As 2017 was a transition year for me, I know that 2018 will usher in much newness and change. I have already moved houses, began ministering with a new group of students and tumbled through a cascade of change. I have been reflecting back on 2017 and God’s hand in it all. I felt as if He told me to rest. To not take on anything new. To just be. And in that I had the opportunity to work as a woodshop teacher, to see what middle school was all about, to spend time in prayer and preparation for what was to come, to begin new friendships , to heal from past wounds and to allow God to lead me to ministry opportunities.
When life goes from living in one country to living in the next, there is no denying that the season is changing. And I feel as if I have learned much in the transition. I am sure that I am not done. I am sure that I am not prepared for all that is to come, but I know one thing…. It’s coming whether I think I’m ready or not.
I have been reflecting on my life in decades (because I have a few now). And this last decade has had a profound lesson for me. I was born one of those strong-willed children, determined to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish through hard work, dedication and my own efforts. I relied on God for direction and learned how to hear His voice. But when I heard His voice, I would take His words and run with them. I went from a place of reliance on Him to taking it on and pushing forward to accomplish from my own strength. I didn’t realize at times that I was doing this because I spoke the words of surrender and was open to where He wanted me to go. I viewed my life as ministry and let it be just that. I was working for Him and serving Him so I defined that as surrender. This was how I lived out my second decade.
This last decade has been a game changer and it’s not over yet. I have had the wind knocked out of my sails a few times and surprises hit me. Putting me in a position where even if I wanted to do something or change the situation through hard work and determination, it was impossible due to the circumstances. They were situations that taught me, if they were going to change, than it would have to be God doing all of the change and me being on the sideline; there was nothing I could do. Not even a little bit. And if I began to meddle in that… it began to get conflicted all over again. I just had to wait. And wait some more and pour out prayers.
Different images come to my mind. I imagine standing at the base of a huge dam that is about to explode. I am pushing against the wall, but the truth is the wall is so large and powerful and I am so small. No size of effort on my part is going to do anything. Or the seasons. Oh how I hate winter. The cold, the grey skies and dismal days. I try to hold onto and embrace the warm September days forever and am always in denial of what it to come. But no matter what I do, the snow comes, the sun sets and we endure winter.
And so I have come to the same place in my spiritual journey. I have realized that there have been times that I have reversed the order of being and doing. When I didn’t think things were happening as I wanted them to, I would look to see what else I could be doing. I looked to God for vision and direction. I listened to His voice and then I went out and accomplished what I sensed Him saying. But God has given me this window of truth in this last decade that I am hoping to take into the next. We must BE first and DO next. Our doing flows out of our being. I look to God for vision, He gives His vision and then He accomplishes His vision through me. I am just the vessel and He can do it without me. I cannot resist the change in the seasons. They will come. They will go. I must embrace this change as it plays out in my own life.
I am prepping for a new season of ministry, grateful for the time I was given to rest. And as I prepare for what’s next, I’ve realized that there is nothing I can do to transform myself into a person that loves and serves as Jesus does except to make myself available to be formed into whatever it is Jesus is doing in my life. It is about being formed, not forming myself.