Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I stand in awe of the glory of God. In January of 2012 I started a liquid only fast in order to hear what God was telling me. I knew I had to give everything up and surrender my all to God. In December, I took a leap of faith and left a job that I once loved. In the months previous to December, God placed certain people in my life. They spoke to Truth into me, and for once in my life, I actually listened and gave my all to Him. In order for us to hear God, we have to be in tune with Him. You see, I have been running backwards, in selfishness and stubbornness, for years. I’ve been making other things more important than God. One of the people in my life, (who by the way came all the way from Kansas,) told me this: “ Donna, this situation will send you running away from God or it will draw you nearer to Him. What will you do?” I thought about that a lot and today it stays at the top of my mind. For awhile I let the situation take over my thoughts. I have a good friend who is always honest with me and she has watched me be paralyzed by conflict and life events. They don’t do it to me, I allow it to happen by becoming consumed by them. I take my eyes off heaven. If she had never shared this insight with me, I might still be doing it, because I really had no idea that I was doing that. Over the years I have quit things, not finished things, given up on things and have been an absolute failure at life. I try not to let that define who I am, but often times it will peek it’s ugly little head out and say, “ here I am.” So, for me to leave my job felt like a failure. Today, I see it as something entirely different. It was a part of God’s plan.
James 4:7-8 (NIV)
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you.
Since I had been hearing God’s call loud and clear through people ( for years) , circumstances and a plain kick in the pants, I wanted to be sure it was all about God and not Donna. So I began the fast. I laid it all down. Every bit of me fell face down on the floor in surrender to God. Cort and I met with our District Superintendent and we discussed me re-entering the Candidacy Process. Now, some of you may not know what this is. This is a process of discovering God’s call on your life, as a Layspeaker, Local Pastor, Ordained Elder, ( just to mention a few) through the United Methodist Church. You are given a mentor and you work closely with them in this exploration process. I had begun it in 2009 and put it on hold in 2010 ( running in the wrong direction again) and in January 2012 I was reactivated. This is such a personal journey with God and is close to the heart. It is a push, pull, tug of war, between you letting go of self and letting God prevail.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
During that meeting the DS said she was in need of Supply Pastors and would I be interested in doing that? We talked about the duties and logistics and I told her I would. That weekend we were heading to Resurrection. During Resurrection God filled me with a great desire to share His story and to remove the blinders that so many of us wear. I know I can’t remove them-that only God can do that- however I can help to speak light and life into the world and watch God do His mighty work. Resurrection was an “eye opener” for me in many, many ways. God had rekindled my flame through the speaker, the music, the dramas, the kids and our leaders. My husband recommitted his life and our oldest daughter is hearing her call to be in missions. Our youngest has a heart filled with compassion and love for all people. We are blessed beyond measure. It has almost been like a new beginning for us as a family. We were all there being remolded and shaped by our Creator. My fast ended after Resurrection.
Joel 2:12 (NIV)
But even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart—
with fasting, crying, and mourning.”
It was about 5 weeks after that first meeting with the DS that I received another call from her telling me she thought she had a church for me. I was quite surprised to say the least. I stood on my porch, phone in my hand, saying, “ are you sure Lord?” Haha! In that moment I knew I had to trust Him completely. I had to start another fast. I wanted to be absolutely certain that this was of God. I have made the mistake of following people and doing what I think they want me to do and I have vowed to not do that anymore-but to do what GOD was telling me to do. This is all part of that push/pull struggle that grows us into what God wants us to be. Giving up of self is painful. Haha!
Ephesians 4:22-24 (GWT)
21You have certainly heard his message and have been taught his ways. The truth is in Jesus. 22You were taught to change the way you were living. The person you used to be will ruin you through desires that deceive you. 23However, you were taught to have a new attitude. 24You were also taught to become a new person created to be like God, truly righteous and holy.
During this fast many things have happened and one that I want to highlight is the weekend I spent with the kids at Confirmation camp. I went to Camp Dickenson with our Pastor of Volunteer Ministries and 4 awesome kids! I loved every bit of it and it was a wonderful time of feeding for me. We learned about God, we laughed, we played, we sang, danced and even had a campfire. But the best thing we did ( for me) was the making of the stoles and building the altar. Wow. I love to make things, so it’s no surprise! The stole is very telling of our personal journey with God and as I was making mine I thought, hmmm….I might get to wear this one day. When we made the altar we had to hunt for things in nature to build it, rocks, sticks, ferns, moss, etc. It was a beautiful sight to see the work of hands and the thought that was put into each piece. Just like God did when He made each of us. The most significant moment was taking communion with the all the kids. The Pastor teaching us said this, “ We are not like dandelions in the wind, we have a place to be. ( in the church.)” He was so right.
Hebrews 13:21 (NIV)
May this God of peace prepare you to do every good thing he wants. May he work in us through Jesus Christ to do what is pleasing to him. Glory belongs to Jesus Christ forever. Amen.
On Monday, after returning from camp, my phone rang. It was the DS with a projected appointment for me as a Supply Pastor beginning in July 2012. WOW!! I am praising God for all that he has done and will continue to do in the years to come! My time with all of you has grown me to this new place. Your roots are being spread out a little farther through me, and others, who have been called into ministry from our church. You have each been like a little water, a little fertilizer, and a little sun. Each of you is very important to me and wherever I am going- you will all be in my heart-speaking to me, praying for me and encouraging me. We are family- always! This transition will be bittersweet. It is one that God has called me to and I intend to follow Him for the rest of the days of my life. I will be praying for all of you as I know you will be praying for us too.
I want to stop right here and just say that God yearns to give us the desires of our heart-when they are in line with his. How do we know when we are line with Him? By fasting and praying. This journey of fasting and praying is so personal that things just cannot be shared-not because I don’t want to-I just can’t. They cannot be put into words and they are to be kept close to the heart. God is longing to speak to each one of us and when we get out of ourselves and get wholly into Him-He will. We should never say, “ I can’t do that…” because with His strength- we can. We must believe the scriptures and live them out. We don’t fast and pray because someone else tells us to – we do it because God calls us to it and when God calls us to something we better believe that He will equip us!
Ephesians 3: 7-8 (MSG)
This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.
So, by the grace of God, here go I…
I’m depending on God and fully believing that He will equip me for every service, every visit, every sermon, every relationship, every name, every mile, every prayer, every heart, every life and every soul. I am not a dandelion blowing in the wind, I am a seed planted at the foot of the cross with roots that connect to the Giver of Life. Lord, make me disappear and may all that be seen is You…
Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV)
But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.””
I stand in awe of our Creator!
Blessings on your journey,