Warning….Long Post Ahead…
Well…this is not the next post I thought I would be typing. But here we are, and I’m still just as pumped about the Lord’s work in my life as I was a week ago.
I’m also going to be very honest and say that Satan has been taunting me and made me VERY reluctant to sharing the insights into my life and heart right now, but I KNOW THAT I KNOW THAT I KNOW that the Lord has called me to publicly share my life. I never want to seem as though I have it all together and I’m writing to tell other people how to get it together. I don’t at all; my greatest hope in putting my life and thoughts into words is that something in my journey will encourage, help, or give someone the strength to take the next big step towards Jesus.
Most of you know that the Lord called me to Nashville. I have shared some of the ups and downs of that. And I still stand by the statement that the Lord whispered to the depths of my heart to quit my job that I loved, move from a home that I found so cozy, leave friends that are actually more like family, move hours away from my absolutely wonderful parents and sister that I so enjoy spending time with to Nashville where I had ZERO plans. None of it made sense really. Except that the Lord continually, He even wrote it in the stars, told me to do all those things. And I had done them all and they were all HARD, no doubt, but I knew Jesus stood beside me through it all. In the last few months I have searched, alongside momma and my girl Katie, to find a place I could live in Nashville. Everything else was in place. I found a job, had visited and was getting familiarized with my new place, but finding a place to live hit wall, after wall, after wall, after dang wall. Through every wall I hit, every time I heard the Lord whisper to the depths of my soul “I know it’s hard, but keep going. I’m writing a good story”. So I would. I would shake it off and keep going towards Nashville (after a few tears shed HA).
Well just like my last blogpost said, September 7 was my move day. And I was excited to finally have everything in order and finally worked out.
**Insert this past Sunday**
This past Sunday I was sitting with my dad watching tv while mom took a nap in their room. I was in that weird stage where you’re half asleep but also half know what’s going on around you. I heard mom’s phone ring in the bedroom, but didn’t think anything about it. A few minutes later, she came in and said we needed to talk about the apartment I was going to live in. After about thirty more seconds of discussing, she told me the final price of rent that they had drawn up, and I realized that there was no way I could afford it. I felt as though all the breath was knocked out of me, because I just KNEW that this one was totally going to be it. And then I waited to hear the usual words of my Father….and I didn’t hear them. Instead I just heard “okay”. I got up from the chair I was sitting and went to my room and FELL APART. Why was I not hearing and feeling the same reassurance of Nashville. What did He mean “okay”? I was not at all Positive Patty towards the Lord. I questioned Him hard. I asked Him why? Why? “Lord, I have taken every step to follow you in obedience. Why? Why does this door keep getting slammed when I am trying so hard despite being scared? Why am I trying to please you and I just keep getting met with no?” I wanted the words I had heard so many other times before to just be whispered to me. I sought them and desperately wanted to hear them. I didn’t. I just heard “okay”.
I had worked myself up into a big bunch of tears and overwhelming feelings. I asked the Lord to please show me what I was suppose to do and then I knew I needed Godly wisdom poured over me in that moment. Sometimes we can take our thoughts and emotions and let them run rampant through us, and I was. I knew it was unhealthy and that I needed to “take every thought captive” and that I needed help doing that.
**I have been SOOO blessed in friendships that the Lord has given me with through the years. Not only friendships that fill me with laughter, love, and confidence but friends that I KNOW are in the Word and therefore can pour truth over me in a moment of total weakness. Luckily, I’ve had one of these friends stick by my side since diapers.**
I called Susie. I knew she would speak truth into me because she would allow her heart to yield to the Spirit and only say things that were laid upon it. I honestly don’t remember most of the conversation because I was in a puddle of tears, but I remember the part that the Lord specifically had her speak to me. She said “Ander, all I can think of is Abraham and Isaac and that you were asked to sacrifice things you loved.”
Now she had NO idea the impact and meaning behind her words. I still haven’t told her fully. But her words were powerful.
**This summer I got to attend the camp I grew up going to as a youth member at Bethany. I shared some of the things the Lord was doing in my life through my move to Nashville with the youth group, the good, the painful, and the ugly. The last full day there, my friend and incredible brother in Christ, Ethan, approached me while at the drink machine. (Yes, I remember exactly where I was because it has been a defining moment in my recent growing, learning, and trusting in Christ.) He came up to me and said “Ander, I think you’re being like Abraham. He sold everything and left his home because the Lord said go”. I have thought about that a million and one times. It made me dive into studying that story, and I have read Genesis 12 multiple times because I found such a comfort and encouragement in it.
When Susie said Abraham’s name, I knew the Lord was getting my attention. I knew He was in the midst of this and that He was showing me what to do. I don’t remember anything else that Susie said after that, but I hung up and opened my Bible to Genesis 22 and read the story of when Abraham was called to sacrifice his son Isaac. The very son that Abraham and his wife had prayed for and waited for for YEARS, the very son that God promised Abraham He would give and would fulfill the promise of numerous descendants. God was asking Abraham to sacrifice everything to be obedient. And Abraham did. I’m sure the thought had to cross His mind that it seemed as though God was being counter intuitive and contradicting himself and His promises. But Abraham never wavered in His obedience. He put one foot in front of the other, probably the most difficult steps of his life, and knew the Lord was good and would keep His promises in some way. For those of you that may not know the rest of the story, Abraham and Isaac walked the trail to the place God told them, built the altar, and even bound and laid Isaac on it. With knife in hand, then an angel cried out and told him to not harm Isaac and that the Lord would provide another sacrifice, and he did. A ram was caught not too far from them.
When I didn’t feel the Lord tell me to keep pressing forward towards Nashville like He had so many times before, I felt as though I had messed up or somewhere had made a wrong decision. And if I hadn’t already, I was scared I was about to make a wrong decision. I was so scared to do something that was not according to God’s will. While at that time, the thought of doing something that the Lord didn’t want me to do seemed overwhelming and scary, I realize now that that is a beautiful place to be and that I in fact do not have to be scared of that because I in no way am strong enough to mess up the Lord’s plan. It’s one of the things the Lord wanted to show me. He wanted to get me to a point of full surrender. That nothing else around me….my job, my parents, my friends, my comfort, my safety was anything I cling to or fear losing. That when asked to give anything up, I don’t have to live in the bondage of losing temporary things. That I can live and do crazy, radical things that the Lord calls me to….that honestly don’t make sense to anyone else or even me and that sometimes may seem unrealistic, unpractical, or even total nonsense. That I can live a life totally backwards from the world around me. He has taught me that this world and the places I call home truly aren’t. That in our eyes plans can change and seem like too much, but really in all things He is drawing us to Him, showing us that He knows best and that He is the greatest, safest, and only thing to cling to.
After reading the story of Abraham and Isaac, I worshiped and prayed. I asked the Lord “Please, I don’t care if I’m suppose to go to Nashville or if I’m suppose to stay here for a little while until I go back to school, but please, please just tell me where so I can please you.” That was my prayer. And in the most real, audible voice ever, His response back to me was “Where will you serve me?” I wrote the words down because I always try to write what I think the Lord is telling me and I stared at the words in almost disbelief. It seemed like the silliest question. It didn’t matter where. I would serve Him wherever. And so I told Him that. And guess what He responded back with…..that same old “okay”. And I have never felt more peace from an okay ever.
Okay meant He didn’t care whether it was Nashville or Andalusia or HongKong that I was right now, as long as I was serving and pointing people to Him.
He asked me to give up every single comfort and stronghold to move to Nashville because He needed ME to see I could. That He was good enough. He needed me to know that “You’re all I need, and You’re worth everything” weren’t just words I said in prayers but that they truly were real. That I could give up the whole world as long as I had Him, and I would be okay because I would be in my Maker’s hands. Not because I’m some awesome, strong, selfless, and super Christian to be able to do that, but because through every step of Nashville He has shown me HE WILL SHOW UP. HE IS FAITHFUL. HE IS GOOD. HE IS JOY EVEN IN HARD DECISIONS. He has shown me HE IS ENOUGH. I’m SO thankful for this. For the surrender and trust in Him that He has allowed me to learn. For how He has grown and shaped my heart. I feel like a whole new person.
Ironically enough, since Sunday, the Lord has confirmed me being in Andalusia over and over and over again. He has led me to know I want to go back to school for Radiation Therapy and NO WHERE AROUND NASHVILLE HAS IT, BUT AROUND ANDALUSIA DOES. He has presented me with job opportunities that even if I don’t take them, I know they were dropped in my lap to show me He will provide. He has given me a desire for a Bible study with girls my age and guess what….HE EVEN HAS GIVEN ME A PLACE TO DO IT. GUYS I AM A HOMEOWNER!! Seriously! I went from spending months and months and months looking for a home to finding one and in less than 24 hours I somehow managed to be the highest bidder! He has given me the joy in being able to watch my little sister sing His praises in the youth praise band, and surrounded me with old and new friends that are already encouraging me and growing me. ALL SINCE SUNDAY!! What a faithful and good God. What a God that is WORTHY to be praised. What a God that is so kind and generous and concerned about each heart of His children. Not only to care for our hearts, but to grow our hearts.
The Lord asked me to give up a home, a job, my family, my friends, my comfort, my normal, and I am so thankful. The Lord 100 told me to go to Nashville. Don’t at all for one second doubt that or think that I doubt that or that I heard Him wrong. He called me there because He needed me on that mountain with that sacrifice on the altar and knife in hand so that He could stop me and have me pause and reflect on the generosity, the grace, the perfect plan He has for me. So the Lord is now asking me to give up my pride. Because I know this “change” (I say that very loosely because it was never a change for God, only a process to get me through) will bring doubts and questions from some. And I’m okay with that. Ask them. I would love to sit beside you at a high school football game, sit across from you at Zaxby’s, or stand in the isle at Piggly Wiggly and tell you what the Lord is teaching me. I hope that in dying to myself, in trusting the Lord’s voice and hand in my life, and sharing it openly will somehow point someone to Christ. So I know that while I was called to Nashville for sure, I was not meant for Nashville, it was a journey. One that the Lord knew would return me back “home” with a heart of surrender. A heart that is ready for the next absolutely insane thing that He will call me to do.
The Lord is good. Always.
I’m home, Andalusia!! ( for now at least (: )