"Mama, I just can't wait to talk to you. After all of these years, I am seeing so many elements of my life dove-tailing into a focussed purpose and a really happy life. I can see how God was using all of the years of waiting on Him, being faithful, studying hard, living through years of faith and loneliness to prepare me for a time when I would flourish."
As I rolled over sleepily, yawning, stretching and trying to get my eyes to open, I grabbed my phone to check the time. The darkness of night was fading away into the early freshness of a Monday morning. The little "ding" had awakened me to tell me I had a text and I knew it would probably be one of my kids--either Nathan in New York or Sarah in Oxford. Both sent texts before I was out of bed on lots of mornings where it was barely 6 in the morning, my time.
As it happens, this time it was Sarah. What an amazing season this has been for her. Working 20 hours a week while studying in Oxford was a rhythm she had to practice and grow into, as the labor for her job and for her many thousands of pages she had to read and the papers she had to write were an uphill challenge. Falling in love with a kindred spirit, wonderful man, who had also been practicing faithfulness his whole life was now culminating into a "blessed by all" engagement. Sarah was beginning to become recognized in areas of writing, thinking and ideas by her professors and leaders in Oxford that she had been working on for years. This had given her one of the most productive years of her young adulthood.
At almost 33, she was seeing the many years of prayers coming together to answer beyond what she ever imagined. But without the years of practicing faithfulness, waiting on God, studying and writing books, learning to live a life thad had seasons of perseverance and loneliness, she would never be suited to the challenging life God has taken her to in Oxford. Her period of waiting on God and enduring through many difficult years with very little promise of what would come, caused her to seek God over and over again. It required faith in what she hoped for, conviction of things not seen. She had dreamed of studying in Oxford for years, but always there were obstacles that seemed impossible to overcome.
Most of us must wait through years of growth and training to begin to see the work of our lives starting to come to fruition. Through these years of challenge, how important it is that we Own Our Lives by walking them in faith and obedience in our Father, God.
Sarah and me recently when I went to Oxford to help her plan her wedding. :)
Over a decade of one challenging year after the other, as she prayed and waited for God to open doors, I encouraged Sarah to keep going, keep praying, keep working. But as a parent I could not remove her from the stress she had to live through as a young adult. She had to build her own spiritual muscle one day at a time. And yet, now I see the fruit of an adult who is entering into perhaps the greatest years and most abundant work of her life. Without the faithfulness in the hard years, the fruitful years would not have been possible.
When I held Sarah as a babe in my arms, I dreamed of the Pollyanna perfect life I wanted her to have--all roses, good friends and happiness of life. Instead, as I prayed for her to become godly, the challenges of her life increased. Difficulty, illness, challenges seemed to accompany her wherever she went. When I was questioning God about his tactics, it was as though he whispered, "Make up your mind--do you want her to be spiritually strong and a shining light in her culture doing kingdom work as an adult or do you want her to be a happy wimp, without character and wisdom! I have a plan for her life that will lead her to great moral and spiritual strength, but it will require you to let me lead her through paths of training without trying to remove the difficulty along the way.
God has created us for a life that will be filled with His blessing and favor. Yet, as our parent, he wants us to thrive after we have allowed Him to build the emotional, spiritual and godly character muscles of our lives required for his work. Godliness is a process of maturity and strength that comes through years of preparing our hearts to follow Him, our wills to be obedient, and our life choices to be ones of integrity.
As we begin reading through and discussing Own Your Life through the podcasts and blog posts in the months ahead, Kristen and I hope that you will be inspired, encouraged and engaged to continue to lean into God's will and choices for your own life. Summer is such a great time to establish new rhythms and goals for life.
Is it possible that you are in a season of training grounds within God's purposes to build spiritual and emotional strength and character? How are you leaning into His plans for you? The puzzle you now find yourself living?
Below are some questions from the book that we hope you will evaluate this week as you begin this series with us. Take time to sit alone with a journal, or with the Own Your Life journal, and answer these questions as we enter into some chapters of personal evaluation.
***Am I living an intentional life?
***Am I making decisions based on Biblical values?
***Am I choosing pathways that will create deep, loving relationships and give value to the people who personally connect with me?
***Am I willing to take risks of faith to invest my life in the things of eternity?
***Am I listening to the world (peer pressure) or to the voice of God?
***Am I living with Christ and His life as the pattern of my own life?
***Do I see this day, these circumstances as a place where I can fulfill God's will for me?
Enjoy the podcast and share it with friends! It is always great to go through a book or Bible study with friends and then you build your own support system.
Nathan is flying in today to work more intensely with me on our new book about different, out of the box kids and how God gave us a story of grace for him and for me. If you have a child who is difficult, hard to handle or figure out, or a challenge to your parenting, sign up for our webcast--next Tuesday, we will spend an evening together sharing our story in a live webcast. Hope you can join us. Sign up by putting your curser on the box below and you can read more about the webcast!
Hope you have a great week. I am praying for those of you who come to my blog each day.