Wednesday, May 10, 2017

New Chapters (Hint: They Never Look The Way We Envision)

So a lot has happened since my last blog post.  With the last few weeks finally behind me, I can definitely say that I have entered into the new chapter of my life, which God had been preparing me for.

I guess because I had spent the last chapter eagerly anticipating the next, I forgot to consider one thing: 

In order for a new chapter to begin, an old chapter has to end!

Not only that, from my experience that transition between old and new chapters tends to be chaotic- meaning a lot of events typically unfold during the period of transitioning.

As I reflected over these last few weeks, I also rediscovered that chapter beginnings and endings rarely look like beginnings and endings.  In other words, I didn’t immediately register that certain transpiring events would actually marked the ending of my previous chapter, while the events that later followed would mark the beginning of a new chapter.  I also must admit that my new chapter looked NOTHING like I thought it would!

Side Note: God definitely has a sense of humor, but I digress.

Despite the heavy traffic of events- some of them being “game-changers”- I walked away grasping some important lessons.  Care to know what they were?

Okay, well first let me set the stage:

Following the March release of my YA fiction book, MIRRORING EFFECT, I found myself (and my time) being divided between promoting the book and 9Fruits endeavors, and my normal day-to-day tasks (work, volunteer/church participation, exercise, etc).

At one point, things had gotten so hectic at my job that I found my days being stretched even further into the night.  In order to target everything, I resorted to getting up earlier and staying up later.  

Day after day.  

Week after week.

About four weeks ago, nature took its course- my body crashed.  Now as a mental health professional, I’m a firm believer in paying attention to your body as it will always tell you when something’s wrong.    Well, that fateful week, my body had sounded the alarm.

Although I spent two days away from my job to allow my body time to recuperate, I immediately returned to work with full gusto.  And that following week, on Tuesday to be exact, I found myself crying out to God for mercy and relief.  As grateful as I wanted to be regarding my new blessing (book), I knew I couldn’t handle the hours that came with having a full time job and an even fuller vision.

So I asked God to shift some things around for me.

Let me emphasize something I’ve mentioned in the past: when God answers your prayers with a “Yes,” it is an immediate “Yes!”

Fast forward to that Friday (three days later) when I was called into a meeting with my boss who had incredible news to share.

In the meeting my boss had explained that due to some changes, the company would be phasing out the position held by two others and me.  While the exact end date could not be determined, the outcome was clear:

 I was losing my job!

I know, I know…incredible, right?  It really was. 

You see, this wasn’t the first time I had been on the receiving end of some life-changing news.  I was blessed to have so many examples where God changed my path unexpectedly.  During those moments, I knew He only did so when He needed me to head in a new direction.  The change in direction always pertained to my higher purpose and calling, which helped me to remember another fact:

God always provides where He guides. 

He took care of me in the past, so I knew He would do it again.

And so, as I was sitting in that room, facing my boss, and processing the information that had just been disclosed, I couldn’t help but to laugh silently.

I knew God had not only heard my prayer, but His answer confirmed that the time had come for me to walk further into my purpose.  On that day, God closed a chapter in my life and began a new one.  And although the ending and beginning of those chapters did not look like I had envisioned (seriously- who predicts losing a job?!?!), using previous life events as reference points, God blessed me with wisdom to know He was in the midst of it all, working it for my good.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
~ Romans 8:28 (KJV)

That night as I prayed, I reaffirmed my trust in Him and His plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11); I asked that He once again provide for me.

By the end of the following week (and I literally mean seven days later), I interviewed for a new position within the company with vastly different (and fewer) hours.  

Five days later, I was offered the position.

Do you want to know what’s so incredible and humbling about that experience?  I ultimately accepted a new position that would allow me to direct the majority of my attention towards my vision and calling.

God had heard my plea for mercy that Tuesday night, and He had answered my prayer in His own way. 

Let’s not forget to acknowledge how quickly He answered.  From beginning (my prayer) to end (His answer), only fifteen days had elapsed.

In roughly two weeks, God had ushered me further into my calling and purpose!  Again, when God says “Yes,” it’s immediate!

So, now that I’m in a new chapter, how does it tie to my old one?

If you can recall in previous entries, I noted that God oftentimes uses different seasons- seasons of storms, droughts, etc- to prepare you for the next season.

In my season of waiting, God wanted me to learn several things.  To name a few: He wanted me to learn patience, discipline, and trust.

The lesson of trust had been tested during my chapter transitions simply because I ultimately had to make a choice to trust God when things looked shaky and unclear.

The importance of discipline and patience also come to focus as the events unfolding in this new chapter have already emphasized the need for both in order to successfully complete them.

Lastly, in my previous season and chapter, God had really pressed in my heart the need to strengthen my relationship with Him.  I realized that God had placed me in a season of waiting so I could draw closer to Him.  He made me wait so I could learn to depend completely on Him and His timing, as well as consciously choose His Will over mine.

Although this new chapter will be filled with new blessings, this chapter will also be marked with new testing.  Again, a new level in Christ attracts a new level of opposition.  In order to successfully overcome those trials and testing, I must be firmly planted in Christ.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.
~Jeremiah 17:7-8

Have your roots planted deep in Christ. Grow in Him. Get your strength from Him. Let Him make you strong in the faith as you have been taught. Your life would be full of thanks to Him.
~Colossians 2:7

As I mentioned earlier, I walked away from my old chapter with several lessons.  If I can end with any encouraging insight:

  1. Remain open-minded when it comes to God’s actual work on your behalf. Putting limitations on yourself and your vision puts limitations on God to work miracles on your behalf.  (Hebrews 11).
  2. Remember, in order for a new chapter to begin, the old chapter has to end.  You cannot catch new blessings when your hands are holding onto old ones (meaning the anointing is gone).
  3. You cannot bring old habits into new situations.  If you can recall the example of training for a 5k race versus training for a 10k race.  You will not be able to endure the increased length and challenge of a 10k race if you continue to train on a 5k level.  What worked previously may not sustain you now.

 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.
~Mark 2:22 
  1. Trust in God always.  New chapters aren’t always marked by glorious and exciting news.  In fact, new stages and beginnings often spring from tumultuous trials and sorrow.
  2. Draw close to God and He will draw close to you.  In addition to that fact, know that He will also direct your path, allowing blessings to pour down and even chase you. 
  3. Trust in His timing.  When the time is right, God acts quickly and clearly.  As tempting as it may be to take matters into your own hands (please, please, please, learn from my mistakes), trust that once God says, “Yes,” it will be immediate! 

A little one shall become a thousand, And a small one a strong nation. 
I, the LORD, will hasten it in its time.
~Isaiah 60:22 
  1. After you receive His “Yes,” don’t hesitate.  Don’t doubt yourself once God gives you the green light- go get your blessing!

If it is God’s will, I will conclude by saying, “Until next time!”

God bless!

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