Thursday, June 3, 2010

the fullness of joy (#7)

**this is the 7th and final part of my testimony. thank you for reading**

8 years ago, I came back to the Lord.
7 years ago, my heart broke for Scotland.
5 years ago, I was reminded of His life.
3 years ago, I was given new direction.

Last year, refining came by way of fears and trust.

Psalm 16:11 says "You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

Last year, I began to deal with griping fear. The kind that paralyzes you, suffocates you, surrounds you to the point of being incapable of battling it.

I can't explain what spurred it on, but it came full force and ran from physical fears (of bridges, heights, mice, etc) to spiritual and internal fears (of losing loved ones, doing the wrong thing, making the wrong choice).

In the midst of a panic attack at a conference last year, I asked for those closest to me to pray. One verse that had been coming up over and over again throughout the conference was 2 Timothy 1:6: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." As they prayed, I clung to that verse.
I began dwelling on the idea that the opposite of fear are these things: power, love, and a sound mind. I needed that love. It led me to 1 John 4:18 that says "there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,..." and as I prayed for the Lord to show me how to dwell in perfect love, He sweetly ushered me to Psalm 16:11...and His presence.

I have been asking the Lord since then to continually remind me of His joy and love that casts out fear by letting me remain in His presence.

Circumstances will come up: leaving a job position you love, letting the Lord change the way you minister in church, friends coming and going, heartache, change, pain, confusion. All of these things, in the eyes of the world do not equal "joy" or happiness. But as we navigate our way through the downs and the outs of life, what does equal joy is dwelling in His presence throughout it, holding His hand and letting Him take you through.

Saying "Lord, I don't understand, I don't get it, but I know this is what You have asked of me right now and I'm going to trust You."

And then doing it.

I always find that doing it is the hardest part because the fullness of joy doesn't involve action, it involves dwelling. Dwelling in His presence. Stopping long enough to stay in His presence and not navigate our way through a messy map of emotions and circumstances and lies from the enemy.

In the midst of this year, and of finding His path of life and seeking to understand that His presence is where He wants me, He gave me a verse that held promise in it.

He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. 1 Thessalonians  5:24

I assumed He was promising to release me of my fears and I was thankful for that. I wouldn't have to worry about whether or not I would lose someone or something or have to deal with pain and hurt. Right? Well, it wasn't long after thought that when some of my worst fears became a reality in my life.

I don't need to repeat them and I don't need to give them more spotlight than they need. They are dealt with and over. But they were real and they happened and I cried out to the Lord, confused about these circumstances in light of 1 Thessalonians 5:24 and Psalm 16:11. He reminded me, hourly, daily, weekly...that He was there and He was in control.

I had to say to Him again "Lord, I don't understand, I don't get it, but I know this is what You have asked of me right now and I'm going to trust You."

I kept reminding myself that He has called me into His presence. I kept trying to run but His Spirit always brought me back. And I knew that I could find comfort there. I could find that power, love, and a sound mind that He has given us.

And joy. I knew that in His presence, I could find joy. Just like He told me I would.

7 years ago, He told me I needed to know what true joy was before I could minister in a place like Scotland.

5 years ago, He began to show me how to cling to Him in undesirable circumstances.

3 years ago, He striped me of my worldly identities so that I could be found complete in Him.

1 year ago, His love proved itself conquering over my fears. I found that His presence is where I need to be, regardless of circumstance or emotion.

3 months ago, He reminded me of His promise that He made 7 years back as He opened wide the doors for ministry in Scotland and laid the ground work for a short term trip there.

He called me, He is faithful, He will do it.

Friends, this is the 7th post of my testimony and I don't have much else to say. I have brought you up to the present time with one important factor that I want to share with you: everything that has happened in my life has been designed and orchestrated by the Lord.
I can't ask to change it, even if I want to, because I have joyfully submitted my life to His very capable hands. If this is something that you would desire: to joyfully surrender yourself to the Only One capable of directing you, then all you have to do is ask. He is willing and waiting for you to say YES to Him. He will do everything else.

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