This word has been jumping off of pages for me, the first half of 2021. I have learned over the years that when things keep showing up like that, I need to pay attention. Willing is my word for 2021. God first revealed the word to me at the end of 2020, but I missed it. In Luke 5, Jesus calls His first disciples. The word willing was not in the story, but it was the heart of Simon Peter. His actions demonstrated willingness. One of the definitions of willing in the dictionary is prompt to act or respond. In verse 11, it says, "So they pulled their boats up on the shore, left everything and followed him." Simon was WILLING to leave everything to follow Jesus. He left a job he had been during for years. He also left what appears to be one of the biggest fish he had ever caught. I honestly don't think Simon knew what following Jesus would entail, but he trusted Jesus enough and was WILLING to leave it all on the shore and follow him.
He had a willing heart.
There are other biblical examples where someone demonstrated a willing heart. They were given a command and, despite not having all the answers or doubting their ability to perform the task, or having uncertainty on how to accomplish the task, they did what was asked of them.
What is God asking you to do that you haven't done yet? I have found this question to be an excellent starting point for reflection. This question causes me to take a step back and do a self-assessment. It's a high likelihood that if you aren't doing what God has already commanded you to do, you won't be willing to do the things He will require of you to obtain what you are praying for or necessary to go to your next level.
Do you have a willing heart?
God may not ask you to leave a large catch of fish on the seashore; however, He will ask something of you.
Again I ask, are you willing? Do you have a willing heart?
In my journey, I have discovered that my desires don't always match my willingness. For example, I have desired to get in shape and tone up. Yet, my willingness to eat better and work out regularly is not there. This mismatch of desire and willingness consistently resulted in me not reaching my desired goal. On the other side, I have also given a proverbial yes to doing what's required to achieve something, but I wasn't willing when it was time to do what was required.
For example, I desired increased self-awareness and personal growth. I said I was ready to do the work on myself and dig deep. As I started on the journey and the time came to dig in, do the work, and go deeper, I wasn't willing. Eventually, when I was ready, I was able to begin to attain what I was desiring.
In 2019 I had the opportunity to teach a class called, Heal the Hurts at the Las Vegas Natural Hair and Wellness Expo. I was excited about this opportunity and talk. What I didn't know was the journey and work God would require me to deliver to the talk. I WAS NOT ready. It wasn't that I hadn't attempted to heal my past hurts; I just hadn't dug deep enough. The days leading up to the class were long and sometimes filled with tears, frustration, disbelief...silence. Yet they were wrapped in love, comfort, and promises from my heavenly father. I dug deep, but I stopped too soon. More work was required.
You see, healing the hurts in your life is vital because our hurts, if not addressed or correctly addressed, begin to shape our personalities. Soon we start acting a certain way and telling others and ourselves, that's just how I am. NO! That is how and who you have become as a result of unaddressed hurts. It is not who God created you to be! It's impacting your ability to fully live and embrace the life He desires for you to live.
While there was no pain from my past hurts, they very much had impacted my present.
Have you ever said you don't have time? I know I have! It's a commonly said thing. There are 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week. We may not use the entire 24 hours when we factor in our sleep. If you get 6 hours of sleep, then you have 126 hours in a week. Time is a resource, just like money, and we spend it daily. We may not be aware of how we spend it, but we spend it. When it comes to tangible resources like currency, it can be a little easier to see when spending. Our bank accounts let us know when we have spent too much. When my husband and I wanted to become better stewards of our money, we looked are how we were spending it. We found that it wasn't that we didn't have the money, but we were overspending or spending in the wrong places.
The same I found to be accurate with time. When I looked at it, and I mean really looked at how I spent my time...I had it, I have it...I just am not stewarding it the best way. When I really got intentional about my time management, my eyes were indeed opened! Where did the time come from, I thought? The truth was that it was always there. I just needed to look at my time bank account, and I had to be honest with myself. Did I have to watch 3 episodes? On some days, the answer is no. Other weeks it's yes because it was how I chose to unplug from a week of crazy. Did I stay on that call longer than I should have? Yes, because I didn't know how to tell them I needed to go or didn't want them to feel bad. Other times, it may be that I needed to stay on the call or keep texting because my friend needed me. When I spend in one area more than planned, I commit to cutting back in another place. I don't see it as a penalty, but a way to keep my time budget balanced. Should you feel like you don't have enough time, try taking some time to look at your time and obligations at the beginning of the week and determine how you will spend. Always remain flexible, but if you have not planned/budgeted, you increase your likelihood of blowing your budget.
As I sat and thought about the spending of time, it lead me to relationships.
Over the last eight or nine months I have really taken to journaling. It is at a point now that, when I go a while with out writing I can tell the difference in my mood and how I handle things.
In our Purposed for a Purpose Facebook Group, I took a poll and asked if people journaled or not and most said they do or at some point have. There were others that did not journal at all. Journaling has been around for a while and most have journaled, especially as a little girl. When we were younger we called it a diary. As we got older, I guess we change the name, but the idea is still the same.
Journaling is great for your mental, physical, and emotional health. In the coming months I will be sharing more about journaling, the benefits, methods and tips to getting starting and making it effective.
Today I want to share with you how I use and you too can use journaling in your quiet time with God. Journaling provides you the opportunity to:
Journaling is good for you. It can positively impact the relationships in your life to include the most important one—your relationship with God. You can journal for many reasons, but if you looking for a place to start, I encourage you to try journaling during your quiet time with God. Regardless if you journal or not, incorporating journaling in your quiet time with God will help in developing and strengthen your relationship with God, which is what God desires of his children.
Until Next Time~
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness, and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, For his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. -Lamentations 3:19-23
A little bit of background on Lamentations:
The author is Jeremiah, and Lament means loud cry. Jeremiah is in anguish over Jerusalem's destruction from unrepented sins. Much of Lamentations, if not all of it, reads like a prayer. I think it's vital because even in the midst of how Jeremiah felt (the anguish and heartbreak), we see that he arrived at a place where his focus changes. Instead of focusing on the situation, he focuses on God!!
This part of Lamentations is a great reminder and example to be mindful of our perspective and to maintain the proper perspective. It is easy and very natural for us to focus our attention on the situation itself and everything wrong. Instead, we have to pause, step back, and change our perspective. Changing our perspective means asking God what he wants us to learn or show us. Think of it as putting on God's lenses or having God's eyes in the situation. When we are trying to see things with our eyes, we will rarely see the situation from the proper perspective because our flesh usually gets in the way.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for
the evidence of things not seen.
In July, I went in for my regular six-month check-up with my doctor. All of my appointments end the same, with no surprising discoveries and the scheduling of my next appointment in six months. However, this appointment went a little different—by the end of the visit, a fairly major surgery had been scheduled. I was okay with the surgery, trusting that God would take care of me as he did four years before when we found the malignant tumor.
In the weeks following that appointment, God realized to me on two separate occasions that I would not have the surgery! Logically, I couldn't understand how this revelation would come to fruition. With the things that I read online, the physical evidence, and the input of others, mostly contradicted what God had said, it was difficult to understand how I would end up not having the surgery. I knew that God could heal and could perform miracles. I prayerfully petitioned for wonders on others and believed it could happen, but could it happen to me? It came down to what I would choose to believe. Would I believe God, others, or myself and what my eyes could see and what I could understand?
The doctors scheduled my surgery for the first week of September. But the week before the surgery, Hurricane Dorian struck the US, causing all operations to be postponed a least a week. We rescheduled the surgery for October. I had no idea how God was going to move, and I struggled at times with my faith. I wanted a sign that the Lord was operating. Realistically speaking, if he gave me a sign, would it have required faith? Nah! I had to trust God with no indications. Before the rescheduled surgery, I requested an ultrasound. The doctor's office couldn't understand why I needed or wanted it, but they scheduled it anyway. It was at that appointment the reason for the proposed surgery was revealed; it wasn't required! Instead of a significant operation with a 6-12 week recovery, I only needed an outpatient procedure with a week recovery! It was ALL God! There wasn't anything that I could have done to bring about this change. Two days after my surgery, I received a call with the pathology results—EVERYTHING was NORMAL. Thank you, God!
When God spoke to me and said I wasn't having the surgery, he meant the specific surgery the doctor wanted to perform. I spent many weeks trying to figure out what he meant by that. I had ideas and suggestions on how He could make that happen, but the truth is God didn't need my help, opinions, or recommendations. He is God, all by himself. It wasn't for me to figure out, but simply to trust Him based solely on his character and the word He spoke.
There were times when doubt would try to creep in, and I would have a little anxiety because of the unknown. The uncertainty of the details would cause me to become a bit uneasy. In those times, I would respond with, "God said I'm not having the surgery." God's word trumps my fears and anxieties! It all comes down to whether I trust God or not. God does not lie, and His word will not return to Him empty (Isaiah 55:11).
If God gives you a word, hold on to it! Things at times will seem not to line up. Logically you may not be able to make sense of it. But hold on to His word. If God said it, then that's all you need to know. The enemy will try in different ways to cause you to doubt, but remind Him of what God says and "walk" away. Don't entertain it. If you resist the enemy, He will flee (James 4:7).
Until Next Time~
For we walk by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7
Is it possible that the reason we aren't walking in our purpose, fully maximizing our potential is that the things we love/desire are not being placed in the proper priority?
We say we love God, we want to live a life that is pleasing to Him, and He is the head of our life, but we also love self, stuff, comfort, acceptance from others, applause, the approval of others, and living by culture's standards perhaps a tad bit more. Sometimes we can be quick to say no, that is not the case with that question, yet our actions speak otherwise. It's similar to how we sometimes say we trust God and know God will take care of our situation. Then we pray and lay it at the altar and quote, "Be still and know that I am God", but the second we get up, we are back trying to fix the problem–supposedly “helping God out.”
Matthew 19: 21 says, "Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’" (NIV) Jesus was answering a young man's questions about how he could have eternal life, exposing the man’s heart when he did, which reflected a sin in his life. The rich young man desired his possessions more than he desired to have eternal life. Because the man's heart wasn't in the right place; his priorities were not in the correct order. Verse 22 says that he went away grieving because he had too many possessions. What Jesus was asking of him was too much for the young man. He chose not to follow Jesus. His love of things took priority over his love for Jesus and desire to follow Him.
When I read this story initially, I thought the young man was just plain silly. Material stuff over eternal life seems like an easy pick to me! But after further thought and re-reading the chapter, I realized that it could have easily been me or any believer in this story. This young man treasured stuff, but it could have been a job, business, relationship, friendship, money, retirement funds, talents and skills, performance, and the list could go on.
To love God is to obey God. (John 14:21; John 14: 15). When Jesus said to give up our own way, take up our cross and come, follow him (Matthew 16:24) it requires that we must be willing to let go of things and follow Him. Letting go doesn't mean you get rid of them so they no longer exist in your life, but rather, you let go of your grip on it. (open hand). Letting go of things is a form of surrendering. We often understand surrendering our lives (as believers, we give our lives to Christ), but it also means our lives in totality. All areas of our lives are surrendered to God, His way and His will. It's not just our eternal destination we are talking about when we say we surrender our lives. We have to surrender our ways, our thoughts, agendas, attitudes, relationships, etc.–fully and completely. Romans 6:13 says that we should give ourselves completely to God. You are giving Him lordship over every area of your life. This is a choice that you have to make daily.
J.Branch is a wife, mother and child of God. She is passionate about helping others live the life they desire, have fruitful relationships and know who they were created to be and to live a life of purpose.
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