Our expectations for life in this time have been thrown up into the air and most of us honestly don’t know when we’ll have them back in our hands.
In this time here at YWAM Oxford we've sent our January Discipleship Training School students home, which meant they didn't get to go to the nations they had been praying over for outreach, our school leaders have had to learn how to hold their classes online, and some staff needed to return to their home countries abruptly.
We are positive you can probably add to this list of frustration and disappointment, wondering and curious to see how God will use this time in history for good.
I personally think back to the days of outreach preparation on my own discipleship training school and how many times our leaders would encourage us to hold onto plans loosely. Often those plans would get chucked out the window within 5 minutes of meeting up with a ministry contact on outreach. There would be a plan we all agreed on and excitement amongst our team to execute. However, those plans would rarely become reality and instead we would find ourselves spending time coming to terms with the idea of keeping our hands open, rather than closed on our expectations.
(Nothing against ministry contacts; most of the time their plans are better anyways).
Even though today many YWAM outreaches across the globe have been ‘cancelled’ and there are many people all over the world who’s plans have fallen through in this time, I believe the same holds true in our day to day lives outside of ministry - that we must hold loosely the plans or possessions we carry. Because let's face it, our life should be one big outreach, a continual journey of reaching and serving people wherever we are at in the world.
If in this season of uncertainty you are finding yourself held up in fear or anger, I encourage you to open your hands to see what you may be holding onto too tightly. Ask yourself, “Why am I so fearful in this time?” or “Why is my heart full of anger?”. Is it because you are afraid that you will not have enough money to pay the bills? Are you angry because you finally opened yourself up to dreaming and now it feels like all your dreams have had to die? I challenge you to ask yourself...
What are your hands gripping onto in this time?
“Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.” - Corrie Ten Boom, Goodreads
Oftentimes when we take a look at what we are gripping onto, we try to compromise and say ‘Okay God, you can have everything else around me, just not these things (in my hands)’. We sing worship songs and even write in our journals that Jesus is our Lord, but when it comes to that one thing, that one area of our life, we’d like to have the control.
When we hold onto control so tightly, we take matters into our own hands and as a result, whether intentionally or not, tell God, ‘You are not good enough to have control over this area in my life. I have better plans than you.’ I know for many of us this may be a major wake up call; it definitely was for me back on my discipleship training school. I honestly was scared that God would take things away from me if I gave them to Him. But you know what? God fights for us! He wants what’s best for us. When we hand over our WHOLE LIFE to Him, He begins to move and shape things in ways we may have never imagined! It may be scary at first because it’s something new and different, but eventually it becomes this grand adventure of following God to such beautiful places.
I am reminded of this song we often sing in worship, probably across the globe:
“I lean not on my own understanding,
My life is in the hands of the Maker of heaven...
I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open.
I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open.”
I had a dream of what I wanted YWAM Oxford’s first blog post to be about, but I felt a nudge in my spirit to release that topic to God and thus this post was born. I opened my hands and released to God this blog. I can honestly say that it is better than what I previously wanted it to be. I have complete faith that God knows better than me what YOU need and that there are specific people needing to see this post.
In Matthew 6:19-21 it says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
In this verse Jesus speaks to the posture of our hearts. He calls us to find freedom from the anxiety of griping so tightly onto the things we have in our hands, whether it be a need of control, finances, or dreams we had for this time in our lives. Lay all these things down at the feet of Jesus and He will bring you freedom and great joy!
If we truly want to walk out in faith that God has such a greater understanding than we do in this time, we must place our life - dreams, expectations, whatever we may be holding onto - into the hands of the Almighty King. We will all climb this mountain together, with God as our guide, and it will be a grand adventure!