Birthday Reflections

Today, July 12, is my birthday.  As I do every year, I take time on this day to reflect upon my life.  I found this devotional that I wrote three years ago and saw that it still very much applies to today.  When I first read it again, I thought, “Oh, no, I’m still at that place of “stepping into the new thing.”  But then the Lord reminded me, “That’s okay.  That’s where I want you, always ready to move forward with me.” 

I don’t know what’s ahead for this next year, but I do know this:  I don’t want to go one step without Jesus. All of us are susceptible to being “satisfied” with the things of this world temporarily.  But then there’s the wave of panic or sadness or sense of dread that washes over us at times that we can’t explain. Could it be the mercy of God that keeps us longing for something we can’t describe so that we will never stop searching Him out?  My prayer, dear sisters, is that we will attune our hearts to pause, listen to the Spirit, and move forward in faith.  Here is what I wrote in August of 2010:

Several years ago, the Lord led me in my quiet time to the parable of the rich young ruler in which he asked Jesus, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus asked him questions that alluded to keeping the Law, and the young man said that he had done all those things.  Then Jesus told him to go and sell everything he had and give it to the poor and come follow Him.  The young man went away discouraged because he was very rich.

Three times the Lord brought me to this passage, and I didn’t understand what He wanted me to do, not feeling that I could sell everything and leave my family.  The third time I asked, He led me to Luke 9:23-25, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself daily, take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  What was getting in the way was Me. I was trying to stay in control of my life.

The Lord knew that we would struggle in following Him.  That’s why He told us to take up our cross daily.  Every day there must be an emptying of self and a putting on of Christ.  We can’t muster up the strength or ever be good enough.  But with God’s grace, we can surrender ourselves so that the life of Christ is imparted to us daily.

Now God is continuing to lead me as I walk out the new thing He is doing in my life, a new marriage and new ministry calling.  He is asking me to take steps of faith that are difficult for me.  I have wanted to follow Him with all of my heart and yet struggle to keep myself secure.  The Lord has told us to leave everything behind and follow Him into the new thing and that He will give provision.  As much as I have wanted to let go of my secular career, there is something of my flesh that has relied on it to keep me safe.

Today the Lord graciously brought me to the story of Elijah as God instructed him to pass on the mantle of prophet to Elisha.  When Elijah threw his cloak over Elisha to annoint him, Elisha immediately went home, killed his oxen, and burned his plow to make a feast, a goodbye dinner of sorts, for his family.  The lesson in this is that he believed completely, even destroying the means by which he earned an income.

Jesus said whoever puts his hand on the plow and looks back is not worthy of His kingdom.  Just as the Word teaches us that you can’t put new wine in old wineskins, neither can you make a fresh work of the Lord fit into the old life.  There is no guarantee that we will even be in this natural world another day.  But there is a guarantee that if Christ is our Savior we will be with Him for all eternity.  Embrace the “new thing” God wants to do in your life.  Ask Him to show you day by day.  He has a wonderful plan for your life.  I’m ready to step into it.  Are you?

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