To Believe in the Impossible

rainbow devotion 2

“Anything is possible if a person believes.” – Mark 9:23

This is it.

This is what I have been avoiding writing about for almost three years for fear of people’s perceptions and judgements. Even now my impulse is to doubt if this is actually what God wants me to do, despite the fact I have heard Him call me to this whenever I begin to question my own purpose.

“Write about it…”

I can hear the words clearly… “Write about it.”

And so I am.

I remember once, when I had cried out to God in prayer on the way home from a difficult day at work, I had asked Him to show me what I was meant to do in His name. While I know that God will sometimes call us into more than one area of service for particular times, this time I was crying out in desperation for a clear directive. His answer came swiftly. A white four-wheel drive with a bright pink number plate swung out in front of me, giving me just enough time to brake and avoid running into it.

The number plate?

WR.II.TE

Pretty clear right? That was 2013. Sometimes we are not so quick to act on God’s directives as we should be.

Charles Dickens once said, “Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.”

I know this thief all too well.

Even now as I write, I feel as though I am fighting to keep that thief at bay.

My husband recently showed me a TEDx Talk by Mel Robbins. She talked about happiness and how people are often unhappy because they do not take steps towards their goals, desires and dreams. She mentioned if we do not act on the impulse to take a definite step in the direction of the goal within a five-second timeframe, us humans will automatically hit the ‘snooze’ button on our dreams. While the message was not necessarily God-focused, I realised it struck a chord within me, and that I needed to do something about it. Ironically, I then of course did hit that snooze button and slept through the night. When I woke however, I felt the conviction that while this talk was primarily to do with personal goals and ideas, that we Christians often hit the ‘snooze’ button on God’s prompting in our lives.

Five. Four. three. Two. One.

Five seconds is certainly not a lengthy amount of time before procrastination swoops in to steal it all.

Take a moment to ponder… what has God prompted you to do in your life, that you have automatically hit the snooze button on?

Why did you do this?

The obvious reasons for many of us are…

I will do that later…

I need more time to do that…

I do not have what it takes…

Maybe one day I will be able to do that…

I am too busy…

Philippians 4:13 should be enough to end those arguments:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

All things. Not just some things or those things, but ALL things.

Anything is possible if we only believe.

We should NOT be trying to do things in our own strength, because if we are, we will most certainly grow weary and burn out.

We also need to be careful we are not just pursuing selfish dreams that we have made, with no effort to consult Him about it. God wants to work in and through us, and I believe if we are attuned to God and in relationship with Him, then the dreams of our heart will be the ones He has planted there.

While I am a teacher, and know without a doubt God has led me into teaching for such a time as this, I also know that there is something else. Something more. Something miraculous that He wants me to pursue for His name’s sake. I know that this requires a child-like, unwavering faith and belief in God to pull out the Moses style miracle stops at just the right times.

Habakkuk 2:3 (NKJV) is a verse I have carried with me for the last few years. It states,

For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.

Almost three years ago, after Lay Directing my Chrysalis Flight, I felt the conviction that God had set aside some land for us. It would be used for His purposes and we would serve Him and others there. I drove around looking at some properties in the area and there was this one. Down a narrow gravel road, with rainbow lorikeets leading me down in joyous song, I found it.

gadds 2013gadds 2013_2

It was an old winery converted into accommodation for camps or weddings. Ten brand new rooms, all with new bunks and ensuites. A commercial kitchen (in need of some repair). A rotunda chapel with views across the twenty-six acres. It was perfect. We could run camps there or provide respite for families going through tough times. We could use it as a women’s and children’s shelter. There were so many ways in which we could use it to serve others. While I was still unsure of the specifics of God’s plan, I felt this was it. And so I began praying for it.

It was for sale. For $1.2 million. For us, this was an impossibility.

Despite this, I kept praying and even went to have a look at it with a friend who had a little more knowledge of acreages.

There were problems. There was not a great water supply if you were going to run cattle on it (which would make sense to do with so much land). Then it appeared that the accommodation had been added without council approval. Another massive hurdle to move past if it were ever to be used to serve as accommodation for retreats or any other type of use.

Again, even aside from the unachievable price, it was an impossibility.

I still continued to pray and discussed it with some close friends and family (some of whom are still praying for this today) as they too felt convicted by it as I did. My children even started praying for it and journaled about it. During these times of prayer I would sense God giving me hope, reassuring me that the time would come when it was right. On a few occasions I felt His Holy Spirit speaking to me through a devotion,  highlighting particular sections of my devotional with what I like to think was His ‘rainbow highlighter’.

rainbow devotion 1 rainbow devotionrainbow devotion 2devotion

I began to have plans for how God would use the property, and how my whole family would be involved. I saw myself painting the walls of the rotunda chapel with Biblical images and creating quiet spaces for reflection and devotion within the building. I saw us using the land for some sort of farming or produce, that people could help us with when they stayed. My heart was full of dreams for the property, yet, as time passed on, the visions began to fade (as did my belief in them).

sky coloured  sky blue

It was some time after that the ‘For Sale’ signs were taken down and it looked as though the property had been taken off the market. In my mind that was it. Too hard. Just a dream. Impossible. I would have to get used to living in the reality of a world where perhaps God’s miracles were not really possible.

I later found the journal that I had begun to record my vision for this property in. I had ideas for the name and multiple concepts for use, and I had also recorded my prayers for God’s leading within it. I was all too aware that this was too big for myself alone and was asking God to make me aware of His bigger picture.

journal 3

About eighteen months after first visiting the property for the first time, we discovered it was for sale again, this time through a city agent with no signage on the property or advertising in the immediate area. My heart jumped. I felt God moving in my soul again. Could this be it?

This time we went to view the property with my brother and parents. There was talk of us all going in together to buy it and live there. We all liked to dream and we all loved the idea of living on land. When we visited we even saw deer flying across the back paddock. The following day I found Habakkuk 3:19 printed on the next page in my journal:

The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.

deersfeet

The potential price had been lowered to below $1 million. Maybe we could do this. We tentatively made an initial offer but the agent came back with a minimum price of the $1.2 they had originally been asking for. What I now realise was wrong, is that we were trying to do this in our strength and not God’s. We were probably not even willing to follow through on that initial offer as it was still being sold as a commercial property, so once purchased, it may not have even been legal for us to live there permanently. So once again, I gave it up. My heart desperately hoped that one day, God would enable us to purchase it, but I had ultimately decided that because we could not buy it by ourselves, it would therefore never happen.

It was a little while after this that I had been praying again for God’s provision and purposes to rest within my heart and mind so I would know how to move forward in my life. I walked into the kitchen in the quietness of the early morning. I had walked across the kitchen floor and noticed nothing. When I turned back however, I found on the floor a little post-it note that my son had written the address of the property on (nearly two years before when we had first discovered it).

gadds lane note

I stood there staring it for quite some time. I had no idea where it had come from. I had not seen it since that time. I felt that glimmer of hope in my heart that I had felt all those years ago. I don’t know why, but I felt God was telling me not to give up on the dream He had planted in my heart.

While much time has passed since that day, I have not forgotten this dream. The property was actually sold about one year ago now. For that impossible $1.2 million. It is now even more of an impossibility than it was when we were considering it as a family.

Impossible.

The truth is I don’t know if it is God’s will for us to use this property for His glory and purpose one day or not. I can’t be certain if it was His idea or only a personal dream of mine to live and work on land… however I cannot forget the ways in which He spoke to me during that time and reassured me of His presence and not to give up on the impossible.

I don’t want to be one of those Christians who operates with safe, conservative faith. I want faith like Abraham, Moses and Esther. I want to believe God can and will do the impossible when He knows the time is right… “Because it will surely come.” 

I have come to realise in recent times that I cannot force God’s plans into my timeframe or make my plans His. I need to attune myself to His will for my life through relationship with Him. The more time you spend with someone, the better you come to know them. The more you can predict their responses or know their preferences. I do want to do more for Christ and I do want to be fully open to wherever He might lead me. But the key to that is that He needs to lead and I need to follow.

Three years ago I was ready to get out there and do whatever God wanted, but that “whatever” had my own conditions stamped across it. I was not ready to leave the impossible with God and trust that He could make it happen. I wasn’t ready to follow blindly into the unknown.

Now my prayer is that God will lead and I will follow. My prayer is that if this original vision is from God, then He will bring it to pass, and if I can be an instrument He can use in that process then I pray that He will use me. My first step towards this involves making the choice to not hit the snooze button and write. I am writing about it and have forced myself through my doubts and past procrastination, as I have felt God leading me to do this more strongly of late. I don’t know if, or how, it will make a difference… but I do this in obedience to Him.

And I now know that I can leave it in His more than capable hands.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. 

– Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)

gadds 2014

 

Fly with Christ… a tribute to new ‘Butterflies’

Butterfly landscape

butterfly2

Words are not enough.

Chrysalis 6Chrysalis 3Fly with Christ 1

My heart is so full of joy and anticipation for what is to come, yet somehow I am struggling to articulate it.

After spending three days leading on what is, to date, one of the most incredible Chrysalis Flight’s I have ever served on, I am still overwhelmed by the experience.

Chrysalis is a three-day retreat for young adults, which focuses on Christianity as a way of life from a New Testament perspective. While Chrysalis runs to a very tight schedule, filled with purposeful, intentional talks, experiences and worship, it is often the people who come to serve who make the experience unique. It is their readiness to work together with other Christians from varying denominations and walks of life, and then their willingness to share aspects of their life as an encouragement, which has the potential to change lives. Participants are often reminded that what is shared on the weekend is purely out of love for them. It is but a glimmer of God’s incredible and unconditional love for us.

I attended my own Chrysalis Flight in the year 2000 when I was nineteen. For me, I had come from a stable Christian home with loving parents who had brought my brother and I up in God’s love (despite the bumps along the way). Sadly, they had stopped going to church for a lengthy period of time due to the verbal and emotional abuse they had suffered at the hands of their church leaders, which had left them vulnerable and lacking faith in the church as an institution. While we did not attend church for that time, God was ever present in our lives, weaving, guiding and leading people across our path who would do what the church should have done for our family…. love us.

I gave my life over to Jesus at the age of thirteen during a time of worship on my first high school camp. We were singing ‘The Power of Your Love’ and all I remember was Jesus surrounding me with his Holy Spirit, and it felt like I was home. Yet, despite this experience, I then did not ‘feel’ God moving in my life until I attended my Chrysalis Flight almost six years later.

Growing up in church meant I had taken communion many times before. I had known the concept of what it meant, but had I really realised what it meant for me?

No.

For the gift of God’s only Son to be broken and torn apart on a cross for me… so that I may truly know my Father in Heaven…

No. I had not really contemplated the cost.

I had taken communion time and time again with my mind, spirit and soul on autopilot. Whilst there were times I desperately wanted to feel the Holy Spirit speak to me during this experience, it did not happen until I attended that first Chrysalis weekend all those years ago.

Since then, I have realised that there will be times where I may not feel Christ actively moving and speaking into my heart. This however does not mean He is not with me.

When you leave an experience like Chrysalis, where you literally have to put away time, devices and distractions and focus purely on God in every hour of the day for three days straight, it can be a shock moving back into reality. The work, university or school deadlines are still there, the clock now ticks on and you might struggle to keep up, wishing time would slow so you can spend that little bit more time in the quietness of God’s presence. Having led on team approximately seven times since my own Chrysalis experience over the last fourteen years, including organising and running a weekend in a Lay Director role, I know all too well the fall that can come after the Flight.

Words are not enough.

As much as we may not want to admit it, Satan attacks when we are freshly vulnerable from such a beautifully emotive experience. In Matthew 3, Jesus was baptised, the Heavens broke open, the Holy Spirit fell upon Him and God spoke over his Son. It was straight after this, that the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by Satan in Matthew 4.

If you are struggling with this right now, take heart. Jesus has walked it before you.

When we open our heart and soul wide, there may be room for more than just the light of God to get in…

Luke 11:35-36 (NLT) states,

Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”

Sometimes the light we may think we have could just be the ‘feel-good’ experience of connecting with new friends. It could be that we are holding onto the words of encouragement and compliments we were given over a weekend such as this, and then we find ourselves missing that degree of attention when we move back into our everyday life.

Whilst we are called to love one another and share in fellowship together, the light we actually need is Christ.

Only He can fill the empty void in your heart.

If you are feeling filled purely because of the positivity of those who shared the experience with you, it may be a sign you need to go deeper… to find the real thing. Our desire should be to fill those darkest corners of our heart with Christ alone.

One of the most beautiful realisations I witnessed over the weekend was the girls acknowledging that we all wear masks. These masks may take the form of make-up, social media profiles, or a personality portrayed to others in public. These masks, whatever the form, create darkness. When you put on a mask it covers your whole face, creating a dark shadow. The thing about the masks that many of us wear these days is, they do not just cover your face, they also cover your soul.

Chrysalis 2

When we look down instead of up… there is darkness. There is a shadow. There is the water that we are attempting to walk across that suddenly becomes too frightening to bear.

When we look up (like my grandmother always used to say)… then, only then can our face be covered with His light. Then we can see the only thing we need to see in order to keep going… Jesus. He will show us the way. He promises that He will be found, if we seek Him out…

As Jeremiah 29:13 reminds us…

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Let Jesus gently remove that mask and fill you with His light. Be open to His love. Be brave and let His Word rule in your life. Never stop seeking His face.

Fly with Christ

For the new ‘Butterflies’ who have just grown through the transformation that is Chrysalis, I pray that God speaks into your hearts clearly, so that you can keep flying for Him and with Him. He promises to never leave us (Hebrews 13:5, NKJV). Even in those times where you may not feel His presence as closely as you did on your three-day experience, never give up on experiencing His love in amazing ways (that will be crafted just for you) as you continue on your life journey. God has moved in me just as much by serving on team (time and time again) as He did when I first attended my own Flight. I now assist to coordinate a church service which my parents helped to plant many years ago thanks to the prayers and actions of a dear Christian friend who was passing away from cancer at the time.

We may not know exactly how Christ is going to use us after our Chrysalis experience. The next steps can be the hardest. We just need to be ready to show up with a willing heart and let His light and love flow in. Once we are filled with Him, then even in our brokenness and vulnerability, we can love others in the way He has called us to…

butterfly

Fly with Christ.

Glory in the dark

clouds

Sometimes, God puts you in a place where you have no choice but to stop and rest. Sometimes, you may not understand why it is happening, but you need to trust in God’s purpose anyway. Sometimes, things won’t make sense until you are out the other side.

red skies

Having spent the last 6 days in bed, due to an illness which decided to overtake me on the very last day of term, I have had more than enough time to think. I have not, however, been in the best state of mind, and whilst some may have taken the opportunity to seek God’s purpose in this, I have to admit I have been slightly resentful of my position. Having worked hard all term, even completing next term’s programs prior to the holidays with my team, I couldn’t understand why God would allow me to be so sick that I couldn’t even begin to enjoy my holidays.

The question is now I suppose, what has God been trying to teach me through this? While the days have wasted away from one into the next, I have realised how precious time is, and how easily it can be taken for granted. Almost half my holidays has now diminished and I have nothing to show for it. Or do I?

I have had a particular passage crop up numerous times (from various sources) over the last few weeks. I feel now, God was almost forcing me to reflect on it, in order to bring enlightenment and understanding to my situation.

Exodus 33:21-23 (New King James Version) speaks of God’s response to Moses’ request to see His glory:

21 And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

God put Moses in the cleft of the rock and covered him so he would be able to survive His glory. A cleft. A dark, hard place. How many times has God put you in a dark, hard place? Is it in those times that you may have had a glimpse of God’s light and presence? Whilst I may not have had a blinding flash of God’s glory this past week, I did feel the still, small voice of a mighty Saviour reminding me to be thankful, even though I did not feel that way.

Sometimes His glory cannot be seen until He has passed by, despite the fact that he was closest when it was darkest.

My blessings in this dark place? A home, a loving husband to cook me soup, children who have tried their best to look after me, a mum who travelled to care for me (and the kids) so I could rest, a loving cat who hasn’t left my side, birds singing in the trees outside, herbal teas and natural remedies, hot water, prayerful friends, hope… hope that in time, I will grow healthy again.

soup bond

It’s funny how much light creeps in when you let it.

When I begin to focus on what is outside of the cleft (God), not what is inside of it (me), suddenly everything seems a little bit brighter.

clouds