This is a metaphoric story of my life that I wrote 4 years ago but have updated and revised here.
My whole life I have walked with the Lord. My walk has had many ups and downs, many winding roads and many pitfalls. I’ve had times when I tried to take my own path, and I had to use my God given GPS to find my way back to the right path. There were times I felt alone in my walk and times I felt physical walls blocking my way. A few times I have felt completely waylaid on the sideline but knew Jesus stood over me encouraging me to get back up and keep going, until I did. Sometimes the path seemed too difficult and at times I felt Him even physically carrying me. Then there have been the times where my path was straight and easy, when I have felt His presence as real as anyone walking beside me, holding my hand, walking and talking with me on my journey. Those times have been more rare but so precious.
There is a saying: “when God closes a door He opens a window.” Well in my spiritual house I have had many doors close, even slammed hard in my face. I have found myself looking desperately for the open windows that I thought were supposed to be there and couldn’t find any. I have tried to unsuccessfully pry windows open even when I couldn’t find any that were open to me. I don’t recommend this! Then were the times I would just throw up my hands, retreat back into my house and stop looking for doors or windows, often closing myself in behind more doors.
I have had an occasional open door over the years and even experienced the open window after a door had closed. I have felt God use me in situations and circumstances and have been eager and honored to serve Him and show Him off to others. But I have always wondered about my call and purpose in life. I’ve wondered if I’m getting any of it right? Or was my call just to have lots of babies, work really hard and pour into their lives? Don’t get me wrong, this has been a noble assignment, my crowning call, not one I take lightly, but truly cherish deeply. It will continue to be my calling until I am called home. (Your babies will always be your babies and family just grows).
Often though, I have found myself asking, is that it for me? Then just choosing to be content with that, because it is an amazing and blessed part of who I am. The best part! My legacy is for Gods glory after all!
But these past two years have been a journey like no other. I went from being a mom of seven and a full time nurse, to having only three children left in my charge and a stay at home mom. I have grown up and gained some wisdom and perspective over the years. I understand love is a choice, joy is something we choose and I have experienced true contentment in spite of all my circumstances in life. I can see the fruit that came from some closed doors. Yes fruit, from a closed door! I can see why windows were left closed while I had character shaping that needed to take place, healing to happen, and other things that needed my attention. All along I have known that God has a plan for each of us, me included. Willingness has almost never been my issue, but you can be selectively willing and this is something I am still working on. The struggle between His will and my own. I’m a work in progress. But I have confidence in this, he who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it!
Then about a year ago a door opened, much to my surprise, and I stepped through. I did not recognize it at the time as a door God opened but over the course of the year the One who opened that door became clear. I felt so blessed and excited as I discovered that door and what its openness meant to me! I was eager to step through that door even though I felt safe there on the other side. It wasn’t an exterior door though, it was on the interior where I had retreated and shut myself away along the way. I had even become content and full of joy there. Just as He promises: “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.”
After stepping through the door, I spent a little time in that hallway just enjoying the new scenery, it was nice here in this hallway. I was slightly reluctant to venture out. After all, I could always run back into that safe room if things got scary.
Then over the last two months, Jesus slowly took my hand and He led me out of that hallway into the front room, the whole time I kept my eyes focused on Him as we went.
Then something happened next that I have never experienced to this extent of fullness and grace. He nodded as to have me look where He motioned. I looked around and there I was standing in a room with doors and windows wide open! With sunlight streaming in and so much promise beckoning. Standing there in His embrace, but not as if to say goodbye and set out alone and not clinging to Him out of fear. But as an excited daughter who has grown up a bit, and learned some things along the way. Molded and shaped by the Master Potters hands, who was just given a first class all expenses paid trip as a gift from her Father…and He is taking me on it! His bags are already packed and He packed for me too!! A light load to carry as I’d exchanged my baggage for His yoke. Let’s do this!
What an adventure this will be, both scary and exciting. So many questions? Am I ready? Are you sure you have the right daughter? How will I know where to go and what to do? What will I say and who will I encounter? How will I know who to help along the way?
These questions flood through my mind and He takes my chin and turns it to look into His face, to fix my gaze on Him as He smiles and the questions all disappear. I’m looking into His face, the Word. (In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God).
There it is:
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
“I repeat, be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the LORD your God, am with you in all you do.”
“Teach them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
So here we go, setting off…abiding in the vine…the great I AM! Yes, the great I AM is my daddy! Oh how I adore and love Him so. I am so very humbled and so excited! What a journey it will be!
4 years have passed and I’ve had many adventures since then in those 4 years and the continuing sanctification process has been so incredibly beautiful to me. God knew I would need this journey to build me up to bring me to the scary place I am right now. The valley of the shadows. I have returned to my “spiritual home” with all its doors and windows. I never had to go far to see the sights and experience the love and grace and mercy of those travels. I find it ironic that much of the past two years I spent right outside in my literal and “spiritual garden.” Learning to be content in His presence and in the glory of His creation. More than that, learning to deeply love all He has created and to grow in that love. He taught me what Christ-like love really means. He opened my eyes to the wonderment and importance of love over all other spiritual gifts. “The greatest of these is love.” You can have all the gifts, all of them, but without love it is all pointless! God is love and so it all starts there.
He has taught me in my garden about planting and growing and pruning and watering and harvesting. Both physically and spiritually. I have felt His face shine on me. I have found peace over and over again.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.” Num 6:24-26
He has shown me the beauty that comes from a life well lived in His presence, trusting Him, resting in Him, loving Him with my whole heart and loving others. He prepared me for this time of trial in my life. He knew from the beginning the preparation I would require to walk well through this valley. He promises to give us everything we need for each day we encounter and tells us not to worry about tomorrow. He promises to walk with us and if need be He will carry us.
He knew I would need to brush off my gardening and travel clothes and step back inside my spiritual house or maybe just sit on the front porch and rest in Him, hope and trust in Him. And let His face shine upon mine and fill me with His peace.
I’m not all closed in now, as before, hiding in some back room. My door is open, the windows too. Gentle breezes and whispers of love and reassurances drift in those windows saying “it will all be ok,” they come from all different places, sometimes the most unexpected places. But always received as gifts from the Spirit of God. Where all good gifts come from.
Sometimes I get visitors to my house and they join me for conversation. Sometimes they need seeds, sometimes water and sometimes pruning. But my loving Savior equipped me for this part of my journey and He guides my hands, my words and my open arms and also who I invite in, to lead them to Him. I can do anything through His strength.
Do I ask how I ended up here? Why do I carry this affliction? Sometimes. But I don’t linger long on thoughts that aren’t peace giving. He has taught me well how to take my thoughts captive. I know that all my days were planned and counted from the beginning and written in His book. And I know I can trust Him with the outcome. His Holy presence is with me and He will never leave me or forsake me. He pours out His love into me and through me as my cup runs over and my joy is complete.
Even my afflictions and the trials I face can not detour my faith and hope in who He is. My faith is steadfast. My hope is an anchor to my soul. My trust is in Him alone. And my joy is abundant and complete.
There is hope beyond this! All to His glory forever and ever!