No matter what happens…

A few weeks ago, I was having coffee with a friend when the topic of conversation turned. We covered family, friends, jobs, and the like when she shared that she still felt dry spiritually. I could relate. We had talked over the course of the year about how seasons of dryness and being in the valley can be frustrating and confusing. But no matter the amount of internal positive thinking or external encouragement, the scenery of life wasn’t changing. The season of her spiritual life seemed stuck.

What do you do if the season refuses to change? When it seems like winter is going to last forever.

She said that she found herself reading Ecclesiastes and agreeing with everything the Preacher wrote. That everything is a cycle, there is a time for everything, and nothing new under the sun.

But knowing these proverbial truths and feeling at peace with them are two totally different things. Her mind seemed to be nagging at her heart for the lack of feeling. And that’s exactly what I praised God for. Right there in the front window of the cafe. The presence of the nag actually proves Ecclesiastes 3:11 to be true.

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That nagging feeling says that you were made for more than this season of dryness. You were given an imprint of your Creator that longs for more. So even while not feeling what you know to be the right spiritual feelings, it is still proof that God has a plan for you because He has put eternity within you.

And in His time He will make everything beautiful. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. So no matter what season of life you are in: dry or well watered, rejoicing or weeping, at ease or in pain, you’re going to be okay. No matter what happens, today, tomorrow, or in 30 years, you’re going to be okay because God makes all things beautiful in His time.

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Spring is coming.

I was having coffee with a dear friend who is currently in college. We were meeting for our usual “catch up” and sharing with no agenda. We have been doing this for almost 5 years now! And I can’t tell you how much I love it.

So as we were talking, I had a timeline moment :: when you’re thinking back on a stage in your own life where you can relate to someone else’s experience and then you fast forward to the present and realize how much grace God has truly given and how much closer you are to realizing God’s purpose for your life? Just like that. This is that timeline.

God’s calling to write for Him was a seed that he planted when I was much younger. The desire rose within me soon after coming to true repentant faith around the age of 15.  I remember writing poems and songs, and the value of words began to gain more weight in my soul. My senior year of high school I was dual enrolled at Hope College in order to take writing classes – best gift my parents could give me: encouraging and enabling me to become a better writer. I look back and know with confidence that my English 111 class “The Defining Gesture” had an eternal purpose for me. The professor taught me how to self-edit. How to write it all out, and then rip it all apart. How to find the hidden gems within the rough draft, and then carefully reconstruct a piece.

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And yet it took many more years for the soil of my heart to be healthy enough to write anything that would be a ministry to others. I tried many times to write for myself, and it always felt empty. I knew there was a seed within me, the desire and drive to write – but when would it ever grow? Growing restless, I would give up on writing during dry seasons in my 20’s, yet God was faithfully working on the soil of my heart. The deeper layers of who I am in Christ. My heart soil had to be dug up and turned up. To be weeded and de-thorned. So, I waited. And watered. And struggled and wrestled. And languished in the dry sun waiting. Through season after season of not enough fruit to make my life feel like it was good enough, I didn’t realize that roots were growing down deep, roots in Christ. All I had eyes for was above the ground. I wanted instant fruit from one time soil tending efforts. But oh, how this process, 15 years and still going strong, has been useful in my life.

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All the years that I mourned for the death of one seed, thinking that if it had not grown yet then I must have done something that caused me to lose God’s favor. I studied the one spot in the soil where I knew that seed was planted. I didn’t realize that the Spirit was at the same time working throughout my whole heart. Planting more and more seeds than just the one I liked the most. God lead me through many seasons of life. Summer, learning to rest in His warmth. Fall, learning to let things, people, and hopes pass. Winter, learning to live by faith when everything around me seems dead. Spring, learning that new life always comes after the cold. Dark. Night of life.

Now, in this season {heart season : spring} I stand back and see the first new shoots of life bursting forth from that soil that I thought was never going to produce. I’m surprised by joy as I turn and see a whole garden He is cultivating in my heart. Not just one plant, but many. I just stand in awe. The Gardener knows better than I, and He has fruit planned that is far better than I could ever imagine. And I’m humbled because I don’t know or understand the plans He has for me, but I trust that they are plans for hope and a future.

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So my seed, my calling, came with a vision. A hope, that when I misunderstood it and set my sights on the instant gratification of being all God wanted me to be, was dashed. But a hope that is now restored because even though it wasn’t easily seen or discerned at the time, He was building {and continues to build} my hope in Him. Showing me that I should never put my trust in a seed, but always in the Gardener.

And my dear friend? Well, she may be living in a season of waiting for fruit. I know the feeling well. And even though I can’t bring her through all of life’s seasons and fast forward her soil to show her future fruit, I can teach her to do the humble and faithful work that got me to this place of rest and trust. Of always looking for new growth. Spring is coming.

Advent Open Prayers

I’ve lately realized that praying is risky. Prayer changes things. It reveals. I don’t like to openly expose my needs. Weaknesses. Failures. Wounds. But like all good things that come from God, there is a giving up of my self in order to receive Him. And what better time to focus on receiving Him than during Advent.

Whom you will encounter over the next sixteen days? Seeking. Burdened. Hurting. Faking. Giving. Taking. All people needing a Savior. How often will you hear Christmas hymns that beautifully prepare the atmosphere for Christ-centered conversations? How often do you plan on intentionally making that conversational shift to the eternal things that really matter?

This Advent season could be when Christ brings salvation and rest for the people we love. And the words we exchange with them will give evidence to the treasure of our hearts. Stuff or Souls. Heaven hangs in the balance.

My heart longs and cries out for more personal prayer. I know I need to be obeying this admonition to pray.

Will you join me?

Open prayer