“In the process, in the waiting, you’re making melodies over me.
And your presence is the promise, for I am a pilgrim on a journey….
Good shepherd of my soul, take my hand and lead me on.”
(Shepherd, Amanda Cook)
It is now almost five weeks since I returned home from South Africa.
It’s crazy how some things take a while to hit you. Going home was going to be difficult for all of us in different ways, but for the most part it would be difficult because we didn’t know what was coming next for us, what the next step in life was. The Lord taught me so much in South Africa in regards to waiting on Him, resting in Him and being at peace about my future, and not knowing the next major step right away. I knew a few basic things, like returning to school to finish my bachelor’s degree, but over all I had no idea what this next year looked like for me. I felt like I did really well adjusting the first three or so weeks of being home. I wasn’t in a hurry for anything to happen like getting a job or a ministry opportunity; I was just resting and enjoying being in the moment, spending time with family.
But the past couple weeks it definitely started getting a lot harder to be in the moment and wait for the Lord to guide me to the next step. I sometimes get in a hurry and forget that with the Lord, things happen through process. You must take the first step before He can show you the next. I don’t know if it was just that the effects of being back in America long enough were finally hitting me, but it felt like the new peace and confidence, and everything I learned back in South Africa, was starting to wear off. Which caused me to panic and be frustrated with my life, myself, and pretty much everyone and everything around me. When your inner world isn’t right, your outer world isn’t right either. Especially during the Christmas season when everything is supposed to be about joy and peace but it’s often really just a big chaotic hustle and bustle. I was losing my focus, forgetting that life is about people and relationships. Not projects and accomplishments. I often scurry straight to the urgent and skip right over the important.
So I usually freak out at myself a little when I feel myself slipping and losing focus, as if because I’m a Christian, I shouldn’t be messing up. I should know exactly where I’m going and keep my focus straight the whole time. Because that’s what good Christians are supposed to do. (You can laugh. ;)) Sometimes I try waaaaaay too hard to have it all together. The Lord knows that I often need a news flash that I’m still human, and He knows it! And He’s okay with it. He knows I’m going to lose my focus, stumble, and forget what’s really important sometimes. If I didn’t stumble, I wouldn’t need to lean into His arms every day. That’s grace. He knows we’re going to fail Him in some way, every single day. Yet He continually proves His faithfulness by walking us through the process. Three steps forward, two steps back. One step forward. One step back. Two steps forward. He knows better than we do that our journey is not going to be a perfect straight line leading to our destiny. It’s a bumpy, narrow, sometimes rocky road. But He is walking with us every step of the way. When you are walking hand in hand with Jesus, He will not let you walk out of His will.
I am often comforted by remembering that He has not left me to just figure out this life on my own. He’s not up there waiting for me at the finish line saying, “Well, I hope you can figure out the way and make it up here!” No. Father God is waiting with outstretched arms at the finished line, with confidence that His Son will indeed lead us home in His perfect way. And Jesus, precious, faithful Jesus, is holding onto us, each step of the way. Whether the path is rocky, foggy, uphill, or downhill. He is committed to us, and He is committed to the process of helping us reach our destination. Our ultimate destination is Christ anyway, not achieving something in this life. Lately God has been bringing this verse to mind so much, and it is becoming one of my favorite verses in this season.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in
ou will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6 [The Message]
There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great
work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.
Praise God, He WILL complete the good work He started in us! He’s not going to leave us hanging! We only see this one moment in time, but He sees the whole process, the beginning all the way to the end. He sees the beautiful finished masterpiece that you’re going to be, and that you already are in His eyes.
Sometimes I feel awkward and un-Christian as I flounder around trying to find the right path. But Jesus IS the right path. He keeps reminding me that as long as I’ve got Him and I’m seeking relationship with Him above all else, everything really will fall into place, whether it’s job, school, ministry, finances, or relationships. It all lines up when we’re living in the center of His will. I’ve seen it happen for me in the past, and He will do it again! He IS doing it again, even when we can’t see!
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33 [The Message]
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions.
Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
So earlier this week and today I had been really unfocused, frantically trying to make my life seem productive. I was moving fast and trying to do everything but not accomplishing much. I honestly and seriously did not feel like being still, getting in the Word and listening to His voice. I just wanted to DO something, to GO somewhere! But I’ve learned from past experience that this will only leave me more frustrated. So finally I made myself sit down for a few minutes, put a worship song on and just sat in His presence. He immediately put John 15:16 in my mind. I turned to it, and tears came as soon as I saw what it was.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you
He is so merciful, and kind! He knew exactly what I needed in that moment.
He was saying,
“I chose YOU my child, not the other way around. I’m the one who started this thing, and I’m going to be faithful to finish it. I know you really want to bear fruit for my glory, but I AM the One who had the idea to bring you into what I was doing in the first place! I know you’re worried about losing what you learned in South Africa. But if I’m the one who did the work in you, don’t you think that work will last? I AM the One bringing you through this process. So it’s time to let go of your need to feel productive and figure everything out. Your productivity comes from being one with Me. You do your part of resting in relationship with me, and let me do my part of leading you. I promise I will not leave you on your own in this journey; we will cross that finish line together. I will NOT give up on you. Just stay close to me. Lean into my promises. And watch me faithfully lead you in paths of righteousness.”
Oh, Jesus. He had done it again. His bold love hit me right where I needed it.
Thank you, Father. Thank you that you are a God who knows exactly where we are in the process. And you don’t get impatient or frustrated with us as we try and fail, and learn. It’s not about getting it right all the time. It’s about becoming closer with you every step. Thank you that you will be faithful to complete the good work you started in us. So Father, let us be faithful to continue seeking you one day at a time, walking with you in the joyful process of discovering the abundant life you have for us!