Journey of Hope: Dusty Dreams and Burning Bushes
So the last time we talked, I gave you the scoop about some new things developing in my world - mostly because it's really amazing the sweet way God has dealt with me the last couple of months. He's shown me who He really made me to be and given me the courage (somehow!) to follow His voice. You'll see what I mean in a minute..... ;)
It's Okay To Ask Why:
Where we left off... God asked me (He kinda had to push a little!) to apply to Bethel's School of Ministry in Redding, and I told Him I would go down this road with Him wherever it led. I also reached out to a pastor friend of mine to get a covering and make sure I wasn't being reactive or emotional. This guy is FULL of wisdom (Keith Swyers - that's you) and he was so spot on! He said a lot that day, but what I remember the most was him telling me that it's okay to ask God why. I'd already said yes in obedience, so I could ask God why He wanted me to do this. He said God would more than happily tell me, and my "why" will give me something to fight for when it gets hard - because it will. So I asked. Instantly, I heard:
"If you'll leave the life you've built for yourself, I'll give you the life you've always dreamed of."
Dusting off the Dreams:
Whoa. That's a big, awesome "why"! And it's funny... in everything God's been speaking to my heart lately, He’s reminded me of who I was when I was a child. What I dreamt of. It's like one by one, He's been pulling out dreams that I put in a box and buried in the ground - dusting them off and breathing life into them. Reviving them in front of my eyes. I forgot them, guys. I mean, I look back at the last four years and I see how He's been slowly doing this over time - awakening my love for music and worship, but there were other dreams I had forgotten... dreams of writing novels, and movies and IMPACTING culture in a big way. Dreams of preaching and ministering. Guys, I was preaching sermons to my mom when I was 8 years old. My whole childhood, my favorite thing was to make up stories and act them out in a little field out behind our condominium complex. How did I forget all that??!? It was all pointing somewhere... but I ignored so much of it.
When I was about 18 years old, I made a decision to take the responsible road instead of following my dreams - to get a job, help with the bills and I settled. I look back now and realize I was so scared of doing the wrong thing that I did nothing. I seemed like what I had to do, but now I know... it wasn't. I had a choice. But God is so good and He holds our dreams even when we don't. I go back to the scripture, "He gives us the desires of our heart." He puts those dreams in our heart and no matter what we do, He will always bring them back to us and give us the option to choose them. To believe Him that it can be that good!
So as God was waking up these dreams, I felt this sweet challenge. An invitation. “You can stay where you are and you can keep going on this path and I will bless it. OR. You can go for the dream. You CAN have the life you've always dreamed of, but it isn't going to happen with you giving it 15% of your time and energy. It's your choice and I won't force you, but I'm telling you - you can have what you want. What do you want?"
Don’t you just love God?? He always gives us a choice. He LOVES and honors our free will in such a big, beautiful way.
But, Is Now the Time for the Dream?
That was the biggest question for me… Timing. I knew God was giving me the chance to choose and I KNEW I wanted to go for the dream! But am I supposed to do it now? All of the wise voices in my life agreed this was definitely God, but when? Still, I turned in the application in obedience and waited to hear back. In the waiting, I was asking ahead of time… God, if they say yes, are YOU saying yes??
I’ll be real here… I’ve had a track record of getting ahead of God. I’m an activator by nature and when I think I can see where God is headed, I’ve totally been known to head off down the road and forget to ask Him if it’s time yet. That's gotten me into a few scrapes and I wasn't really looking to repeat that. He’s really gracious in those situations and never punishes me, but it has made things tougher than I’d like. I’m not looking to do tough anymore. Matthew 11:28 – 30, right?? “Come to Me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest. For My yoke is easy and My burden light.” I’m looking to live THAT life. Not my own plan anymore.
So I started pressing in to God to show me HIS PLAN. And in all of this, it became really obvious that God was after something more than just applying for school. He was after the part of my heart that was still acting like a servant instead of a daughter. I found myself telling him things like, "I'm just afraid that I'm going to waste all my time and effort on the wrong thing and get to Heaven and You're gonna tell me that I missed the point. That I just blew it." God's response was epic (as usual). "But that would make me an abusive parent. I'm not going to expect you to do something I didn't tell you CLEARLY to do. That isn't who I am." Oh..... true, true.
The biggest breakthrough moment for me was listening to Pastor Jimmy Evans teach about prayer and his relationship with God. He was telling a story about the moment when he got to the end of his rope trying to "please God." When he was telling his story, something inside me broke and I ended up in the floor crying (when God moves you just go with it). I heard myself telling God something that shocked me. I said, "I'm done walking this tight rope and always being afraid of a mis-step. I can't do it anymore. But it's the only way I know to relate to You and I KNOW I can't live without You, so I need You to teach me another way to relate to you." Really gently, He said, "I will. I'm here and I'm not going anywhere - no matter what you do." Music to my ears guys.
I felt a HUGE weight lift off my shoulders and I knew was free to make this choice with Him, not afraid of making a mistake. It's funny how even though I was TOTALLY healed of fear at Heaven Come, my thoughts and ways of reacting were (and are) still being renewed. Oh, but He's so faithful.
Aaaaannndd You're IN!! Now What??
Next thing you know, I got my acceptance to BSSM. Now, it's decision time. Gulp. You may be saying to yourself, "Seriously, God was doing so much for her and giving her so much reassurance... what's with all the hesitation and emotion?" Guys - emotions are a real thing. They aren't what make our decisions for us, but they do show us things in our hearts that need to be addressed though...
My biggest hesitation (from the minute God started this whole thing) was... HOW AM I GOING TO PAY FOR IT!?!?! I mean, I just didn't know it was coming so I haven't planned or prepared. I didn't (and still don't) know how this thing is going to be funded. That was my biggest stumbling block. I say stumbling block because if God has asked you to do something, He WILL pay for it. And my brain knows that, my spirit knows that... but I needed to have His Word to be sure He was asking me to do it. So my conversation with God has been something like this... "Here's the deal, I get that You're cool and You will bless me and I'm a daughter and I don't have to worry about this and all those things... But I'm not looking to get out there and have You say I should have waited. I want to go WITH You. Not ahead of You. I HAVE to know You are going to provide for it. So is this YOUR timing?"
I'd been asking Him that for about a week, and I just getting word after word that now is the time... I was at coffee with a friend and she started prophesying over me that it's time to do what I LOVE! Then I went over to a friend's house to get some perspective and wisdom and they got a word while I was there that this was absolutely God. They didn't have a word on the timing though. (Great. That's my question!) What they DID tell me was that they could see the hand of God surrounding me - that I really couldn't mess it up because God was guiding me so closely. He also told me God would give me dreams, visions and revelations about every step of this journey. Nice!!
WILL YOU JUST SAY YES?
A couple days later, I was in my quiet time and in the "zone" in worship - you know what I mean, right? Like, where ALL you see is Jesus. I heard God whisper, "It's your story. What story do you want to write?" My immediate answer and the cry of my heart was... "I don't want to write the story that I heard You, I saved up for a year and went when it was safe. I want to write the story that I heard You, I jumped and You caught me."
I just felt the sweetest reply - "I'm okay with that story." I really LOVE the way God talks to me. ;)
I still needed to know He would provide. He hadn't answered that part yet, so that night I told Him, "Look - I get that You're okay with me writing that story, but I HAVE to know it's Your timing and that You will provide for it. So if this is YOUR timing, then give me a dream that I'm in Redding and I have to KNOW that I'm in Redding. I can be doing whatever, but I need to know I'm there."
That night I went to bed and dreamt that I was in Redding - interviewing Jeremy Riddle for a TV program. Okay. That's cool. The very first thing I heard when I woke up was "Go. I will be with you."
For whatever reason, I needed more. Sheesh, we're human sometimes, huh? But God can take it.
I went to journal out the dream and I heard it again. "Go. I will be with you."
Now, my mind immediately went to that scene from the Prince of Egypt where God is telling Moses to go back to Egypt and free the Israelites. So I picked up my Bible! I was reading that passage in Exodus and I noticed how Moses kept hemming and hawing. "Who am I? I can't do this." Huh... sounded vaguely familiar. But God - is it THIS YEAR?!? I just heard, "Delayed obedience is disobedience. I can send an Aaron if I have to, but I shouldn't have to. Your a Levite. You can do this. You know what your heart is telling you and you know what I have said. What's holding you up?"
Well, it was other people's stories and concerns they've had and bottomline... I'm embarrassed to say, it was still the provision thing. I just HAD to know He would make a way. True to form, He answered in a way I didn't expect... He talked to me for a good five minutes about why He wanted me to go this year, who I was called to minister to and told me He didn't want them to wait a year - that their freedom lies on the other side of my "YES". Ouch.
But the sweetness of God, is He always gives us choice, right? So the next thing He did was tell me I didn't HAVE to go this year. I could go next year and He would bless it and it would be fine, but He was ASKING me to partner with Him in this now. Would I do it?
YES!!! I just knew. He had my yes. I don't know how it will work out, but yes.
And Then There Was a Burning Bush!
Somewhere in all that talking, I told God I still wanted a burning bush. I just needed to know this wasn't all in my head. He was listening.
I got up and went to the Dallas Farmers Market for funsies. I had three divine encounters there, but the last one was the best! I was talking to the attendant at one of the booths and we started talking about God and trusting Him and I said something about how we just have to hear and obey. He stopped DEAD in his tracks, looked at me in silence for about a minute (I knew I was about to get a word) and said, "Yeah, but God gives us this thing called free will, right? And it's our heart. The dreams in our heart are always consistent. Ideas come and go, but your heart is always leading you in the same direction." Okay... you have my attention. So I asked him to tell me more about his dreams and somewhere in telling me about himself, he said, "You know, it's like that passage in Exodus where God is telling Moses to go free the Israelites........." Guys - I really don't remember much of the rest of what he said. I just know I heard the Holy Spirit say, "And THERE'S your burning bush." Mic drop.
Okay, God. I hear you. Needless to say, I was floored and super excited all at the same time and I went in the next day, gave my notice and here we go!! There are definitely moments when I'm like, "Oh my God. What is happening?!?" But more than anything I'm at peace and super excited!
I want to end this by asking you to take a few minutes and let God remind you... What was your dream as a kid? What did you always (and still) want to do? And how can you and He partner together so you can start doing what you love??? Because here's the deal, guys. God is up to something. Almost everyone I talk to feels the holy discontent of wanting to be in THEIR SPOT. Their lane. Doing the thing, living the life they are passionate about! I heard this recently in a sermon from Bill Johnson,
"One of the reasons the enemy tries so hard to keep us in a place of anxiety and stress is that we lose our creative edge, and we were actually born to create. We are by nature creative thinkers, but lifestyles of stress and anxiety steal the capacity for creativity and we shift from builders to maintainers. From people who are trying to effect change to people who are just trying to survive. And the enemy likes to keep us on our back foot so we just try to survive and "do well but we were meant to partner with the One who created it all!"
So how can you partner with God, dump the stress and the anxiety and actually LIVE THE DREAM? It IS POSSIBLE, GUYS! Let's do it! Love you all!