It would seem that I am at a loss as I come to this coversation about loss and expansion. I've been struggling to get any coherent thoughts streaming long enough to get them down in written form. So I revisited the articles that our Pretty&Wise women had written on this subject.
After reading through these beautifully written articles, I am struck with wonder at the wisdom of these young women and their hearts on this matter. So I just want to highlight some things that struck me as I was reading and contemplating what ways loss can make room for and even fascilitate expansion in our lives.
Angie wrote about loss of self in her article and two of her thoughts struck me.
When we are willing to take the loss of self and surrender to Him, we get to be involved in the expansion of God's Kingdom.
God calls us to lose ourselves so that He can expand His kingdom, His love, and His salvation in this broken world.
God's expansion doesn't always look clear and make sense to us.
Just this week I experienced hearing God speak clearly to me to do something that was a bit uncomfortable. To lay down my sense of self confidence...to lose a bit of myself.
As the hubs and I were enjoying breakfast with friends at a nearby restaurant, God told me to pray for our waitress. Now...I sat there for a minute, because I knew He meant I was to pray for her so that she knew I was praying...not just say a little prayer as I sat there enjoying conversation with friends. I did not want to announce this to everyone at my table, so I waited for the right moment, or so I thought.
There she was, standing by herself at the hostess counter. No one was in line waiting to be seated, so I uttered a weak,
to my table mates and walked over to the counter.
As stepped up to tell my waitress that God had asked me to pray for her, I noticed that a line of patrons waiting to be seated had quickly formed in front of us. So, I asked her first name and said,
"I can see that you are busy and I don't want to keep you from your work, but I just believe that you are experiencing pain and God wants me to pray for you."
Now I'm not completely sure, but I believe she smirked when I said that. I could be wrong and it could have been a smile that I misread...but it really seemed as if she smirked.
I went back to my table and sat down and joined in the ongoing conversation with our friends. But the thought kept nagging at me. Why Lord? Didn't you ask me to pray for her...to let her know that I was praying for her? This was definitely nothing like what Beth Moore experienced when she listened to God's voice prompting her to brush a man's hair at the airport. (If you're not familiar with this story, go listen now: The Hair Brush).
I'm certain that I did what I was supposed to do. I have written her name down and continued to pray for her. Because God said to pray. I may never know why or to what effect my simple action and prayers may have in the expansion of His Kingdom. I know that God's expansion sometimes takes unexpected pathways. He doesn't always gift us with the mystery of His ways wrapped up in the clarity of a hair(bush)bow. I can only trust Him because I know that HE KNOWS.
In reading Olivia's article, When Surrender Feels Like Loss, once again I am reminded that when I surrender control over everything within the realm of my own influence and give it over to the Holy Spirit and His prompting...that giving up...that loss...becomes gain.
Could it be instead that a surrender of control.. even a surrender so deep and transforming that it initially feels like a great loss.. could actually be a great gain? That it could be a beautiful expansion of faith; of obedience; of the Holy Spirit's work in and around us- for the Kingdom?
Such wisdom. Lord, help me to give up my own selfish gain, to lose myself in obedience to you, to walk in surrender to you, so that your Kingdom may be expanded here on earth. Even, and most asurredly in the small things such as speaking up and praying for others.
That's what Jonah did, eventually. He experienced some pretty serious loss and expansion as Lyndsay writes in her article Jonah's Loss and Expansion.
I've done some study myself on Jonah's situation. The lesson I gleaned from this Minor Prophet in the Old Testament was a bit different than those Lyndsay shared with us in her article. I wrote about it here: Run to Him, but I love that she found such an important truth and am so thankful she shared it with us. I might have been thinking of Jonah more as the deadbeat prophet until I read these words of wisdom:
It wasn’t until Jonah was ready to lose his life that God saved him. It wasn’t until Jonah was ready to give his life that God saved everyone else on that boat.
Even in Jonah’s sin, God was glorified. Even in Jonah’s disobedience, others were made right with God. But it took Jonah owning up to his sin, bringing to light his disobedience, and committing himself back to God for the others to be saved.
I'm so thankful that we have the book of Jonah and all of God's Word to teach us that His compassion and grace and active presence in our lives are not given to us based on what we deserve, but on our responsive steps in the right direction.
So...what is the right direction?
This thought brings me to the final article, Loss/Expansion, from Alexandria. In her article she shares with us this verse, John 1:12(TPT),
But those who embrace Him and took hold of His name He gave authority to become the children of God!And then she makes this observation,
Embrace can only happen within proximity. We can only embrace someone if we are close to them. Close enough to hold. How often am I that close to God?
...everything in the Kingdom comes from proximity. It comes from being close to the Father.
And there it is. The right direction is always a step closer toward our heavenly Father. A step closer to His leading through His word and through Holy Spirit's promptings.
I just want to say thank you to my sister's at Pretty&Wise for allowing God to use you as you write to the Glory of God with wisdom that comes from His word and His leading. You have made possible the writing of this particular article . The loss I experienced in my writer's block allowed my vision to expand as I read and was blessed by your words.
To you my reader, thank you for reading. You are here for a reason. So please allow me to pray for you...for us all.
I thank you for my sister/brother reading these words.
I ask that you make yourself known to us in the midst of these uncertain times. I ask for your peace...the peace that doesn't always make sense in the midst of the crazy going on all around us.
Help us all to take the time to pause and listen to You...through Your word...through Your gentle prompting throughout our days. Help us to see those who are suffering, and to know how we can reach out.
I thank you, LORD, that You are good and that You work all things for the good of those who love You, and You work it all for your glory. I am comforted in the truth of these words...Your Word.
I am humbled that you would use us to advance your Kingdom. I pray that you would open our eyes to see where we can join you in your work here on earth.
I thank you that your words assure us that you will draw near to us if we would but draw nearer to you.
I ask that You work through it all and in all for Your will to be accomplished...in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.
WRITTEN BY: GAY IDLE
For more from Gay, head to her website: www.gayidle.com
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