Updated: Sep 19, 2021
I have been singing this song over and over the last few months and I cannot help but weep every single time. The lyrics are so powerful and anointed.
“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders Let me walk upon the waters Wherever You would call me Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander And my faith will be made stronger In the presence of my Savior”
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) lyrics ©
Songtrust Ave, Capitol Christian Music Group
I have had to make a lot of difficult decisions in the last few months. I had to decide whether to stay in a comfortable place of complacency that I had created as a refuge for myself or to move in obedience to God and make Him my refuge. It is easy to be obedient to Jesus as long as you don’t mind doing the actions He is asking you to do… but as it becomes more uncomfortable and scary or as it starts to affect the other people around you in ways they don’t appreciate– obedience is more difficult.
I started off this blog writing about nettles and how early in life I was a seed cast among thorns. I loved Jesus, and having grown up in a home where I was sheltered from worldliness, I was naïve of what was actually happening outside the Christian walls that surrounded me. However when I chose to walk into it at 16 years old, I got sucked in and lost myself in it for 15 years…so glad it wasn’t 40 years. I learned that when you have been in the world for so long, God has to separate you from it. He has to take you away from your past, so you can have a future that doesn’t involve being choked out by thorns. He strips away the old, so He can do a new thing. It is just as bittersweet writing it as it feels living through it. As painful as it is to have everything old stripped off— the new is exhilarating!
“I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.” Proverbs 24:30-31
The verse above is what started the idea of this blog as this verse applied to me. The garden, my garden- the environment that God had given me to tend, was overgrown with a lot of weeds and the painful thorns of my past. So this last year He started to teach me how to garden, hence the title of this section of the blog.
“Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction.” Proverbs 24:32
As I continued to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading He taught me to war with prayer and worship. He gave me the words to pray, the scriptures to read, the conversations to have, and the words to say. He connected me with community and lifted me up with encouragement when I needed it most. He gave me tools and weapons to cut down the nettles and to sever the thorns that were so tightly wound around me. He started to rebuild my walls with precious stones (Isaiah 54:12). He freed me from my past and He showed me my true identity in Him. An identity I never fully stepped into before… a daughter of the King- a perfect bride who had a bridegroom who loved her no matter what she did.
An honest fact about me… I had many emotionally and mentally abusive relationships in the past before I met my husband. I just wanted to be loved and accepted for who I was, but instead since I was so desperate to be loved I strived for the other person’s love and attention without even realizing it. I would do everything for them, I would do what they wanted to do, eat where they wanted to eat, cook the food they liked, smoked the brand of cigarettes they smoked, did the drugs they did… I became adaptable to the needs of those around me, in turn becoming an excellent “people-pleaser.” What I didn’t realize at the time is that I was forsaking the person I truly was. I didn’t voice my opinions or even my thoughts because in the past I was told they were wrong. I didn’t speak up anymore because when I did, I was ridiculed. Due to my own insecurity and losing my voice, I began to seek affirmation from those around me to make sure I was doing the right thing. Was I living up to their standard? Was I loving them enough? Pleasing man became an idol for me. The sad reality is that I became so accustomed to this pattern that I convinced myself that I was ‘just being nice’ and that I was loving them- that was the “Christian thing” to do, right?
Jesus has been teaching me what true love is. I’m learning that I deserve to be loved and respected by the people I am around and establishing boundaries is important. Keeping God first means pleasing Him first… and most importantly that God’s love is free. It seems so simple when I write it now, BUT HIS LOVE IS FREE. I don’t have to strive for Him to love me. He LOVES every single thing about me in the midst of my faults. And because He loves me so much and shows me His love, I choose to do the things that please Him.
As I continue to step in the midst of His love daily, He continues to show me who I am in Him.
It has been raining a lot in San Diego, so inevitably all the nettles that I cut down last year at my house grew back. And they grew back quickly and there were a lot more than last year. BUT this year I had some better tools– last year I had to borrow some other people’s tools and I needed the help of a gardener. I couldn’t help but relate this to my spiritual life. Last season when I was trying to learn how to walk with the Lord again, I needed a lot of help. I made mistakes, I repented, I tried to make the correct decisions with the right intentions, but I somehow ended up trying to do it in my own strength. The Holy Spirit would correct me and I received council from the people God placed around me. I was humbled again and again and then I would take the next step with more wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.
I have hurt people along the way and I have been hurt as well. I have said some things wrong and I have said some things right. I am so thankful that God’s mercy and grace shall follow me all the days of my life. Every day that I seek the presence of my Savior, He gives me wisdom, discernment, and the next step.
God told me to move. Right before we left, the nettles grew back in full force and I cut them down again, much better equipped this time. I was able to complete the job I needed to do with a little less dependence on other people, and rely more on Jesus and His strength. There is great satisfaction that comes from knowing that you need to do something, taking the steps to do it, and then getting it done. The alternative is knowing you need to do something, being afraid to try, procrastination, and then not seeing any change. So when the Holy Spirit told me to move, instead of being fearful of the unknown or complaining about another move, I took a step of faith and moved our family to a different town, one I have never lived in before. God is taking me deeper and He is stretching my faith by bringing me into the new. What I think is most beautiful about my experience learning how to garden in the natural and the spiritual, is that God brought me back to the place where I had started, just so He could show me how far I have come.
Wow! HIS LOVE IS AMAZING!
I am moving into new territory. Jesus is moving me from this once nettle-overgrown garden to a more beautiful one. He is bringing me into a sacred secret place with Him.