Monday, February 15, 2010

Stepping Out

God gave us the book of Nehemiah as a blueprint for our ministry. I've read it, taken notes, read it again, studied it in detail. And I'm AMAZED at how it has over and over again pointed the direction we were supposed to walk. Only God could do that! Think about it...that book was written eons ago, and it's not one of the more popular and widely-read books of the Bible...yet here we are in 2010 getting our instruction from Nehemiah's rebuilding project. I'm overwhelmed by God's amazing ways that are far FAR above our own ways!

So, we began to follow Nehemiah's blueprint many moons ago. We started by mourning. When Nehemiah saw the wall of Jerusalem in shambles, he CRIED. When we began to understand the immensity of 143 million orphans, we also CRIED. Nehemiah began to confess his sins and the sins of his country in letting the wall stay in ruins. We began to confess our sins and the sins of the greater Church for letting these orphans (God's children) slip through our fingers. Nehemiah fasted and prayed. We fasted and prayed. Nehemiah then waited. We've waited (and waited and waited).

And here is where we deviated from the plan. We kept waiting and waiting and waiting. We honestly believed that we were right in waiting...timing wasn't right, doors hadn't opened, etc. Perhaps it wasn't time to STEP OUT. But this morning in my quiet time I went to God with a direct question: "Are we right to wait on God, or is HE the one waiting on us?" We've been feeling immense "labor pains," needing to expand the area of the "wall" we are working on. I asked God about these labor pains, and again He was good good GOOD to answer.

I looked in Nehemiah again to see exactly what and how Nehemiah proceeded. I was looking at some notes that I have in my Bible from a sermon we heard about Nehemiah (10 years ago in a church in another state!), and look what it said: "Nehemiah had faith and passion. When God plants a seed in you, until you go after it, you will be miserable. Until you BIRTH that passion, you'll have labor pains. If God gives you something, you have to go after it!!! God won't give a passion and then not water it. He WILL take care of it!"

Did you catch that? I actually prayed, asking God about our "labor pains," and He led me to notes that had the exact same wording in it. I'm always amazed at His voice and the way He can deliver an answer in clarity just when we really need it!

I studied Nehemiah again. What did Nehemiah do after he had mourned, prayed, fasted and waited on God? He went to the one person who had the means to help him do the work he needed to do. Remember, Nehemiah saw the need of the wall needing to be rebuilt, but he didn't have any means to do that. But he knew that the king had the position and the materials necessary to do it. So, Nehemiah prayed for God's favor, and then he asked the king if he could go rebuild the wall. When the king said yes, Nehemiah then went on to ask him for the materials necessary to do the work. See...if Nehemiah had all the materials, he wouldn't have had to rely on God to make the way.

We have found ourselves in a similar situation for many months. We have a vision that we believe with all our hearts that God has given us to serve "the least of these." Over the past 2 years, that vision has been expanded, deepened, focused and confirmed in many ways. We've waited for a long time, continuing to pray and seek Him...and not wanting to step ahead of Him. Hence, my prayer this morning: "Are we waiting on YOU, or are you waiting on US?"

Nehemiah stepped out.

We are stepping out. We are bathing this in prayer, asking God to close any doors that we knock on if they are not the right doors. But we are taking our feet and swinging them over the side of the boat...we are touching the water with our toes and getting ready to stand up on that water.

My husband joined me for the end of my quiet time this morning, and I shared this with him. He agreed and asked me a question: "WHAT IS STOPPING US?" The fact of the matter is that the only thing stopping us from doing what we know we've bene called to do is our lack of money to do what we feel led to do. (I cannot share details just yet, but I will...really!). We have a vision God has given us, but we don't have the means to do it. Again, JUST LIKE NEHEMIAH! (Wasn't God so good in giving us Nehemiah as a blueprint??).

It reminds us of when God called us to adopt our youngest daughter. He called us to it, but we didn't have a single PENNY of the necessary money to make it happen. We were looking at a mountain of $17,000, and we didn't even have a penny of it. We didn't even have enough for the very first step in the process!! If we had waited until we could afford it, we would have never adopted her.'s the secret...when God calls, sometimes we don't have the means UNTIL we step forward. With our adoption, He provided step-by-step...when we needed money for the homestudy, He'd provide that much (not more usually). That kept us relying on God for every day, ever step. Isn't that where He wants us? Oh, and the amazing reality is that when we are living with that moment-by-moment reliance on Him, there's peace...and there's provision that we'd lack otherwise.

After the adoption was finalized, and we no longer needed that day-to-day provision, we quit relying on Him for everything. We began to become reliant on ourselves. We're like that as humans. But I MISS that flying-by-faith thing that takes us from "just living" to THRIVING! It's the type of faith that George Mueller had, and it gets into my bones and inspires me to live on that "thin air" faith that he had.

So, all of this to say that we are stepping out. There are some very tangible things we feel led to do to serve "the least of these." There's a vision God has planted in our hearts. We're stepping out of the boat, with absolutely no human means of doing what He's called us to. It's thin's crazy faith...and ya know what? It feels very FREE-ing to again walk by faith, not by sight.

If we are wrong in stepping out now, we are simply praying for God to correct us in our spirits. We pray and step. Pray and step. The Lord is our Shepherd...He leads us along the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake... Pray and step...pray and step.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Today's Plan

While Jesus was praying to His Father near the end of his earthly life, He said something that keeps echoing through my mind. It's something I yearn to be able to say about my own life. In John 17:4, He says, "I brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you told me to do."

Unfortunately, unlike Jesus, I've already failed at that because there have been many things I have not done that I was supposed to do. I'm so thankful that I don't get into Heaven by the good things I do because I'd NEVER make it on my own! Thank you, Jesus, for saving me by Your grace alone, instead of my "good behavior." But I'm not talking about being saved. I'm talking about an amazing focus to aim at...having the single purpose of doing everything He has told me to do.

But, how does that break down into TODAY's plans?

Well, it's quite simple really. He's told me to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and to love others as myself. Can't it be summed up like that? Isn't that what Jesus said? So, today I aim to keep Jesus in the forefront of my try to walk in His love my husband and children like He would. That means slowing down to listen when my mind wants to drift to my must-do's...making eye contact when I'd naturally tend to keep moving on to the next moment...praising the good I see instead of sawing on the rough edges. A simple focus does not mean it's EASY! Today specifically, we are taking the time to sit down to rethink through some family courtesy issues because the tone of voice the past few days has not been lovely between siblings. :)

These are not earth-moving plans, but it's what He's given me to do this day, this moment. If I follow Him step-by-step...if I aim with all my heart to just focus on the steps He takes and follow Him...then perhaps at the end of today I can say, "I brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you told me to do."