41 days ago, Jeff and I were en route home from the Exponential conference. We had been filled, renewed, inspired and challenged in our faith and what God is calling us to both individually and together.
In one of the breakouts, the challenge was put forth: before you do anything, before you act, decide, before you move, spend 40 days with God. You see, throughout scripture whenever someone is called to ministry, there is a period of waiting, desert, temptation, time with God. A time to press into God, seek his truth, his revelation. The 40 day challenge was put forth to press into God and wait on him. And so, in the car on the way to catch our flight home, I asked Jeff if we could do this journey together, reading scripture and for me, journaling. He agreed.
And God gave us Proverbs 4.
Proverbs 4: 5, 12 - 13.
"Get wisdom, get understanding. Do not forget my words, or swerve from them.... I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered, when you run you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well for it is your life.
In these 40 days, we have daily turned to God's word, and daily we have been filled by his wisdom. We have felt his hand guiding and leading us. We have found hope that as we walk by faith and obedience to him, he is narrowing our way. We have held to his instruction and been reminded that HE is better than life.
To guide us, Jeff found an app that allows you to randomly chose scripture. We have been all over the bible. Old Testament, Minor Prophets. Epistles. Gospel. We have learned - or rather been reminded - that God is never random. God is perfect in his timing. Daily we have been filled fully by the Spirit, reminded of call and purpose, helped as we hone in on what he's calling us to. In the process, Jeff has taken a leadership of our faith, and for every ounce of me that is egalitarian in nature, I am so thankful that God is raising him up to lead in our home, in this way.
Some days as I wrote, the pages were stained with tears - of happiness, dread and joy. Other days, I asked God to help me understand what he was revealing. Still others we added a Psalm, or read far beyond the assigned reading. And in all things, he has worked for good, as we answer his call.
At day 15, Jeff felt convicted of two things:
1) We should keep going after day 40
2) We should end the first 40 days with a fast.
So on Thursday night, we prepared for our fast. We prayed together, asked for guidance and strength, wisdom and revelation. We shared communion. And then we began.
Yesterday, God gave us Proverbs 19: "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."
Today - Lord God, today - I'm amazed. He gave us Ephesians 3. The passage that has come over and over and over again. The mystery of the Gospel revealed, as well as the Prayer for the Ephesians.
The prayer I have prayed for my kids, and the youth kids and my husband. And that God knows I need to hear, that which has been revealed countless times since last July. He gives us today, a reminder:
Ephesians 3: 14 - 21
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
In the 40 days, as we have pressed into the Lord, through prayer, worship, scripture and submission to God's will, we are strengthened by the truth shared in Ephesians. He is doing more than we can imagine. He is preparing us for his call, his purpose and aligning our passion to reach people for HIS glory. I can not say we are at ease with where he is leading us - yet. But we've had great conversations, thrown out different dreams and fears. And all the way, we are more and more encouraged by the love of Christ.
We are encouraged.. "to make a change, leave our home, give to the poor all that you own. Lose our lives...so that you can find it." (Lyrics: Josh Garrels. "Zion and Babylon," Love, War and the Sea In Between, 2012)
His love - the love of Christ - is worth it.
Thanks be to God.