waiting on the lord

i found this article here and i just wanted to repost it.

“I left graduate school believing that very soon I would have a job, career, ministry … something that I would feel fulfilled in and gain experience from. I didn’t feel the need to pay attention to a conversation I had with my grandfather driving home cross-country back to Oregon. We were talking about knowing what one is supposed to do with one’s life, and I asked him, “How do I know that it is exactly where I should be at?”

My grandpa shared a piece of advice I would forget, only to remember it after I had to learn the hard way: “Larissa,” he said, “when you pray, pray as to get to know Christ. Prayer is about knowing our Father in heaven.”

A little taken aback at the seeming irrelevancy of the advice, I nodded my head and changed lanes. I have to remember this, I thought. OK, I told myself, I should pray to know Christ; OK, I have to do that … then I will know what God’s will is for me.

Months down the road after discouragement, angst, anger and frustration, I found myself still in the same place, still with no perspective future, unemployed and even more worried and restless than before.

I sat on the rocks by a river near our house, having spent a week in tears and confusion, feeling broken and overwhelmed. I felt as though I had somehow fallen into a deep ditch, and I could not even find any foothold to climb out. I had never felt so discouraged in my life. When looking at where I could be in five years or even five months, I could not even conjure up a small picture through the blackness that enveloped me.

Looking out across the river, I just sat. I did nothing.

And a question came to me: “Larissa, what are you waiting for?”

That was easy. “For You, Lord.”

“Larissa, what are you waiting for?”

Hmm. “For You, of course, Lord.”

“Larissa, what are you waiting for?”

I began to feel like Peter, “Um … for You, Lord!”

“Are you really?”

This question came softly, like a gentle hand that lifted up my chin to help me see more than my feet.

I asked myself the question again, “Am I really?” It dawned on me slowly and my grandfather’s words came back to me: “When you pray, pray to know Christ.”

Yes, I had been waiting for the Lord … but for Him to come through for me with a job, a plan, anything that came up, just something more than waiting on the Lord.

“Waiting on the Lord” can become cliché quite quickly, but I began to finally see what my grandpa meant. I had an agenda each time I prayed. My prayers did not reveal a satisfaction in God but a dissatisfaction with Him. I knew I could trust Him, but I prayed as though my plans were wiser and better than His. I prayed as though I did not trust Him.

As soon as I began to pray without an agenda, my inner anxieties began to dissolve.

I relaxed about where I was and who I was.

My vision seemed uncannily clearer. I no longer prayed with the nonverbal ultimatum of “come through for me or else.”

I arrived at a place of “being” instead of waiting. I became comfortable and comforted.

Sue Monk Kidd tells a story that reflects our often mistaken viewpoint on waiting. During a retreat at a monastery, in her restless state, she notices a monk:

“[He was] sitting perfectly still beneath a tree. There was such reverence in his silhouette, such tranquil sturdiness, that I paused to watch. He was the picture of waiting.

“Later I sought him out. ‘I saw you today sitting beneath the tree—just sitting there so still. How is it that you can wait so patiently in the moment? I can’t seem to get used to the idea of doing nothing.’

“He broke into a wonderful grin. ‘Well, there’s the problem right there, young lady. You’ve bought into the cultural myth that when you’re waiting you’re doing nothing.’

“Then he took his hands and placed them on my shoulders, peered straight into my eyes and said, ‘I hope you’ll hear what I’m about to tell you. I hope you’ll hear it all the way down to your toes. When you’re waiting, you’re not doing nothing. You’re doing the most important something there is. You’re allowing your soul to grow up. If you can’t be still and wait, you can’t become what God created you to be.’”

This is where God eventually called me after all those months: to a new perspective of becoming something out of seemingly nothing.”

SIMPLY

Simplicity.

In the busy and hustle and bustle of it all, it becomes so easy to overlook simplicity.

This has been the most challenging, most difficult, most faith strengthening, experience of my life. By far.

Tonight was our “exit RAMP” where all of the Midstates regions get back together in Minneapolis for a day and a half to turn in paperwork and such, but also just to debrief on what God has done this summer.  Sometimes, I like to just sit back and watch during times like this. It helps me to process my own life.  Tonight, listening to the very specific, very detailed stories of what God did in the lives of a certain participant, or certain adult leader, etc etc, I was struck momentarily by an overwhelming feeling that we did not have such dramatic experiences in Cass Lake.  At first, I was a bit discouraged.  Why did we not have dramatic conversion experiences? Why did we not have community members changed in tearful late night moments? What did we do differently? Did we do something wrong? Should these experiences have happened?

I began to pray to God, asking all of these questions.  Wondering why our summer was so different in my mind than what so many people were sharing.  Then it hit me, we did the simple things, the basic things, the things that, in the past, had been too often overlooked and the overall relationship between YouthWorks and Cass Lake was so strained that it was on the verge of ceasing to exist as a site.  Cass Lake is one of the oldest YouthWorks sites (this was the 10th summer) and things had just been going downhill apparently. Relationships were strained or broken or didn’t exist whatsoever.  We came, we prayed, we went through hell sometimes personally, relationally, spiritually; but we came, we prayed, and we simply stepped aside and let God do His thing.  This is how I’d describe what I did this summer. Yes, 16 homes/businesses were painted, gardens were restored, and every locker in the town of Cass Lake was cleaned on rainy days, but none of that was me.  I simply stepped aside and allowed God to do His thing. To me, during Prep Week, when I was visiting the Tribal Council, tapping the mind of the Mayor, and putting up flier after flier in all of the ‘hotspots’ of the town, I was just using common sense, but apparently this was revolutionary.  I visited the Tribal Council and simply asked if they needed anything and if I could put fliers up in their lobby.  They had never heard of YouthWorks.  Note…this is not in any way whatsoever a hit on YouthWorks.  They’re the most well organized company FULL of servant leaders that I’ve ever worked for.  So many of the higherups in Minneapolis came to visit our site and GENUINELY wanted our feedback on how things were going.  Genuinely, not just because they “should,” but they genuinely were servant leaders who value opinions from all levels.  Anyways, Tribal Council, doors opened. Serving the businesses that serve us, lives changed. Being friends not enemies and allies not enemies with those who opened the doors of their school to us.  Simple, yet revolutionary ideas that transformed and saved Cass Lake’s existence as a YouthWorks site.

I want to take no credit for anything that happened in Cass Lake this summer. There is no chance I could have done any of it, God did it.  I was simply the person He put there to do the tasks I accomplished. I LOVED every single second of painting, scraping, gardening, cleaning lockers, talking with adult leaders about marriage, their faith stories, their kids, their lives, and simply BEING the hands and feet of Christ in a community so poor in spirit, poor in resources, poor in relationships, but rich with stories.  Rich with history. Rich with souls just yearning to be known and loved and held, by Christ.

All of 2010, God has been showing me time after time to let go of my control freak nature, let Him do the work, and simply BE LOVED by Him.  Let myself be loved and not focus so much on doing doing doing all the time.  Not focus on what the ‘right way’ to pray or read my bible or whatever.  Just BE in a relationship with Him.  Just hang out with God.  Just pray my heart our to Him all day long. Every day.  Read His word, seek Him. Ask and you shall receive.  Tonight it hit me, in my moment of discouragement, that while we may not have had overwhelmingly dramatic stories from this summer, we SIMPLY showed up, LOVED, and WERE the hands and feet of Christ and that is EXACTLY what the city of Cass Lake needed from Christ and we were exactly the people who were called out to carry that task.

Day in and day out, I saw no end in sight. It was supposed to rain, I had no backups, I prayed. There were days where it rained all around the 3 square miles of Cass Lake but not inside it, not on the homes we were restoring through a coat of paint.  There were days where all the stuff from home with sickness, relationships, etc was just too much and I could not do it anymore, and He showed up.  Not always in speaking to me the ways I expected.  Through adult leaders who notice your day and ask to pray for you, through kids who just want to tell you about their lives, through homeowners who are struggling with or have struggled with the same issues you’re facing.  He is always there if we SIMPLY look around, get over ourselves, LET HIM be there.  Look at the beautiful evergreen trees in the city God placed me in with weather no hotter than 85 degrees.  Look at the children’s faces.  He gave me this opportunity.  And to whom much has been given much will be expected.  And to those who leave family, loves, etc for the sake of Christ, they will be blessed.

I learned alot this summer about God, myself, community work, what it’s like to deal with difficult people, what it’s like to look for leadership in yourself instead of relying on others, to take ownership, to walk by faith, to just sit and be with people.

My summer with YouthWorks has come to a close, but I pray to never forget the things that happened in Cass Lake

To never forget the journey I’ve been on since the passion conference in January of just SIMPLY

Stopping

And

B E ing

It really is that easy….yes, I’ve said this before, in January

we were born to embrace not accept it

the past 10 weeks have FLOWN by. this is our last week of missions here.  it has flown by.

God has done AMAZING things here, in these people, in those that have come on trips, and in me.  He has showed up radically and miraculously and will continue to do so.  I have been so blessed to be a part of this summer and had the opportunities He has afforded me.

I pray, and ask you to pray with me, that He will reveal the next steps (job-wise) in my life.  I desperately long to do something similar to this as a career.  To get to meet community members, see their needs, hear their stories, and get those needs met in some form or fashion by others.  That’s vague, I realize, but it’s what I really feel called to. Whether that’s with something like Habitat or some other nonprofit, I really feel pulled to continue this ministry out in a job, but I  have ZERO idea what that job description is.  I ask that you pray that God will reveal that to me, that He will place people around me to help me discover this, that He will afford me opportunities to discover this, and that I may see those opportunities and sieze them.

i wanted to share a few of the verses that have been laid on my heart this summer.

the one that remains in my mind….i forget where i found it, so if you recognize it, share please. it’s about remaining present in the moment and not focusing on the past or the future, but being fully present in the moment and experiencing all that God has for you there. this has been HUGE for me.  i have a TON waiting for me at home and there are plenty of moments, especially lately, that I want to be at home or in north carolina or arkansas or florida, but I tell myself and hopefully convince myself to remain present here, to serve.

Romans 8:26-28

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

James 1:2-4

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

5-8If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

Luke 18:29-30

No one who has sacrificed home, spouse, brothers and sisters, parents, children—whatever—will lose out. It will all come back multiplied many times over in your lifetime. And then the bonus of eternal life!

Matthew 6:25-34

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

aaannnnnd a song

We were born to embrace, not accept it
We were given nothing more, and so we kept it
As the colors of our boots keep fading
We live a life that we hate without saying

Who would listen to the cries of a poor man
We’ve never done nothing
How could we be something
Every heart has an hour of existence
Every breath brings a chance for redemption
If somehow we could wake up

Let us love
Like we were children
Make us feel
Like we’re still living
In a world I know that’s burning to the ground
Give us time
To beat the system
Make us find
What we’ve been missing
In a world I know that’s burning to the ground

In the crowd of the dead and disappointed
We’re ashamed, giving up on what we wanted
Take a chance on a long shot this time
Aren’t we all just at least worth another try

I’m a king in a land of abuses
Undermined by the promise of excuses
Who’s to win if we know that it’s not fair
Who’s to fight when it seems that no one cares
If somehow we could wake up

Let us love
Like we were children
Make us feel
Like we’re still living
In a world I know that’s burning to the ground
Give us time
To beat the system
Make us find
What we’ve been missing
In a world I know that’s burning to the ground

It’s hard to stay here, but where do we go
I know we can’t feel it anymore
It’s true that time is wearing us down
We fall further and further away
Waiting for always to change
Let us love
Like we were children
Make us feel
Like we’re still living
In a world I know that’s burning to the ground

Leave your hurting on the road behind you
Let the wind go with you ‘til the morning comes
Yeah your sorrow, it can’t save you
It won’t answer for what you’ve done