Well HELLO!!! It has been about 2 months since I last blogged. I apologize for my absence; I haven’t forgot about blogging or neglected it intentionally. Quite the opposite happened! God took me on an unplanned sabbatical! Let’s flashback.
The day was Tuesday, November 29th. It was the last meeting of the semester for my small group and I. The whole purpose was to debrief and discuss our goals for the coming season, our Christmas break as we are all college students. And during that time, I uttered words I had no idea where they would lead me. I said “During Christmas break, I want to grower closer to God and allow him to develop me more than ever before”. I know God heard me, because the next eight weeks challenged and pruned me in ways I could not have imagined.
Moving forward, break started on December 12th. I was pumped to relax, catch up with friends, and not worry about school or work for a couple weeks. I set my list of goals for this season and prayed God would meet me in this place. I wanted to read the Word, read five books on faith, and be intentional in my prayer time. Seeing that I had no school, I fully expected to pop out lots of content for this blog. BUT God had different plans and I could not be more grateful that His plan went forth and mine did not.
I can’t give a day by day recap because I’d be writing forever and you wouldn’t finish reading. Cheers to short attention spans 😉 However, as my season transitions again, I thought I’d share 5 lessons I learned in my unplanned sabbatical to encourage you in your faith journey.
- Pursuit is more important than Performance to God!
When I said to my small group, I wanted to grow closer to God and allow him to change me from the inside out, I was saying YES to God. I just finished an amazing book by Lysa Terkeurst called When Women Say Yes to God. In the book, she talks extensively about radical obedience and living life in tune with God’s will. I expected my Christmas break to be an easy, relaxing season.
Truthfully, it was a HARD season. The unexpected happened and then it happened again. I was knocked off my feet by the obstacles of life. My aunt passed away unexpectedly which rocked my family. My car broke down when I was out of town by myself and I was unable to get it fixed for three days. The beautiful thing was that when I was knocked off my feet, I fell to my knees. And God met me in those hard moments. He was my peace, He was my strength, He was my comfort and He was my provision. I had to choose to be vulnerable with God in those times and let him know I wasn’t okay. Even in not being okay, I had to choose to worship and trust God because He was still God in my difficult circumstances. Sadness, tears, and grief didn’t stop me from connecting with God. And my pursuit of God allowed him to sustain me in my weakness.
2. God wants to see progress and he is not expecting perfection.
So, I entered this season with my eyes set on pursuing God. And that is what I did. Can I tell you that when I started pursuing God, the devil started pursuing me. I don’t mean the previously mentioned obstacles; I think those were God’s plan. No, I am talking about the devil came for my whole life. He attacked me in the quiet places, when I was all alone. Thoughts of doubt and fear flooded my mind. My inadequacies were never more on display than these times. The ugly persona of sin reared its head. I fell flat on my face and messed up so many times. I could not understand how I could say YES to God, spend time with Him daily and still be attacked in different areas of my life. I experienced conflict, showed jealousy and battled discontentment. The devil took hold of my mind and it was a fight to win it back. There was one week where I just could not win.
BUT God spoke to my heart in a gentle, loving way. He told me that the only way to fight the lies of the devil was with truth. I needed to spend more time with him in His Word and less time with the world. But God I protested, it’s my break and I want to do this and this. And yet, I found that the more time I spent with him, the better my outlook became and the less control sin had on me. I was not perfect, but as the year changed from 2016 to 2017, I saw a change in me. I saw Progress. God dealt with my heart on conflict and how I needed to handled different situations in my life. He exposed seeds of jealousy and discontentment in my heart and offered to uproot those things if I would allow.
3. Pruning requires patience and sacrifice.
When God said, he wanted to uproot those things in my heart that weren’t like him, I had to say YES again. And this time my YES was an SOS to the devil and his demons to test me in the very areas I was pursuing change. Then God prompted me to do what I knew I could not do on my own. I was sitting on my bed one afternoon when I heard God nudge me and then say I’d like you to fast. At first, I was like Yes God; I was planning to fast for the New Year anyways. But then God said I want you to do my fast, not your own. God’s fast for me was the Daniel Fast, to only eat fruits and vegetables and drink water for 21 days. Additionally, He said to fast from social media. Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE meat, so my first reaction was God I can’t. And to be honest, I didn’t want to nor did I plan to do this fast. But I told one of my friends what God had spoken and she encouraged me to carry through. I still wasn’t convinced.
I prayed God would speak another word to my heart. But God is not a man that he should lie and his Word doesn’t change. So, I prayed God would change my heart in order that my desires would align with His. And that is exactly what he did. In the days leading up to my fast, God began preparing me for the 21 days ahead. He allowed me to hit the reset button. I was praying for vision and God answered my prayers of vision with another focus, he spoke to me about sacrifice. My fast was my sacrifice. I remember telling God that this would be hard. To which God responded, “don’t worry about the pain, remember the purpose.” God promised to be by my side the entire time and to NEVER leave or forsake me. I am so grateful for his promise which carried me through those 21 days. He was my strength and my sufficiency. In my weakness, God was strong and he allowed me to complete the work he started in me.
4.God can’t speak if you’re not in position
I didn’t say any of the above for you to be impressed. Truthfully, this is the first time I have truly reflected on this previous season. It was not about what I couldn’t have. Instead, I had to make my fast and my life about what I did have and that was the presence of God. I spent more time in prayer than ever before. There were many hard days when I wanted to give in, but the covenant I made with God was more important than my appetite for food and for worldly pleasures.
The word of God filled me when my stomach was empty. His voice comforted me when my strength was failing. And the intimacy of His Presence truly changed me from the inside-out. I can’t accurately put into words what this season meant to be. It was a season of growth; God planted so much inside of me that I believe will come forth in coming seasons. He instilled knowledge from His word and from books of faith. He also convicted me when I sought knowledge over His presence. God showed me flaws in my thought patterns and He revealed that I’m not immune to sin even when I am seeking His face. He sustained me and carried me in the hard moments, and He picked me up when I messed up. I am so thankful for the intimacy of these past eight weeks. God renewed my faith and reminded me of His promises. He let me know that he withholds no good thing and He is always with me. I needed God so much in this season, but I truly believe I’ll need him more for the next season. Without him, I am nothing and I can do nothing.
5. Your YES Matters
I hope my story encourages you. I pray you say YES to whatever God has asked of you. And when you say YES, know it will change and challenge you like never before. BUT the other side of your YES is where blessing and purpose await. God is for you and He LOVES you!