Saturday, August 31, 2013

"Out of sorts, but in God's plan"

I am in a season of transition.  It seems that has been my life since college.  It was in college at nineteen years of age that my life really started to change.  I had turned my heart and life over to God two years previously, but hadn’t really let God have complete control of EVERY area of my life.

Recently I had a déjà vu moment that reminded me of a life-changing decision I made years ago.  I was at a Missions festival at my church.  A missionary shared with us about his time in Africa. He is about to retire, but shared of his burning passion for reaching the lost there.  There are many he is still finding who have never even heard about Jesus.  What a radical man! Anyways at the end of the service he called forward any teens who wanted to be tools in the hand of God to offer their lives completely to Him! I had a flashback in that moment. When I was 19 years old the same thing happened to me. In a service after a missionary spoke, he called the youth forward as well and in that moment I committed my life in service to God however He wanted to use me. It's been 22 years now and I have never regretted a day!
 
Since that life-changing encounter, I have been on a journey to pursue the will of God wherever it may take me.  After I got married, my husband and I began that pursuit together.  It has been an adventure!  Our desire is to always be where we are confident God has led us. 

We have spent most of our married life (20 years) in full-time vocational ministry as youth pastors, U.S. missionaries to teens, and senior pastors.  We have LOVED every minute of it!  Seven years ago God threw in a game changer for us.  I got sick, VERY sick, so sick I was bedridden for three months before they could diagnose me.  What was it… Myasthenia Gravis, an autoimmune disease.  Not necessarily life threatening, but definitely life altering.  The past seven years have been defined by managing this disease in the midst of attempting to minister full-time.  Let’s just say we have faced some challenging things.  A scripture comes to mind when I think of tests or difficulties that haunts me in a sense.

 
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”   James 1:2-4 (MSG)


Faith grows BEST when “forced into the open to show its true colors.”  “So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely…”  I don’t know about you, but I feel like I have had enough tests and challenges lately that my roots should be pretty deep when it comes to faith and endurance.  I have learned that we are in full-time ministry, whether we have an official title and the salary to go with it or not.  I have ministered to MORE people on a deeper level in the past seven years than I could have every imagined. 

At times when I did not feel my best… I had little to no voice to speak because I was SO weak and God brought a broken, hurting lady to my door.  She hunted me down so I could pray with her.

 
I was in some of the lowest moments of life, desperate for healing; feeling forgotten, and alone, but God kept sending people my way.

 
They were sick, lonely, broken, hurting people who received the message more, I guess, because I was BROKEN too.  My faith has grown and I have been giving it away.

The title of this post is “Out of sorts, but in God’s plan.”  Why did I title it this?  … because transition brings awkward feelings with it.  Being in transition reminds me of the feeling I had when returning from Missions trips in the past… culture shock.  Things were VERY different here in America compared to the third world country I just returned from.  I guess what I am saying is that transition brings with it culture shock.  God has paved the way, but I need to learn to adjust to His new assignment.  It’s a natural process, but not one I enjoy.

Currently God has transitioned us back to the exact town we were in seven years ago when I first got sick.  I have a lot of mixed emotions being here, but I know it is EXACTLY where God wants us for this time.  God has opened doors for us in amazing ways.  I’m not sure what God has in mind, but I am excited about what it could be.

The journey God has taken us on over the past seven years has changed me.  Each city God led us to, church we attended, house we lived in, school my kids went to was hand picked by God.  Divine appointments were scattered across our paths.  The people I have met along the way have shaped me and made me better.  Such amazing, incredible, men and women of God… some I had the chance to lead into a personal relationship with God… SO powerful!  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Are you right where God wants YOU to be?  Are you on a journey in pursuit of His BEST for your life?  Has God got you on special assignment?  Look around you and see WHO God might want to use YOU to touch for Him.  Your life will never be the same!

This post is to be continued….

Next time I will be sharing more on how we arrived where we are today…. “The God of Suddenly.”

Living to leave a legacy,

Julie