It’s been a little while since I’ve written. Not for a lack of trying, but I have had some major writers block this last while. So much has happened since I last wrote (way too much to write here, but the most exciting news of all… I’m getting married!!!!).
As I was reflecting on the time since I wrote last, I was humbled to see just how far I’ve come. I realize I don’t often share parts of my story when I write, and I want to get better at that. I once heard a man say that our weakest moments hold the potential to lead someone else to their greatest victory, and that’s a reason enough to stay the course. The deep truths we learn about God and ourselves in the valleys has the potential to nourish the weary of heart as they walk through those very same places.
My hope in sharing with you a piece of how God met me in the valley, is that it would encourage you in whatever season you are in.
Over a year ago I was trying so hard to change the circumstances of my life. I felt stuck. I was sick with worry for loved ones and ashamed about not being where I felt I should be in life. I wanted a vision to work towards, I wanted a plan that made sense and I wanted to be excited about my future again.
Three years prior I felt led to come back to Calgary after being away and going to school. It had been a hard three years, between nearly losing my brother, family illness, having no idea what to do next and financially not being able to take any steps forward. I had never felt so vision-less, so lonely, so hopeless or so….tired.
I always thought I would be a pastor of some sort. I had been working towards a degree in youth ministry and thought with all of my heart that is where I would be one day. When the Lord began to prompt me to move back to Calgary, I was confused, but I knew I needed to be obedient. So I came back to my birthplace, which was also the city I swore I’d never move back too (classic God-move).
It was hard moving back with no real plan. Yet I could see why I needed too, I came to realize so much of my identity had been rooted in becoming a ministry leader. I had forgotten I was first a dearly beloved daughter of God. Destiny is designed to be birthed out of identity, and I needed to learn about who I really was before I could even begin to think about what I had been set apart to do. Don’t get me wrong, God had been incredibly kind to me during that hard season. He blessed me with amazing friends (and now a finance!!!), a stable job and went out of his way to encourage me along the way. I learned more in those years about who God really is than I had learned in my short lifetime. Yet each day I was growing more and more desperate for a breakthrough.
I had a pretty discouraging meeting one day where I realized nothing was going to change outside of a God- ordained miracle. After the meeting was over I drove out to the mountains and cried the whole way there.
It was a cold and gray day (quite fitting if you ask me) and I was alone. I walked for awhile and sat by a stream and watched the water run by. I suddenly noticed there were dead leaves all over the ground. This little fire started burning inside of me and before I could really think my legs just started moving from under me. I went and picked up the leaves and threw them as hard as I could and out of my mouth came the words“God I’m done, I ask that you would take what is dead and bring it back to life”. I was suddenly flooded with peace as I watched those leaves fall.
Something changed in me that day. The heavy, shame-filled and exhausting burdens I had been carrying suddenly looked like those dead leaves. I had finally let those worries, those fears, the regret, the old dreams, my plans and my expectations just die. And I threw myself into the faithful hands of the Author of Life.
I realized that until they died there would be no room for life. I had to be brought to a place where I couldn’t make it happen on my own, so I could let him take over. I had a deeper understanding of what in the world Apostle Paul meant when he talked about the importance of dying to yourself, so Christ can live in us.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
It’s interesting how Paul laid out this verse, it can easily be broken down into three categories.
1. We die.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live…”
He first talks about being crucified with Christ- meaning that like how all of the sin, anxiety, pain, grief, shame and sickness died with Jesus. All of those things need to die in us too, and that can only happen through Jesus. They aren’t worth holding on to and we have don’t have the ability to save ourselves from their destruction.
2. Christ empowers us.
“…and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God…”
When we let go of us, the resurrection power of Christ takes over our lives. Christ in us empowers us to live in faith, because we know what is in us is greater than what is in the world. It’s greater than our circumstances and more powerful than our biggest foe.
3. Faith grows as our understanding of God’s love for us does.
Then he talks about the love of God who gave himself up for us- so that we could live.
I believe it’s here most of us get stuck. In order to let go, it means we actually have to trust the God we put our faith in. We have to believe that He is good. We have to believe that he cares. We have to believe he is able, and more importantly we have to believe he loves us enough that he is willing to help us regardless of how worthy we feel of it.
And I’m here to tell you He is willing. To the point he wants to live in us. If he’s in us, that means he does everything with us, he wants to know our thoughts, our dreams and desires. He wants to work through the good and the messy with us. That’s a pretty intimate connection. One that he chose.
There may be mourning in what we let die, but what we get is far greater than what we give up. I can say this with certainty. God has been completely changing my world, in ways bigger than I ever could have imagined. Although I still may not know how everything will work yet or where he will lead next, I’m so thankful I was brought to a place where I was humbled enough to receive His love, his grace and his life where I needed it most. Though it may not have looked like my way, his way has proven to be much greater and far more fruitful.
I’m so thankful I serve a God who takes my dead leaves, and births new life, new dreams and the fullness of his joy in me instead.
If you are feeling stuck, burdened, anxious or hopeless, I would encourage you, just like I I had to learn, to let those things go. Maybe like me, you need a physical representation of letting things go and need to go outside and throw some leaves around! Do what you need to do, but remember our God is willing and longing to fill those places with his perfect and unfailing love, there is so no measure to what he has available for you. What you are making room for is far greater than what you are letting go of.
God is devoted to redeeming every aspect of your life, there is not one thing is unseen by Him. Simply because he cares for you that much.
“I (Jesus) am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” – John 15:1-2
Thanks for reading!
You are dearly loved.