Three Steps in Finding the Will of God

I remember when I had a decision to make of staying on the west coast or moving my four children to the east, closer to family and away from the greatest tragedy of our lives.

I stalled for months. When it comes to big decisions, how does one know?

I know I’m not the only one who has difficulty feeling confident with major decision making. But especially as an Amish girl, taught to serve, obey, and submit my will to men, I really wasn’t prepared to face the world when I grew older.

Decision making threw me into a panic. But I’ve learned some things since then that I’d love to share with you because they’ve brought me such peace.

1. You can’t always wait to make a decision until all your fears or questions are gone.

Sometimes God leads you to move into something in spite of questions or fears. As with the case for moving my children from Washington state to North Carolina, all I knew was that something needed to change and we needed help. So, I put my faith in Jesus and decided to put in a legal request and trust that God’s will would manifest in the court’s decision.

The day our lawyers fought like cats and dogs over mine and the children’s future was stressful enough to put me into bed for a few hours. The court session ended with no answers except that the judge would keep looking into the situation and get back to us. I waited for days, then suddenly picked up the phone to my attorney’s voice, “Sara, you can move.”

One sentence changed everything.

I still didn’t feel confident but trusted that God knew all things. In the next three weeks I packed up our 3400 square foot home, sold most of our belongings, cleaned out the large shop building, purchased plane tickets, and made the arrangements online to move into a rental we had never seen, in an area where we knew only one other family.

As my therapist always said, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

See this—my confidence had to shift from my own fallible self to a good Father God who knew all things and watched over us night and day.

Two years later I see what God saw all along. I’m sitting here smiling, realizing how He was putting pieces together for a better life, long before I knew. He led us to the right church, people, places, and things.

Always remember that courage is not the absence of fear; courage is moving forward in spite of fear. So if there’s a decision to make today, lean into it and make the best one you know how to make. Trust God to fill in any gaps you don’t see, just as you do for your own children.

Move carefully, but always make sure that you’re not giving in to paralysis from analysis.

We can paralyze ourselves from moving into God’s will for us because we’re so afraid of being out of His will. There’s a much better way to live—a way of confidence even while questions remain. Sometimes it takes moving forward to make the cowardly fear slink back into the shadows while the peace of God becomes stronger and stronger.

Immobility can cause even greater havoc in our circumstances or our hearts. Yet, we stay immobile out of fear because we’re so afraid of doing the wrong thing. Interesting, is it not? Satan loves to get us huddled in fear and sorrow when we could be moving in light and joy. Seeing the goodness and grace of God sets us free from immobilizing fear.

2. If the decision to make involves right or wrong, and you’re not sure what is right, look at scripture first.

Feelings are fallible, our minds can trick us, and people can lead us wrongly. But God’s written Word brings light from heaven that will never change or leave.

I was listening to a podcast in my car one day, sent to me by someone who wanted me to believe something was right, when suddenly a car in front of me swerved left with these words on the bumper, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

In that moment I realized that I couldn’t base my personal convictions off any preacher or person’s interpretation of scripture, but on scripture itself. I ended up realizing how “off” the speaker was and how I could not embrace what he taught. And as time went by I found increasing peace in what scripture plainly taught because I put God’s word above all human opinions of His word.

God may use dreams, a sense of personal peace, other people, pastors and speakers to help us determine His will. But His will is never opposing scripture. If someone differs from scripture or your own feelings differ from scripture, always fall back on the Word of God and require your feelings to subject themselves to God.

Don’t listen to people who say, “God would never require that of you.” The truth is, God does sometimes lead us down difficult paths. His way is narrow and He does ask hard things of His children sometimes. But He’s there to carry us along and we find His peace better than any easier way of our own.

In this way, you build a foundation that will never be shaken. Feelings change, people’s opinions vary—but the Word of God stands forever.

Everyone then who hears these words of Mine and does them, will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

And the rains fell and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24&25)

I love and appreciate the fact that I am no slave to my own opinion or feelings. God’s will always sets me free to live a full and abundant life when my own emotions would take me down or lead me into things not lining up to the best life He has for me.

God is always freedom. Saying yes to His will can only bring you upward and onward.

3. Never stay stuck in a place of fear.

Immobility and isolation is one of Satan’s greatest tactics. But when God is at work, things move, change, and bring us into community with others.

I want us to know that putting God in a box is degrading the magnitude of Christ. When Christians hold to standards not found in the Word of God, they do not allow God to move as He’s able.

With Christ, there is wisdom but there are no boxes. If two young Christians decide to join a Christian dating app, rather than freak out, pray for them. When a seemingly positive answer comes along, help them process. Do away with the “Thou shalt nots” (unless it’s in the Bible), and replace them with a constant anticipation of watching God do something for the good of those He loves.

The shift in thinking is life giving to all those around you but immediate and swift judgment and standards on things Christ doesn’t even bother mentioning is oppressive to everyone around you.

Many, many Christians exercise control out of fear. The “will of God” becomes an excuse to push people away, create boxes, draw lines, and limit a magnificent Christ Who loves to work wonders in many different ways.

Mobilize yourself into love and keep an open mind to watching God at work in ways you didn’t expect or think of as “normal”.

And remember to back everything up to the Word of God. His no is not deprivation, but always an invitation to a better yes!

When you see all God says yes to, you can easily surrender when He says no. But if you’re immobile out of fear, you will be missing out on the goodness of God and in that way, fall more easily into wrong posture of heart or even sin.

Creating our own boxes keeps us in a box where we don’t see God move and are incapable of living His true will. There, we fall prey to unbelief, fear, depression, and judgment. All the while, God is moving in circles of LIGHT, LIFE, and LOVE where He invites us to join Him as we step out of fear and into His heart.

Stay when He tells you to stay, but remember that, even as you stay, He will move you into good. God is always on the move.

When your circumstances don’t change, remember that God is moving to change your heart. And a heart changed by a moving, loving, intimate Father God is the greatest move of all.

Stay in Grace, release control, have courage in spite of fear, and lean heavily into Jesus where all is grace.

Until next time,

Sara

Regaining Emotional Clarity; Finding God in Plan B (Part 7)

Single working moms all know the feeling of dread as they walk out the door for work when all they want to do is enjoy spring break with their children.

You’ll hop onto social media after work has completely sapped your energy and see photos of other moms taking their kids to the zoo, mountains, or beach. It can’t help but sting just a little.

But I’m here to let you know that you’re not alone, and speak to you what God spoke to me–that I cannot always fill in the gaps, that I was not created to have that ability, and I needed to trust God to do what I could not do.

Struggling to fill in what only another can do can bring us to endless anxiety and stress. So to single moms—God never intended for you to be the perfect dad, to be able to do everything with the children that he could do, to give your children everything they would have with a faithful father.

God simply wants you to find Him in plan B, just as you are.

What does that look like?

1. Keep looking for ways to integrate good into the lives of your children, even if it might look different than it did in plan A.

This might look like having your little boy read chapters in the Bible while you head to work and big sister watches him. Maybe he can call or text you to tell you what he’s learned. (Gabb watches or phones are perfect, safe options for this type of thing!)

Satan wants us to throw in the towel and give up rather than look for alternatives. You can spit back at him a little by remaining undaunted and undeterred when it comes to bringing God’s word to your children. Rather than feeling the need to make sure your life looks a certain way, keeping making JESUS look a certain way to your children. And when you can, pull them onto the couch at night for some Bible reading and prayer. I truly believe that mothers are responsible to bring Jesus to their children in whatever way they are able!

2. Whenever possible, help your children push forward.

This might look like telling your teen that she can do it. The smile on my daughter’s face when she finished day one of orientation for a job that had her so freaked out she almost gave up, made it so worth it. I was so proud of her for driving through a storm hours away to join a team older than herself, learn software that was confusing and complicated to her, and push through in spite of her fear. Her words at the end of the day, “Mom, you helped me succeed. You didn’t let me fail.”

Fatherless children often face greater amounts of anxiety and fear as they grow up to be independent. Be there for them, support them, show them you believe in them. If need be, push them toward what they want to give up on. And if you have a resistant child, love him/her and keep speaking truth. Pray in faith and give your anxiety to God. Expect a war for your child, but know you are on the winning side as you align yourself with God’s character.

3. Reiterate this often: You are not a victim, I am not a victim, WE ARE NOT VICTIMS; WE ARE CONQUERORS.

Mothers, you can weep before your children without wavering in the fact that you are a conqueror. Be honest and real; let them see your true feelings from time to time. But then, get back up and do the next right thing. Sometimes, that’s all you can do. The day might be long and difficult, everyone might be exhausted and grumpy—but let them watch you push forward.

And the next morning, take the remote and turn on worship music as they get up. The sun will rise, a new day with new mercies.

4. Grow in grace with God and with people.

Shed your garbage. Say yes to God! When you feel the Spirit nudging you about gossip, over eating, impatience, self pity—you name it—we all know what things we need to shed. Saying yes to God clears your soul, and the rewards are far greater than the cost.

Recently I’ve sensed the presence of Jesus in me so powerfully it almost felt as if my heart was physically expanded. Goodness and grace flowed into my soul, and I realized as never before how faithful God is to single mothers. Our circumstances may not change, but putting Him first changes our hearts.

Out of our own powerful experiences with the God of heaven, we then have wisdom and authority to speak of Him to our children in tangible ways. What satan meant for evil is turned into good, and again, we spit back at hell just a little.

5. Don’t be afraid.

Hard experiences don’t have to make us hard. Accept what is so you can keep your heart soft for what will be. A soft heart is mold-able, pliable, and grace filled. Difficult things can lead us so close to the Divine because we are forced to run, run, run into His arms. There, we find that was the best place to be all along.

I want to say this to you again—don’t be afraid. Single moms have war to wage but in the process, they gain heaven.

On this side of eternity, I’m here for you–and you are not alone.

Bitter Becomes Sweet

I’m standing outside a small meeting place in Seattle, chowing down food with a vengeance I hope no one sees.

For crying aloud, some of the friends I came with are fasting. But I’m this starving girl with a mouth so full I turn my head so no one notices. Those fasting days have been gone for awhile and life seems to demand a steady supply of food just to keep going strong.

A gentleman walks toward me, nods, and tape a finger to his brain. He knows. I need this food just to be able to think.

But there’s a booming voice inside the door I’m standing by, and I tilt my head toward the open doorway as the African-American preacher shouts it out. “Bow in the name of Jesus Christ!”

I’m spellbound as he continues. His passion draws me in and engages my soul in all that matters most, as does the older lady with glasses on the mid-ridge of her nose, speaking of things that bring her to righteous anger.

I smile, then reach out and thank her for saying what I want to say. In a world of relativism where truth is perceived as judgment, seeing one dare to speak up for truths that are dying out is refreshing to say the least.

Friends, no matter how much society wants to think that truth is relative, every human being hangs onto their own version of truth.

The problem is, not every person hangs onto God’s truth. Those who say truth is not absolute, will absolutely judge those who say it is–which means their own version of truth is as simple as “It’s wrong to stand on absolute truth.”

In this way, they contradict their own logic. Apparently it is not judgmental to have truth, after all–and apparently there is still absolute truth even if it is their own twisted version of it.

Most of the people who say truth is relative and life should be gauged by one’s own happiness [if you want to live a gay life-style, do so], don’t truly believe what they say. When rubber meets the road and their spouse cheats on them [for the sake of his own happiness], they have no trouble labeling it wrong with the most severe judgment—as they should!

Every human being cries out for one truth or another, whether it be their own version, or God’s.

The problem rises when we choose to label certain things wrong because they affect us, but claim truth to be relative for other areas that don’t affect us.

A sovereign God Who created the universe gets to choose what is best for the whole of His universe. The fact that humans are able to pronounce such great displeasure and judgment on things that rock their world, but declare others judgmental for hanging onto truth in a rocking world, is but proof of their mortality.

We are humanly capable of defending our own hearts but mortally incapable of living for the heart of God—unless we are filled by the Spirit of God.

Spiritual warfare doesn’t just happen. We must speak it out, seek it out, proclaim it out.

We must dare push through the wall of apathy in our culture and engage the deepest things of God in a humanistic world.

You don’t have to be burnt up in a burning world; you must be lit up in a dark world. And you must know that, as light overtakes darkness, so every single truth of God will overtake the apathy and sinfulness of man.

I bite into a flax seed, and its bitter flavor pierces my mouth. Where did that come from? Sweet granola with bitter seeds?

They’re bitter, but entirely nutritious—and the whole of granola is crunchy sweetness, chock full of nutrition for a day out.

When truth seems bitter, know that it is God’s invitation to wholeness, a life made sweet with His presence. You cannot claim the Presence of God without giving yourself wholly to the heart of God.

Some of the bites you take may have bitter flavor. Take them anyway, and your life will be blessed with the entirety of God’s gift, just as my granola was crunchy and sweet even though it was filled with bitter flax seed.

If I had left them out, that bag of granola would have missed one of the most nutritious ingredients. Leave out the truths with a bitter sting to them, and you begin to merge away from the entire picture of wholeness God wants to grace your life with.

Embrace, by faith, every thing God says–then rest and trust Him with everything else. He will not fail you!