Mark 8:35 – “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
Feeling a bit inspired and would like to share some thoughts with you…
As many of you may know, I have felt called to the nation of New Zealand since I was ten years old and last year I felt more assured than ever to pursue an opportunity with YWAM to go to NZ. I was accepted into the program, but about 1 month later the Lord told me not to walk through that door of opportunity. Crushed. It might sound strange, but He presented me with an alternative. He encouraged me to enroll in the Covenant Ministry Training Institute’s one year Bible college at my church. Wisely, I followed His will and am over halfway finished with classes now and it has been incredible. With New Zealand a no-go, a few months after enrolling in Bible college I began to sense my ever-present dream of working in the political sector creeping up within me. “Coincidentally”, right around that time I heard of an opportunity with George Mason University’s Humane Studies Institute as a public policy intern for the 2013 Summer. It was fate! Right? Well, I prayed about it, had no real checks in my spirit and felt motivated in that direction. In fact, shortly after beginning the arduous and highly competitive application process I received a prophetic word that I was going to be “a law-maker” and that God may be calling me into a governmental role. Thank you affirmation! I was fired up. After nearly 2 months of working on and perfecting my application I sent it in the very last day applications were accepted. The Lord was gracious and didn’t allow me to wait too long to find out they had decided not to accept me into the program. I cried, a lot. Guess I’ll put that prophetic word on a shelf for a minute!
Disillusionment tried very, very hard to kick in and take over me. I remember driving in my car screaming into the heavens asking God, “What do you want from me? Are my dreams worth anything? Are they only there to disappoint me and keep me looking foolish when I pursue them and get doors continually slammed in my face? Why even allow me to have dreams if You have no intentions of fulfilling them, Lord? Doesn’t scripture say You grant us the desires of our heart?? What are you teaching me in all of this?” Oh yes, it was a rant. Nowadays I weep more over the fact that He loves me despite my immaturity and unrighteous anger. He was so kind to me despite myself, and by the end of that day, post-ferocious rant, my soul was at peace and I was already looking forward to the next adventure. I seem to have a pretty decent rebound rate these days, Praise Him. I just can’t decide if it is something supernatural He’s done in me, or the sheer fact that I’ve pursued so many things that have failed that I’m just getting better at moving on.
I see now that this is what He was teaching me: It was time for me LET GO OF EVERYTHING. My ability to hear this word from the Lord culminated in the final rejection from George Mason, but looking back I see He began speaking this to me over one year ago, I’ve just been too hard-headed to appreciate it.
It started with Jesus expressing His jealousy for my time and for His voice to be highly valued. Let me explain. My dad is one of the most powerful and devoted men of God that I know. He is a huge part of the reason I am the woman of God that I am today. So, I value His opinion very deeply and have had the tendency to put His thoughts and words ahead of my own, and sometimes even ahead of what I believe I hear the Lord asking of me. It is a very tricky thing to go against your parents when you hear God telling you to do something they don’t necessarily agree with or understand. Normally, my parents would be one hundred percent in support or what the Lord was saying to me, but now and then there would be a difference in opinions and that put me in a tough spot. The hardest part was realizing that my walk with God was MY walk with Him. Not everything my parents wanted or didn’t want for me always aligns with the Lord’s will for my life once I’ve entered adulthood. Breaking off and seeking Him purely for myself and by myself was revelation. Jesus spoke loud and clear to me one day this word, “I am jealous for you. Seek my opinion and face, first. Not after you have spoken with your father. Am I your True Father or not?” I am quite close with my parents, so this rattled me a bit. But the reality is, He expects to be put ahead of our parents, family, friends, everyone. There’s more to this story than that, but suffice it to say that it was a growing up experience for me to learn that the Lord expected to be my main counselor, not take second place to my dad. From that point on, I have made a huge effort to trust Him and come to Him first about most things (I still have habits to unlearn!), and He has been incredibly faithful to speak and guide me. That was the first thing I began to let go of: 1) An over dependence on my earthly father.
Next to go was the pressure I put on making my dreams a reality NOW. Through hearing Him so loudly express to me that New Zealand is certainly in my future, just not as quickly as I had planned, and then the resounding sound of a “NO” that came in the form of a ‘Dear John’ rejection letter from George Mason after months of hard work, I began to realize that maybe God was trying to tell me something. Nearly everything that I have tried to pursue came to nothing. The only things that have come to something over the last 5 years were things that were supernaturally orchestrated, literally. From full-ride scholarships to Korea, to a last-minute second degree added in college, to an internship that led to a full-time job post college, to the Bible college I’m in now (and a million other little things in between), all of those things came through nothing I did, said or worked at. They just sort of fell into my lap. So, the next thing to go was: 2) My own personal resolve and “do it yourself, get my life together” attitude.
Next would be my job. Oh yes friends, I am unemployed for the first time in, oh, about nine years. Jesus nearly had to pry my job out of my fingers before I was willing to let it go, and quite frankly I wasn’t even happy at the job I had! No matter my unhappiness and overall hunger to do something more with myself, I was unwilling to give it up because then I would really have to step into the great unknown with Him. I haven’t known a sense of unemployment since the age of 16. I almost began to pride myself on my hardworking attitude and willingness to “do what it takes to support myself”. I don’t come from a wealthy family so it is important that I pay all of my bills and do what has to be done to not create an undue burden on my family. But I believe, if we’re not careful “self-sustaining” can become a source of pride and hold us back from true dependence on the Lord. Well, He sure changed that one. All of a sudden, my car began to have issues (which is extremely rare) and a devastatingly expensive bill hit me. Seemingly out-of-nowhere other bills came at me, things starting breaking, gas got more expensive (and I had a 2 hour commute to work everyday), and things began to get very stressful for me at work; I was in a bind. I cried out to God to help me because just the bill on my car would set me back about 3 paychecks, and He didn’t seem to budge. I knew something had to give. I was driving home from work one day and I asked Him, “Daddy, can I leave my job? Is that what is happening right now?” Peace flooded my soul. Yep, that’s what He was getting at. Now, I’m not saying that God orchestrated a bunch of difficult things to get me to leave my job, although He very well could have done that, He’s God at the end of the day and I trust His methods. But, when I submitted to His voice and put in my notice at work, everything began to change for me, for the better. So, the third thing to go: 3) My job.
At this point I’m unemployed with no job to jump right into, no prospects for the future and bills that are still coming due. Oh, what’s that Lord? You still have one other thing that You need me to hand over? My car? Oh okay. You got it. Well, it just so happened that I have had the same car since I was 15 years old. I chose the practical car over the cute, sporty cars and that logic has served me well. Her name is Tuesday, she is a 1996 Mazda 626 and she has been a blessing from God for 9 years. Because I commuted to college (45 minutes away) and my job (1 hour away) for many years, this car and I have spent a lot of time together. She’s been my home away from home. It was only recently that I began to realize that I had an unhealthy attachment to this inanimate object. I realized it most when my dad haphazardly mentioned the idea of me bringing it to the scrap yard and buying a new one (she’s a bit old, say 260,000 miles old, and looks somewhat rough) and I freaked out, saying something to the effect of that car would never leave me no matter what it looked like; I would just pay to keep it running. Then revelation hit me that I struggled with trusting God with my car. I had begun to allow myself to think that if I bought a new car it would never be as good as the first one I chose. And if we’re being honest here, I also found it as a source of pride that I knew how to stretch a dollar and an investment. “Look how long I’ve kept this car when most of my siblings are on their third or fourth car!”. Yeah, that’s really not worth bragging about. So, just a couple of weeks ago I prayed this: “Father, if this car is in any way obstructing your will from flowing freely through me and it has somehow become a source of pride or idolatry in my life, I give you full authority to take it from me. I trust You.” Wouldn’t you know it, a few days later we had some serious wind come through and it took a tall tree down in my front yard. Where did it land you ask? Right on my car. Yep. Now, the car still runs, but repairing the back tail light, quarter panel and trunk is more than I can afford. So that’ll be that I suppose. The last thing I’ve let go: 4) My vehicle.
I’m sure that’s more than you ever wanted to know about my personal life but after letting go of my family’s opinions, my dreams and career aspirations, my job and even my car I think I’m just about empty enough for the Lord to use me in a deeper way. Following Jesus really is the hardest thing a person will ever do, but I can promise it is the most satisfying. Despite being unemployed with no idea of what the future holds I am more hopeful, dependent and close to my Lord than I may have ever been before. I am getting to know Him in an entirely new way, the one way I thought I never could because I am so used to being a self-provider and that is as “Jehovah Jirah” meaning, My Provider. During this time of letting go, I received a lovely financial blessing that allowed me to go on the first vacation I’ve had in years, my tax return came in which has paid my bills for over 2 months, I was given the opportunity to preach my first sermon to over 350 people at church on Sunday, which I could have never foreseen happening and I now have the time I need to pursue my TESOL certification to teach English. I am also wrapping up my Bible college studies very soon and am able to spend large quantities of time with my Lord, the exact thing my soul has starved for over the past year. I could just about get used to this whole “complete dependency on Jesus” thing…
By the world’s standards I have let go of everything that matters, but in the Lord’s eyes I am finally becoming a true disciple. I’ve been stripped of everything that the world would define me by, and quite frankly, I like it. We have to be willing to lose it all, right? The thing about it is, Jesus knew what He held for us right around that corner of decision if any of us actually did drop everything and truly come after Him. It looks terrible from a distance, but once you do it, you realize that everlasting life resides in that place of dependency. I have never felt more free, happy, and light-hearted about life or more in love with Jesus than I do right now. I’m sorry this is so long, I’ve just written it off the cuff but felt to share this new place I’m in with you. My encouragement to you with all of this is: Don’t be afraid to let go; let go of that relationship, that job, that car, or even that dream, IF that is what God is asking of you. God truly is your provider and your sustainer. He is the author of time and has the ability to stop, rewind and fast forward at any given time. Any thing you sacrifice to Him can be brought back to you in His perfect time, or something a million times better might be just around the corner. He knows what is best for you much more than you do. When you put your trust fully in Him, He will come through. You probably won’t have to lose everything that I did in order for Him to rock you, and then again you might, but if you’ve encountered Him even once, you know He’s worth it. Be blessed!