~By: Susanna Kozlow~
As I write this, I honestly can look back in my life and see how many plans I have had that really were not directed by my Heavenly Father. I would make decisions based on feelings or circumstances, but all in all, He was not even a factor. I thought about how many times my God must have looked at me, His child, and with His grace and mercy allowed me to see what life actually looked like without His direction. I pictured God moving all the sharp objects I was about to fall on and replacing them with soft pillow-like objects to make my fall much more bearable. As a loving Father, He directs and hopes we take the path He shows us, but then we often fold our arms and refuse. Why? Because we need an abundance of work in order to give up the reins to the ONE who knows much more than we do: our Creator.
With obedience, which is a daily decision to surrender, comes wisdom. This wisdom comes from hearing from God. He provides us that wisdom when we spend time with Him and pore over His Word, learning and understanding who He is. If you have walked with Jesus for any amount of time, you know this well. But... we may hear clearly what is asked of us, and with our natural disobedience, we think we can do it better, or NOT do it at all. We flat out say NO. We think there is something better. Or we excuse it, allow pride to control us, and we think we are not good enough. Pride is putting yourself first, whether you think you are better or less than. Either way, it is still pride.
Overall, we put ourselves in a position to say we know better than God. If He asks us to step out in obedience, we often do the 'let me look around me, because You certainly were not talking to me' dance.
By wisdom the Lord founded the earth; by understanding he created the heavens. By his knowledge the deep fountains of the earth burst forth, and the dew settles beneath the night sky. Proverbs 3:19-20
I clearly remember as far back as my mind can go that I have wanted to write. As a child, I always wanted to write. In my early 30's, I had a deep desire to write a book. Then I thought, What would I write about? I had nothing. I dismissed it as just a fantasy in my head. I admired those people who wrote beautifully and those who possessed large libraries in their homes. I would enter a public library and love it -- the smell; the books. I could always tell when I met someone who read a lot. I looked at them as a ball of wisdom -- wisdom that I couldn't possibly have. But still, I wanted to write. Fast forward to many years later: I was married and a stepmother to two children, then quickly had two children of my own. Life was hard. My marriage had spurts of one year good/two years bad and so on. Then came the day I made the decision for someone else to take the reins. I surrendered my complete life to Jesus Christ, and I stepped into the shoes that were there all along. My Heavenly Father began a great work in me and through me. I picked up the only book that really mattered, my Bible, and I couldn't get enough.
The wisdom I longed for was all there -- the wisdom that came from my Creator.
Now let's fast forward some more, to the day God gave me a vision. He gave me this vision at the most vulnerable time of my life. My marriage had taken a turn for the worse. Relationships started to fall apart. Daggers were coming at me, some actually hitting me. What was His vision for me? It was to start a ministry that would include my writing. That desire came from all I had poured into every one of my many journals that were filled with the wisdom God shared with me. My pain and suffering through seasons of my life would be my launching pad, and my desire to lead and teach would be the focus from which it would derive. I would teach all I had surrendered and allow His words to pour out of me. But still, I said NO. How, you ask? I was afraid. I let fear take over and believed I couldn't do it. I came up with lists of reasons why I could not. I was really good at justifying the NO:
It's not the right time.
I'm too busy.
My kids need me more.
My marriage is at the "failing" stage again.
My financial status isn't where it's supposed to be.
I don't know where to start.
I don't know enough.
I haven't been at church long enough.
I made it about 'me' so quickly. Do you see how quickly I inserted the 'I' in all of it?
All along He wanted me to insert the 'HIM' and add 'BUT GOD' in every situation or excuse!!! It wasn't about me at all. The call to start what He had given me became a compassion I felt far beyond myself. A fire began to burn in me that couldn't be contained. As I prayed for guidance, I began to feel an enormous pain. This was a pain I had never felt before. I began to feel an urgency. I realized the compassion I was feeling was just an ounce of the heart of Jesus. I always had prayed to feel just a bit of what Jesus felt. I prayed for my heart to become like my Teacher and my Lord. I opened my Bible and turned to Scripture that would be forever engraved on my heart and would give me the push I needed:
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35-38
With that, I stepped out in obedience, and what came next was an explosion to me. God handled it ALL. Ladies in my life joined in, and experts in all arenas helped with the knowledge I didn't have to start something from scratch. God provided it all. He was just waiting for me to remove the 'I' and step out.
I realized that when we move ourselves out of the way, God begins His way in us, through us, and around us, because He is a God who moves FORWARD. His Will will be done, regardless, when we ask Him to do it. He will use strangers to help in His mission. And if you don't say yes, He STILL moves forward. You either join the battle, or you go sit down so that someone who has said YES can join.
I recently had a conversation with a dear and wise friend. I always look forward to spending time with her, because God always seems to give her a word that hits me like a sledge hammer, and she does it with such grace. She shared with me how God had placed on her heart to reach into the Hispanic community and begin to pour into it. She speaks Spanish, but her ministry always consisted of spreading the Gospel, teaching, mentoring, and discipling in English... or so she thought. God showed her someone who stepped up and was doing exactly what He had asked her to do, but this person was not Hispanic by race. She had learned the Spanish language, and God was now using her in the Spanish-speaking community. We looked at each other and thought, because God is a God who moves forward. That gave her the fire to move with Him and say yes. As I sat with her, I thought about what an impact she has already made in the Kingdom of God and how, now, there is going to be even more. He was going to do more.
I have learned so much in these last few months, and have so much more to learn. But, what I have seen more than anything is that our God is faithful. Our God will always do what He says He will do. He doesn't waste anything. When we join the battle on this earth, He will teach us the ways. He will make warriors out of us. He will either remove obstacles or keep them there to teach us. When we align ourselves for a greater mission, His Mission, we align our hearts with His. You can't manipulate it. You can't control it. You can't make your own path and call it God's path. You just know. The Holy Spirit steps in and puts something on your heart that doesn't go away. This is for a purpose much bigger than ourselves. We begin to see people as God sees them.
Spiritual maturity doesn't come from how many years you have attended church, or how many years ago you recited a prayer to ask Jesus into your heart. Spiritual maturity comes from obedience to God. It comes from each time you say 'YES' and each time you move yourself out of the way and allow Him to take over.
God is a God who moves forward and is always moving forward. We choose whether or not we move forward with Him.
God, help us hear You and abide in You and obey You.
The Lord says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you." Psalm 32:8