“Welcome to the team!”
In one moment, my entire life did a complete 180. Last December, I went from being a full-time wedding photographer to being an intern with the youth ministry at my church in an instant. Everything I had been thinking about, imagining in my head, and hoping for was coming to fruition. I was over the moon. And honestly, a little terrified.
I’m someone who is really good at idealizing situations. I can tend to live in this imaginary world where conversations go really well and transitions are seamless. When I stepped onto the youth team on January 7th, reality hit me. This was it. This was my new job. It was everything I had ever wanted to do wrapped up in one place but the reality of it was daunting. Overwhelming. The fact that I was actually there scared me a bit.
But I jumped in. And I loved every second of it.
My “one word” for 2019 is flourish. I fell in love with the definition instantly: “to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.” (Word nerd alert: I read a dictionary for fun in elementary school. I WAS HOMESCHOOLED, obviously.) This definition described my desires for this next chapter of my life. To grow and develop, to become a healthier person, to live in an environment that moved me closer to Jesus and put me in a position to love people well.
And while we’re being honest, let me say the first month of my new job was not the easiest. I was in love with what I got to do, and I saw so many areas of my life thrive as I stepped into what God had called me to do, but the thing about being where God wants you to be is that Satan is never happy about it. Lies began to fill my head about my ability to do the job well, love people adequately, and step out of my comfort zone. I was paralyzed by my own fear at times. I did not feel like I was flourishing. I felt stagnant. It was almost as if the tree had stopped growing because someone forgot to water it.
At the beginning of February, our entire church staff went to a leadership event in Oklahoma City. During one of the breakout sessions, we all split off individually and spent ten minutes praying and worshiping, waiting on God’s voice. I found a corner of the auditorium, next to a stack of chairs, and knelt down on the hard floor. I’ll be honest, the first few minutes felt a bit awkward. “Okay, God. Here we go. I have ten minutes and I want to hear from you.”
Clearly, I was in the right headspace.
I waited. And waited. Expectant. And then, one word pops into my head.
“Okay, Holy Spirit. I am listening!! I want to hear from you!”
“Okay, okay. I get it. I’ll just breathe and wait here for you.”
I opened up the Bible app on my phone and begin to scroll around randomly. My ten minutes were ticking by and I wasn’t hearing another word. Not that I was getting anxious or anything, but maybe I was. But as I began to worship, expecting that God wanted to speak clearly to me, and still scrolling around on my phone, I landed on Psalm 65:11.
'You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.'
I was overwhelmed in that moment. Partially because God is so faithful to speak when we just wait on Him (this is a whole other topic that God’s teaching me about) and also because the amount of glory in this verse is staggering. This is mind-blowing stuff right here. Even in the hard pathways? There’s abundance? It being the beginning of the year, and me loving all things relating to a “fresh start,” I was fully embracing everything this verse had to say. I was eating it up. And as I read this verse over and over again, one phrase, like water running over a smooth rock, poured into my spirit.
I will flourish in Your abundance.
It was as if God illuminated a corner of the room that felt so secret and special. A section of a holy library that I didn’t feel worthy enough to touch. I will flourish in Your abundance. Even if my life doesn’t seem abundant, I have access to Your holy promises and spiritual gifts. I will flourish in Your abundance. I will receive the good gifts You love to give Your children. I will flourish in Your abundance. You desire this for me, every single day.
Like I said, mind-blowing.
And the thing about God is no matter what your thoughts are shouting, He’s not your ex-boyfriend, or the parent that left when you were three, or the friend that keeps saying she’ll do something but never follows through. He’s God. And He keeps every single promise that He makes.
This promise, that I WILL flourish in His abundance became my anthem. When the lies creep in, I will flourish in Your abundance. When I am unsure if I belong in the job I now find myself in, I will flourish in Your abundance. When insecurities about my relationship status or friendships, or self-image begin to overtake my thoughts, I will flourish in Your abundance.
The promises of God are our weapons against the lies that so desperately want to take us out. Ultimately, what I received from this simple but profound phrase is that this is what our Father desires for us. He’s not angrily waiting for us to mess up. He’s not withholding good things from His children. He excitedly desires to pour His gifts out like a flood. Even when our life doesn’t make sense. Even if situations don’t line up. In seasons of plenty, or seasons of want, His desire for my heart is to know the fullness of His abundance. To not just exist, but to flourish. To know that in Him, everything comes together in wholeness and restoration.
And I know, I believe with my entire being, that this is His heart for you as well.
“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” / Ephesians 3:16-19