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Posted on Feb 18, 2016 in Before Marriage Blog, Devotional, Spiritual Life | 0 comments

Some Things Never Change

Some Things Never Change

I had just finished my first year of seminary, I was working as a summer intern at my church in Nashville, TN, and my supervisor asked me to share a testimony with the women’s group.

As I was going through some old notes today, I found my notes from that day and have decided to share them with you here. They are a good reminder to me of where I’ve been and what God has done in my life. I hope they’ll be an encouragement to you too.

 

~July 30, 2005~

Back in the day...

Back in the day…

After a year away at seminary, several of you have asked what motivated me to pursue this degree. The truth is that I really had no other choice. There are all the logical answers, like I wanted a master’s degree in SOMETHING, it was time for a change, my gifts and talents lie in that area… Blah, blah, blah…

The real story is that God has been calling me to ministry all of my life.

My dad tells the story that when I was barely old enough to talk, he told me about Jesus and asked me if I wanted to accept Him into my heart. I eagerly said yes and every time he shared the salvation message with me thereafter, I always wanted him to pray with me again. He says I must’ve gotten saved 100 times before I was 5 years old. At five years old, I responded in church to a call for salvation that I remember well. A deep love for the Lord was instilled in me at a very young age.

My parents were raised in the Mennonite church where, at the time, only men were able to be church leaders. I was taught that my purpose in life was to marry a godly man and assist him in his calling. My greatest dream, then, was to marry a pastor. In my fantasy world, he could preach and do weddings and funerals and I would take care of the rest!  Teaching classes, administration, discipleship, worship, and so on would all happily be my responsibility. It never crossed my mind that I had a call to ministry on my life – regardless of what a possible future husband might do.

By my mid-20’s when I found myself single and bored with my career, I began to revisit the plan I had for my life. I sought God for some direction – any direction!  I prayed for hours at a time, fasted, had other people pray for me, read books about it, took personality tests, and continued to be desperate for some direction from the Lord. And then it happened – driving in the car one day the Lord spoke to me very clearly. He said “I want you to go to seminary.”

This was completely outside of my realm of thinking and as foreign a concept as it gets!  I was shocked and scared and thrilled all at once. Me?  Seminary?  A woman?  Really, God?

“Yes. And I want you to go to Regent University.”

While the first part had thrilled me, the second part concerned me. I knew a little about Regent and that it was located in Virginia Beach, VA – and I had no intention of leaving Nashville!  When I graduated from college, I felt like the Lord had called me to Nashville and I absolutely loved it. My family had moved a lot while I was growing up and I hated moving. I’d determined I was going to find one place to live and stay there forever. For three years, I battled with the Lord over leaving. Regent has a distance education program and I tried to find a way to take classes that way while maintaining my full-time job in Nashville, but that didn’t work. It was three of the hardest years of my life, facing failure upon failure. By the time I left, I had lost nearly everything and felt like I was being spit out of Nashville.

During this time, the Lord spoke very clearly to me – and by now He had my full attention. He used a song on a songwriter named Jill Phillips to get my attention and bring me to a place of rest. Here are the lyrics from “Hanging On.”

The weight I fastened on trying to make my world run
Almost pinned me to the floor
I could not orchestrate one solitary day
The more I worked I found my efforts all in vain.

I believe that I need to let go of these things to be free
S0 help me stop this hanging on and on.

All my worry got was more of what I did not want
The love of power and control
Every hour running kept me in that starting place
When I finally rested I began to win this race.

I believe that I need to let go of these things to be free.
So help me stop this hanging on and on.

Cause you provide.

There is only so much I can do with these two hands
Precious is the freedom that I finally understand
I believe that I need to let go of these things to be free
So help me stop this hanging on and on.

That song nailed my problem down as clearly as it could be said. I had tried to run my own world – to build the life I thought I should have – and I got nowhere at all. Frustration, failure, and pain were all I had to show for my hard work.

God opened my eyes to see that no matter what I said – all the proper Christian phrases – reality was that I didn’t trust Him with my life. I loved Him and wanted His approval, but I wanted things MY way. I wanted to do it myself and expected Him to applaud my efforts. It came as quite a shock to me when He disciplined me instead!

So I threw up my hands and decided to do my best to put my full trust in Him. And when He said “Go to Regent” this time, I put aside my lack of understanding and went. I went with great fear and trembling. But I went.

God has yet to disappoint me. 

I sold nearly everything I owned before I moved, paying off debt, and God has provided replacements for EVERYTHING – including my car!  He has provided amazing jobs (including this internship), and I’ve been introduced me to some of the most influential people at Regent. He’s provided me with a student government position that I was too afraid to apply for until He confirmed it for me several times – and that position carries with it a 50% tuition scholarship. He’s provided me with wonderful friends and professors who love and encourage me. He’s even provided me with a good church.

It’s a daily struggle for me to give over control to God. There are times when I realize that I have yet again charged in on my own and attempted to make things happen. When I’m faced with failure, I look for God and find Him waiting for me somewhere other than where I’m at. I run back and take His hand again. In fact, this last year for me has been one lesson in trust after another. When I think I finally have gotten it, I mess up again!  How many of you can relate to that?

Here are a few words of encouragement from Scripture:

Psalm 127:1 (NKJV)
Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

AND

Proverbs 3:5-8 (The Message)
Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to GOD! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!

Sometimes I actually find myself apologizing to God because I need Him so much. In those times I can almost feel Him laughing at me and saying – I want you to need Me!  I’m trying to remember to bask in my need of Him and enjoy the fact that when I have a need, He is my knight in shining armor – He is the one who desires to rush to my rescue!  I do not have to do it on my own. I do not have to prove my capability to God or impress Him with my ability to handle a situation!  He longs for me to turn it over to Him. He wants me to ask for His advice.

Several times this last year when I have asked, God has required me to take a giant leap of faith. He has required me to quit one job before I was assured of another. He has required that I make myself very vulnerable, but every single time He has come to my rescue.

So my encouragement to you today is to trust God as your champion!  Trust Him as the one who truly longs to take care of your every need!  Believe in God as your knight in shining armor!  He is the only one that you need.

Even if you’re having a hard time with trust, step out in faith and do that thing that is tugging on your heart right now. That thing that He asked you to do and that you’ve been battling Him about. He’s not going to make your life a barren wasteland. He wants to redeem it and make your very bones vibrate with life!

If we were chatting over a cup of coffee, what would you tell me?

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