You know how people start their new year with a word? Like a word for the year to focus on? Today I was listening to a old podcast from this past January and they were talking about their word. I thought, “I would like a word for this year, and I don’t care that it’s almost August. Maybe there’s already a word I’ve had and I just have to uncover it.” Then I prayed as asked God to give me a word for the rest of this year. I forgot about it until just a few moments ago.
Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)
Keep. The key word for me here tonight. My discouraged heart says, "God I've asked, knocked, and searched, and I don't have much to show for it." I wonder if I should even keep working toward this goal of mine. I wonder if it was just a nice dream for a while.
As 30 (yep, as in years) grows ever closer I wonder if I've been childish and if I should have been working toward a stable and secure life all these years. Not a risky dream-chasing creative life. I've lived so many years with nothing. No home, hardly any money, same old car, and I never noticed the lack in the moment. But now I wonder was the sacrifice worth it?
I've missed so many years with my family. So many memories we could have made together. I spent those days I could have had with my parents and siblings at a summer camp instead of coming home from college during the summers and being together.
I don't regret choosing to minister to youth for all those years (about 10), and I am a different person because of it. I know God in a way I never would have if I had not followed Him there, but there's always this ping of pain. Like a thorn…an ache in my heart when I think of how badly I have missed my family. I wonder if I should have held them closer – of course I should have. I wish there was some way to get some of the time back, but time keeps moving forward at what seems to be a steadily increasing pace.
And here I am, reading this familiar verse again. Ask, seek, knock. There's an ugly bitterness that wants to grow, but I can't let it take root. Not after all that I've persevered through over the years. And there, my eyes saw one word that gave me a sliver of hope: KEEP. Perhaps, the key isn't in the receiving, but it's in the persevering. The keeping... Keep trusting, keep working, keep praying, keep showing up.
He's calling me deeper and deeper still I know. I've learned to live in relationship with Jesus these last 10 years. I've learned to serve Him, to trust Him, to obey Him. I've learned to lead worship, and to pray over a church boldly. Things I never imagined I could do ten years ago as a 19 year old girl leaving home for the very first time to follow God to a summer camp - knees shaking and all.
God, surely you're not finished with me yet? There's gotta be some "keeping" left in me somewhere.
It's no lie that the season I am currently in is quite the bittersweet one. Newly married, but not together. Recently lost my grandfather, and suddenly painfully aware at how many years I have missed making memories with my family.
My dad randomly mentioned how old he was the other day on the phone and I suddenly realized I thought he was 2 years younger. My heart aches to see my parents grow older. I can't help but think...I should have been there.
And the ugliness of my current situation screams, "You left them for this? To end up alone in a city you never meant to move to without your husband and with nothing to show for yourself!? All those years, and here you are." The devil has a cruel way of kicking you while you're down. He knows how to hit me where it hurts.
I feel as if I am at a cross roads of sorts. I really have considered giving up. I am a worship leader and songwriter, but I am struggling to make ends meet. And I have to live my life doing other jobs that don't fulfill me. David has to do the same. He's an excellent sound engineer and band leader, and has the most beautifully humble heart for the Lord, but he has been spending 40 hours a week for the last 3 years working in a call center. My heart aches for him. I don't want him to forget his passions and how we once hoped to be able to use them for the Lord together one day.
These days I'm growing weary. But I want to grow stronger and hope in the Lord. I'm supposed to rise up in wings like eagles. Right?
As hard as it feels at times there's still this little girl inside my heart that refuses to let me give up. Somehow she still believes in the vision I have of leading so many people to turn their hearts and worship towards God. Perhaps it's the fact that I come fully alive when I lead worship. Or that I've had this dream as long as I can remember. Or maybe I hold on because of what it's like when I feel God's presence and I get to lead a room to worship Him. That feeling I get won’t let me give up. It's the only time life makes sense. It's the only moment where I feel just right. Like all the pieces (the good, bad, and ugly) are fitting just where they are meant to be. Grace covered and redeemed, given a voice.
And here I am, still here, still keeping. I've always said I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. Well maybe this is part of it. Maybe I don't get to see the results at this point (or ever?). Maybe I just trust and obey. And keep. Or ‘keep on keeping on’ as my mom would say. My family has been through a lot of that. I’ve learned so much from watching my mom and dad keep on keeping on. I am so greatly impacted by how they handled the set backs of life. Thank you so much mom and dad.
Sorry to ramble, but my heart has been a bit heavy lately and I have always tried to be honest with you all. It's the only way I can be. Honest to a fault. And sometimes it's ugly and then I have to apologize...David will admit to that! Oh Lord, make my heart pure and full of love!
Thanks for following our journey and always being so encouraging. You have no idea how much your kind words mean to us. Even if it's just telling me you felt the Holy Spirit when we were leading...You just have no idea. That’s all we ever need to hear. I just want to know God used me.
I think this season will yield a new fruit. One I haven’t experienced yet. I look forward to giving that back to God. He is so good. I do love Him so. So of course I will KEEP. I guess that would make me a keeper right? :)
And thank you for keeping up with us and being a source of encouragement and love. Pray for us as we ask, search, and knock on doors to try to find jobs and a way to be together. Also pray for our ministry together, that we would keep on keeping on, and not give up. We have songs in us and I believe we are meant to get them out. We want to continue to travel and lead worship. Yet we also need God to provide in so many ways because life is life and cars break, bills come, and payments are due. It’s easy to get weighed down sometimes without knowing how this will all work out. But we will keep on keeping on.
P.S. If you find yourself in a similar place, I just listened to this sermon and found it extremely encouraging...you might too! ~ Gateway Church - Detour To Your Dream