giveandtake

Give and Take: Choosing to Trust [Guest Post]

I love the global family of YWAM! I’d like to introduce Brittany Hurst to you, who was a part of YWAM Australia for a few years and is our guest writer on the blog today! You’ll be challenged in the area of surrender and trust as you read her words below!


giveandtake

[Photo Credit: Hamed Saber via photopin cc Edits: Alison Lam]

 

There’s that Christian song – kind of old school – called “Blessed Be Your Name”. Who was the original artist? Beats me, but there’s this line in it that goes like this:

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say,
Lord, blessed be Your name.

These lyrics are about the idea (and reality) that God gives and takes away, and that in seasons of plenty and in seasons of darkness and suffering, we need to surrender and choose to bless His Name.

Surrender.

Now, roll this word around your tongue a bit; ponder it. What do you picture? What’s the first word that comes to mind?

I have found that sometimes my initial response to a gift or a blessing is, “Oh great, thanks God… but I don’t really know what to do with it?! And…how long can I have it for?!”

The fact is, life is uncertain. Things happen. We live in a fallen world, full of people with free will and sometimes, it feels like ‘anything goes.’ Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

I’ve learned that sometimes God does ask us to give things to Him – to surrender it, to lay it down, or not pursue something for a certain time. Reasons vary, and sometimes we don’t understand.

Now I don’t believe God does this in a cruel way. Sometimes, I think it’s because it’s not good for us. Sometimes, I think it’s because He has something better for us. Sometimes, I think it’s because the timing is not right. And sometimes, I think it’s because He is testing our faithfulness and loyalty to Him and to Him being first in our hearts.

But, it brings me back to my initial response when I receive something I like and want: if I’m honest, I fear losing it or fear that I’ll be asked to surrender it (again).

It’s almost as if I don’t fully –one hundred percent– trust my Father.

There. I said it.

I struggle to trust Him. It’s a choice. Sometimes I choose to, and sometimes I dwell in everything but trust.

Our loving Father sees the end when I just see the beginning. He’s the One who sees all the pieces when I just see a small sliver. He’s the One who knows my heart even when I can’t untangle the thoughts in my mind.

Why do I struggle to trust Him?

In my short life, I’ve learned a decent amount about surrender already. Just say the word, and the first things that come to mind have to do with people, experiences, or decisions I’ve made. In those areas, I’ve had to choose to believe, even when I can’t see. I’ve had to choose to trust Him and His character so that I can see the bigger picture. The bigger, eternal perspective that reveals that it’s not all about me and my happiness and it’s going to be okay, because I’m on the winning side.

I want to encourage all of us today: whatever circumstances you find yourself in, whether it’s a time of abundance and blessing or the opposite, whether it be suffering, lack, hurt, or if you just feel the challenge (or nudge) to surrender…. remember that God truly is faithful.

I really choose to believe that.

God really is good and He works things out for the good of those who love Him. I’m not saying it will turn out the way YOU think it needs to but He’s got it figured out and He’ll come through in one way or another.

And even if today and tomorrow and the next day really really really SUCK, remember that He loves you. He’s there for you. He wants you to talk to Him, to trust Him now, before things get better.

“Chin up, child. This too shall pass…”


About the Author:

GuestWriter_BrittHurst_PicBrittany prefers being called ‘Britt’ and really believes that the essence of life is all about relationships; how we relate to God, ourselves and others. She’s a coffee drinker- journal writing- belly laughing – American girl who has got her eyes on the nations, developing world and cultures. Subscribe to her blog, follow her on instragram, or ‘friend’ her on Facebook.

[Photo Credit: Ozyman via photopin cc

Purpose in Unexpected Seasons [Guest Post]

I haven’t had a guest writer on the website for a while, so it’s about time! Here’s my wonderful Kiwi friend, Kate Dugdale, sharing some thoughts about the reality of adult life being very different than our childhood expectations. May it encourage and challenge you in your own unexpected life…


[Photo Credit: Kate Dugdale original, author of post]

[Photo Credit: Kate Dugdale original, author of post]

 

As I write this, I’m sitting at my small desk – to call it ‘organized’ would be generous. It’s covered in books, pens, highlighters, and a second computer monitor balanced rather precariously on the equally small bookshelf which rests between my desk and the wall. I am possibly breaking the fire code by having my backpack sit in front of the fire escape. The pile of books to go back to the postal library hasn’t moved in about a month and the wall is covered with lists and outlines and calendars. There are three other desks in this small enclosed balcony, all empty at the moment, but often filled by other students who come to study on campus. This is my life for most of the time, five days a week… and is not where the sixteen-year-old version of myself envisioned my twenty-five-year-old self being.

I spent most of my teenage years involved in ministry and mission. Almost every vacation period was spent on camps or mission trips, and by the time I was sixteen I had started homeschooling in order to facilitate doing a church internship. Growing up in a YWAM family meant that doing a DTS was a certainty in my own mind. I fully expected to be called into full-time missions in a country outside of where I’d grown up, that life would be full of crazy God-adventures in the nations, and that I’d get caught up in some epic revival or move of the Holy Spirit. I always assumed that the dramatic moment of calling was just around the corner. God had an AMAZING plan, and I was going to be right in the midst of it!

Little did I know what was coming…

Through a strange series of events, I found myself starting at Bible College in 2009, with the expectation that I’d do a single year… and then something else would open up. To my surprise, I’ve been a full-time university student for five years, with another two and a half years to go. I’ve spent the last half decade studying – my diploma turned into a bachelor degree in biblical studies, followed by another postgraduate diploma in theology, which resulted in my enrolment to start a PhD in Systematic Theology. In that time, I haven’t been on a single missions trip, or even left the country except to see family in Sydney. Instead, my focus has been on learning Greek, and exegetical studies, and my time spent reading theologians who rarely agree with each other. I used to denounce academic theologians as people who knew about God without knowing God… and yet as a student, I find myself required to participate in that world. This is far from the life I envisaged.

The fact that I’m still doing this both exhilarates and infuriates me, depending on the day… and yet here I am, still sitting at my desk, attempting to be faithful in my current calling.

As I read yet another book for my thesis, I am learning that God is just as present to me in these moments, as anywhere else. I understand that God is here with me as I struggle with concepts of epistemology and ontology, and what they mean for my understanding of who God is. The Holy Spirit is just as close as he would be if I was proclaiming the Gospel in a country hostile to the Gospel. Instead of preaching to crowds, I teach biblical studies to small classes of five students. I don’t see miracles on a weekly basis, but what I do have is the privilege of journeying alongside a small group of teenagers from my church, and seeing them continue to grow in their own journeys of faith and discipleship. I don’t see miracles of healing, and dramatic conversions, on any sort of regular basis, but I do encounter the goodness and kindness of God on a daily level.

So God is good… and I am slowly learning…

I am learning that God is with me, bringing life and growth and fruit where I least expect it. I continue to discover that regardless of where I worship and work, the Spirit is still present and active. I’m becoming more confident that God is at work in the unseen places of my heart, even when I don’t realize it. I’m still not a hundred percent sure why I have been called into my particular journey, but I do know this: God is working all things out for good, according to his plan, not to mine… and that position of quiet trust is all that is required from me.

[Featured Photo Credit: Ozyman photopin cc, Edit: Alison Lam]


About the Author:

Kate Dugdale Bio PicKate spends most of her time in Nelson as a PhD student and teaching theology. When not studying, she can most often be found either drinking a vanilla latte, dreaming about making a perfect cupcake, or trying not to fall off her mountain bike.


Photo Credit: Augapfel (with edits by Alison Lam)

The 3-Letter Acronym That Will Change Your Life [Guest Post at Oneword365.com]

ThreeLetterAcronym

I am a guest writer today on an amazing global community website called One Word 365. This is a growing movement being embraced all around the world. Basically, people are getting tired of breaking a zillion new year’s resolutions year after year, yet they still desire to enter the new year with intentionality and renewed passion and purpose. This is where the ‘one word community‘ comes in – it’s so, so simple. You just pick one word to symbolize how you want to live your life over the next year.

Today I’m sharing specifically on a 3-letter acronym that I believe has the ability to change your life! Sound too good to be true? Have I got you a little curious? Well, wait no further!

READ MY GUEST POST HERE AND FIND OUT WHAT THIS 3-LETTER ACRONYM IS!

God bless you as you live intentionally!

Alison


[Photo Credit: Augapfel / Edit: Alison Lam]

Risk spark

From Relax to Risk!

oneword_longlogo

It’s amazing the difference a year can make. When you’re in the midst of daily life, though, it can appear that nothing much is changing and that all your little daily choices aren’t amounting to much. But life has a funny way of surprising you as you arrive at the end of another 365 day circling of the sun; you realize that you really are different. Unbeknownst to you, something deeply spiritual really has taken place. Some significant shift has occurred in your heart.

I want to testify to (and honour) the invisible God who has done a tangible work in my heart. He has changed me. While I was too busy analyzing my life to death, I didn’t know that ‘life’ was at work in my inner being.

I want to share a simple illustration of how my life has changed. It may not seem like much, but it’s huge to me! Now that I’m taking some time to reflect on the past year (and as I look to this new year ahead of me), I am amazed.

In 2013, my ‘one word’ for the year was RELAX. (this was inspired by the One Word 365 movement where thousands are scrapping new year’s resolutions and choosing just one word to define the next year) I entered that year with an anxious and fearful heart, full of burdens and insecurities. All I wanted was to be tucked away in a cocoon of safety and never come out.

I needed to relax badly.

There was so much internal unrest within me that the most spiritual thing I could call myself to last year was to calm down and just relax. Relax, o my soul, relax! The call to relax determined a lot of my choices last year. My heart needed to settle down and find a resting place.

You see, in mid 2012 I’d left the mission field overseas and returned to Canada for a much-needed sabbatical. My spirit knew I needed a time of sabbath rest but my flesh was desperate to “go go go”. So, the spirit within me took precedent and declared to my heart, ‘relax!’

Fast forward a year as I entered 2014, it was very clear what my ‘one word’ would be… RISK.

Risk spark

From relax to risk. I’d say that’s quite a dramatic change. That kind of change doesn’t happen overnight.

But I’ve discovered that something has been restored to me over this year. In the midst of a year that was full of many challenges, pain and disappointment, somewhere deep in the recesses of my heart, a little flickering flame within me was being stoked. Somehow a little crack in the doorway of my heart was left open and a little divine wind came to blow upon the ashy embers. The dry sticks laying dormant were rekindled and something resembling a flame of desire began to rise up within me in the second half of last year.

A desire to take some risks again.

A desire to step out in the midst of uncertainty and danger and risk my safety. Risk my comfort. Risk my security. Risk certainty for something uncertain and unknown. Risk emerging from the cocoon and seeing if my heart really could fly again — seeing if my heart could come alive again.

I can sense that something is returning to me. That little part of me that rises to a dare and accepts the challenge. The part of me that embraces adventure. The part of me that doesn’t back down in the midst of difficulty. The part of me that takes risks. I can see that part of me returning. I thought that part of me had died and I was bound for a life of safe choices and avoidance.

It seems that the good things God established in me by relaxing more last year are bearing the fruit of courage, in trusting God enough in this new year to take some risks.

This year I want to take risks. Personal risks. Relational risks. Professional and ministerial risks.

I want to stoke the flickering fire in me and see it become a passionate fire. I want to burn again. I must.

I want to take risks because I trust that the Father loves me no matter what and is taking care of me (and quite possibly even leading me into these risks?!)

I want to take risks in love and for love.

I want to take risks with God’s will.

I want to risk losing the good opinion of others so that I’m free from the fear of man’s judgment (and my own).

I want to risk losing control of my life for the sake of gaining a deeper trust in God.

Who knows where these risks will take me, but I guess that’s why it’s a risk!

It’s time. Definitely time. The time to risk.


*Photo Credit: 1) One Word 365   2) Pranav (with edits by me)

Sunset Tauranga

What do you define yourself by?

 I saw this poem a while ago online and it really impacted my heart. The author is unknown but if anyone knows who wrote this, please let me know! 

Sunset Tauranga

I do not define myself by how many roadblocks have appeared in my path.
I define myself by the courage I’ve found to forge new roads.

I do not define myself by how many disappointments I’ve faced.
I define myself by the forgiveness and faith I have found to begin again.

I do not define myself by how long a relationship lasted.
I do define myself by how much I have loved and been willing to love again.

I do not define myself by how many times I have been knocked down.
I do define myself by how many times I have struggled to my feet.

I am NOT my pain.
I am NOT my past.
I AM that which has emerged from the fire.

(Unknown Author)

*Photo Credit: Alison Lam


The heart thrives in vulnerable expression