Friday, 1 January 2010

Ponderings & Prayers...

I like to take some time each New Year to sit with God and reflect on all that the last year has held, the seasons He has shepherded my heart through in a 12-month-measurement of time. To revisit the way each season felt there in the midst of it, and to smile at how it now looks in hindsight, and savour His faithfulness, His sovereignty, His loving leading. What an Abba-Daddy...

I started this year in the States, finding myself suspended in this strange realm between worlds-- home in Minnesota, yet always waiting for the moment He'd put me on a flight back to my work in Europe; growing and deepening my MN relationships, yet feeling strange and misplaced among them; praying with a new kind of surrender for His Will, whether that be stateside or European, but somehow knowing somewhere deeper than reason can follow that it was European; feeling like an awkward 15-year-old girl again moving in the old circles, living under my parents' roof, depending on family for rides anywhere and everywhere, and yet relishing the family time so much... And all the while learning new grooves of His heart that I hadn't touched in quite the same way before, being given new elements of faith, new boldness in vulnerability, realizing in ever-new measure what it means when God says He is enough...

And seeing Him work His will despite so many hang-ups and seeming hiccups in the process of visas, and fundraising, and flights, and just the tenuous thing that is a life of mission... I'm learning that to try to make it make sense is foolishness!

Returning to Sweden for the Spring and half of the summer, having my rose-coloured glasses ripped off and stomped on, and again, learning His heart in new ways... I find it's become the theme of my life, this constant learning His heart. It is so deep and so wide, I will never know it all. They are deeply difficult lessons, but I find Him worth it all... every time.

2009 has been a year of choosing life over death. Not death in the literal sense, but in the sense of choosing to live hidden away in my comfortable, but painful, self-inflicted shells. I have chosen to share with people in deep authenticity, in deep vulnerability, knowing that when I am weak, He is strong. But it's not easy. I have been pursued by a strong, handsome, adoring man who wanted to marry me... but whom I couldn't feel peace about no matter how I prayed and so, despite it being one of the deepest desires of my heart, to be married and share a life of ministry and have a family, decided to say no to dating him... just in time to return to the states for 2 weddings ("always the bridesmaid, never the bride," as they say never smarted quite so much...)-- intense, but right and I'm so thankful He led me to that decision, knowing that I'd rather continue serving Him alone than try to do it with anyone other than His best for me. My God is gentle and leads well, it's just so much easier to see in hindsight! And it was SUCH an honour to be bridesmaid this summer. In that time I also met and fell in love with my new baby nephew :) I grieved deeply over broken childhood dreams and more cutting of my heart-strings tying me to home, laughed long with my baby brother, and learned more of how to love with His love as I spent fleeting time with those back home-- all the while praying over the visa situation, that His will would be done. Knowing that going back to Rescue Mission would be hard, as would starting all over in finding my next appointment in ministry in Europe!

And then the visa came through, and I was returning to Sweden in September with a residency permit for a year! I got my first flat :) And started a women's ministry. And I went back to work with Rescue Mission, and learned to cling to His heart in new ways... ways I'm still learning as I hold on with white knuckles, but also with a smile. He is so good, so good, so good. And I am His. He is teaching me what it truly means to fear nothing and no one but Him. So what better position could I possibly be in?



I braced myself and stepped into the dating world. And I find I like being taken out by interesting Christian guys and spoiled rotten-- all the better if they are ministry-minded and purposeful. The lessons of boldness and bravery and worth that He means to teach me in the process of going on dates are not quite as enjoyable as the exploring of fun cities and eating nice food with interesting people, but I am so grateful for how He leads and loves and holds on to me in His patience...

And I've travelled new roads in the long process of learning to trust Him completely in this "living by faith" business, understanding what it means to be reliant on Him for the most basic needs to be met, like rent and groceries and electricity and winter clothes, and in that also learning to trust Him in the bigger things, like health and faith and dreams and family and life decisions...

I returned to England after a year of not stepping foot in that country which He has used to so shape and mold my heart through my experiences and education there. I basked in the honour of meeting my new baby god-daughter and I learned to accept His love in new ways through accepting the love of my darling friends scattered across that land of my heart. The 2 weeks meant more to me than many months, and refined my dilemma on what to do after my Swedish visa is up in September-- to aim toward getting an English one and carving out for myself a European base in ministry there.

I also published my first piece of freelance writing... and am learning to invest in the gifts He's given me instead of constantly grabbing after talents I don't possess. Somehow this is a very long, drawn-out journey, complicated even more by the issues in the ministry here and finding the right balance between pleasing him and pleasing the ones He's put in leadership over me for this season. But one day at a time...

I think He is teaching me to have a bit of grace with myself.

And again, what I circle back to at the end of this year full of learning to live and learning to love is this: I am His.
And as such, I dwell in the only true security and certainty that there is: His Love.
His ever-lasting, over-flowing, limitless, borderless, measureless, conditionless Love which calls deep unto deep and takes me deeper still...

So, 2010, I belong to this King of Love and He will fill you as He will in my life. I greet you with a hopeful hello, and wonder what you carry to me from His heart and His hand. Whatever it is, it comes from His Love... so bring it on!
...Here I am, Lord. Send me.
"The land you are... to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end."
-- Deut. 11:11-12

3 comments:

Sara said...

Such a very great post, Leah! Prayers for a blessed 2010!

gabi dickinson said...

Ah this is just so gorgeous...
And if this is anything I can to help locate where He wants to place you in England, please let me know! It just occurred to me to offer, that's all.
Love you!

Jodi said...

Oh Leah, this is such a beautiful post...I love the way you write and the depth of your faith.
I'm always praying for you...keep looking Up. :-)

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