Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"I will go before you - DON'T FEAR!"

January 5th, 2004 my journal entry says: “It’s Monday. One of the sweetest times was spent this morning in the (prayer) chapel (at church) ~ sharing, praying, waiting on you Lord. At the end when Diana prayed that you would speak to us, I saw a “picture” of mountains and hills, with a road entwined back and forth through them. I heard (God speak) the phrases “I Love You” ~ “Don’t fear” ~ and “I will go before you” (not sure if that’s a verse portion or not?).
It is! (I checked my Bible concordance) Deut. 31:8 ‘The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid – do not be discouraged!’  Thank You Lord.”
April 7, 2004 my journal entry says: “Lord ~ I know, without a doubt that the adventure with you has begun. I know you have called me into ministry. I feel the call is specific to women. I also know that right now, in the interim ~ my ministry is with all at McIvor (my church). I have no idea what you will ultimately do. At this point God gave me John 14:20 which I just recorded but did not look up.
Lord, you know I so badly want to see the Vision for the retreat house come to fruition and I do want to be involved there. But I believe that my heart beats strongest for women’s ministry. But that being said, Lord I know I am called to ministry and I know you will do your will through me. Lord ~ help me to not fear. Help me to fall more and more in love with You Jesus!”
At that point, I looked up the verse in John 14:20 which God had given to me while I was prayer journaling. John 14:20 says: “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me, and I am in You.”
Later, in the month of April (actually the 20th) I was told that there had been many applicants for the pastoral position, but that I was being asked if I would allow my name to go forward. I was shocked. After all, I knew that they were looking for someone with a seminary degree. That was not me. I said I would gladly let my name stand, and the official process continued. I was asked to give my testimony. It was here that I testified to the grace of God, as well as to his direct leading in my life. From there, I knew that, as it is the custom of our church, the congregation would discuss it and put it to a vote.
During this time, the verse from Joshua 1:9 became my mantra! “Be strong and courageous ~ for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I read a devotional called “The People God Calls” and part of the reflection said “In today’s church we are often concerned with professional qualifications for those we call to ministry. How do we react when God calls unlikely apostles and prophets to challenge us today?” I kept finding that God would send me little “kisses” along the way to affirm that I was following Him…even though I couldn’t quite see the path!
May 11th ~ my journal entries are full of thoughts and quotes on SURRENDERING TO GOD!! “Surrendering is not for cowards or doormats! Surrendering is best demonstrated in obedience! You say, ‘Yes Lord’ to whatever He asks of You” (sorry I do not have the author of the quote written down).
William Booth ~ Salvation Army said “surrendered people are the ones God uses!!” Oh boy, God was teaching me a lot about this!!
The congregational meeting was to take place in May. That day I struggled with God (silly me!) and asked God “Okay Lord, what do I do if the vote is 92 or 89… I know you have told me it should be 93!” I shared that with Alvin and Ashley as we drove into the meeting. After the first part of the business, we were dismissed, and the debate began. Even for our church, “women in leadership” was still a debate. Alvin and I went home to await the answer. Later that night, Bob (the moderator) called and said “Joy the vote was overwhelming affirmative – it was 93%!” I was literally blown away ~ God had done it once again ~ showing me that HE IS IN CONTROL RIGHT DOWN TO THE VOTE!
I told Bob the story, to which he replied “Hang on Joy, I am putting this on speaker phone, I want you to tell the rest of the Council executive!”
I was commissioned early in June ~ blessed as a woman, to minister in a pastoral leadership role. At the time people were thinking, and some were bold enough to ask if I had let the Vision die? To this I replied that for some reason God wanted me in the pastoral role at McIvor for whatever time He saw fit for me. He had made that absolutely clear in my “call into ministry” in the church setting. While it hurt to hear people express that they thought the Vision was dead in the water, I assured them that NO, the Vision was not dead, but it was “simmering on the back burner” until such time as God saw fit to bring it to a boil again.
It simmered, and simmered and simmered. 2004 seems like a long time ago. I have to admit that back in 2000–01, when God laid the Vision on my heart I never thought it would take so long! But someone told me that “God’s TIMING IS ALWAYS PERFECT” and I believed that He would let me know when I needed to get going with it again.
In the meantime, I saw how God was using me in my pastoral role, for HIS purposes and making it very clear to me why WRATW was on His heart. Since I was a woman in a leadership role, I worked a lot with women of all ages. I also got the opportunity to present the story of the Vision at women’s groups, and churches other than my own. I loved this, as I felt that it has always been God’s heart to have this ministry for women of all ages, from all walks of life, from all denominations, as well as for women who were just getting to know God, or maybe don’t even know that they need God!
As I worked with women within my ministry ~ a few things happened. I got to hear the “hearts” of many, many women of all ages. I have had the joy of seeing God at work in many lives, and have also had opportunity to pray for many, many women over the 7 years I have been in my role.
If there is anything that I have seen is that women of all ages need to experience, and know the amazing grace they are covered with, and the love that God wants to lavish on us (men too, but this became obvious in regards to women)! I have seen too many women who do not know how beautiful, how precious, how loved and treasured they are in the eyes of the Father! I have felt His love, His blessing, His embrace and have realized how much I want other women especially to just fall more in love with Jesus and also feel this amazing unconditional love! This is one thing that is so obvious to me reagarding why God put me into ministry for this time. He just really wants women to know how loved you are!! We are precious in his sight!

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