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Sep 2017

The Waiting Place

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The Waiting Place

“ In every victory let it be said of me, my source of strength, my source of hope, my source of success, my source of joy, my source of love, is Christ alone.”

Ahhh the spiritual walk- what a journey. It has those wonderful mountain top moments where you feel like you are soaring, you’re looking at all the views, you’re celebrating, taking mental pictures, and living it all in. Those are the moments you cherish, the ones you save for rainy days.

There are also those valley moments the lowest of lows when everything goes wrong and you feel as if you don’t belong in the world, you cry out to God, “Where are you, I thought you were supposed to be with me in this journey.” “Heeeeelllloooooo?” “Uhhh, life sucks.” But yet in God’s grace, He gets you up, He reminds you He’s there even in the valley of the shadow of death and life seems to make sense again.

So my question is, what are those in between moments- you know what we equate those moments on our hike—a rest stop? Well, sometimes it seems these rests stops are taking up the entire time of our hike. Where are the views, the miracles, the sunrise and the awe feelings?

It’s those moments—the regulars, the same ole’s where I feel the Spiritual walk is the most vague, frustrating, and depleting. They aren’t those moments when you’re balling in your room,  during private prayer, worship, or your devotional feeling low, they are  just those “Bleh” moments. In those times you ask yourself, “What happens now?” I would like to say these moments are character builders—because here you pray, but it seems like you’re not praying with enough faith—you’re going through just another day at work, another day in class, another test, just the same calculated boring routine. For the longest time I’ve asked, "So, what now?" It seems like these moments last months even years, until you can be on that high again- just writing this is depressing. So what now?

Keep. Going.

It dawned on me at some point that these moments are OK, but only with the constant seeking, the constant prayer, the constant desire to find God, the constant time with Jesus, without that big use awe-inspiring view. The prayers where you claim the promises but don’t feel like there is enough faith; when you go to church and observe your Sabbaths—it’s OK.

I’m reminded again of the Israelites arriving the Red Sea. They were waiting—they were in an in-between moment—in the anticipation stage—at the rest stop. Waiting desperately to see what would happen next. And in that moment God said it was OK. He told them to keep waiting.

Because regardless He is still constant and faithful.

He is still the same the God of the beautiful mountain top, He is the same God that holds you and protects you during the valley. He is the same faithful wonderful God. Those promises you claim in your journals and in your prayers, are still being answered- and I believe that in the midst of this blahze-ness God has to be doing something incredibly miraculous.

So I tell you keep going—because there are beautiful rest stops with their own views, keep faithfully trudging along on your hike—keep encouraging, keep placing one foot in front of the other, keep singing, keep reading, keep praising, and praying—because someday you’ll hear “ Well done good and FAITHFUL servant” It is about staying faithful during the "smalls," the "regulars"… Ahhh the spiritual walk—what a journey.  

 

Chantal Williams recently graduated from Andrews University as a doctor of physical therapy, and has been involved with Enspire Productions since 2011.


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He Promises to Be Found

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He Promises to Be Found

God’s will. These are two words that are tossed out of my mouth fairly often. People ask me, “What school will you go to? What area do you want to work in? Are you going to move away from home? Will you do this or that?”

And right on cue, without a thought, I’ll confidently reply, “I’ll do whatever is in God’s will for me.”

But sometimes, when I’m not around people, I start to wonder. “What school will I go to? What kind of job will I have? Where will I live? Will my dream job ever be real? Who will I marry?”

Suddenly, “God’s will” is a terrifying, gaping hole. The words are not full of confidence, but instead are surrounded in shadows.

I think that’s typical for us as humans. We love to bury ourselves in questions, hopes, doubts, fears and dreams. As believers, we learn to ask, “God, is this in Your will for me?”  When we don’t hear anything, that turns into, “God, just reveal what You’ll do for me. I know You’ll take care of me, but just tell me how already.” We only ask God about our future school, job, house, spouse, and before you know it, it sounds like we are kind of treating God like a game of MASH. Is He just someone we rely on to give us the perfect American dream... Then what? Does His will for us just end?

While I do believe that it’s crucial to talk to God about these parts of our lives, I would venture to say that there is still more to God’s will. So when I stopped listening to worldly questions, and started listening to Him, guess what I found? He has already revealed beautiful parts of His will for us… His word is full of promises and desires for US. Here are some to start:

1. It is GOD’S WILL that we would know Him. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us about a Savior who is patient with us, not wanting (or willing for) anyone to fade away, but instead, He wants us to come to Him and repent. He wants us to stay with Him forever. He WANTS us to bring our mistakes to Him. He wants to sit at the end of your bed, and listen to YOUR stories. He wants to just be with you, with all the pressure off. He wants us to know Him intimately.

2. God wants to fill us. In Ephesians 5:17, we are warned us about filling ourselves with wine and getting drunk, and Paul instead invites us to be filled with the SPIRIT.  Maybe wine isn’t your thing. But then what is it for you? What is that thing that consumes you? That makes your speech different? That makes your actions different? That thing that when people see you, they recognize that it’s in you?

Whenever this separation is replaced with the Spirit, it’s the SPIRIT that consumes you. It’s the SPIRIT that makes your speech different, your actions different, and it is the SPIRIT that people see and recognize that in you… God wants to fill us.


3. God wants us to suffer for Him. 1 Peter 4:19 tells us that those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to God’s will and continue to do good. Again in Philippians 1:29, we are told it’s been “granted” to those who believe and suffer for His name. We get to suffer for HIS name! Okay, so that may not exactly be appealing. But think about it like this: We KNOW the final score. We know He is working for our GOOD. We know this will all end in GOOD for those who love Him, and now that we know that, we GET to go through trials for Him. We get to go through the trials with Him! If our goal in life is to be like Him, then this suffering is just what we will need and want.

Finally, one of my favorite parts about God’s will: It is GOD’S WILL that we will not only know Him, but that we will be known BY Him. We can know who He is, we can talk about Him, but if He doesn’t consider us a friend, none of that matters... People will say, “Jesus, did we not prophesy in your name, did we not perform miracles in your name?” We can do everything and anything for Him, but if Jesus replies, “I never knew you,” what would it all be for? (Matthew 7:22) He wants us to be known by Him...

Even though God’s will for the MASH details of my life have not been revealed, though I don’t know where I will live in a year, what job I will have one day, who my future husband will be, I do know that He has already given me beautiful promises. One of the best promises? His will for me isn’t ending anytime soon.

So let’s search for Him. Let’s see what He has already revealed to us. Let's wonder with Him. He has asked us to focus on what He has already told us, so let’s listen. We will never know what is on the other side of our obedience until we follow Him. Let’s keep seeking His will and His heart. He always promises to be found.

 

Dalilah Negrete is a political science major at Baylor University. 


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Are You Listening?

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Are You Listening?

This summer I went on the trip of a lifetime. I was lucky enough to visit places I have never been before, in little corners of the country that I have only seen pictures of. One of my favorite places I was able to visit with my parents was Glacier National Park in Montana. I literally felt like I was in some fantasy novel. The mountains were towering, the trees were lush, the sky was grand, I felt as if I was walking upon ancient landscapes that were somehow very important.

One morning during our stay, my father graciously informed me that we were going white water rafting. I agreed, while I must admit, rather nervously, because I hadn’t ever done it before. I thought, ah, why not? Try something new. Be adventurous. Maybe you’ll see some awesome critters from the shoreline, in all the movies and advertisements you see it always looks exciting, and everyone is always laughing and smiling and it seems like a grand old time.

We made our way to the river in the morning. It was breathtaking to behold. The skies were a deep blue, the waters were many different shades of green and navy, apparently because of the river bottom, which was crystal clear, with the many different deposits of minerals and pastel colored rocks and dirt completely visible from above the waters. There were fish jumping, the wind was refreshing as it blew on my face, and the trees around the river were tightly packed together surrounded by the hills of Glacier towering behind them.

We entered our raft and it was myself, my father, my mother, our raft guide who was a personal friend of my father’s, and one of the guide’s friends. As we entered and took our seats, we were given very detailed instructions. When the guide shouts, FORWARD, we were to paddle as quickly as we could. If he shouted BACK, we were to paddle backwards as quickly as possible. He told us to continually face ahead, to stare at our PADDLES, NOT to look down at the waves as they came knocking against the raft, because if we did, there was a strong likelihood that we would be struck by the waves of the river and knocked overboard.

This suddenly seemed like a less charming event.

The water was FREEZING, literally, at some points in the river it was below 35 degrees Fahrenheit. We took off down the stream and it was a mixture between VERY calm waters, which meant we had to paddle the entire time, which after awhile got physically exhausting. Then the rapids came, and it was a struggle to maintain balance. I was seated in the front of the raft, the first line of defense against the crashing waves.

Lucky me.

In the background I could hear the guide’s voice SHOUTING FORWARD! BACK! STOP! FORWARD! I did as he said, as immediately as I could. Fear clutched at me, as I saw giant rocks sticking out of the water. I knew if ALL of us didn’t do as he said, the raft would flip. In a word, it was incredibly dangerous.

9 miles.

That’s how far we traveled, over the expanse of several hours. I was exhausted. My arm hurt. It ached. I went from being freezing from the waves of the frigid water, to being incredibly hot during the calmer waters, as the sun beat down upon our faces. It was about 90 degrees that day, and rowing constantly isn’t easy work. I wanted to quit several times, and go back, but the raft guide kept urging us forward.

And then it came, the largest wave in a river I have ever seen before. I remember the dangerous rocks around it. I remember fear clutching my heart. I remember hearing the guide shout LEFT SIDE FORWARD! RIGHT SIDE BACKWARDS! RIGHT SIDE STOP! RIGHT SIDE PADDLE FORWARD! That was me! Right side! So I paddled, as hard as I could. But I could see the waves, they were freezing, they were towering, they were terrifying, they were coming for me.

 I couldn’t stop looking at them. I paddled but it didn’t make a difference. My eyes glued to the waves before me didn’t stop them from knocking me backwards into the raft. I couldn’t paddle anymore. I couldn’t do anything. My legs were in the air, and water was over my head as it splashed into the raft. I bounced around, in any moment to be thrown into the shallow depths.

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Thank God for my mother and father. They immediately came to my rescue, pushing me up, helping me back into my seat, while somehow rowing at the same time.

Somehow I survived.

As we reached the end of our treacherous journey, there were softer, quieter, more tender moments. The water became still, the raft guide urged us to swim a little bit, and to cool off, or just to stop and notice the beauty surrounding us, the trees opening up to reveal the massive Rocky Mountains in the distance.

As I sat there and took it all in, I couldn’t help but make some parallels. The raft I was in was our church. The treacherous waters beneath me, LIFE itself. The rowers within the raft, a family of believers, the rapids and the rocks, trials that we WILL face, the paddle I needed to constantly grip, the precious Bible, and the raft guide, Jesus himself, in charge of steering and shouting precious commands to keep us safe.

My job?

Simply to listen to his voice, and do as He says. After all, it really is for my own good. If I hadn’t focused on the waves, if I hadn’t tried to do my OWN thing, I wouldn’t have lost sight of what was important, I wouldn’t have lost sight of the only thing that mattered, bravely doing what Christ urged me to do, in the midst of the troubles that are so EASILY focused on.

And when I fell, my family was there. Sometimes, you have to keep helping each other. You have to keep your eyes on the word of God and listen intently for the Captain’s voice. If you watch the rapids, you will fall from the boat. The ONE time I fell I wasn’t watching the paddles but I was anticipating the rapids, something I had no control over.

Life isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to be full of heartbreak and trials, tribulations, waves and jagged rocks, and freezing temperatures and frozen realities. But, He never said I would be on that raft alone. He never said I would have to navigate on my own. He has promised that I would NEVER be forsaken.

He’s behind you now, navigating. He’s telling you where to turn, how hard, what is coming your way, and how to deal with it.

All you have to do is listen.

And sometimes, because our raft Guide is gracious and loving, you’ll hit those quieter tender moments. The sun will shine on your face. The wind will blow through your hair. The beauty around you will be breathtaking. You’ll look back and see your Guide, smiling at you, knowing He loves you.

The rapids will come. The waves will be huge. The rocks deadly.

But with my Guide, I have no reason to fear. Because I know I’m never forsaken.

The raft is still moving. You’re still riding.

Are you listening?

 

 

Devin Anavitarte is one of the founders of Enspire Productions. He is currently a teacher at Burton Adventist Academy. 


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