Devo #12: A REAL Relationship

DEVO #12:

In life come seasons where our walk with God begins to feel normal and what we’re used to. It’s easy to forget how great and huge the God of the universe is, and to unconsciously think of Him as smaller and more “normal” than He is. You know the been-there-done-that syndrome. Allison talks about her own experience with this and the real, honest relationship she had to return to in her walk with God.

Allison Foster

The Fosters are known for their servanthood. They are the kind of people who will walk into your house for the first time and end up washing all your dishes after dinner…but they do it in such a way that you almost don’t know what’s happening to you, because it’s not about showing how nice they are; it’s just natural. When the Fosters lived in Albany, NY, my parents would have regular Carcassone game nights with them, and the whole family would get excited for their arrival. Since then the Fosters have moved to Florida, where they are stationed to work with the Jesus Film Project. They have also adopted two baby boys (who are stinking adorable!) and are continuing to live every second of their life serving others and loving Jesus. You could not meet a woman who is a better example of life as Jesus called us to live than Allison Foster, so it is my pleasure to introduce her to you today…

Allison’s Profile:

Job: Mom/missionary
Favorite color: Blue
Favorite food: Anything chocolate and peanut butter
Describe yourself/life in 3 words: (This is an extremely hard question, by the way!) Trying [to] pursue God
What you want to do with your life: Lead my children to Jesus and teach them how to walk with Him so that they will impact their generation for Christ.
One interesting fact about you: I am very much a homebody. I was totally scared to think about going overseas, except for maybe Europe. Africa was especially scary to me, for whatever reason. Well, after being married for about four years, God called my husband and I to be missionary of all things. And the first trip I took overseas was to…yep, you guessed it…AFRICA – Kenya to be exact. God definitely has a sense of humor!
J
Most dangerous thing you’ve ever done: Walked in an African national park where there were wild animals roaming around (not by myself – with a group, and a guide who had a gun! But it was still scary, yet fun at the same time!)
Favorite quote: “The most important thing is to keep the most important thing the most important thing.”

Favorite Bible verse: Proverbs 3:5-6
What is one secret to living life as a woman of God in today’s world? It is so easy to believe lies about God and yourself and become complacent in your relationship with Him. Pray often and surrender your life to Him moment by moment, realizing your need for Him. Stay in the Word! We cannot live apart from the Holy Spirit – we need Him to live our daily lives, to give us THE Truth, to glorify Him and share Him with others. Once we start trying to do things on our own, then we start slipping away from God, believing lies about Him and ourselves, and getting caught up in the world.

“A REAL Relationship” by Allison Foster

When Tiffany asked me to write an article about what God is teaching me in this season of my life, I was excited to do it. I love to share my stories and experiences and when they encourage others, my heart is filled with joy. I have been helped the most by others when they’ve shared what things they have gone through and I truly enjoy being able to do that for others.

As the time has come to actually write the article, my heart has been filled with anxiety and dread. There have been many opportunities in my life to share about God either through writing or on a stage. Nine times out of ten I am in tune with Him, making the opportunity easy. The Holy Spirit tells me what to say and I do my best to share it, praying that He will be glorified and not me.

Lately though, I have not felt very close to God. I have lots of good excuses. I am a missionary with The Jesus Film Project, therefore our work isn’t really a 9 to 5 job – it regularly goes until 9 at night and on weekends. I am a mother of two boys – one is 19 months old and the other is 8 months old. Both of them are dependent on me to dress, feed, and entertain them from the time they get up till the time they go to sleep.

I have been a Christian for twenty-two years already, I have “been there, done that” for most things related to God. But the reality is that even after twenty-two years of walking with Him, I am experiencing a “desert time” with the Lord. I have lost perspective on Him – on who He is. I have treated Him as an item on my to-do list, rather than the awesome, all powerful, HOLY God that He is. I have the wrong belief that if I just do everything I am supposed to do, (pray, read the Bible, memorize Scripture, witness, etc.) He will love me more and we will be closer.

This false belief attempts to put me in control. If I do x, y and z, then God will do this or that for me. All will be right with the world. My kingdom and world will be ordered, controlled, dependable, SAFE.

God doesn’t want this kind of relationship with me. He wants a love relationship with me. He wants me to let go of my need to have control and trust Him, even if He’s asking me to do some things that are way outside my comfort zone.

I have been reading “The Sacred Romance” by John Eldridge, and it has really helped my perspective about Him. Too often I see myself as the center of my story – the main character, the hero – and God is there to guide me, bail me out when necessary, meet my needs – a kind of supporting actor. The reality is that God is the main actor. He is the hero, and I am the helpless heroine that needs rescuing. He is the strong one, with the heart filled with passion to fight anyone and everything to get to me. He is to be loved and revered, not put in a box or made into an item on my to-do list, alongside doing laundry and brushing my teeth.

His love for us is unconditional. Amazingly, even if I choose to continue down my path of me being in control, doing the safe things and having my world ordered according to my desires – He will not love me any less than if I choose His path. His path could be more dangerous and put my heart more on the line, but I will not experience the abundant life that He promises without doing so. By following Him, I will have a larger part in building His kingdom, which has far greater eternal value than having my house, my kids, my life in seemingly perfect order.

So far it has taken me a couple of weeks to write this. I don’t have any nicely packaged conclusion to offer, or instructions on how to get out of the desert time you may be facing. Following Christ is not always easy. There are times like this when it seems like He’s not even there – you pray, read the Bible, ask Him for help to draw closer to Him and in return you get silence. These times are extremely difficult. They make you wonder if He really cares about you. Sometimes we have to love Him by faith and know that despite life’s circumstances, He DOES have good plans for us (Jer. 29:11) and that nothing will separate us from His love (Romans 8).

Gradually, I am feeling less and less like I am in the desert. He hears my prayers, asking for Him to humble my heart in surrender to Him. He is answering them in a way I would not expect. This morning I was humbled by a conversation with someone very close to me who said that they aren’t feeling loved by me – that they are just an item on my to-do list, and they wondered if I actually truly care about them in the first place. Ouch. So it seems I am not just treating God like that, but others too.

This conversation and realization caused my heart to break. But in the brokenness, I think I am starting to finally have a heart ready to listen and obey, rather than a heart that says, “I can handle life, I have things in control.” I really can’t do any of this life without Him. I need Him – and I need more of Him than just reading a few scripture verses and saying a quick prayer. I need Him to fill me moment by moment with His Spirit, so I can live in His power. I just wish it didn’t take desert experiences or challenging life experiences to help me remember that!

So, for now I am still in the desert but hopefully am on the way out and heading back to a REAL relationship with Him. I pray that He will help me continue to choose Him, instead of my shallow way of thinking, feeling and living. If you are in the desert too, I want to encourage you that He sees you. He knows where you are, and He longs for you to come home. Sometimes I have had to pray for Him to help me to want to want to love Him, choose Him, obey Him, etc.  Often He takes longer than I want for Him to answer and the answer often involves pain. But He DOES answer. He never leaves nor forsakes us, despite what life looks like sometimes. When we finally come out of the desert or difficult circumstances (whether we caused them or not), we can be closer to Him if we allow Him to work in our hearts and change us.

God bless you! Feel free to contact me at fosteremail@juno.com, I’d love to hear your story!

~*~*~*~

To continue on to devo #13 by one of my friends (who wishes to stay anonymous), click here.

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