Seasons

You know those times you have a certain song stuck in your brain for days and then weeks on weeks? That’s this song for me right now. “Seasons” by Hillsong. Wow.

The lyrics are powerful. And they resonate so powerfully within me because that’s exactly where I am right now! When I hear this song I get really emotional. It’s like I can sense Jesus speaking to me and I can feel His promises…His promises are coming and He is on the move!

This song paints a beautiful picture. To me it tells a story, and I have to tell you that story.

“Like the frost on a rose, winter comes for us all.”

Can you picture it? Frost on a rose? The delight of summer and glory of fall…carried into winter…a place many of us often don’t want to go. A place so many of us dread.

We know the cold. We’ve tasted that frost. That killing frost.

In the beginning it’s stunningly beautiful, covering everything in a delicate sprinkling of white, with all of the colors of fall shining brightly against the snow.

But we know what’s coming, so we dread it. As every leaf falls and everything beautiful seems to die around us, the darkness grows stronger and seems to settle in for the long haul, soon taking up more time than the light. And suddenly hope and joy seem to fade.

“Oh how nature acquaints us with the nature of patience. Like a seed in the snow, I’ve been buried to grow. For Your promise is loyal, from seed to sequoia.”

Wow. Have you been there? Can you see it? Nature is amazing, when we get to see how intricately God has created everything. Creation takes some time. It requires patience.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a seed? If you imagine it, it doesn’t seem very nice.

Imagine with me. You’re deep in the dirt. It’s isolating. Dark. Cold. Confusing. Muffled. Frustrating. You can’t see anything down there. You can’t hear anything. Every once in a while you get doused with something wet, which surprises you but seems to come at exactly the moment you’re beginning to get very thirsty. It sustains you, so you know you need it and you know you’re being taken care of. But still! Why does it have to wait until the last minute? And why does it have to be so…well…wet?

“Though the winter is long, even richer the harvest it brings. Though my waiting prolongs, even greater your promise for me like a seed, I believe that my season will come.”

The seed can’t see. It doesn’t feel like it’s growing. It doesn’t know what its purpose is while it waits in the dark. It’s growing roots, but it doesn’t feel like it.

I’ve felt like this for several years now. Waiting. Not feeling like I’m getting anywhere. Just waiting for something…but not knowing what that something is. Dreaming. Hoping. Praying for breakthrough. Trying desperately to trust God’s timing and provision on so many different levels with so many different things in my life.

It’s a real and tough place. Have you been there? Are you there now?

I’m learning this can also be a really good place, though.

In the midst of the waiting and not knowing what God is doing in this season…I’ve been growing in bold trust that what He has promised me will come to pass. That He truly knows best.

“Lord I think of Your love, like the low winter sun. As I gaze I am blinded in the light of Your brightness. Like a fire to the snow, I’m renewed in Your warmth. Melt the ice of this wild soul till the barren is beautiful.”

Then He comes! He gives you a glimpse of what He’s doing. Just a little glimpse: a small answered prayer, an overflow of peace to your day, a moment of the sweetest joy, just to say “Hey there, dear one, I see you, I know you, and I can’t wait to show you all I have in store. Wait a little while longer. Do you trust Me? It’s going to be amazing. Just wait a little while longer.”

You feel warm again. He’s melted some of the snow around you with His love. He reassures you haven’t been forgotten – because truthfully, you’ve never been forgotten – but the feeling just felt so real.

“I can see the promise. I can see the future. You’re the God of seasons. I’m just in the winter. If all I know of harvest is that it’s worth my patience, then if You’re not done working, God I’m not done waiting!”

If I’m waiting, it must mean something. There’s a purpose for everything, God made our bodies so intricately, designed each of us so wonderfully and specifically, that it makes sense your story wouldn’t be the same as mine. It makes sense we each have different waiting and growth seasons in our lives. He knows our stories. He wrote them.

There’s something about a story. We all want a good one. We all want to go on adventures. But sometimes adventures don’t feel that great. There’s hardship and adversity. We all want that end-of-the-book mountaintop experience. And it’s COMING! But we need to grow, and we grow stronger as we walk through the elements and grow tough skin and faith that will weather every type of storm.

The seed, during its waiting, begins to sense a change. It doesn’t know what’s exactly changing yet. But it senses it. The ground is still frozen. The seed is still locked in place. But it feels something has begun to happen. It knows something is coming. Faith rises.

“You can see my promise even in the winter, cause You’re the God of greatness, even in a manger.”

Picture yourself as that seed again. If you emerged from the soil too soon, you wouldn’t be strong enough. You wouldn’t be nourished enough. You wouldn’t grow as tall as you were made to.

Then it happens! You feel yourself pushing through! The promise begins to be fulfilled before your very eyes, often suddenly and without warning after all of that waiting. You see glimmers of light through the dark, damp dirt around you…and finally, just barely, you emerge from the soil, into the sunlight! Oh, what glorious sunlight and warmth! The air is still cold, but you don’t care because you have a fresh perspective and you feel like you’ve made it!

You cheer loudly! Finally!

Until your eyes take in your surroundings and you gaze up at the trees around you. Wow, they are so tall. Your stomach sinks a little and you find yourself realizing you have a lot farther to go than you thought. When it will be your turn to be so strong and so tall? You feel so small, so breakable, so vulnerable.

The promise is coming and growing within you, but when you compare yourself with others around you, it feels hopeless again. They have their promise. Why can’t you have yours yet?  Why does everything have to take so long? Why can’t it just happen now?

You’ve just emerged from the soil. You now have a fresh, renewed perspective. It’s a joyful moment. You see you grew and you didn’t even know it! Yet you see you still have more growing to do.

Take heart, dear one. God knows us. He knows how He made us. He knows what we need to grow strong and tall. He’s going to get us there.

“If all I know of harvest is that it’s worth my patience, then if You’re not done working, God, I’m not done waiting!”

This. Wow. God, if you’re not done working, then I’m not done waiting.

Even though it’s hard to sing, this is what I want with every fiber of my being. I don’t want to go anywhere without Jesus. I don’t want to get ahead of what He’s doing inside of me, the things I don’t know yet or don’t know how to put into words yet.

“For all I know of seasons is that You take Your time. You could have saved us in a second, instead You sent a child. And when I finally see my tree, still I believe there’s a season to come.“

Even Jesus waited. He waited 30 years to begin the calling He knew was on His life. The calling He came to earth for. To save us. He, though Creator of the world, chose to come as a baby. He took the form of one He created and came to grow up as a human and experience what it is like to grow up as we do.

“Like a seed You were sown for the sake of us all, from Bethlehem’s soil grew Calvary’s sequoia.”

Jesus grew up in Bethlehem. There He learned to grow. He learned patience. He weathered the storms of the human life, growing stronger in stature and in faith and trust in His Heavenly Father. He learned how to persevere. He learned what His Father’s voice sounds like. He learned how to listen to His voice and do what He says no matter what. So He would be ready for Calvary – for the cross – for the moment He saved all of His Creation.

He showed us how to grow roots and patiently allow to the Lord to work in the perfect timing as only He chooses and knows.

If He can do it, I know I can, too. If He had to wait, that means I DEFINITELY need to wait. I know myself and I know my tendencies. Jesus is God. He didn’t need to wait, but still He chose to come as a baby and grow up and experience life with us – patiently growing and waiting until it was His time to shine.

“And when I finally see my tree, still I believe there’s a season to come.”

He keeps telling me, “It’s all going to make sense!” I trust that it will. What joy that will be!

There’s so much more – truly the best is yet to come! More seasons, yes. More waiting, probably.

Continue walking forward. Step by step. Moment by moment. Seed to sequoia, His faithfulness will prove itself evident. His promises are sure because He has promised. So He will fulfill them. Every single one. In the right, perfect timing.

Until one day we look down and see we’ve not only grown strong roots, but have grown to be the strongest and sturdiest of trees, with lively, dancing branches lifted high to the heavens, praising our Maker for how far He’s taken us, and knowing He will continue to take us higher, because that’s just how good He is.

Lyrics are ©Hillsong Music Publishing. Photos are from the internet and are not my own.

“Look into My eyes, Beloved.”

I wrote this a couple years ago and finally feel ready to post it. It’s amazing how I’ll write down something I feel the Lord is showing me and then forget about it until years later when I find it and realize what amazing things God spoke to me…and it challenges me to remember what God has said and hold onto His promises, because what He has said is true and will happen (maybe you needed to read that, it’s truth for you) and He’s calling us to remember His promises, to remember WHO He IS and what He has promised, and to focus our eyes on Him and follow His lead always, because He knows best.

God likes to give me pictures and visions of weddings, Him with His Bride, and it’s really beautiful. It’s just one of the ways He speaks to me and definitely overwhelming since I’m not married yet, but I love feeling even an ounce of the deep love He has for His people – YOU. Just in case you didn’t know, He really, really loves you.

This is what I wrote down, and I think this is meant to be read in the first person, as if it were you.


I see Jesus. He’s standing in front of me. His face shines love for me. He takes my hands. He places His hand on my cheek.

I realize that He is calming me. Turning my gaze from all other things onto Him and Him alone. We stand atop a big hill. He puts His hand to my cheek and His face lights up into a huge smile as He tenderly leans close to me & says, “Look into My eyes, Beloved.”

He urges me to turn to Him. To focus. So I do. I turn my eyes from the surrounding wilderness and look into His beautiful eyes. They are surreal to look at. Mesmerizing. I am instantly drawn in and the connection with Him is immediate. I am His. He is mine. We are one.

My panic and discontent and bewilderment is gone, replaced by deep peace and definite purpose. We are connected. Our sight is intertwined in the depths of His eyes. My little worries have faded, replaced by His love and assurance of a good, perfect future in Him. I ride along on His wave and feel joy again.

Excitement, even, which is something I haven’t felt in a while. No matter how long it takes, I am completely aware of His overarching plan & know with absolute certainty that His purposes for my life will ultimately prevail. They will happen the way they’re supposed to, not how I see it, but even better.

And then I realize His insatiable passion for His people. His bride, and specifically those who still don’t know Him. I follow His gaze into the depths and see Him eyeing the world. I see it ringed in gold. Beautiful. I see the world shouting its praise to its Maker. Like fireworks streaming into the sky are the praises of the nations to their King. And I feel His joy and pleasure with His creation and His bride singing songs of love and adoration to Him.

But then I feel His pain. I wonder what could be wrong, until I catch a glimpse of the dark spots, huge and vast, that have spread through many sections of the world. The places that aren’t worshiping. Where no joy and light abound. Where His bride is so completely unaware that her Groom looks at her from afar, sees her, knows her, loves her, and longs for her with groans that cannot be expressed in words…with the deepest longing imaginable, and even then, so desperately beyond what could ever be explained in human terms.

The dark areas covered much of Asia, the Middle East, Northern Africa and Europe, with a growing spot in the east and western edges of America.

Yet the light was spreading and the darkness could not prevail against it.

I saw His promise and purpose and delight as the golden light from the places of praise spread slowing outward…capturing the darkness and holding it hostage. The darkness slowly imploded from within.

Certain dark spots were overcome by a light that would begin to shine as just one mere dot in the middle, then grew and grew until it could not be stopped. And oh how the darkness tried. There were times when the darkness pushed back and seemed to capsize the light. Yet the golden light wavered but never fell back, pushing back the darkness with an even stronger, more brilliant force that went farther as a result to reach into more darkness than if it had not been pressed back at all.

The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out. – John 1:5 (MSG)

I could clearly see His plan for the nations, and could feel Jesus longing deeply for His bride to come to Him. And for His bride to go and get His bride. Like He was saying, “Abide with Me, and let’s go get My Bride!”

How things work out in my life suddenly seem insignificant compared to His master plan. I know my life will be filled with God’s promise, goodness, favor, perfect plan, but He’s asking me to step out and be a part of HIS plan. He is asking all of us in love, to go. He deeply desires for you and me to be a part of it. Just as a husband and wife long to share everything with each other and become one, so Jesus longs to share everything with me, with you, His glorious, beautiful, dazzling, precious bride, and become united with us as one. Oh He cannot wait for that day!

I realized that it all started when I looked into His eyes. He was already right there. But I had to follow His urging to look into His eyes and truly see. To let go of myself and my control, of which I never truly had in the first place, and surrender my way to Him by following His commands in even the simplest way.

“Look into My eyes, Beloved.”

The Chase Is On!

“Don’t let the worries of tomorrow chase you through today.
Just do what I’ve told you to do TODAY.”

Cambodia

You know those things the Lord whispers into your heart...that sink deep into your soul? Yeah, those were His words to me this morning.

Oh how my mind can run in so many different directions!
It leaps and bounds this way, then that way.
It stops for a second, as if to catch its breath…than rebounds with increased frequency.

No wonder I am so tired by the end of the day. My thoughts twirl endlessly inside my skull, bouncing and spinning and running over each other until I don’t know which way is up anymore.

Talk about a big headache.

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…do not fret—it leads only to evil.” -excerpts from Psalm 37:7-8

DSC02856 - Version 2I have a love/hate relationship with being still. I yearn for it when I’m in the middle of crazy. Yet when I finally get there, I find myself wanting to find a distraction because I know I have deal with myself and come before God to apologize for not trusting him, again.

Stillness brings focus. Suddenly the stuff I’m worrying about
(aka “not trusting Jesus about”) I am more able to lay at His feet.

My brain is on overdrive and it cries for rest. It needs to peace of its Creator. We weren’t meant to deal with stress. Our bodies protest. Things like pain and sickness and exhaustion all are a result of stress.

Stress doesn’t trust the Lord. Stress strives.

The perfectionist in me comes out this time of year. I want to be intentional. I want to get the right gifts. I miss my friends because I’ve been so busy these past 6 months with travel and settling into work, and at the same time I want to spend all the time with family that I can, because in the coming years, being together will look much different.

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I’ll be honest. It’s just a very weird season.
God never stops changing us, and I love that about Him.

I think I didn’t expect this to be so hard. It’s starting to sink in, the fact that my parents are leaving.
I’ll blog more about that later, so stay tuned.

God has been whispering to my soul.

Grace. Rest. Peace.

I need to accept the fact that rest is okay. This season is okay. I need to have grace for myself, too. I’m not going to let my worries chase me. Instead, let’s chase the worries back with grace.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

As I am constantly reminded of this Christmas season, “Let it GO!”

The staircase of faith

The countdown to home begins.
It doesn’t seem real.
In 84 days (12 weeks) I will be landing in the United States.
My feet will touch U.S. soil again.
I honestly can’t wait…
…but then again, I can.

My heart is so torn.
I can’t believe I’m on month 9 already.
Since the beginning of the Race, I’ve been looking forward to coming home.
Homesickness hit me extremely hard at Launch.
Which is crazy, because at that point, I hadn’t even left America yet.
I think it was the fact that I knew I was leaving home for so long, knowing I wouldn’t have the chance to return for 11 months.

Ever since I’ve left, I’ve had to fight to be present.
The feelings of homesickness have come and gone, and come and gone again.
It’s normal.
I knew from the beginning that the Lord had called me to this.
I knew I was supposed to go.
But the knowing doesn’t always help the feelings to go away :).

As my pastor said in his sermon that I was able to live-stream on Sunday,

Faith is taking that first step onto the staircase,
without knowing where the staircase goes.”

Faith honestly sucks sometimes.
It requires you to step out when you desperately don’t want to.
It means speaking up when you just want to be quiet.
It means going when you have no idea where you’re going to end up and you have no idea what’s going to happen.
It’s relying on that still, small voice inside of you that says, “Go.”
It’s trusting that even when it hurts—because God says it’s going to be okay and that He’ll be with us—that it really will turn out alright.

There are many reasons God calls us to go.
He wants to show us new things.
He wants to teach us.
He doesn’t want us to stay immature in our faith.

 

I’ve realized something lately—the devil wants to stop us from ever stepping out.
He wants to keep our faith immature.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 2,
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…”

And it hit me the other day.
So many people from home have been commenting on how mature we all look.
And it’s not because I’m getting older…even though that’s true, haha.
You can look at the pictures of us before the Race and compare them with the ones just recently taken…and maybe you’ll see it.

Month 1 – Dominican Republic
From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

Month 3 – Thailand
From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

Month 5 – Cambodia
From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

Month 6 – Tanzania
From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

Maybe we only look more tired.
But we’ve started noticing it in each other, and it’s not to float our own boats or toot our own horns.
It’s just taking note of something that has slowly become obvious.

There is a literal, physical change in every single one of our faces.
There’s a new maturity there that was absent before the Race.

Month 7 – Malawi
From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

Month 8 – Swaziland
From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

And do you know what I just realized?
It’s because we’ve stepped out in faith. We went. We’ve been constantly stepping out in faith for 9 months now, and it’s changed us.
We’re not the same.
The reason is simpler than Oh, they’ve just traveled the world.
It’s because God called, and we went.
We stepped out in faith.
We left all we knew.
We got really uncomfortable.
And it was awesome and horrible and exciting and terrifying and amazing and challenging and perfect.

I’m still growing every day. I still have so much to learn.

But I feel the need to urge you:
Please, please step out in faith.
Don’t stay immature.
Don’t let satan keep you where you are.
Don’t ever stop seeking after more and more and more of the Lord and asking Him what He has for you.

I wasn’t looking to change. I’m honestly a bit scared to find out how much I’ve changed when I’m home, out of the community I’ve been immersed in for almost a year…I wonder what it will look like.

But there’s something about stepping out. There’s something about faith that slowly changes you. It’s not a bad thing. It’s the wildest ride you’ll ever find yourself on. But you must be willing to take that first step.

I promise that though it’s sure to be hard, it’s the most worth it thing you’ll ever do.

I’m with the King

So this afternoon I sat down with my Bible and a cup of coffee…it’s been a long few weeks and I just needed some time to myself. It’s raining outside, and sometimes these are the perfect days for rest. I felt like this time was just for me and God, and I really wanted it to be. I haven’t been doing a super great job at spending time with Him lately…so I just knew I needed some time to sit with Him, read His Word, and relax and soak Him in. Sometimes things that you’ve read over and over pop out at you differently all of the sudden, and today was one of those times.

I decided to read Romans 8. I won’t go into a ton of detail, but it was cool. 🙂

One thing that really stood out to me was where it says that through the Holy Spirit we are sons of God, “And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.'” That’s like little kids running up to their fathers and saying, “Daddy! Daddy!” God wants that kind of relationship with us (I’ve been hearing this over and over lately, so that really resonated with me). But then it goes on to talk about us being co-heirs with Christ Jesus. Jesus is God’s son, and through Jesus’ death on the cross, when He defeated sin and rose from the dead in victory (can I get an Amen!), that in that moment, when we accept that gift, we become sons and daughters of God, beloved brothers and sisters to Christ, and become God’s heirs. WHOA baby. Hold up a sec…say whaaaa…? That’s incredible.

So then I was just sitting there and soaking that in. The idea ran around my head for a bit…Jesus as my big brother, the big brother I never had. The one to tell me that I am beautiful and cherished and that He loves me and will protect me like any good big brother would his little sister.

I like that idea…it makes me smile. 🙂

Then something popped into my head. A vision, a thought, a whisper from my Savior – a story, a dream, a poem of sorts. I wrote it into my journal and felt like I also needed to share it with you.

Here goes.

[Him]
Every part of you is mine.
You are perfect – made in My image.
You are the daughter of the King,
beloved sister and co-heir with Christ.
You enrapture me with your beauty.
You can walk confidently into any room,
knowing I am beside you, walking with you.
Always with you.
I’ll never leave you.

Then this came.

[Me]
I walk into a room full of people dressed in finery, and I instantly feel unworthy to be there.
I don’t fit in.
“I’m with the King,” I tell those who ask, which should boost my confidence,
but the more people ask, the more I question whether I should be there at all.
I’m not worthy. I don’t fit in. My dress isn’t pretty enough.
Then it happens.
The dancing begins.
But they won’t let me into the ballroom, because no one believes me and the King is nowhere to be seen.
I’m blocked from going inside, and I begin to doubt everything about myself.
Who am I to think I’m worthy of love and forgiveness?
I stand in front of the doors to the ballroom, confused, ashamed, and alone.
The guards ask me to move aside, and that’s when I feel His hand slip into mine
and the other fit tenderly around my waist.
“No, let her through,” he says tenderly, His eyes locked onto mine,
His beautiful face smiling in delight that I am here. His presence and command over the room is so immediate that everything and everyone stops and stares in amazement
as He takes my hand and says, “She’s with me.”
His gaze captivates me, my feet float on air as I follow Him onto the dance floor.
Nothing else matters but Him now.
“I’m so glad you came,” He says. “You are stunning. You are perfect.”
As He holds me close on the dance floor, His eyes sparkle and He flashes a grin.
“And best of all, you’re mine!” His smile grows bigger as he says,
“You’re beautiful, beloved. I am the King and I love you. I have redeemed you.
Be bold and confident in that, beloved. I am always with you.”
I can’t speak, so I nod and put my head to His chest, no words needed, and together, we dance.

 

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

The song below fits this perfectly. “I Love the King” by Beth Croft.

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