be focused. Be real.

IMG_5568In Christ

The Journey Part 2/3 – Me: What if, God? What was? God: What now?

IMG_5481Over the years, I lived in many places ordained by the hand of God. These were places that I loved, places that I liked and places that I did not want to be in at all. Each place was multifaceted in its purpose to help me grow in Christ. I didn’t always see it at the time but God is greater than me. I don’t discount anymore that wherever God places me, there are adventures for me, journeys in the spirit, and many lessons to be learned.

God tells me to settle in. (Please know right at the start I am not saying to stay in any abusive environment or relationship. Never, okay?) I am not only talking about physical location, okay? Settle into His plan for me, in whatever location I find myself. Whether I am in the desert in the Middle East or in the city of LA, He knows where I am at every moment. He sees me.

He always knows what He wants to ‘get at’ in me and His grace is always in abundance for the moment and season at hand. Grace is the oil that helps me move through the hard places. Without grace, I could not do it because everything in me avoids pain or suffering at all costs. Yet, it is in the suffering that growth occurs. That’s a lesson I learn each day, as I grow older.

God says to me, ‘Settle into the NOW. Trust Me. My grace is sufficient – grace to overcome, to grow, and to live. When the time is right, there will be another grace place. For now, this is it.”

And He said to me, “ My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJVS)

Let’s face it. It is hard to BE in some places – jobs, marriages, family situations, and even church environments. Any other suggestions? I am sure there are many facing you right now. God says to settle in – into what? Into Him – wherever you are. He is not unaware of your suffering. He is not mean, angry or vindictive. He is a good Father and a good Father allows discipline for growth. We don’t always get out and we don’t always get what we want. That is the message of the false prophets of the day, okay?

Today’s blog may make a bit more sense if you read “The Journey Out Is By Settling In” from yesterday. The Jews wanted OUT. God wanted IN. For God to BE in their lives, He sent Jeremiah to tell them to settle down and to live right in the now.

For YouMy life can often flow in a divine tension: moving between what was, what is and what will be. The past, the present and the future. My thoughts can flow into all directions if I allow them to. Grace calls me to live in the now for His grace is sufficient for me and Christ is in me. That places me in His rest but I also remember, I am human, not robotic. There are up days and down days. His grace is always sufficient for my life. My focus is to live in the now, taking one step at a time, trusting God for His promises in my future. I am learning not to get ahead of God by trying to avoid learning patience along with wisdom, NOW.

In the past, I discounted the value of my “NOW” lessons and wanted out. In doing that, I missed many opportunities that I can’t get back and regret always tries to pull me back there. I can’t go there anymore. It is self-defeating.

What do I do? I settle into the NOW, knowing there is a purpose to it and God’s timing is perfect for me.

Here’s my perfect example. When I lived in Abu Dhabi, my focus was always on the future, not the now. How to build a ministry. How to position myself so people did not forget about me. How to be in the mix with people in case they forgot me. In doing that, I often missed some divine opportunities in the present, living in Abu Dhabi. I did learn a lot there and saw a lot but I passed up several opportunities to travel into the Seychelles, or India, or Turkey because it did not fit into my focus of building a ministry for the future. God was in the now, I was in the future. For that reason, I often went back to Finland to stay on top of a ministry, rather than settling into the NOW in Abu Dhabi where there was an abundance of opportunities I missed.

Seeing this now, I often struggle with regret. I have many more examples of this weakness in my life. What I am happy to say is that I don’t really do this anymore. I am in the NOW rather than living in the past. I am in the NOW trusting God with each step. Remember, you may want out, but God may want in… your life.

DebraIn Christ,

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