Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our desire to be open to God's leading, and sensitive to His voice!

The next time we met with Ken and Carolee Neufeld, we shared and compared our separate vision statements. Each time we met with them, we would finish our time together with prayer. We wanted to be open to God’s leading, and sensitive to His voice in all of this. Together, we had fun looking at some big houses in Winnipeg. It was alot of fun to DREAM!  After looking at a house, my husband Alvin made the comment that he was sure that he would know when it was the right one. Alvin has the gift of discernment, and so when I heard him say this, I firmly believed he would know, and I felt great security in this.
Summer was a time of learning for me. The verse in Psalm 27 Wait for the Lord.  Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” became a verse that I clung to. I was learning alot about waiting on God. At the same time, I was reading through the book by Andrew Murray called WAITING ON GOD.  My journaling in July included an excerpt about waiting on God ~ in regards to the Vision as well as to the job I held at the time, as a daycare director.
There I was, at the daycare that my father and I “founded” 20 years prior. At one time I had joked about working there until I was old, gray and needing a scooter to get around! Now, I felt that God was calling me away from Sugar-N-Spice Kiddie Haven Inc. I had a very strong sense that my time was coming to an end. Was this scary? Absolutely. I had been in the childcare field for almost 25 years ~ over half of my life! I didn’t know any other job but childcare!
A journal entry in July says, “The waiting is to teach us our absolute dependence upon God’s working and to patiently place ourselves at His disposal. Lord, I know if it’s your will, regarding the retreat house, that you will open doors. Thy will be done.”
In August, I finally bought the book that I had been hearing about for a while. Written by John Ortberg, it is called IF YOU WANT TO WALK ON WATER YOU HAVE TO GET OUT OF THE BOAT. I copied this excerpt straight from the book, into my journal:  “Walking on water is not about some great thing you do. In fact, by yourself, you can do nothing of lasting value.  It is about what God does with you by His power and grace.  But first you have to get your feet wet!”
This book encouraged me (and whoever reads it) to ask what your “boat” or place of comfort is. I knew without a doubt that my boat was my paycheck. Admitting to this made me feel and sound selfish. But I knew the truth. I knew that God was calling me out from the daycare BUT I was too scared to get out and get my feet wet.
On the September long weekend of 2001, I got a phonecall from a woman named Sonia. She shared with me that she had heard about the vision from a mutual friend. She told me that months before, when her and her husband Mario realized they needed to move to another part of the city, she had prayed for someone to buy their house and use it as a ministry for women. I got off the phone and wept and asked the Lord if this was the place for us ~ for the retreat house.
Alvin and I went and met with Sonia and Mario. After chatting for a while, we looked through their house. Every single thing that I was praying about, and asking the Lord for (in a house) was there in their house. It was as if we had a checklist and we walked through the house going check, check, check. I thought, “this is totally God!”
Before we left, the four of us held hands, and there in the studio, we prayed together. Mario said, “Maybe this is the house God intended for you, maybe it isn’t”.We got home and I asked Alvin what he thought about the house, keeping in mind what he had said in the summer about knowing the right house when he saw it. Alvin said he believed that this could be the house. In my heart, I felt the same way. The thing is…the cart was way before the horse, so to speak. The house was for sale, it had all the things that I had been praying specifically for, but we needed to do so much before we could even think of buying it! We began to pray for different things now, and I sent many emails to the prayer team.
I began to meet with many women, and tried to figure out the plan of action. This is what I had as a devotional on my calendar on Sept 4th, which was the day after we saw the house.  It was entitled WE KNOW THE WAY MAKER and it said,“When our desires seem overwhelmingly big and we don’t see the way to accomplish them, we should remember that even though we don’t know the way, we know the Way Maker!  God has a way for us to do everything He places in our heart!” 
Now, we were still in conversation with the Neufelds (we had talked about a partnership of some kind, merging the two ministries). We were supposed to meet with them the following weekend. We had begun to discuss charitable status, incorporation, and all those details. I was praying about partnering, but had gotten a strong sense that the ministry for women would not be a joint partnership. Several women close to me had encouraged me to not loose sight of the Vision God entrusted me with and to be careful not to compromise any of it. Alvin and I felt strongly that this would be a place for women only. That weekend, we met with Ken and Carolee and looked at three more houses they had picked. We went back to their house to talk and pray. At this point we shared what we felt regarding the house on Henderson Highway, and that the ministry was to stand alone and not in partnership with theirs. They gave us their encouragement and their blessing, and told us they would continue to pray for us as we ventured out.
I want to share with you about the quiet time I had with the Lord the next morning before I left for work. I had a brand new CD playing as I sat down to read and pray. Tears flooded my eyes and I stopped and just sat there in His presence. All of a sudden, the CD abruptly skipped to another song, and as I sat in quietness, these are the words that began to play. Needless to say, I got on my knees and wept as God spoke to my soul through this brand new song:
“As I come before you Father, there’s power in this place ~ to move the hands of heaven with a word.  You’re the God of all creation, and you hear my every prayer ~ and you long to give me more than I deserve.  So I pray in expectation, with great anticipation ~ So I kneel before you now.  I surrender to your will.  And I’m living in the hollow of your hands.  You have placed within my heart Lord, a vision and a faith that is bigger than what I understand.  So I pray in expectation with great anticipation.”
After this song, I carried on with my devotional time. Part of my quiet time included reading the book by Andrew Murray, WAITING ON GOD.  The chapter for that day was called WAITING ON GOD FOR INCONCEIVABLE THINGS.  This is the quote I put in my journal:  “But He wants us to expect it.  He wants us to believe and trust Him for the impossible. Look at ministry. So much of it is done by the wisdom of man. So little is in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. We must wait on God. We must cry with a cry that never rests. We must desire and believe.  We must ask and expect that God will do what is inconceivable. The miracle working God, who surpasses all our expectation, must be the God of our confidence.  Yes, let God’s people enlarge their hearts to wait on a God able to do much more than they can ask or think.”  
During this time I also continued to pray for affirmation regarding whether God really wanted me to leave my daycare job. One morning, while praying on my ride into Winnipeg (my husband and I live 30 minutes outside of the city), I was talking out loud with the Lord. I told Him that I felt that He was calling me out of the daycare, and how I felt He was telling me to work to the last day of the year ~ Dec. 31st, 2001. I shared with the Lord how scared I was, and how I felt that the joy had been removed where I was working. I asked God to please confirm this for me, beyond any doubt. That day, I met two of my cousins for lunch. As I shared my thoughts with them, my cousin Dora told me that she was going to say something that may sound rather mean. She looked at me and said, “Joy, you can’t really say you trust God, if you don’t let go of that paycheck and give it all to God!”  I knew these words were for me. I knew without a doubt what I needed to do. However, God also knew that He would confirm the prayer that I had prayed that morning.
A couple of weeks later, Ruth (my sister-in-law, and co-director of the daycare) and I met with two of the board executives. At the meeting they told us that they no longer wanted us to job share. They gave us two options to consider. I asked them when the new arrangement had to start, and they stated all change must be effective January 1st, 2002. Well, on my drive home from work I cried and cried. It wasn’t until the next day that  it dawned on me that God had used the two board members to confirm His will for me! It was like God had taken me by the shoulders and said “Joy, you wanted confirmation, so here it is again. You thought you would work till Dec. 31st, 2001 and you will.” The thing is, at this point, I knew without a doubt that I had completed that portion of my life, and I had till year end to tie up loose ends. There was incredible peace about the decision.

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