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trust?

September 22, 2009 Leave a comment

Every morning on the way to work I turn off the radio and pray. Most of the times it’s out loud. Other times, I’m silent and try to listen. Something I’ve come to notice is how selfish my prayers are. And I don’t mean selfish as in they are all about me; I’m not 14 and viewing my God as Santa Claus. But my prayers are always for those closest to me, and the things they’re going through. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I shouldn’t pray for my best friends, my family, my future plans, etc. But my prayers still seem so self-centered. This world is hurting. There are the homeless, those without clean water, those suffering from oppression, so many even here in affluent Lexington that need Jesus. And what do I pray for in the morning? All of MY friends. Everything around ME.

Ugh.

All this has come to light because of some recent events. They started off indirectly affecting me. I’ve been praying for the situation daily for a while now. Then these events became very personal. Satan got his way with some miscommunication and some feelings, and now I find myself looking up from a pit I haven’t jumped into for quite some time.

We’ve been talking a lot around church and small group lately about trusting the Christ in others. It’s something that’s hard to do. The issue of trust isn’t usually a hard one for me. It usually takes me getting taken advantage of before I don’t trust someone. But what about the other way around. Am I trustworthy? I’d like to think so. I’m a horrible liar, which is actually a wonderful gift, and I don’t like bullshit – generally trustworthy things. But last night I wasn’t trusted by someone, and it’s made me question the Christ in me – which is horrible. I shouldn’t. But I am. And this all comes back to love. I am so loved, so why do I feel so unloved? If I could get a hundredth of that question answered, I could get by with that for the rest of my life probably.

Until then, here I am. Needing to let go, and let God. But instead re-evaluating my friendships and acting pretty stupid. Dang, why am I so hard-headed?

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Categories: Life Tags: , , , , , ,

Identity but no Purpose?

September 2, 2009 Leave a comment

I was listening to an interview with Donald Miller the other day, and he said something to the effect of this, “I believe that our self-identity comes from a source outside of us. God tells us who we are.” At first, I was like, wait what? But the more I got to thinking about it, the more I found truth in it, especially when it comes to us finding our identity in things that are not Christ, as I have a horrible history of doing.

This morning while I was praying, I was talking to God about this, and even when I find my identity in Him, what is it? That I’m a child of God? Okay. And maybe this next bit is going to prove my immaturity in this matter, but then what? I know I am a child of God, I am His, but that fact doesn’t give me any purpose in my life. That’s what I’m missing. I’ve been finding purpose through friendships, and yet again, God is taking them away from me painfully in order to show me that’s wrong. I know I can’t find purpose in what I do, I mean, I’m not exactly making a difference in the world with what I do at work. So that leaves me where…. ?

Worrying. If I’m being honest. Which is a sin. Yeah, worrying is a sin. Especially when the things I’m worrying about, like the growing apart of friendships, are out of my control. I know God is Sovereign, and I need to act more like it. How, I do not know. What I do know is that in Romans 12:12 it says to “rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” If I’m being honest again, I suck at the first two.

So I’m going to keep thinking about what Donald Miller said, and I’m going to keep praying. But I’m especially going to keep rejoicing and being patient. And maybe somewhere, someday, I’ll wake up in this post-college life I’m leading and have purpose.

Categories: Life Tags: , , , , ,

escape?

I’ve been at home in Somerset for almost a week now, and I wonder how long until I start calling it “my parent’s house” instead of “home”. Today has been a long day filled with long and deep conversations, and it has worn on my mind. Even now, there are so many thoughts running through my head I fear this post, the first in ages, may not have the clarity & direction I wish for it.

I leave for Jonathan Creek in 4 days. And I wonder what camp holds for me this summer. I was told by one of my best friends tonight that she doesn’t believe I’ll end up back in Lexington. This took me for a loop, because I’ve had the feeling for a month or so that I will end up in Lexington in the fall, and for a long time to come. When I look back at where I thought I’d be at this point, it amazes me. Just six months ago I wanted nothing more than to live in Louisville. Just three months ago I wanted nothing more than to be preparing for 2 years in South America. And now, not only do I not know where I want to be, but more importantly, I don’t know where God wishes for me to be.

But back to camp. Oh, Jonathan Creek. As the time approaches for my departure, I feel the anxiety as I did last summer before I left. I worry about the dynamics of camp this summer. I know it will be nothing like last summer, but what will it be like? I fear as though I am treating it as my escape. It is true that camp is nothing like real life: relationships are either amplified or diminished exponentially, the outside world seems to lose its importance, and God moves in bigger ways than you thought possible.

But if I use camp as an escape, will these things not happen? Or is God going to go ahead and blow my mind? Last summer I experienced healing without feeling His presence, and it changed me. This summer, am I finally going to get a peak into where I’m going and what I’m going to be doing for Him? I can only hope.

You see, God has brought into my life people I feel as though I have wasted time with. People I want more time with. People that others don’t understand why I love so much. Honestly, I don’t either. But it happened, and for once, it’s different. It’s different in a lot of ways, including my sister, my past, and my future. How’s that for confusion?

All that to say this: I know I have a choice coming. Here is what I see as options:
• Move into my parent’s home in Somerset, and take a job substitute teaching & coaching basketball at my uncle’s school. Free. Somerset.
• Move back to Lexington, and live with married friends of mine until I get onto my feet & accept a promotion at my current job. Balance issues. Lexington.
• Accept a job from something coming from camp, whether it be a church with a media position, or a permanent job with camp. Starting over.

And thus the praying continues.

Calling.

Lately I have had the blessing of spending time with the people I look up to the most in this world. It has been amazing to hear their hearts, learn their passions, and see them living by the Spirit. It has also been amazing being a part of their life, and this, along with a certain evening last week full of emotion and confusion has led to a lot of thinking. But before my thoughts cause the train of this post to go haywire, here’s a little bit of what I wrote in the New Orleans airport earlier this week:

“Lord, I’m in awe at what You’ve been teaching me. Just realizing how much more open I am to things like culture & music & the homeless, & even spontaneity amaze me in comparison. What are You preparing me for? I wish You would give me a glimpse. I wish I could be content with knowing You’ve got me… It’s just after the other night when I couldn’t stop crying my heart went back to realizing I’m not where You’re going to keep me, & I’m so restless. I feel stuck in this place between college & real life, neither in either one fully. I know this is a time of You teaching me while I have nothing to do but listen, but I want to put it into practice. I’m learning to love better, to be more open-minded, to wrap my mind around different styles & cultures, & realizing how big You are that I should FEAR You. I try to capture this “buddy” mentality over & over when I should be on my face because You are God of the universe. You created everything I’ve ever known or seen & I sit here anxious about friendships? Anxious about not liking completely where I’m at? God, that’s disrespectful to You. Jesus Christ died FOR ME & I’d rather concentrate on my own strength & own power rather than realizing EVERY good thing comes from You. Between what I’m reading in Crowder’s book, learning in small group, & saw here in NOLA, I’m excited You deem me worthy of something like this. I’m excited for when the pieces come together, ’cause they sure aren’t connecting right now. It will be glorious, & that glory will be Yours. That glory is already Yours.”

In NOLA, I got to see a friend living life where God has called her, and listen to the heart of another friend realizing she may be called there as well. Later, I got to have a conversation with 2 of my married friends who are ready to be called overseas, and will go as soon as it happens. We talked about me just up and moving (Southwest Colorado, right Paul? haha) but how if God hasn’t called me there, I will be miserable. As time goes on and it looks like I will be setting up shop here in Lexington for a long haul, I want to experience more than Kentucky has to offer. Sure, I’ve always wanted to “end up” here in Kentucky, but when else in my life will I be able to sell everything and disappear to travel? But… I am not called to do that right now. The question is, what am I called to do? Well, nothing. God’s got me in a holding pattern. And it sucks. It doesn’t make my parents happy, doesn’t make my OCD happy, and it certainly doesn’t make my increasing debt happy.

Hear me, as soon as God calls me somewhere, I’m gone. And if you’ve known me for a long time, the fact that I say that and mean it is a big deal.

I want to move to some big city and start a church. I want to move to a Spanish-speaking country and film a documentary on clean water. I want to move out west and live simply. I want to work outside and be outside more than I’m indoors. But God’s not calling me to do any of these. But then again, He’s not calling me to stay here in Lexington either.

All this wouldn’t be so hard if I didn’t have those people I look up to so much. They have their callings, or are developing them and planning to live them out. For some of them that means moving to New Orleans to go to be immersed in that culture, or it means preparing to do medical missions somewhere in the future, or it means marrying the man God had fall into your life randomly and following Christ together. Me? In a few months I’ll be bumming off friends saving for my own place wondering when I’ll be able to chase my passions.

I don’t want to escape. I mean, I want to escape, to up and go. That’s what I tried to do when I applied for Journeyman. God nipped that in the bud, and not too humbly. If I escape, I’ll be miserable. So until then, I wait.

Motions

February 16, 2009 1 comment

This might hurt
It’s not safe
But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
I don’t care
If I break
At least I’ll be feeling something
‘Cause just ok
Is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all-consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
“What if I had given everything?”
Instead of going through the motions

No regrets
Not this time
I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love
Make me whole
I think I’m finally feeling something

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna spend one more day
Without Your all-consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
“What if I had given everything?”
Instead of going through the motions

Take me all the way
Take me all the way
Take me all the way

I don’t wanna go through the motions anymore.

“Motions” by Matthew West
Categories: Life Tags: , , , ,

Where, God?

Somewhere along the way, I got lost. I thought I was striving toward the glory of my Lord, but somewhere along the way, I ended up here: questioning, desperate, and alone. It’s my own fault, and no one else’s. I became so focused on what I thought was God’s will for me, when in reality, I was focusing on what I wanted God’s will for me to be. I wanted something that in my mind I defined as “big”: years overseas, a prestigious church job, another summer as a big shot videographer at camp.

And then, ironically, the big ice storm, and how I spent my time during it, snapped things into perspective. God has always gifted me a servant’s heart for those around me. It manifests itself oddly sometimes, whether volunteering to walk through the storm to Kroger, attempting to shovel the parking lot, or buying a new pair of pants, but I always do it because I want to serve those I love.

But what about those I don’t love?

Unfortunately, there are too many people that fall into that category. I have continued to question why God kept me here in Lexington, and I believe now it was to knock me off my high horse, to destroy my pedestal, and show me where I needed to improve in life. Well, it’s working. I have nothing here I am passionate about here in Lexington anymore, except my church. Passion is such a vital part of my life that it’s been difficult feeling as though I am invested in nothing for the Kingdom right now. I feel like my life is on hold, but then again, I’ve felt like that for a while now. In fact, one of the few times I didn’t feel that way was when I was in the Dominican Republic.

I read my Bible for the first time in over a month today. I wrote in my prayer journal for the first time in almost 3 weeks. I believe working on my relationship with God is the first step to loving those I don’t right now.

I know there are different seasons in life, and each is necessary (Ecclesiastes anyone?), but I don’t know what this season is for, and I don’t think God is going to give me any answers. It’s hard. You’re only young for so long and you’re only single for (hopefully) so long. My hopes and dreams for this insignificant amount of time on earth have changed drastically in recent years, and I’m not fulfilling any of them sitting here in the Dungeon feeling like an annoyance.

I’m strong now. I’m strong enough to be free, and I’m ready to go.

Where, God?

Veil of things to come.

So I just got home from about 6 hours at church: playing bass, worshipping, listening, eating, cleaning, and learning. I love my church, it is so filled of love and service and giving. But during the financial/vision meeting today, I got to thinking about how much our church strives to be like a New Testament church more than anything I’ve ever been a part of in my life. We bathe everything in prayer, spend oodles of time together, and revolve around home meetings and giving of our time and money. I am so proud to be a part of the body, and am always encouraged when I spend time with my church family.

But all this got me thinking even more about the gospel, how Jesus is seen today, and why God gives us the different passions that He does. I used to not have a heart for missions, and would admit it to your face. I was more concerned with relationships here with those I spend time with everyday, and that is how I shared the gospel: discipleship. It used to make me angry when people were so missions minded that they forgot about growing here. All of that changed when I went to the Dominican Republic. I’ve been on a lot of missions trips, but that is the one that God used to change my heart. I still believe wholeheartedly in discipleship and strive to incorporate it into my relationships everyday, but now I realize how much growing and living together includes talking about our separate passions for missions.

God has been so faithful to me since my decision to return here to Lexington. I found a good job doing something I like in less than a week, am enjoying a renewed relationship with my best friend, and am diving headfirst into some goals for the next five months or so. But I have been struggling spiritually with purpose. I am so long-term minded, and I don’t want to waste the time I have being young and out of school and not tied down. I want to see more than what the Southeastern United States has to offer. It doesn’t help that my best friend from camp just drove to California and back, regaling me with tales of all that’s “out there.” God has placed in me a passion for missions, and maybe more than a week or two. I’m talking a year or two. That’s right – little ol’ Ashlyn who loves sitting on her mac wants to spend extensive time where there is no electricity, much less Internet, doing manual labor and planting churches.

But as for now, I’m going to pray. Pray that God continues to grow my passion. Pray that I will remain open to opportunities. And pray for those who are already gone or going: Peggy in Costa Rica, AC in Cambodia, and the gang going to Africa in May: Erin, Paul, Tracy, Josh, Evan, and Kim.

I’m starting to fully realize the truth of the verse incorporated into my new tattoo: For from Him and through Him and to Him are ALL things. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.