Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Moving in the Direction of my Dreams

I have an amazing pastor.

Let me say it again. I have an amazing pastor.

Not only does he encourage me personally, he encourages our entire congregation to be better and grow more. I call him a 'fixer' ... because that seems to be the way he approaches things that are broken (exhibit 1: Me).

I have an amazing pastor.

Recently, I sent him what I would consider a sort-of-erratic, just short of an emotional breakdown email. I NEEDED a perspective, and I NEEDED Godly he clearly was my first choice. Despite the fact that he has had a very busy month; despite the fact that he needs to rest;  despite the fact that I am not the ONLY person in our congregation that needs him... he still answered AND with the perfect answer.

You see, my question to him was a question I am assuming all of us have had at one point or another. I confirmed this fact with a few friends who have said that they have wondered the same thing... My question was this:

How do you know if  [insert issue here] is God's will OR if it is the enemy trying to veer you off the path that God wants you to walk on?

Well, truthfully, I didn't say it as succinct as that, but that was the gist of it...

Exhibit 1 (me, remember?) assumed (and unfairly so) that the answer would be the obvious answer. I am ashamed to say that I expected the answer to simply be "if you pray and get a peace in your heart, then it is in His will. If you pray and feel any sort of discomfort in your heart, you may want to keep praying." Isn't that what you thought? Or perhaps isn't that what you've been told? While I absolutely believe in the infinite and divine power of prayer, I wanted - no I NEEDED - an answer that was more substantive...more relatable...more concrete.

As I mentioned before, I have an amazing pastor. He delivered. In less than 50 words (remember, he's a 'fixer'...they tend to speak in action, not words) he spoke truth to me that seared the cracks in my heart and helped to slow the hurt that was pouring out. With tears in my eyes and a grateful spirit, I realized that his answer was exactly what my weary soul needed.

And what did he say exactly? Let me share it with you. My prayer is that it will help seal the cracks in your heart as it did mine.

Among other things, my amazing pastor said this:

In order to be sure you are walking in God's will, you have to look at three things: 1. Inner conviction 2. Outward circumstances and 3. The word of God

Well. With regard to number 1 on this list, I have been struggling with a particular topic for about 6 months now. It's a daily struggle with what my heart wants to do and what I believe God wants me to do and what I HAVE to do. I have been toying with an idea that will release me from this struggle, but haven't had the courage to move forward with it...which leads me to number 2. My outward circumstances regarding my interaction and satisfaction with this struggle have greatly declined - coincidentally in these same 6 months... or perhaps not coincidentally? I haven't made that connection until now...

And the word of God... ohhh the word of God. How I've been pouring through the tear stained and tattered pages, feeling as though I've lost something that I am desperately trying to find. My fingers, and I suppose my unconscious mind, often land me in Isaiah...a book that was written by a prophet. A book that I revel in because it fills me with hope. And this - a small piece of scripture that represents more than any words I could ever pen (or type!) to a page:

"10 As the rain and the snow
   come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
   without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
   so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
   It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
   and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
   and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
   will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
   will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn bush will grow the juniper,
   and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD’s renown,
   for an everlasting sign,
   that will endure forever.” Isaiah 55:10-13

Between my inner conviction, my outward circumstances, and the word of God, I feel confident in my decision to move in the direction of my dreams. While I refuse to be unreasonable and unrealistic, I also refuse to be moved from the path set before me. I know it will be something that will require a lot of prayer and a lot of trust in God, but I believe with ALL of my heart, that the direction of my dreams is also the direction of His will.

Friends, I encourage you to to apply the same principles if you wonder if what you need to do is within God's will or if it is an attack by the enemy. It freed me from the burden I carried in trying to figure it out on my own. My hope is that it can free you too.

You see, I have an amazing pastor, and without him (and HIM!) I wouldn't be as clear as I am today.

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