Today I’m welcoming Dayna Bickham to the blog. She writes honestly and vulnerably about her own story, and I know she will inspire you. You can learn more about her and connect with her online below the post.
Start by Looking Back
The end of the year is quickly approaching. The speed in which life seems to zip by seems to increase the older and the busier we get. As we wrap up 2012, we will look forward to how we can make 2013 great, but before we do that, perhaps we should first look back.
A year ago I was a disillusioned Christian with a bad attitude and a horrible witness. Now, as I look back on the last year, I see how far God has brought me and how much farther I have to go. Let me share a bit of my story.
I have been a Christian most of my life. I also walked away from anything and everything that had to do with God for a period of seven years. During that time I became a drinker, a smoker, and an adulteress. I did not just walk away from God, I ran to the world with reckless abandon. Then, like the prodigal son, I woke up one day. I saw my life and I knew that I could not live that way any longer. God was wooing me home…
As I came back to God, it was with caution. How could He take me back? I was filthy. When I was saved as a young girl, I did not have all this history hanging on me. Now I knew what it meant to need a Savior, and I needed Him desperately. So I started a journey back to God. I began to “do” the right things, like go to church, stop drinking, and through it all I never really “reached” the point I thought I should.
The Power of Surrender.
It wasn’t until a year ago, when God spoke one word to me that I began to get it. My relationship with God is not about what I can or cannot do, but about “Surrender”. He wanted me to trust, and I wanted to control. We cannot have it both ways.
One day, sitting in a church service I thought was like any other, God began to stir my heart and I finally began to yield. In the exact moment I said “I surrender” and meant it, God dropped an idea bomb on me that changed my life completely. What idea? Write a blog.
Crazy I know, but true. So frantically and without much direction I began. My sloppy attempts at conveying a message were sincere, but I had no target. I was obedient but aimless. Then I began seeking God for direction and like an arrow I took off. I began intentionally writing about my life, my struggles and my triumphs as a Christian and the changes have been amazing. I learned four things along the way that I believe can change anyone’s life for the better, and I want to share them now.
Four Sure-fire Ways to Make 2013 Great.
Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding.” Another version says “never rely on what you think you know”. I know there are times when I see the general direction God is taking me and in my finite, little, and insignificant wisdom I try to take a shortcut.
This is not surrender. Surrender is feeling the sensation of falling, and not trying to stop it. It is following God without trying to get Him to GPS the directions first, highlighting each stop along the way. I still struggle with this, but life with Christ is laying down our right to choose our path and following His path instead.
Surrender is following God without trying to get Him to GPS the directions first, highlighting each stop along the way. Tweet That!
2. Seek Direction One Step at a Time.
In Isaiah 42:16 God says “And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” God did not talk about the destination here, but the journey. One step at a time, we will follow God down a path He will light and He will make straight. If your life has been a hilly, crooked, and jumbled mess until now, know that God has a plan and He can take anything and make it work out to your good and His purpose. (See Romans 8:28.)
Prayer is essential here. There is no pre-written formulated prayer that will get you through this journey. Instead; honest and open communication with God, listening for His leading by His Spirit, will light your way. God’s word is truth, and He is still speaking to the hearts of men today. Are you listening?
3. Have Great Expectations.
Jeremiah 29:11 is a life verse for me. It says “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Expecting something great from God and truly believing He has something specifically special for you is what faith is all about.
We each have a purpose and God has a plan for each of us to fulfill that purpose. I used to want to be a novelist. I wanted to write books that moved people. Someday I may still do that, but for now I write about purpose and a life fulfilled by Christ. I expect God to do more with my writing because I know it is part of my purpose in life to write. It is how He made me. Expecting good and great things from God is not hubris, it is trust. “Now faith is” the things we hope for and the sudden materialization of the unseen in our lives. Great expectation is great faith.
4. Follow Through. It matters.
Samuel asked this in 1 Samuel 15:22 “Tell me,” Samuel said. “Does the Lord really want sacrifices and offerings? No! He doesn’t want your sacrifices. He wants you to obey him.” In both Matthew and James we read the importance of our word. “Let your yes be yes, your no be no.” If God is leading you to do something then this is a “yes” for you. Do it. Obey.
This follow through is like a Master Potter kneading and shaping the dough. In our obedience He works out the things that do not belong, and begins to shape us into what He planned us to be all along. His workmanship. I could have heard “write a blog” a year ago and given up after a few days, or even a few months. There were plenty of times I wanted to. Yet, I know that the changes in this last year would have never happened if I had stopped following my “yes”. I would not be sharing these things with you now. So,do not quit. Keep going.
If you apply these four things to your life as you venture into 2013, nothing will stop you from growing in your relationship with God. Goals like ‘lose weight’, ‘go on a mission’s trip’, and ‘serve more in church’ will become actionable because now you are living with intention. If you remember nothing I have written here, remember this: Make 2013 great! Every moment counts.