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Archive for June 23rd, 2013

Island Living

“Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Mark 9:24 (NIV). 

Have you ever had a moment where you clearly felt/heard God’s voice telling you to do something?  It wasn’t audible, but it may as well have been.  You knew with your whole being God wanted you to walk a certain path – begin a ministry, change careers, adopt a child, move cross country, allow your parents to move in with you, homeschool your child for a year, something?  You were incredibly confident you heard Him correctly and not only was He opening doors for you in that direction, but your spouse heard the same message and was walking alongside you.

Life would be great if things continued that smoothly.  However, since we don’t live on an island and we have to interact with others, doubt sometimes creeps in.  A word from a trusted friend questioning if you really want to give up the life you love for one that is more unstable.  An article on Google talking about the severity of the economic crisis and how it’s not wise to make hasty decisions right now.  A few closed doors even though there are windows opening that are better options.  Someone else, who has been around the block a little longer than you, having a bad experience on the journey you are beginning.

We all have faith journeys at one time or another in our lives.  Sometimes they involve career changes, sometimes it’s praying for a miracle for a loved one (sickness, salvation, relationship struggles), sometimes it involves completely walking outside your comfort zone and recklessly abandoning all that’s familiar because God is calling you to something different.

I’ve been on a faith journey, and even though I started out confidently hearing God’s voice and the direction He was pointing me down, I have experienced some setbacks, bruises, and doubts along the way.  I would love to say I have never wavered in my faith for the direction God has called me, but that would be a lie.  I wish I could say I was like the woman in the Bible who’d been bleeding for twelve years and had so much faith that Jesus would heal her, all she did was reach out and touch His cloak, not even His body, just His clothes, and He healed her.  No, instead lately I’ve been more like the father in Mark 9, the above passage, who knew that Jesus could heal his son, had faith in Jesus’ ability, but yet some doubt remained.

I started to question why I was doubting.  God had been opening doors wide open, I had asked (probably too many times) for God to continue to show me I was walking in obedience and He was answering.  However, it hit me the other day.  Instead of focusing on the blessings in my journey, and thanking God for the opportunities and the timing He was giving me, I had started focusing on others’ journeys and where God was taking them.

You see, I realized that no two journeys are the same.  God could be calling me into a new career, along with twenty other people, but our paths to that new career (even if it’s the same career) will look entirely different.  That’s because we’re all entirely different.  God could be calling me and my best friend’s family to adopt children, but the children I welcome into my family will be completely different from the children she welcomes into her family.  What I was seeing as a bad thing is really a blessing.

God made each of us unique individuals.  We all have different personalities, talents, gifts, and skills.  The only similarity is He wishes for us all to use those gifts and talents and personalities to further His kingdom, to help reach others for Him.  However, it will look very different for me from how it will look for you.

When my focus is correct, and I stop concentrating on others and instead focus on the job God has for me, I see the blessings in my journey.  What may appear as a stagnant journey may in fact be God granting me a time of preparation.  Maybe I need to learn time management skills, patience, a different parenting approach, how to take criticism and/or how to settle conflict in a healthy way.  Maybe what is happening is God knows one of my children is going to need more “mommy” time in the upcoming year because of some issue he or she will face.  Jumping ahead of His timing could be devastating for my family.  Maybe I’ll never discover why my journey appeared to stand still while my friend’s progressed at the speed of sound.

Even though I’m far from perfect yet in my faith walk, I think I’m finally starting to get it.  Usually I talk in my blog about focusing less on myself and more on others; however, in this instance, I believe God wants me to focus less on others’ journeys and instead keep my eyes focused on Him and where He is leading me.  I really don’t want to live on a remote island somewhere, so instead I just need to keep my eyes looking at my Savior.  When I focus on Him, then my faith grows, and I have my confidence back that I’m right where He wants me to be.

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Copyright 2013: Cheri Swalwell

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