Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Exploring New Ground

To explore we gotta move. I found myself feeling comfy cozy in my little pew off to the side at church. We had raised our five children in the second pew on the right side of church. After our children grew and we out grew our pew we switched spots. It's amazing how things can look different just by moving. But there was a problem. My bottom was getting awfully cozy in my pew. It was as though my name was carved in the wood. 

Then I began to hear the Lord speak to my heart, "Let's go exploring". See, God doesn't want us to get too comfortable. We can get lazy. Church can just become routine. Same old same old stuff. When I noticed I was leaving church unchanged I knew things had to change. I was suffering from root rot. 

I was surrounding myself in a circle of easy. Oh, I was busy. Super busy. I was teaching and involved in many different activities. Are you ready? Yep, it's hard to admit, but I was busy in the busy. I'm not so sure it was about God anymore. It was just me saying, "Sure, I can do that",  to every opportunity. It was about me thinking the more I did for the church the better Christian I was becoming. Friends, that isn't what God wants for us. It wasn't what He wanted for me. It's not what we do. It's our heart. It's me getting closer to Him. 

When I say I was sitting in the circle of easy I mean that nothing was challenging me any longer. I wasn't growing. It was just me continually moving and now I can see that it wasn't in a direction that was leading me closer to Jesus. 

Uncomfortable isn't easy, but it's necessary. In uncomfortable I depend on God. I have to look to Him for guidance and strength. He doesn't call us to easy. He gives us these jobs that seem impossible, but when we realize that with God everything is possible, it changes our view. Those impossible situations become opportunities for growth. For me, I had to walk away. I walked away from everything that was holding me down in that comfy pew. 

In my comfy pew I was limiting God. Same old Sunday every week. I was no longer excited for church. It became routine and that isn't what God wants for us at all. We are to be sitting on the edge of our seat, ready, willing, and excited to explore all possibilities. 

I realized I was putting my exploring in the hands of others. Yes, the pastor gives us the sermon. The Sunday school teacher gives us the lesson. But we have to dig deeper. My relationship with Jesus isn't their responsibility. It's mine. I was dependent on others to lead me to where I needed to be. But see, they don't know the plan God has for me. Only He does and He shares that with me through the Holy Spirit. Of course, we learn from others and with others, but I needed time with Jesus. I needed to learn how to explore on my own. 

Honest time. I wanted to experience God in different ways. The only way for me to do this was to get out of my pew and simply do it. I needed to understand that the Holy Spirit is my guide. He's my Forever North. He wants me to listen and tune in to all He has for me. I grew accustomed to relying on others, when what I needed to learn to do was rely on the Spirit. 

This was difficult for me. I had to let down my guard. I had to move and not worry what others thought or understood. People were hurt because I left my home church. I was hurt in many ways and I still carry those hurts. They were wounded because I had to make a change and I was wounded because they really didn't seem to care where God was leading me. It didn't mean I no longer loved them. But once I left I felt unloved and misunderstood. But this is where God began to change me. Forgiveness is a life long lesson. It doesn't come easy and God wasn't asking easy of me. 

When we go exploring sometimes others don't understand. They take it personal. What we need to remember is, our walk is about obedience. This mercy doesn't like to see others unhappy. I've always been that people pleasing girl. Another life lesson that isn't easy, but one that I'm learning. Others may have been unhappy that I left, but more importantly, my soul was unhappy. It had lost the joy it once held. Too much junk was in the way. It was as thought there was a lid on top of my experiences. I was only experiencing God in certain ways and He was telling me, "I have so much more for you". 

"All those led by God's Spirit are God's sons. For you did not received a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God's children, and if children, also heirs-heirs of God and coheirs with Christ-seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him." Romans 8:14-17

"For I know the plans I have for you-this is the Lord's declaration-plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11-13

I can tell you that I have thought about going back. In many ways it would be easier. But that isn't what exploring is all about. In this new journey I'm not only finding more of me, but so much more of God. He is showing me the real me He wants me to be. Change isn't easy. It begins within the heart. We cannot walk our walk worrying what others are going to think. We put God first and as He gives direction, we follow with trust and obedience. 

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8

“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” Psalm 118:8

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not upon your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5-6  

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

“Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:4, 7a

I'm not perfect. I am a Jesus girl. I want to seek Him and live all that He has for me. That wasn't happening in living in my easy. I had to leave the comfort of the circle that surrounded me. I needed to learn to depend on God first. I needed to learn how to discern the voice of God. Praise Jesus! He is doing a work in me. I feel His peace and grace now more than ever. I'm in His Word and seeking His quiet and His voice to move. 

Change isn't easy, but learning to explore is life changing. 

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