With one day left of the 21 days of prayer and fasting, I am more re(fresh)ed and eager about what 2016 will entail than ever before. If you missed part 1 or part 2, you can click the links to go back and read about all the miraculous and encouraging moments leading into week 3! God’s love moves mountains.
Day 14: Answered Prayers
“O Lord, God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God of Israel and that I am your servant” (1 Kings 18:36).
Sunday morning’s devotional really reassured a passion that God has placed on my heart. Over the past few months, I have really felt God emphasizing the importance of each and every today. In the mornings while I drive to my 3 hour chemistry lecture, I pray for God to equip me for the day, making me aware of each need. I also pray that God would fill me with His peace and joy. It’s in these mindful moments that I can escape my anxious personality, and find peace and confidence. The more loved I feel by God, the more I am able to trust in Him.
Now, as Day 14 kick off, I began to reflect on all the prayers God has answered just over these past few weeks. Each morning I write in my prayer journal, and then at night I under line the prayers that have been answered. When we are intentional to pray and seek answers, it’s amazing how reliable God is. So often, I begin to doubt God’s reliability when one of my frequent, largely desired, prayers does not get answered. If things don’t align with my timing, I get impatient and uncertain. But just because we don’t see an immediate answer to one prayer, doesn’t mean God isn’t answering our other prayers. The more aware I am of what prayers are being answered, the more my heart’s desires begin to align with His calling for my life.
On Sunday night we had a guest pastor from Hillsong NYC come and preach on when seasons change, God doesn’t. During Diego’s powerful message, I felt God reminding me to expect change, but not to change my expectation. God’s promises do not change so we can expect Him to answer those prayers. For 2016, I have big, mountain-moving, expectations that God is going to use me to accomplish some world changing things.
Day 15: God’s Goodness
God’s goodness has been undeniable in my life. Only 4 or so months ago, I was battling my most severe relapse into my eating disorder. I was exhausted, very unhealthy physically, and in many ways hopeless; however, because of God’s love for ME, I am experiencing freedom and healing from the illness like never before. I’m actually excited about my future. As successful as I have been, I begin to wonder what had made this attempt at recovery so different. As I reflected and praised God for His healing, I felt Him speak something very heavy on my heart. He reminded me that in my past attempts at recovery, I had always been motivated by guilt and shame. I felt bad for putting my family through so much pain, so I would convince myself that recovery was the necessary solution. I knew the eating disorder was wrong, so my transformation was built on a foundation of guilt. It was in that realization that I felt God place this phrase on my heart:
When you seek transformation that’s rooted in guilt and shame, it will chain you. But when you seek transformation that’s rooted in God’s personal love, it will change you.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I used to find myself feeling guilty after reading this verse. My new life didn’t look all to different when compared to my life before I was saved. My old life is suppose to be gone, and yet I’m struggling with the same battles. But, guilt and shame come straight from the enemy. The more we feel unworthy of God’s love, the more unworthy we feel to be used by God. Guilt and shame is an attack on our identity and calling. When I read this verse now, the phrase “belongs to Christ” stamps boldly into my heart. I am a child of God. It was only when I began to allow God to love me with His personal love, that I was able to see how vital of a role my life has in His story. I began to crave this new life God promises. God’s love will change you.
Day 16: Provision
With only a few days left of the fast, I began praying specifically for a word or a group of words that would guide me in 2016. I am confident that God will provide; however, I am not always confident that I will be aware enough to let Him. I know the doubt comes from the enemy, but it’s still a struggle I have. So, as I prayed I was looking for some clarity. Three words/phrases that I felt God emphasizing in my heart were: for your glory, servant, and last. After receiving these words I decided to go back to God to see if this was his final answer. Initially, I had kind of been hoping to hear words like: straight A’s, success, new relationships, and maybe something that would affirm my direction in school/career planning. Servant and last aren’t really the most desirable or glamorous words. So, I thought I would just double check with God that he didn’t think I was Morgan, one of my identical triplets sisters, because people mix us up all the time and servant seemed much more fitting to Morgan’s needs (I’m kidding…I’m kidding). Either way, God had locked down his answer in my heart.
“‘But if you come back to me and do what I tell you, I’ll gather up all these scattered people from wherever they ended up and put them back in the place I chose to mark with my Name.'” (Nehemiah 1:9).
I’m realizing that being a servant of God means living in His home where you are protected and cared for while building up His family. I don’t want 2016 to be another year of seeking my own heart’s selfish desires, just to end up empty handed. As a college student, I tend to worry about how I will provide for myself as I transition into starting my own life and career. There is a lot of unknown. God has been reminding me that when I commit to serving Him and allow Him to lead me by His love, He will always provide. I cannot fail when I pursue my future that is planned and protected by God.
Day 17: Blessings
A few weeks (or months??) ago, Pastor Kyle said, “There are always blessings after the battle,” during one of his sermons. I reflect on the encouragement of this statement daily. I think it’s important to expect God to bring His calming presence into every storm. God doesn’t intend for us to live miserable, exhausting lives. At the same time, He doesn’t intend for our lives to always be easy and without pain. It’s in the contrast of blessings over battle, calm over storm, and victory over defeat, that God is elevated.
In 2016, I am expecting some non external blessings from God. I am expecting to feel peace like never before, even during finals week. I am expecting to feel God’s love in deeper ways, even when I feel hurt by friends or family. I am expecting to feel victorious, even when I am losing according to the world’s standards. Sure, I will have moments of pain, sadness, heart-break, anger, and frustration; however, because of God’s promises I can always declare His blessing over my life. I want to walk with praise for the miracles that are yet to come, and to truly live like God is not finished with me yet. I want to walk into scary, uncharted territory towards the blessings I cannot see. I want to be inconvenienced and brought into battle, so that God’s victory can shine through my spirit.
Day 18: Guidance
“‘I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest-everything will be fine for you.’ Then Moses said, ‘If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me-on me and your people-if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the Earth.’ The Lord replied to Moses, ‘I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorable on you, and I know you by name.'” (Exodus 33: 14-17).
Transition is a scary season in life. I hate change, even little change. I always joke that I am still stuck on Microsoft 2004, so switching to Google Docs has not been an easy adjustment for me. In order to avoid falling into a severe mental break down as I pursue this new life during and after college, I have learned to take life one day at a time. I find peace in knowing that God has a secure path set for me as I walk towards knew things, but it’s still overwhelming at times. God’s guidance is much more manageable when I isolate it to smaller moments each day. I don’t need to know my whole life’s map, I just need to know when to turn next. Every morning as I drive to school or work, I pray for God’s guidance to use me in each location/moment. So, Day 18 my prayer was simply, ‘Use me’.
At school that day, my lab partner in Chemistry began to reveal to me how tired she was of “the church”. She had encountered too many broken churches (ex: a pastor who had an affair), to try again. During class time I was able to share a bit of my journey in how I found The Cause. It took two years after leaving the church I had grown up in for almost 13 years, and trying multiple churches for different periods of time to finally find a church that felt like home. It was frustrating at times; however, it really allowed me to take authority over my own faith. Talking with this girl reminded me of how twisted God’s name and love can get in this broken world. I believe God is using me to plant seeds of refreshment and new interest in this student’s life because that’s how much He loves and cares for HER.
Then, as I entered work, I noticed we had a new employee helping out just for that day. I felt God giving me His nudge of guidance to speak with her too. Pretty quickly, she revealed to me that she really wanted to find a church to get connected in. Thankfully, I have close to a million The Cause pens hoarded in my purse, so I gave her one so she could remember the name and look more into it, and invited her to church. Cause pens make great little “business” cards.
Both conversations started without me explicating saying anything to urge them to talk about God or church. I believe God had planted seeds in their heart long before our conversations, and I was just one person who could help water that seed. Sometimes God just guides us to encourage and love on the hurting, and sometimes He guides us to have bold conversations about faith, God, and church. God knows his children by name, so my relationship and walk with God will look different than everyone else’s. God calls us to be set apart by His presence. My heart is not one of always trying to say and do the right thing; it is one of being willing to respond to God’s desire to love the world through me. I want to be so rooted in my identity as a child of God that God’s guidance begins to feel like a natural part of my day. I don’t want to feel pressure to look and act like a child of God, but I just want it to be who I am. When I pray, I want to let God guide me to His answer instead of trying to convince and guide God to mine. I want to strive to be set apart, instead of always striving to fit in.
Day 19: Promotion
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so that I could save the lives of many people” (Genesis 15:20).
When I began the 21 days of prayer and fasting, it seemed like the common thing to fast was social media; however, I felt like God wasn’t calling me to fast my social media. I began my recovery in October, and I also started a recovery Instagram at the same time to document my journey. I feel like God is continually calling me to encourage others with my story. When it comes to mental illness, there are so many myths and misconceptions about healing. I felt like God was calling me to bring hope. I post about God’s impact in my life and recovery, while also attempting to not glamorize the process. Recovery is not easy or painless, no matter how motivated you are.
Over the course of the last three weeks, I have been amazed at how God has been able to use me to love others. I receive messages almost daily from girls and guys who need hope and advice. In these conversations, I am able to share and plant seeds of God’s amazing and personal love. I’ve even been privileged enough to have people message me simply about who God is. It’s been amazing to watch God use me and my story to help bring hope and healing to others. Having thousands of people follow along on my recovery and life journey has been humbling, and it has been an incredible platform to share God’s love for each and every one of his children.
It’s been in the success of this account, that I have felt God really call me to write a book. I have an overflowing passion to share the message of identity in an image based society. In image is something that involves tirelessly striving to do more, while identity involves just simply being who God created you to be. There is so much power and rest in learning to let God love you with an intimate love.
The last three weeks have been incredible, and I am eager to allow God to stretch me in 2016. I have gained more insight and clarity about my calling for 2016 than ever before. God’s goodness will never cease to take my breathe away. 2016 is going to be a world changing year!