Tag Archives: trials

Leaping or Deeping, it’s all a test of faith!

Here’s the thing about taking ‘a leap of faith’.   In order for it to qualify as a ‘leap’, there has to be a period of time that you are in a free-fall of some sort or another.  That exciting, but often very unnerving span of time between when you left Point A, but haven’t quite reached Point B.   That is, assuming you even know where Point B is!

Well, like I shared a few months ago, I recently felt called to take a leap of faith; but in my case it felt less like ‘leaping’ and more like ‘deeping’ (sorry – I couldn’t resist the urge to rhyme!).

Have you ever felt like that?  Felt the prompting to leave what was known and comfortable, and instead take a leap?   Or heard the Lord inviting you to step off the shorelines of safety trust in Him to elevate you over the depths of the unknown?

And if you have, how did you respond?

Did you leap?  Did you deep?   Are you still deciding how to respond?

Water Walking
Water Walking

So much has happened since I wrote the post Water Walking.  I am still very much “in the deep of faith” stage of things, but I take great comfort in knowing that I am not alone in the deep, and neither are you!  Let me say that again … YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s home, and go to a land that I am going to show you. I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous, so that you will be a blessing.

Just because we don’t yet see the full manifestation of what we are praying for, we can press on during the ‘water walking’ stage of the journey with confident expectation  – knowing that He who called us out into the deep waters of faith will be as faithful to us as He was to Abraham God will not leave His promise unfulfilled!!

May that truth be as comforting to you as it is to me, and may we both soon make it to the other side of the waters and into our very own ‘promised lands’.

Blessings,
Jenny

Water Walking

In a previous post, I spoke of having a recurring stream of thoughts, ideas, and scriptures for the last several months.    It’s been rather like something is trying to be birthed within me … but how does one go about giving birth to something when you don’t yet know what it is?  As I opened my heart to new possibilities, I also opened my Bible and began to look for instructions in His Word.  After all, if God is truly leading me down a certain path, that path will be in agreement with His Word.

I am still in the process of seeking out those answers in full, opening my heart and my ears to receive instruction for the birthing of this new thing, this new season.   As I do, I discover that I am most surely being led out into the deeper waters of faith.  And eventually the time for investigating, praying, and consulting culminates with a decision.

Recently, the song “Oceans” by Hillsong UNITED has taken on a whole new meaning for me, especially the first two lines.  We’ve been singing it at church for many months, but it was during a women’s event a few weeks back that the lyrics really clicked in my heart.  I felt that I was most clearly being invited to step out onto the waters.

I’ve always considered myself a bit of a risk taker, but lets face it – the bigger the risk, the harder it is to take that first step.  Especially if that first step is off the dry land and onto the wet!

And as we worshipped to this song, the Lord began to speak to my heart in images – something He often does (images which are frequently inspiration for my watercolors).  And this is what the conversation He and I had during worship that night sounded like.

Water Walking
Water Walking

 

LORD:  “Daughter, you are a delight to my heart and I am thrilled that you are putting your foot out over the waters for that bold first step.  But if all you do is hover your foot over the waters, you will never reach the destination I’m calling you to.  No, my daughter, you must actually put your full weight on that foot and begin to move forward, or you will remain at the shoreline.”

Me:  “But we both know I can’t walk on water, Lord.”

LORD:  “Look down, and tell me what you see beneath your feet?”

Me:  “Dry sand, that eventually gives way to wet sand, that eventually gives way to water above the sand.”

LORD:  “Give thought to that very fragile line of delineation, the very point of transition when the water ceases to be below the sand, or even equal to the sand, but is now above the sand.   The water is only a few centimeters deep, but the water is above the sand line, correct?”

Me:  “Yes, Lord.”

LORD:  “Can you walk on water, daughter?”

Me:  “No, Lord.” 

LORD:  “And yet, if I stood directly in front of you, and called you forward from dry land to stand upon even as little as 1 centimeter of water, would you believe me for it and take that first step?”

Me:  “I believe I would Lord – I would respond to Your invitation.”

LORD:  “Daughter, if you were able to walk on top of even as little as 1 centimeter of water, the limitations of your mind and body would not even be able to register or perceive such an infinitesimal elevation.   You have the faith to trust me for 1 centimeter of water-walking power, but what I want you to remember is that once you are walking on the water, the depth of the water is irrelevant.  I’m asking you to take the first step from dry to wet.  Do that, and leave the ocean to me.”

On my own, I know without a doubt that I am completely incapable of walking on water, regardless how shallow the water is.  But in Him, I know that all things are possible … even walking on water (a symbol of walking in His empowerment over the circumstances of my life).   And so are you!

In the weeks since that dialog, I’ve taken the first step forward out onto the waters, and then another after that.  And this morning, as I pondered again the insanity of this journey, the Lord reminded me of other times when I’ve dared to trust Him and “water walk”.  I first read the following scripture some 20+ years ago when I dared to “water walk” by leaving an abusive marriage.  There were some mighty big waves in that ocean, let me tell you … but here I am, safely resettled on the other side!

I will bring the blind by a way they do not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known.  I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight.  These things I will do for them, and not forsake them.   (Isaiah 42:16)

There have been many other “water walking” occasions since and in all of them, true to His word, He led through ways I did not know and has made dark places light before me, and crooked places straight.  He has not forsaken.

And He still leads!

I would love to hear your thoughts and read about your stories (from either side of the ‘water walking’ adventure).  Please take a moment to post a comment below.

Blessings,

Jenny

Receiving Instruction (part 3)

In my last post, I spoke of being ‘thumped’ and asked the questions:  What has God called you to do that requires more of you?  What are you facing that requires the very best that you have? 

As followers of Christ we are called put on the Armor of God and stand against the powers of darkness.  I have written about this to some extent in previous posts, and will come back to it again another time. But not every challenge encountered is a demonic attack.

Sometimes, we are tried (tested) simply by encountering other peoples stuff or other natural circumstances of a fallen world.   I believe this is the enemy’s A#1 go-to plan to come against those who bear the Name of Christ.  To put circumstances around us that test our character and test our beliefs – hoping we will take offense at the test and walk away from the very One who has given us the victory (through Him) in all things.

And sometimes, what we are experiencing is the consequence (delayed or immediate) of our own choices, words, and actions.  It is easy to point to outside circumstances for our pain and suffering, but it requires humility before God and a teachable spirit to allow Him to poke at and point at the areas in our life that need to be addressed for our greater good.  In the same way that a loving parent will teach independence to an infant by allowing them to stand  and fall over and over again until they develop – through testing – the balance, coordination and strength required to walk and eventually run on their own, our loving God allows us to undergo periods of testing in order to help us identify and confront the beliefs, circumstances, and behaviors that are holding us back from His best for us and poorly represent His character and His name.

Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.  Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.  (Matthew 5:13-16 MSG)

Lord, give us wisdom to recognize an attack from a trial, and show us through your Word the proper response for the challenges we may encounter in our lives.  When under attack, may we be quick to respond with boldness under the authority You bestowed upon us as Your ambassadors on this earth.

And when I’m ‘thumped’ by trials, may I recognize them as opportunities to be developed, strengthened, and even pruned/corrected.  As opportunities to be ‘proven’ as authentic and of quality, reliable and durable.

Who will I be when I’m winning?
Who will I be when I’m loosing?
Who will I be when stuck between a rock and another rock?

Will I choose to act in a way that is unbecoming to someone who bears the name of ‘Christ follower’?  

WilI I choose to stand boldly and confidently on the Word of God, fully relying on Him to bring this to a conclusion that is both for my good and His glory?

So what about all those challenges I have been journaling about for months and in some cases even years?   Well, I would like to end this post by declaring who I am and what I have!

I have the Wisdom of Christ residing in me (Proverbs 2:1-6, 1 Corinthians 1:30-31), and am quick to implement the corrections that God asks of me, because I am a doer of the Word and not just a hearer (Proverbs 15:33, Colossians 1:9-14).  That I take as my very own every benefit promised me as a joint-heir with Christ, knowing that nothing is impossible with God and no Word from God is without power or impossible of fulfillment (Isaiah 55:11, Luke 1:37, Romans 4:16).  That I am now experiencing victory in managing all my attitudes and behaviors, and that I am more than a conqueror over every evil scheme of the enemy. (2Timothy 1:12, Philippians 1:6-11, 1 John 4:17)

Yup, that’s me  – speaking of things that ‘be not’ … as though they are, until they are!

Be blessed,
Jenny

From my journal
From my journal

 

Receiving Instruction (part 2)

I pray I am always honest with God, with myself, and with you – my reader.  I never want to represent myself here as having figured out the answers to all of life’s questions, and/or be walking in constant victory over all manner of trials and temptations.    Nor, I pray, shall I focus too much on the unanswerable questions of life.  Why do we always feel this need to have an explanation for the problems of life?  This world is broken.  Because of Adam’s sin, it doesn’t operate (at this time)  in the way that God originally intended. It seems I am always wrestling my thoughts to the ground to put down that one recurring question … “Why God?”

Photo by Sarah Vaughan
Photo by Sarah Vaughan

As I shared in Receiving Instruction (part 1), I had been looking back through some of my older journals and was feeling a bit discouraged.  But as my morning devotions ended, I began to notice that throughout all those seasons of challenge God was at work in me. He brought correction to my heart about prideful attitudes.  He gave light to ‘stinking thinking’ that needed to be brought into alignment with His word.  He taught me about the power of my words to either bring blessing or cursing into my life and the lives of those around me.  He renewed my mind and mouth through the power of His Word and Spirit at work within me.

And He also gave fresh vision to the dreams I wrote about years ago.  Back then, I was at the very beginnings of this journey I’m on to step into His calling for my life.    A little slip here, a little stumble there, but it certainly was fun to read my notes from along the journey, and thrilling to be able to point to a place in time as the very ‘birthing place’ of dreams I’m acting upon in 2014.

Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.  But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.  (James 1:2-4)

With that revelation, and believing God has called me to rise up and step forward as a woman of influence, I concluded that these seasons of trial, while not issued by God, can be used for a higher purpose to “test” or “prove out” my character as a leader. And I began to ask different questions about some of the challenges I’m facing today – now viewing them from a higher perspective.

Who will I be when I feel mistreated or falsely accused?
Who will I be when I don’t get what I think I deserve?
Who will I be when prayers seem unanswered?  

The truth is, I don’t much like being pressed and tested!  And it usually doesn’t bring out my most alluring personality traits.  But I was reminded that if I want God to open doors of influence for me, I shouldn’t be surprised to find that more is expected of me (reference James 3:1), for He is not going to give me greater influence if I am not presently a good steward of, or influence upon, the hearts and souls that are currently within my circle of influence.

TEST:  a procedure intended to establish the quality, performance, or reliability of something, esp. before it is taken into widespread use.
PROOF:  able to withstand something damaging; resistant.

I like the way Max Lucado compares testing to the thumping process a potter uses when testing (or proofing) his pottery.  If it ‘sings’ when it is thumped, it’s ready.  I need to sing more, and thud less!

What has God called you to do that requires more of you?
What are you facing that requires the very best that you have? 

I’ll take a break here, allowing you time to ponder that question as it relates to your own life and circumstances.  And I do hope you will take the time to post a comment or share your thoughts below.  We don’t live in a vacuum and I don’t have all the answers.

Until then, be blessed!
Jenny

 

Receiving Instruction

myAKDxiIt happens to us all.  You feel a prompting in your gut about something, or a light bulb suddenly goes off in your head.  Sometimes you may have a full understanding of it, and immediately know what your response should be to that revelation.  But other times it may be more akin to catching a glimpse of something out of the corner of your eye, or hearing a snippet of an instruction – perhaps even just a single word or small phrase.  You may ask yourself, ‘Did I really see/hear that? What does it mean?’     Then just a few days later, you turn on the TV and come across a program discussing just that subject.   I’m describing those times when it seems like everywhere you turn, the same word/message seems to be coming at you –  from TV, to radio, to friends even strangers.

Some would say ‘the universe is trying to tell you something’.  But why listen to the universe, when we can instead seek understanding and revelation from ‘the God of the universe?’

Well, I’ve been having that kind of experience lately.  There are certain words/phrases and snippets of knowledge that have been peeking out at me from books, podcasts, and around the corners of my mind/understanding.  I’m hungry for them to unify into an cohesive understanding, and so as free time allows I have been setting aside quiet time to dig deeper, seeking His heart and His word for discernment and revelation.   This morning is one of those times.

“Leadership Is Influence: Nothing More, Nothing Less”  ~John Maxwell

From my journal
From my journal

In the course of my quiet time this morning, while talking with the Lord about certain challenges I’m facing, I paused to look back through some of my older my journals.  And in doing so, I was a bit surprised to see that I was writing back then about some of the same things I journal about now.  In some ways, that was a bit discouraging – because I would rather have read about former challenges that I now (in this present moment) have victory over.

For example, in 2010 I was responding to a prompt to ‘step up’ as a woman of influence/leadership, and had crafted a “Statement of Purpose” for my life inspired by John Maxwell’s book “Developing The Leader Within You“.   Oh, to read the enthusiasm and faith displayed in those 2010-2011 entries.  God was leading me, teaching me, I was being challenged and also changed.  I was letting go of (at least in part) the insecurities that had kept me ‘living small’ and was daring to dream of things impossible for me to achieve based on my own qualifications.

Then life happened, and it rather grieves my heart to say that some of the same fears and insecurities that I was writing about conquering back then are still stalking me now.  Oh, yes, I’m now much quicker at dismissing them as falsehoods (issued direct from the pit of hell) but in truth – I have not entirely “broken up with fear” as I so boldly declared in my journal back in 2010.  Fear was alive and well in my life throughout 2012 and a good chunk of 2013.  Which is why I (again) declared a Break Up with Fear in 2014!

Or what about all those entries pouring out my heart during seasons when I felt persecuted by unfair circumstances, or under attack in some area of my faith-walk.  In some cases, it was exciting to later read an entry about a fresh revelation or victory seen – but there were also plenty of entries that sounded a lot like my writings in recent months.

I’m going to pause here because otherwise this would be a very lengthy post.  Please check back in a few days for part 2, and while you’re waiting please take a moment to leave a comment or two.  Have you ever heard the same message coming to you through TV, radio, etc?  Or have you ever looked back to old journals, diaries, or photos/videos and what were your experiences?

See you again in a few days!

Be blessed,
Jenny