An important note: I wrote this post over the course of two days. On the day I began writing the post, we were in the process of becoming licensed for foster care but our paperwork had become lost in the mail when it was sent to the wrong county by accident and had to be returned to sender and then sent to the correct county. It had been somewhere in the world of snail mail for an entire month since we had signed. What we expected to take a week or perhaps two turned into a month of waiting. Unbeknownst to me, the day that I began writing this post was the last day our file would be “somewhere in the mail.” I was beginning to feel very discouraged. We had been in a holding period (with everything complete except for the final “okay” from our licensing case manager) for an entire month when suddenly, everything escalated in twenty four hours. Before I had time to publish this post: our file arrived to our case manager, we became officially licensed to foster, received a placement call, and began hosting two small children in our home. I will share our journey to foster care and our heart’s purpose for fostering in another post on another day. Today, I want you to know this. God is always on time even when it’s I’ve been so impatient. In the past day, I’ve been considering whether or not I would share this post I had written because it seems a few steps behind in our journey. Nonetheless, this was the post that I should have been sharing for the first half of the year. This was the journey of knowing God was calling me to do a new thing, walking through open doors, waiting, being disappointed, waiting, trusting in the Lord, waiting, feeling discouraged, waiting, and allowing God to transform my thoughts and plans. So, I’ll share about the waiting. This is the journey of not knowing which path to take, trusting the Lord, missing the mark, changing lanes, and resting in His sovereignty. His way is better than my ways. His plan is better than my plan. My friend Molly texted me this morning, “Do you see God answering prayers?” I do. He has always known what was next. I didn’t wait perfectly, but He is merciful. His ways are good. He is faithful. May this blog post encourage you and resonate with you in your own waiting. To God be the glory for His perfect timing.
I don’t choose a word every year, but I knew in January that this year would require steps of faith. 2023 felt like a year that might need a declaration of faith. I couldn’t settle on one word, though. My boss later joked that this is not surprising for me because I’m not a “one word” kind of person. True. So, with all of my hopes and dreams and goals and deadlines in mind for 2023, I landed on two words that happened to begin with the same letter. This year would be the year to be “Open and Obedient.”
As I’m writing this particular blog post, it is July. We have completed the first half of 2023. It’s probably time to begin writing about this year. I’ve had time to process and wisely discern what I would and wouldn’t share about 2023. I have indeed had to be open and obedient.
I knew in January that I was taking on several things in 2023 that would require obedience for completion. I knew there would be opportunities and stressors and deadlines. I chose to focus on being open to the paths God put before me. I also knew that I wouldn’t be seeing them all come to fruition simultaneously. I would have to miss out on something for something else to happen, but I didn’t know which way I was headed. I only knew that God would know which things were 2023 things and which things would belong in other years of my life. I decided my best option was to be obedient to walk through open doors even when the path ahead was frightening. I promised myself and others around me that I was going to move forward with openness and obedience to the Lord.
I learned early in January that God was not calling me to achieve every dream or goal. He was simply calling me to obey Him and to trust Him. I have had disappointments that felt heavy and a few opportunities in which walking away resulted in peace. I just knew I had to stay “in it” for as long as I felt like God was leading me to that thing. I walked into approximately seven different possibilities in which I knew God had an answer even while I waited.
This year has been all about relinquishing my control and handing my life to a sovereign and Holy God who knows far better than myself about His good plans for my life and the lives of others. This year isn’t about my plan. This year is about being patient as I seek the ways God is working all things together for my good and for His glory. It has been all about trusting Him and knowing that nothing will be wasted in the end. In retrospect, I had no idea in January, but this year has been all about waiting on the Lord and His perfect timing.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that my obedience is always intermingled with someone else’s obedience. Our lives effect the lives of others. I love that about the Kingdom of God and His people. While waiting for one possibility this year, there were many other dominoes besides myself. I hope I always remember my principal saying to me, “At this point in the year, I think we’re all being open and obedient.” Praise God that we don’t walk alone. Everyone has a journey on this side of Heaven and our waiting is often met with sojourners and fellow pilgrims who are trusting the Lord and living by faith.
The mercy of the Lord has been enough and my head has been kept above water by knowing that I serve a God that truly loves us, each one of us and has already ordained my days and yours.
Specifically speaking, a few things that feel like the “big things” happened this year. In early 2023, my husband and I completed classes in foster care which culminated a rather different dream we had in 2007 while we were engaged to be married. (I will share another post specifically about this journey another day.) Simultaneously, I completed my Master’s degree in Educational Administration which equipped me to be eligible for positions as an elementary school principal or assistant principal, the realization of another dream from my college years. Between these two things, there have been many open doors and chances to seek the Lord. In addition to those things, there were other unexpected things. There are always other unexpected things, aren’t there? This life of following Jesus knows so many ebbs and flows for you and for me.
Again and again, I have reflected on the way that Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac to obey the Lord, and how the Lord interceded. God provided a ram. Abraham never actually sacrificed Isaac. He was called to be willing. As I have sought the Lord this year, I have had opportunities to be willing to obey God even if it meant laying down something I held close. I have become aware of things in my life that I’ve made more important than my obedience to God. There have been opportunities to repent of the idols in my heart and to walk forward in spite of fear.
But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” ~Genesis 22:11-14
Nothing in my life has required the kind of faith we see in scripture from Abraham. There were times that I actually wondered if perhaps I was acting more like Abraham’s wife, Sarah from much earlier in their story, when Sarah struggled to believe what God told her. I only hope my faith is more like that of Abraham when God sent the ram. My steps of obedience cannot even begin to compare, but this scripture spoke to my heart this year. Perhaps there are times in our lives when we are called to obey and move forward, and maybe that’s all we are called to do. Perhaps, sometimes? Sometimes, we don’t actually the see the hard thing or even the dream come to fruition. Maybe the point is to obey in willingness to do the next hard thing or to take the next step toward the dream whether the thing actually happens or not. Sometimes we’re just called to obey. Sometimes obedience is the point.
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. ~Isaiah 40:31
Blog readers, I don’t write to you with intentions of being ambiguous but the specific details just aren’t necessary to the story of “Open and Obedient 2023.” That wouldn’t be relevant to your life, but I’m sure that waiting and hoping are concepts that you’ve deeply known. Who hasn’t hoped, waited, been disappointed, and then dared to hope again?
It is only necessary to share this part of my life so that perhaps you may be reminded to obey Jesus in your own life. If the Lord provides an opportunity, seek Him.
May you be open to His will for your one life. We have this one life to live for His glory.
May you be obedient when the Lord whispers to your heart. May you be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s nudge in your life. May you walk through the open doors with peace in your heart.
‘I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.’ ~Mother Teresa
May we trust our Sovereign and Holy God with the details of the stories of our lives. He is the writer. May we live as the pencil in His hand.
From my heart to yours,
Note: Next week, I will share the Open and Obedient 2023 playlist that has kept my heart fixed on Jesus every step of the way. I hope it will encourage you, as well.