Monday

Fall Women's Conference 2013 - Summer Challenge



Good evening Internet!  I first have to say that I have been so blessed by so many of you {yes you - my readers}.  I so appreciate your encouraging comments - THANK YOU.  

So This summer 4 women at my church and I were asked to take a summer challenge.  The challenge was to daily spend time meditating, praying, journaling about the Glory of God.  At the end of this challenge awaited a Women's Conference where we would each be entrusted with 10 minutes to share about our experiences.  So here is the blog post I prepared as my 'script' for the session.  {Yes, internet - I prepared for the event by writing out a blog post.... #sorrynotsorry}

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As I began to read and think through my experiences this summer, I can’t help but smile.  God has been so good to me through this challenge.  He has challenged my motives, my self-centeredness, my intentions, and my lack of trust in his promises. What an amazing blessing it is to go back and evaluate the past few months and what God has done in my heart.  I hope to do this type of evaluation often as I continue to grow and mature in Christ - it truly is amazing to intentionally look back at just how good He is to me in each season of life.

So a little bit about the challenge:  Kandy gave us a set of questions to consider as we start our journey this summer.  A few of the questions she gave us to dwell on have really been the questions I’ve used the most this summer to spur my thoughts and meditations.  She asked us to consider: ‘How does my appreciation of God’s character increase my love for Him?’ also she asked: ‘How does the Glory of God emanating from His character influence my life? Motivate my maturity?’.  There were several other wonderful questions but these two where the ones I kept dwelling on throughout this summer.

Just to give you a little insight to the resources I’ve been exposed to this summer: first - during Tuesday Girls (GSM girls summer study) we went through the book ‘Follow Me’ by David Platt {DPlatt as the girls and I started calling him}.  This book shared some amazing truth regarding what it means to truly be a follower of Christ.  Secondly, during Launch this summer we went through the book ‘Future Grace’ by John Piper {Johnny P as I typically call him – apparently I have a thing for nick names… I must get that from Scott.}  Both of these authors do not beat around the bush and you surely wont find a writing by them that is aimed at making the reader feel warm and fuzzy in their current state of life.  I have to say that I absolutely love that about these authors.  If I wanted to read something to make me feel good, then I’d read my old birthday cards. 

So all of that to say – I read some really gut-checking kind of books this summer.  I will say that Future Grace is by far the most challenging book I’ve ever read.   Not just because it took a few times of reading several of the paragraphs to get the concept… but I will also say that this is by far the book that has impacted me and my spiritual walk the most to this point.  So a lot about my journey this summer – God used this book as a catalyst for me so I figure it is appropriate to let you in on that.

I realized throughout this summer that I didn’t- and often still don’t, have an appropriate view therefore an appropriate appreciation for God’s character regarding His promises.  This is the biggest area the Lord has been challenging me through my journey this summer. 

John Piper wrote an entire chapter on the promise found in Romans 8:28 “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”  It is amazing to me that I’ve grown up in the church and I’ve grown up reading right over this passage and thinking ‘oh yeah, sure – all things work together for good…. Except me…. Except for this situation.’

Until reading through and dwelling on the promise of Romans 8:28 this summer – I never believed it was really true of some of the seemingly horrible situations I’ve experienced through my life: major back surgery at 20 years old or Scott losing his job a few months after purchasing our home.  Yet now I can so clearly see God’s handprint is found in every step of the way. 

Why is it that it is so much easier to see Him at work when we look back on a situation instead of while we’re in it?  I think for me, it has been true because I tend to believe I will be an exception to that promise that time. 

I just pray that I would be as confident in the promise of Romans 8:28 in the midst of a trial as I am when I’m able to look back on that season.  You know?  It is so much easier to look back and see His good – but oh how I long to be able to be confident in the midst of these trying seasons!  I could get on another soap box about community here – but I wont.  But I will say that part of our responsibility to one another is to help each other see the workings of God in each other’s lives.  It is much easier to see God at work in a seemingly horrible situation when it is not my own situation.  

John Piper says it so well– talking about this promise found in Romans 8:28: “The freest life of love is the life saturated with the confidence that nothing comes to me but what is good for me.” (pg 125 chapter 9)

The ‘ah-ha’ moment for me was when I was faced with this truth that God’s best for me and my idea of what is best for me isn’t always the same.  Trust me- I had a few sassy moments with God about this one… like ‘really – you know how much of a planner I am?!’   But thinking through this promise I’ve realized that my plan ‘A’ won’t always happen… but His plan ‘A’ will ALWAYS happen and will ALWAYS be what is truly best for me.  He only does what is best for His children. But we better remember ‘what is best’ according to His definition and His purpose and His plan – not according to ours.  ‘what is best’ does not mean ‘happy’; ‘success’; ‘wealth’.  

So thankful for this promise.  I can rest.  Any moment I am uncertain or tempted to be anxious – He has placed me in that moment and it is the best place I could possible be in that moment.  There is a lot of freedom that I find in that.  My heart can rest.  Does it 100% of the time?  No… but I am intentionally seeking and praying that those moments of rest and freedom increase as I grow more and more confident in His promises.  Because his promises are true and are always true.. not based on the situation.

Another area that the Lord has been working on me this summer is actually because of our Sunday evening series last year as well as our ‘Follow Me’ study this summer.  We went through 2 Timothy and I remember one of the first sermons Pastor Bret gave was about the relationship that Paul and Timothy had.  The way they lived life together – good/bad/and the ugly.  The love they had for one another- truly beautiful.

I’ve really been challenged regarding the whole ‘Paul/Timothy’ thing this summer.  It is easy to think that we only need a Paul in our life during HS/College years…. After that you get to become a Paul yourself, right?!  While that is true… as you grow and mature in Christ we are called to intentionally invest in those younger (not necessarily just age but young in spiritually).   I had a mentor through HS and part of college … but until this summer I wasn’t super convinced that I needed someone to be investing in me now – in more of a 1 on 1 setting.  I’ve convinced myself that I’m getting good influences through the leadership of Launch and through the other GSM leaders… but that isn’t the type of influence we’re talking about when we look at Paul and Timothy.  And it is funny that thinking through Paul and Timothy’s relationship… these are not HS or college aged guys.  These are grown men investing into one another’s lives. 

Needless to say I have thought to myself on several occasions, ‘Oh I can totally invest like that into someone…’  Not giving much thought about the HUGE need I have to be invested in by someone like that.  I have realized that it is much easier to get caught up with being intentional in my role as a Paul in someone’s life and neglect the fact that I need to also be a Timothy to someone else.

So I spent a lot of time intentionally thinking and praying about that this summer.  Asking the Lord to drop someone in my lap – make it obvious to me who my Paul should be and oh by the way go ahead and don’t make me do the uncomfortable thing that is ASKING someone to invest in me. Spending some time praying about it – but still expecting a neon sign by God… given to my 'Paul' so that I wouldn’t have to go outside my comfort zone.  Satan had a hay day with that… feeding me excuses not to act - like ‘if they wanted to invest in you – they would be already’ or ‘what if they say ‘no’? how embarrassing!’ which until this summer really made the ‘search for my Paul’ a last priority and I was labeling this season as one that I’m ‘praying about it’ and this summer has really challenged me to move that to the ‘I’m pursuing this’ category.  And I’m so glad that God is bigger than my comfort zone. 

A phrase that I feel really sums up my journey this summer is ‘be intentional’.  I hope you’ll join me.  Let’s be intentional.  Intentional to invest in others.  Intentional to trust in what God is doing through His plan A for our lives.  Intentional to rely on His promises.  Intentional to seek our Paul or timothy.  Intentional to point out the working of God in one another’s lives.  
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Wow - you made it :)  What has God been doing in your heart this summer?!

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