Sunday, September 28, 2014

Lesson #2

Process - 
  • "a systematic series of actions directed to some end," 
  • "a continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in definite manner,"
  • "the action of going forward or on." 
I've never been a fan of "process," but I've decided that process is the best place to be. Since we never "arrive" until we reach heaven...our entire lives are a process. It can't be all that bad if process was God's design for us.

None-the-less, process can be down-right frustrating!

The first part of the TRUST lesson was Trust God! Trusting God is hard, but it is worth it!

Lesson #2 - Trust the Process!

I've got to be honest...when my counselor threw this in as number 2...I had to have given him that look! You know! The one that says... "Whatchu talkin 'bout Willis?" (If you don't understand that phrase...then you really missed out!)



Trust God! I got that! I mean... I will... eventually! But, I know that has to come first. Trust the process?? I don't think I fully understood that until about 2 months ago. (I takes me a while!)


Even as I write this...I think I still truly struggle to understand fully. 

In the beginning of this process, I didn't know who I could trust. I had a hard enough time trusting myself. When we are thrown into a ... situation ... one that we don't understand- much less choose- we (I speak for myself...but I'm kinda thinking that others do this too!) oftentimes make decisions in a hurry. We make decisions in order to protect ourselves. Our loved ones. 

I remember speaking with a trusted leader immediately following the revelation of information that would forever change the trajectory of my life. Basically, he said, "Whatever you do, don't make any decisions right now. Take some time and be sure you are making the right decisions." I have to be honest, in that moment, had I made the decisions that I really wanted to make....life would look a LOT different for me right now. Things would look very different. Not only that, but I'm not sure I would have learned things about God...and about myself that I was meant to learn. That, my friend, is process.  

From time to time, process is fun. It's exciting! Change is happening, you grow in ways you never thought possible. You learn new things. Expand your boundaries to include greater perspectives and knowledge. I look back on my time at seminary as one of those times. It was fresh, new, exciting! I met some of the MOST amazing people there. Life-long friends; women and men who shared perspectives and knowledge, but mostly - they shared of themselves. 

I looked forward to the three times a year I attended classes on campus. Also, I really enjoyed the reading and learning, ok, most of it! From the first class (that rocked my world) to the second (that did the same), and so on; each class seemed to build on the next. This process shaped me probably more than any other to that point! I have to say, it was at this time that I started to enjoy the word "process" since many of my previous processes were negative. My perspective had changed. 

This time, however, the process I was facing was not fun. It was unpleasant. It wasn't exciting! It was terrifying. As a matter of fact, when I tried to look ahead and see the light at the end of the tunnel...there wasn't one. The tunnel was as black as night and just as frightening. Quite honestly, I didn't want to take one step toward the tunnel. This was not a process of my choosing. Or was it? 
I had a choice to make. I could begin this process and see where it leads, or I could chose a different process. But, either way, I was choosing a process. 

When you come to a fork in the road, you really have four options; go right, go left, stay put, or turn around and go back the way you came. I was not about to go back the way I came. It wasn't good...take it from me. Oh there were most definitely good times, but it had led to this, and this was not good. So, that was not an option. Staying put? Not an option. Life had just upended. I didn't like it one bit...but I was not about to stay put. I wasn't dead! (Though somedays I felt like it!) I was desperate for change. I knew that somehow God would bring good out of all this. 

Esther, one of my favorite Bible heroines, had to travel down a road that I'm certain she would not have chosen for herself. She endured months, even years, of a process that would eventually put her on the thrown as Queen, married to one of the most powerful, and ungodly, men of that time. Yet during her time of "process," God shaped her into a powerful leader. One who, in a desperate situation, chose to walk into the dark tunnel ahead of her, depending on God to light the way. She saved her nation. 

This left me with two options, right or left. I believe that neither would have been wrong for me at that time. But, only one way would be right. (That's not a pun!) I could choose a process that would protect me from further pain...maybe. Or, I could choose a process that might cause more pain, but could potentially produce a beautiful ending. 

Look up "process" in a thesaurus and you'll find a plethora of words to replace it with. The one that I like is "way." A simple little word. 

Most people know this story, but if you don't, this is a short recap. Job was a follower of God. He practiced humility, was a great business man (he was very wealthy), and treated people well. He had it all. An awesome wife, children, land, livestock. He had friends and was respected among them. Satan asked God if he could take Job's life because he believed that Job was only following God because of everything good God had given him. God wouldn't allow Satan to kill Job, but he did allow some suffering. Ok, a LOT of suffering. Job lost everything. Even his friends and wife told him he would be better to curse God and die. His life had turned into this pitiful existence. 

In Chapter 23, Job wonders (out loud) where God is. He just wanted to go before God to remind Him that he was a good man. Job wanted to plead his case. He knew that if God was his Judge, he would surely be exonerated of whatever crime he was paying for. In the middle of his moaning, he says, 

"But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. BUT, he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread." Job 23:8-12

Even Job realized that though he could not "find" God, He was at work. God was working within the process. God knew the way Job was taking, and though it wasn't a way of Job's choosing, Job kept to God's way.  That's a lot of "ways."

Job realized that this wasn't an easy process. He lost everything, including his children. Get that. It wasn't just material possessions he lost. Life would not look the same from this point forward. But God was working.

Like Job, I knew that as painful as this way, or process, looked, God was at work. There was a lot of work that needed to take place within me. This wasn't the way I would have chosen, but in trusting God, I had to learn to trust the process; the way He had laid out for me. I've learned so many things. I've met people I never would have known before. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Most definitely! Is it bright enough for me to know what it will look like when I emerge? No. But God knows the way I take. I want to do my best to keep to His way.

Trusting the process is really understanding that within the realm of trusting God, I hold on to the truth that God is working within the process. He is working in my heart. He is a work in the hearts of those closest to me. I will not emerge the same person that went into the dark tunnel.

I will come forth as gold.

"For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous..."
Psalm 1:6

Dreaming Big!

Kristi

Friday, September 12, 2014

Lesson #1



The past few months have been ... difficult. Painful. Some of the hardest months of my life. Yet, I would be lying if I said they were absolutely awful.

Even in the darkest times in our lives, God has lessons He wants us to learn. In the seasons when we feel the most abandoned, God is working in the unseen.

Since writing has become an outlet over the past several years...and I'm no longer in school...I've decided to share my journey with you. In sharing with you, it allows me to deeply consider what God is doing/has done in my life. So, here's praying that some of the lessons God is teaching me will benefit you in some way. 


Lesson #1 (part 1) - Trusting God is hard!!

When I say hard, I mean ... HARD!

I thought I was trusting God. And, I was... I mean... things were pretty good. Not great! But, definitely manageable. By manageable... I mean, I could manage. Or, at least, I thought I could manage. 


Basically, I was in CONTROL. I was managing the easy, every-day situations. The more difficult situations I talked about with God and my girlfriends. You know, you tell your friends to pray...but you are really just venting and getting things off your chest. You hope they pray. Many times, they tell you they will, but they don't necessarily take the time to pray with you at that moment. (I'm not dissing any of my friends...I am guilty of doing that very thing.) Let's be honest, you may not even want them to pray because you are angry! And you tell God, because really, you're just angry and want Him to know how angry you are about said situation! (That's a lot of anger!) 


"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

This verse doesn't say "in some of your ways" it says ALL!

I wasn't trusting God with ALL!

I wasn't really trusting God. With anything. 

I was managing the manageable...and FREAKING OUT over the unmanageable. That freaking out caused a lot of sick days. Migraines, tummy troubles, negativity, complaining, general grumpiness. All this, in turn, caused more things for me to manage. Wow! Not good!

This came to my attention when faced with something I couldn't manage. My friends couldn't manage. I wondered if God could. Because, really, I hadn't really trusted Him with much in my life... It's hard to trust someone you haven't practiced trusting. (Did I mention I've been a Christian "all my life" and I'm a licensed minister...who's been in ministry for several years?) 


My very wise counselor taught me that in order to trust anyone else, I had to learn to trust God first. I hope this helps you in some way. (I wrote this in Sharpie on my mirror!)


TRUST GOD
TRUST PROCESS
TRUST SELF
TRUST OTHERS

All of the sudden, I was facing a situation in my life that I couldn't manage. I couldn't trust myself to make wise choices. I couldn't decide what to make for dinner. I could barely get out of bed. Trust was a BIG problem. I didn't know who to trust. What friends and family could I trust with my deepest hurts? So, I did what I had always done. I talked about my problems to nearly anyone who would listen. It was my coping mechanism. It was how I was trying to manage. But, was I willing to place my trust in the God of the universe? The One who created me? Who knew me best? Was I willing to trust in the Lord with ALL my heart? Could I lean on Him instead of on myself? One thing I knew for certain...my pathway was all sorts of crooked. I needed Him to straighten things out. 

I was placing my trust in my ability to fix the problem...to talk through it...to manage it. I was placing my trust in a very.broken.me. But, I couldn't trust me! That is when I realized...I can't trust me without first trusting God. Believing that I could fix the problems better than God, placing my broken self above His perfect ability, was idolatry. OUCH!

Who am I to think I know more than God? Who am I to think I could control anything? Who am I? 

"Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?" Job 38:1-5

Did Job love God?
Yes!
Did Job serve God?
Yes!
Job's life was manageable!

And, then, disaster came! An unmanageable situation! I'm sure Job wondered if God could be trusted to fix all this. Why would I wonder that? Because God stepped in! Just look at the conversation starter! Can you imagine being questioned like that by God? But, God loved Job enough to stop him in his tracks. God loved Job enough to tell him the truth about the situation! God loved Job enough to remind him who was in control! 

Lesson #1 (part 2) - Trusting God is worth it!!

I see now how trusting in my perfect God should be so much easier than trusting the imperfect me! Believe me, I've not got this trait nailed down. I'm not sure I ever will. But the more I place the control in His hands...the easier it is on me. The more often I default to trusting God...the easier it will become. 

Job's situation made a turn for the better when he acknowledged that God knew it all! 

I've learned that God is trustworthy! He really can be trusted. He loves me more than I can fathom. I've learned that I stress less when God is in control. When I give my problems to him, I can trust Him to take care of me. 


"O Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant." 2 Sam. 7:28

Dreaming Big~

Kristi