Life According to Him or the Gospel according to me?

Life is a lot like the waves in the ocean, you know the ones… the ones that are so fun to play in.  They pick you up and move you forward, dropping you down for a moment only to return and repeat.  This has been such an adequate description of my life for majority of it…rolling along with the tides.

On a sunny calm day everything was easy & beautiful, but then the storms would come which would roll me around oftentimes unable to catch my breath…yet life lay mainly in the middle, soft rolling waves with a large one hitting unexpected.

I share this with you my friends in hopes that this visual would potentially be something you recognize as well.  You see, it took me many years of repeating things over and over again, that I realized I could break away from the tide.. I could get off the hamster wheel and choose to follow a different path.

I was caught up in the place of building a business…my personal wealth. Enabling family…maybe they would see how much we love them if we do this….trying to buy happiness, which was always temporal and fleeting.  I was always left with this nagging feeling of being incomplete…unsettled.

The more unsettled I became, the more I searched for what was missing.  In this searching God worked out behind the scenes details that would eventually take me on a mission trip to Costa Rica with my Husband and 12 year old Granddaughter.  I came home with a new feeling in my heart…something unknown and unexplainable.

The following year another Mission trip opportunity presented itself, this time it was to Senegal Africa.  Here I was beginning to understand some of what God was revealing to me…life according to Him? or the gospel according to Me?.  On the way home from Senegal we had.a stop over in Paris.  This is a place I had always wanted to go, who hasn’t heard of the romance and beauty of the culture and food in this city…I was super excited.

Yet, it was here in this short 36 hour layover, that God opened my eyes to the depravity of the human mind.  Remember we had just come off of 2 weeks where our entire beings were being poured out and focusing on the Lord.

After we got settled in a very tiny hotel room (our luggage wouldn’t even fit inside and had to remain in the hallway).  Mike and I ventured out on a walk through old Paris.  We marvelled at the narrow cobblestone streets, the sidewalk cafes looked so inviting and we just wanted to stop and have coffee at every one. We spent a number of hours walking and exploring the area.  Then as suddenly as the sun went down and the darkness of night started to descend, our eyes were opened to another side of Paris.

The same shops that we had strolled by in the afternoon selling tourist trinkets and paraphernalia on the sidewalk racks, now were being changed out to horrific displays of perverse sexuality and debauchery.  Now don’t get me wrong here, I was anything but a sheltered prude…but this was truly beyond my compression… especially only about 24 hours after our Mission trip concluded.

I remember being sickened and stunned!  Lord, what is happening to our world? I quietly prayed to myself as we hurried away from the area.  Honestly to this day, many years later there are still images burned into my brain that I would give anything to unsee.

We left Paris with a sense of sadness, where some people come to see beauty and culture, God showed us the complete opposite… but why?

It would take many more years and many more mission related trips for God to complete the picture He was wanting me to understand, and there was much in my own life that needed “rearranging as well”.   So with each following deployment or mission trip, I came home with a closer sense of God and my eyes being opened to the life that I, “a devoted child of God” was living.

Trust me, it’s not that my life was terrible, but in time the Lord showed me that my priorities were out of order. Yes, I loved the Lord… but more than my family?  Yes, I trusted God… but it would come through my own efforts to provide? Yes, I wanted to serve Him… but with my entire life?

I can honestly tell you that there was never one AHA moment.  Rather a number of large waves that unexpectantly hit while I was rolling along in the surf. I soon came to understand that these waves hitting was God getting my attention to turn to Him… to learn from Him… to get into His Word and allow IT to change me.

Fast forward to June of 2021,  15 months of the world on lock down due to Covid, a move 10 hours away (North I might add) and I continue to see God writing the story of my life. He has called Mike and I into full-time ministry.  He has shown us continually through the stripping away process that He remains in control and is 100% Trustworthy. He has given us a peace  that I have never before experienced and I am sooo excited to see the next chapters that he writes for our lives.

Journal Entry:  #48

June 24,2018

Heavenly Father,

For four days I have been pondering these verses, trying to understand why you would be impressing them upon my heart.  The line; “but you would have none of it”, stuck in my mind like a thorn, as did the following line; “that you long to be gracious“.

No matter how many times I reread these passages, I simply could not understand.  I read through the Chapter of Isaiah 30 and saw the context in which it was written.  It was obvious the Israelites were not trusting you to take care of them, rather they were trusting instead on mans power, in this case the Egyptians.  But what could this possibly have to do with me?

Then today you finally revealed to me what you wanted me to see…I was reflecting on your Word, pondering my sinfulness, the areas of the world that I was enticed by and the ways I was being trapped by my worldly desires.  Suddenly, You brought to my mind the parable of the sower.  

As I read about the seed falling on thorny ground [the ones who hear the Word, but the worries of this age…the deceitfulness of wealth…and the desires for other things…enter in and choke the Word and it becomes unfruitful].  You immediately impressed upon my heart that this was me/us in the first number of years of our Marriage.

 We knew the Truth…we knew how we should be living;  “in our Salvation – in quietness and trust for Your purpose and plan”…yet “we would have none of it.”  Instead we put family…toys…and things of this world in front of You.  We trusted in our strengths and abilities rather than Yours.  We were unfaithful because we allowed the thorns of this life (often disguised as fun & pleasure) to choke out Your purpose for us.  

Forgive me Father, forgive our self-serving desires, for letting our love for the pleasures of this world to distract us and prevent us from truly living in our salvation.  Thank you Lord for the promise you include in vs.18 reminding me that You “long to be gracious to me”, that you in fact “Rise up to show Your compassion”.   You have been so gracious to us Lord, much more than we deserve. 

Thank you Jesus for Your Spirit, that teaches us and coaxes us away from the distractions and back to You.  Thank you for the tilling process that You have been doing in our lives these past years…digging out our thorns…fertilizing the hard ground, working to turn it into good soil…soil that will produce a good crop for You and Your Kingdom Lord.  

Thank you that You Loved us too much to leave us where we were, as wayward and unfruitful children.  I repent of the thorny ground and wasted years Lord, thank you for the promise of “rest in You”…Thank you for the preparation You are doing in us…and thank you for speaking to me through your Word, and guiding me by Your Spirit in understanding.  

Your truths and wisdom are worth so much more than all the distractions we were caught up in.  Thank you for releasing us and stripping away the things that were preventing our very growth.  I choose to wait and trust in Your plan and Your provision…for You know the plans You have for me, and I know they will be amazing.  

In Jesus Name ❤️ Amen

My Final Thoughts & Encouragement:

Where might you be on this journey? Are you rolling along, yet feeling like nothing is changing? or, maybe that something is still missing? Are you living in the place that God wants you to be living right now? or, maybe you have sacrificed Truth for justification.

Friends, I am not here to condemn.  In fact I have been in each of those places.  My Husband used to have a saying that we both ascribed to “you can’t unscramble eggs”.  This was a wonderful way to continue what we knew was wrong because it was already done and we couldn’t fix it.

Thankfully, God was at work, showing us His Truth that His ways were better than our ways.  Be prepared though my friends, because the enemy of this world would have you believe that ours are much more pleasurable… I’m here to tell you he’s lying…that’s what he does.  His goal is not to help you but to hurt you and he uses those lies to do just that.

Lets go back to my story about Paris in the beginning of this post.  Why would God want me to see the filth rather than the beauty in this famous city?  I have come to believe that He wanted me to see the Truth of the treasures and pleasures of this world.. Our world has been completely corrupted by Satan.  There is evil at it’s very core. That is why Jesus told us that we are to live IN this world, but not be OF this world.

As children of the King, we are to bring light into the darkness, but we can’t be that light if we don’t recognize how dark the world around us really is.  God has used the sex factory brothels in South East Asia, the poverty and witch craft in Haiti and Africa to help open my eyes.  But we don’t need to see these things first hand to recognize they are there… we need to listen to those who have seen.  We need to learn and open our eyes to the brokenness and depravity of this world head on.

As I was first walking this journey and learning these things, I was convinced that God was taking me overseas to serve him.  Since that time, I have come to recognize to just let God do God and simply be obedient to where He wants me placed.  There are broken people all around us that have been hurt and betrayed by the evil in this world..Those people need a light in the darkness, because they have seen and lived in the depth of that darkness.

You might not recognize these people when you first see them or meet them, sometimes you many never hear their stories, Yet you are still called to be the Light of Christ. To show love to the broken hearted , to be something good in a broken world.

In order to do that, we need to change our priorities:  what’s coming between you and Jesus right now? What is preventing You from putting Him and His plan first and foremost in your life? These are not easy questions friends, but I can assure you that they are the most IMPORTANT questions you will ever assess.

In a world where I am seeing families divided due to Covid, separations caused because 1/2 the family is pro vaccine and the other 1/2 is not.  Where are you going to take your stand on the only issue that truly matters?  Where is Jesus in your life… firmly at the top? guiding you and directing you on this narrow path?  Or, is He somewhere in the middle? maybe right behind work and the family, but number one on Sundays? Or, maybe He’s even further down just below the things you want, regardless if it’s according to Gods Word or maybe even opposed to it?: you love Him and desire to serve Him, but the enticements of your own happiness overrides the Truth in His Word.

I encourage you my friend, to open up Gods Word, and examine your life in it’s light.  I will do the same… this is a very long journey and we all stumble off the path at times.  Ask Jesus to make a way in your heart to change the things He would have you change.  He is faithful and Loving and wants nothing more than to have His Children seek him.   Don’t give up, put one foot in front of the other and let’s navigate this journey together, and bring the Light of Christ into this broken world, one day at a time…

Blessings, Janet ❤️

Do You Know Jesus? He’s waiting for you…

female in pink dress standing near sea in sunny day
Photo by Ben Mack on Pexels.com

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