Friday, March 29, 2019

Seeking God's Face

Hi there Gracefilled Lillies,

Today I would just like to share a post with you about seeking God's Face. 

Click here for this artwork in the store

As I am playing catch-up on all my writing and blogs lately and starting new journeys with it, I feel like I am always growing closer to living out God's purpose for my life more and more, when I write.

Today's topic is seeking God's Face. Last year when I stepped out with Gracelilly, I knew that it was something I really wanted to do and felt equipped to do. I shared a couple of online Bible studies, created some artwork and digital kits en wrote a couple of devotionals. It gave me such joy to be able to bring my teaching skills, love of art and creativity and my biggest love, God and His Word together in one place. My heart with it, as is also God's heart, is to reach others with the love of Christ. 

But then a couple of things happened that halted the whole process and I was forced to really look at what I was doing and how I was doing it and where and for whom I was doing it. A couple of things needed to happen first before I could move forward into the "ministry" I so desired. One of the things that happened was that my laptop's hard drive crashed. I was working my little laptop so hard that something happened that never happened to me before. I use to have good housekeeping habits for keeping my tech safe and secure, but I was working so hard that God needed to physically stop me by shutting down my computer to get me to slow down. He protected me and turned everything around and I really didn't lose much else than the use of my computer for a while and the discomfort of the disruption. But I knew God was saying: "Stop, I want to do something here". I took me a while to realize what that was and it took me the year to really see the picture. I am still in need of some adjustments here and there, but I know He is faithful to guide me trough. 

Before I could move forward, I needed to look back, regroup, rest and really listen. It was a hard year emotionally and spiritually. It took me a whole year to really get back on track with Gracelilly and I feel that all the things that happened were necessary for me to see things from God's perspective. I made big changes to our business and how we run things and I have such peace about it. :) It was a scary thing to trust God when what He was asking me to do looked like He was shutting us down, but He wasn't. 

So without going into too much detail, the bottom line is that we sometimes need to let go, fast from the things that occupy us so much, even the good things like our art, our work and just get back to basics. A big thing for me now is to sort through all my creative ideas and wait on God. Wait for Him to show me the green light on the ones He wants me to follow through on. I have to work on waiting on God for His timing. I will always have to work on this and I think we all do all the time. Oh, man can I be impatient. I know that my lesson through this past year was to take note of the things that are more important to God in comparison to what is important to me. He is interested in how my heart is doing. He is interested in how things of the past affect my present responses or actions. He is interested in restoring what the enemy has stolen, revealing the enemy's lies in our lives and in loving us to wholeness. None of us can really say that we are perfectly complete, whole or untouched by this life, can we? So all of us do need His healing hand to guide us to that place of rest and restoration. 

My word for this year is RESTORE. I need God to restore my broken places, to restore what the enemy has stolen over time through his lies and deceit. For me to have balance in my life in all the things that are important, I need to seek God's Face. 

How do we do that? Seek His Face? What does that mean practically speaking? I am a visual person. I am also a very tactile person. I learn through actively being involved in the learning process. You call that being a kinesthetic learner. learning style in which learning takes place by the students carrying out physical activities, rather than listening to a lecture or watching demonstrations.  

Most artists and creatives are kinesthetic learners I presume. We would rather touch and feel and smell and physically try things out than to just listen to someone talk about it. So Bible Journaling has always been something I did naturally. I remember sitting at Christian Students Association Camp in Winkelspruit at age 17 doodling and making notes while the Preacher was teaching us about God's Word. We had daily devotional meetings where over 250 students would sit in a large assembly listening to the sermon. I had my notebook as it was also encouraged to bring your Bible, notebook and a pen to camp and I was writing stuff down and doodling in the margin. Most of my note taking over the years involved writing my prayers down, Scripture writing and sermon notes. That is how I learn. I cannot sit and do nothing in church. My mind wanders and I lose focus. I am a big daydreamer. Al my creative ideas come from is a powerful thing and it needs to be harnessed. Making notes and writing helps to accomplish that order in the brain. So my point is that seeking God's Face can also be an active thing. Sitting down with your Bible and your notebook and involving God in what you write down. It is a partnership for me. Me and God in my quiet time. Writing this post is a partnership with Him. I am the vessel and He breathes through me onto the pages that I write. When anything of importance comes out, you can know that He takes all the credit for that. 

When we make choices in how we want to live and what we want to do with our lives, it is important to involve God in those choices. He is the One who made you. He knows why He made you and what His purpose with your life is. 

When you give your life to God, as I did when I was just 15, something marvelous happens. He really comes to live in you and with you. He makes your heart His home. That is such an awesome thought. While we all have challenges in life and hang-ups and things happen to us, it may cause us to lose our focus or to sway from the path He would want us on. I constantly have to check back and make sure that I am still on that path and the wonderful thing is that His Spirit will always lead you back home to Him. 

My story isn't finished. I know that He is definitely guiding me somewhere awesome even though I cannot see the full picture yet. I know I can trust Him to lead me there.

Sometimes, when I feel discontent in my heart and I process what I am feeling by really quieting down, slowing things way down in my life, He is always faithful and works in me to show me what it is that I am feeling or what it is that is causing the discontent. Discontent in itself is not a bad or negative thing. It may just be God's Spirit re-directing you or re-aligning you with what He wants you to do or where He wants you to go in a specific moment in time. Be ready and willing for Him to lead you away from what you are doing or planning to do, for what He may ask of you, that interruption in your schedule may just be way more important than what you had planned. 

Sometimes feeling that discontent is fear holding me back. Then He will encourage me to stand in faith and trust Him to help me be more courageous. Sometimes I process conflicts of the past and He will show me why I went through uncomfortable experiences and who was to blame or why I need to have grace for myself and the other person. He helps me understand and process things correctly according to His truth and not necessarily my own or other people's.  Sometimes He leads me to understanding just by whispering into my spirit a truth about me or about Him or about a past hurt and it is just over and done at that moment because His truth sets people free. It is something very profound that happens so quietly without any real big event or moment but you know that you know He spoke to you. You also know that from that moment onward you will not be the same again. I have had a couple of these moments throughout my life and I treasure them. 

I remember when working in Saudi Arabia a couple years back, one day I was standing in front of my cupboard and I had to decide which clothes to pack for another weekend in Riyadh, the capital city. We were working in a desert village that looked like the surface of the moon, isolated and very dusty. We were paid very well, but while working there we realized was really a very harsh environment to a large extent and a big culture shock for most expats. It was part of our remuneration package to receive a sponsored night in the city at an expat compound much like a holiday resort but with walls and security and barbed wire. It was our sanity break to go to the city.  I will always remember very clearly the Voice I heard audibly in my spirit that specific day: "If you stay here, you will lose your soul".  We had a two-year contract, but we only stayed for 6 months due to our company not being able to secure long term visas and the stress of the situation and a lot of other factors showed us that God wanted us from the start to only stay half a year and then come back home. Someday I will share the whole story, but for now, this moment was important. God speaks to us at times very clearly. My main reason for not returning to a country where I really felt I could make a difference in the lives of my beautiful students, was that Voice on that day in front of my open closet. It was a "no" from God. It was a "go home". It wasn't an easy choice to make. It had very big financial and circumstantial repercussions for me and my husband for the long term. It was God saying: "Will you trust Me no matter what?" and boy, has it been a really difficult difficult journey. I have never in my spiritual life experienced such a difficult season as the one God has been asking me to go through the past decade, but this one choice I needed to make would affect my comfort and my future security. God was saying "I am your Source and you need to trust me that I will provide for you and look after you" and He has. 

Seeking His Face in the moments when you land in hospital with a scary diagnosis, or family abandons you, or the one you love is in turmoil, or you see your elderly parents grow old and frail and sick, or friends desert you, industry reject you, fellow Christians attack, persecute or discredit you, and your fridge is empty, your dreams fade in the distance, your dreams to have babies of your own grow dim as you celebrate yet another childless birthday and years grow into decades, then seeking His Face becomes an absolute necessity. When you experience that harshness of life and years turn into decades and your fig-tree still doesn't bear fruit, then it starts to really matter what you believe and how you live that faith. Being honest and open with God in your darkest times, when you really don't get what it's about and you perhaps question your beliefs, that is when you need to seek Him and seek His Face the most. 

As a young girl in the Church, I remember how we sang that song about the fig tree and how we would keep on believing and praising God even if it doesn't bear any fruit. I am in my midlife now and God uses those songs of my youth now to bring it to life and show me why I needed to learn how to sing them then when everything was rosy and all of life seemed filled with color and light and possibility. It is so important to know God and choose Him when we are young so that He can build our faith for the long haul. So it really can grow deep roots to anchor our souls. I am thankful that God took my hand back then and helped grow a steadfast spirit in me. Though my flesh may fail my spirit is strong and I only realized how strong while going through the difficult times in my life. 

So seeking His face in the difficult times may not look rosy and it may be filled with tears or anguish or doubt and fear even. But I know one thing: I will always always run into Him because not only is my home in His Word but His home is in my heart and it is less about what I do or how I act or feel or respond and more about Him and how He leads me to quiet waters where I can look up and know that I am loved. 

So when I hold my heart in my hands and close my eyes as an offering to Him, seeking His face in the moments I feel lost or broken or empty, He is faithful to bring me through it all to waters that will quench my thirsty soul and a place where I can rest and know: I am loved by the God who made the Universe and He knows my little name and has inscribed it in the palm of His hands. He pursues me relentlessly out of love and He uses the difficult seasons to bring honor to His Name through the witness of our faith in Him. 

So, dear Gracefilled Lillies, let your difficult times become your witness of the God who loves you through it, stands by you when the world fails you, provides for you and heals your broken pieces. Let the mosaic of all of that be your banner of truth and fly it high because His banner over you is LOVE. 

My encouragement to you today is to not put God in a box. Allow Him to speak to you any time He wants. To be open to those God moments. To look out for them and listen attentively.  Even note them in your journals when they happen. They happen for a reason. It might be in your journal time while sitting in church or at a bible journaling class. But guess what, most of the time it is when God catches you alone in life when you go about your business washing the dishes, pushing the shopping trolley, washing your hair in the shower. Like I said, some of my God moments was simply standing in front of my closet. Some of my God moments even happened when I was extremely sad, or depressed or angry or felt like giving up or just after I had cried out to Him. He just didn't allow me to give up. My husband frequently comments on this that he is astonished that I haven't given up on this or that yet and I can only attest that I also don't understand must be God in me showing me how to go the distance and keep on trusting Him, when I would just like to give up or run away. ;) 

God's power in us little frail humans can turn a coward like Gideon into a mighty worrier. It can turn a shepherd boy like David into a King. A stuttering murderer like Moses into leading a nation. His economy works differently than this world's. He can heal the blind with a little spit and dirt, raise the dead and bring little children back to life. He can give countless barren woman more children than the married and turn ashes into beauty. 

So my story isn't finished yet. As I continue to seek His face regarding my purpose here in this venture and countless others, I realize that it doesn't really matter what we do. It matters why we do it and for Whom. So when you sit down and work on your Bible journaling, forget about the product and the techniques and focus on God, the Word He is giving you at that moment and then study it as deep as you can for as long as you can and make it your own through your creative expression. Date it so you know when He spoke to you and what He said. Return to it often. 

Another one of my God moments was when I was in the hospital a couple years ago, feeling scared. I asked someone to pray for me and she didn't know what Scripture I was reading but confirmed actually through her words of encouragement to me, what God had already said to me at that moment. The main lesson was that God sees into our hearts and He knows if and when we are being sincere when we have a request or some kind of need. That sincerity is key. God saw my heart at that moment and He answered me. He knew instantly that the women who touched His robe in the crowd desperately needed His healing and He gave it to her. I can relate to her not just because I basically have a similar challenge, but because I know who to go to, to find my healing. Jesus is the gentle Healer and as the Michael Card song rings true: "He came to my town today". God can see were people cannot. He knows our true self better than we sometimes do. Allow Him to come to your "town" and bring healing there as you seek His Face. 

I didn't know what this post would be about, but I am glad now that I was obedient and sat down to write to you here today. It reminded me of a couple of things and I hope that it has encouraged your heart too. When you work on your journaling, remember what is important. Remember who you are doing all of that for and why. Journaling about God, or His Word, using a ton of product or kits or paper or whatever is all empty and void if there is no connection between you and Him. Prioritize that first and all the rest will be a happy expression of that meeting. 

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