I read somewhere that when you start noticing things that keep coming up, keep repeating, then that is God’s way of getting your attention. It’s God’s way of speaking specifically to you about something he specifically wants you to know. Priscilla Shirer calls it “shocking patterns of consistency.” Beth Moore once wrote, “I know God is speaking to me about a certain matter when it seems like everything I hear or read for a while points toward the same issue. Anytime God get ‘thematic’ with me, my ears start perking up.”
One of my favorite scriptures is Deuteronomy 31:6 “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
This has come up a couple of times for me over last few weeks. It came up originally as I was sharing my story of the day my husband left me and my son snuck this verse in a note of encouragement to me. As I was reliving the events from a year ago, I was reminded of the strength and hope that I held onto in this verse. The promise that I saw in it. That God said himself that he would never abandon me, never fail me. He wouldn’t just help me get through it, but He would actually go BEFORE me. He would be ahead of me destroying anyone and anything in my path that would or could keep me from what He has promised me. He did it for Joshua and the nation of Israel, and he would do it for me.
Then a funny thing happened yesterday morning. I made my coffee, grabbed the closest coffee cup to me (after scanning for my FAVORITE cup and not finding it), and then I sat at my computer to do a little brainstorming work for our church’s children’s ministry Facebook page. A couple of hours in I noticed a new post had popped up on our church’s main FB page. It was a message from our new pastor. He greeted us all with an encouraging word about this time of transition that we are in. He read the scripture Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”…you’re waiting for the funny part…I look over and the coffee cup that I grabbed and it had the word “COURAGE” on it with a small banner underneath that read “JOSHUA 1:9.” When I turned it around to the other side the verse was written out “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid…for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” The words from Deuteronomy flashed in my mind, because let’s face it, they are pretty much the same words!
This morning I got up with the intention of spending time in the word and in prayer. I have been a little discouraged lately. I don’t really know why. I think it’s because I have been confused. I AM confused. We (my husband and I) have gone through SO MUCH CHANGE in the last year! Personally, professionally, and spiritually. And while it has been super exciting, it has also been extremely exhausting. All within the last year our marriage almost came to an end, we salvaged it, we stepped out of ministry, we left our church, we started attending a new church, I went on TWO missions trips last year, we went through a leadership development training, we stepped back into ministry, I left my (high paying) job, I started a new job, he got a promotion, we took on a new level of ministry development and began taking classes to obtain our ministerial credentialing licenses, we lost our pastor, we gained a new pastor, and now we are getting ready to take on a more active role in the ministry we have currently just been “helping with.” Why am I confused? Because in all that we have been through, I feel like my husband has a very clear grasp on what it is God is calling him to do. He has been given clear direction and a clear vision…and I feel like here I am just going along for the ride…doing whatever seems to cross my path. Contemplating ideas and mapping out plans in a variety of areas without feeling like I have 1 true designated direction.
I try to figure everything out. I just do. I try to rationalize and reason it all. ;Fit it all together even if the pieces don’t quite seem to fit. I want to do what God wants me to do. I don’t want to fall into the trap of doing something purely out of selfish emotion or feeling. Now, I do believe that God gives us emotions and feeling to help guide and drive us in the direction that He wants us to go. But sometimes we forget to listen for God’s voice before we take action. Lately I have been full of emotion. I feel pulled in different directions, and I am having a hard time discerning the direction I am meant to go.
My heart is in missions. Fully and unquestionably. It is the one area and the one time I can say without a doubt that I heard God tell me to take a step and go. It was also the area that the enemy used against me when he tried turning my husband against me. Now that we are beyond that, my husband is fully supportive not only of me continuing to go on missions trips but helping our kids go and even planning to go himself! He knows that I am meant to continue my work with missions, as do I. Then there is children’s ministry. We have been helping out as a rotating team for several months, but now it looks like we may be the primary leaders. I love working with kids. I feel like I am good at it and it really feels natural for me…but this is not the area that my husband feels “called” himself. While I am excited about this, I am also extremely hesitant and feel very cautious about diving completely in and devoting to it long-term. We have been doing this together, because we feel called together, but his heart is not in it like mine. I don’t want to do it without him, but I don’t want HIS heart and ministry endeavor to suffer either. I made a commitment to God last year that I would not move forward or take on any ministry that my husband was not called to also. So this is where I am stuck. I am so afraid to make a personal move or ministry decision. We must be in this together because I will not risk losing my husband to “the ministry” ever again!
I poured my coffee this morning and as I looked down at my cup, guess which cup was instinctively in my hand again…”COURAGE”…don’t worry I washed it! I have a thing about the shape of my coffee cup…it’s why I have one favorite one that I look for first. Not this morning. My hand went straight to this one not really even realizing which one I was grabbing. “OK, Lord. I’m listening.”
I opened my Bible to Joshua. In Joshua chapter 1 it opens up with the death of Moses. After Moses died Joshua was granted leadership over Israel. He was going to be the one to lead them all to the Promised Land. He was promised the same thing that was promised to Moses, whatever land they set foot on would be land that was given to him, promised to him, by God. And God promised to be with him, never letting him down and never leaving him. Three times God told Joshua to be strong and courageous. God spoke to Joshua in patterns! He was persistent, insistent, and consistent in the word he wanted Joshua to hear. Which tells me he was about to be having some moments that would be difficult and he would need to stand strong and have courage to face it and keep moving on!