” 13 Then God ascended from Jacob in the place where He had spoken with him. 14 Jacob set up a pillar (memorial, monument) in the place where he had talked with God, a pillar of stone, and he poured a drink offering [of wine] on it; he also poured oil on it [to declare it sacred for God’s purpose]. 15 So Jacob named the place where God had spoken with him, Bethel (the House of God).” – Genesis 35:12-15
I’m going back to Bethel.
Because I’m living in the middle of nowhere right now, on the way to a place I’ve never been, in a place I planned to pass over. A place of transition, if you will.
And after weeks of feeling lost, God answered my plight of prayers. He reminded me of all the times he’s met me in the middle of nowheresville – in the middle of lost, uncertain and unknown- and made me promise after promise, which he’s answered time and again.
I think back to the college girl who never felt like she had her tribe; who felt misunderstood and jealous of all the bestie’s others clung to. I remember praying, begging God to find me a friend, a genuine friend who would know my heart and never leave me, even when I said the wrong thing or got into a fight. And then he brought me not one, but two, then three; women who loved me in the messy days when I was fighting Jesus and my pride kept me from seeing my need for him. They loved me as I learnt to crawl in my faith and fell down daily. Then picked me up time and again and spoke life and love over me when I didn’t deserve it. And they continue to walk with me today, holding my hand in every bright and beautiful moment; even tighter in the dark and scary ones.
Chantalle. Michelle. Amy.
And now, I sit weekly with many more woman, who see my ugly heaped up high on the floor, and love me in spite of my mistakes, seeing me for the woman God has made me to be.
Kaley. Abby. Jessica. Alicia. Laura. Carly. Mary. Sue. Heather. Dawn. Diane.
I think back to the woman who lay lonely on a futon mattress in a rented room, in a town she swore she’d never live, longing for a place to call home- our home. And how God brought us to this house, even when the ad read “No Pets. Professionals only.” and we were struggling, fresh out of dead-end jobs with a dog. And as we turned the corner, my heart leapt for joy and I told dave boldly, “we’ve found home.” And it was here, in this sleeping town of Port Moody, where God met me on the trails and began a renovation project in my heart and turned my life upside down.
And how he led us to Coquitlam Alliance Church, after feeling unknown and unaccepted in our previous one. How again he gave us both the same revelation, at exactly the same time as we walked up the driveway the very first time we attended. “This is home.” And how it was through this church that God spoke like never before, asking us to walk out our faith with our time, our money and our vary lives. And how it was through these convictions that we began to learn generosity, giving and sharing Jesus not just on sunday, but in everyday.
And how that change in our hearts led me to start speaking openly about my faith in my business. And it led me to incredible women who love Jesus too and gave their work to him as an offering. They inspired me to find a mission bigger than myself and changed the entire way I saw the work of my hands.
Lara. Natalie. Emily. Nancy. Gina.
It was through these woman that God nudged me to trust him with more than just my work, but with our finances and our marriage too. We started Financial Peace University and paid of $35,000 of debt in 12 months. We now live and aspire to remain completely debt free through new home and business acquisitions.
And how this change in my business, brought more people of faith out of the woodworks, locally this time, and slowly but surely God blessed us with community, here in our little city, in a little industry that seemed God-lost so much of the time. And how God used us to spur each other on and bless each other in just the right time, in just the right ways.
Sarah. Matt. Donna. Nuover. Yinger. Suzanna.
I think back to that girl who couldn’t find her identity apart from stuff and achievement. Who was addicted to people pleasing, paralyzed by anxiety (at one point I was house bound and couldn’t be alone for 5 months) and ran from grief and hardship even if it left her friends lonely and scared. The girl who masked her hurt, shame and distrust in negative self-talk and disordered eating; who pretended like she wasn’t broken from years of giving herself away. And how God so gently and lovingly peeled back the layers of the onion, to reveal its stench. Who ripped out the root of those hurts, planted new seeds and continued (and continues to) water and nurture those seeds until I was a new creation – a completely different woman; a transformed life.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life]. 18 But all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ [making us acceptable to Him] and gave us the ministry of reconciliation [so that by our example we might bring others to Him], 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting people’s sins against them [but canceling them].” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
And how he’s used the things that hurt me the most to become my message of hope, redemption and freedom.
How he’s used those vary things – the things I wanted to pretend never happened- the things I would have rather died than have people find out about before – to draw me closer to others in community, to lead a group of woman and to speak to youth, empowering them to fight for sexual integrity.
Because when God shows up in the middle of nowhere – on your way to somewhere you’ve never been, in a place you planned to pass through or stop over on the way to somewhere better – he renames it NOW HERE.
This season that I’ve called unknown, He renames it Surrender. Because he is NOW HERE.
Because where I saw waiting, he sees preparing. Where I saw longing, he sees drawing near. Where I saw nothing, he sees surrender.
He sees me, this heart and this life wanting nothing more than him and his will.