Friday, August 21, 2009

Be near, oh God

You are all
Big and small
Beautiful and wonderful
To trust in grace through faith
But i'm asking to taste...

For dark is light to You
Depths are height to You
Far is near
But Lord, I need to hear from You

Be near, oh God
Be near, oh God of us
Your nearness is to us our good
Be near, oh God
Be near, oh God of us
Your nearness is to us our good, our good

Your fullness is mine
Revelation divine
But, o, to taste
To know much more than a page
To feel Your embrace...

For dark is light to You
The depths are height to You
Far is near, but Lord
I need to hear from You

Be near, oh God
Be near, oh God of us
Your nearness is to us our good
Be near, oh God
Be near, oh God of us
Your nearness is to us our good, our good

I have been a Shane & Shane fan for years now and this song is one of my favorites. There are times lately when I've felt so far from the Lord and long to be near my God. At times I find myself in "slumps" where my time in the Word is an obligation and my prayers feel like nothing more than words. Complacency, apathy and impatience rear their ugly heads more often than not. I remember a time a few years ago when the Lord called me to do what I'm doing now; a time when I couldn't get enough of His words; a time when I felt like I was sitting at the feet of Jesus, my prayers a deep and personal conversation with Him.

I long for those sweet times with my Lord.

"But, o, to taste. To know much more than a page. To feel your embrace. Be near, oh God, your nearness is to us our good..."

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Seasons of Change

This time last year I was getting started with field personnel orientation in Rockville, VA. I was preparing to serve in an administrative role in Johannesburg, a position that seemed to fit me perfectly considering some of my past jobs.

During FPO, we were told of big changes ahead as our company was on the brink of a major reorganization and personnel in support roles should be prepared for changes in our jobs. Upon hearing this news, I continued enjoying my time at FPO but knew my role in South Africa could change, perhaps even a change in location.

These past 10 months have been wonderful serving in Johannesburg. I’ve met some incredible people and have assisted our leadership in various projects and meetings. During this time, however, I’ve always sensed my role in South Africa would be temporary and God would use me here for a season and then use me in other areas to meet other needs.

In April, I was approached by one of our region’s media team leaders about needs in Nairobi, Kenya. We talked about my background in journalism and the possibility of working with the east Africa team once my current term ends next August.

At the end of May, I traveled to Nairobi to visit my great friend, Jeff, who serves there. I was blessed to spend almost three weeks in Kenya and had another opportunity to visit with the media team. Still, we did not think any moves to work there could happen until next year.

After returning to Johannesburg I began thinking about the possibility of using my journalism background on the field and soon started praying and discerning if the Lord was putting this desire on my heart. The more I prayed, the more I felt led to pursue this opportunity but wanted to be 100 percent sure, without any doubt, this was a “God-thing” and not a “Blake-thing.”

As I sought answers and clarity over this, I knew my answers would be found in His word. The Lord reminded me how he led me to Proverbs 3:24 – 27 to confirm His call on my life to serve overseas. So I went back to that beautiful book. The following verses are how the Lord spoke to my heart:

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

“How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!” – Proverbs 16:16

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” – Proverbs 16:20

A desire to serve in this role in Nairobi was growing in my heart and I humbly asked the Lord to guide each step of the way, to open the doors if He so willed, or shut them if now was not the time.

I was desperate for the Lord’s wisdom and sought discernment and understanding of what He was doing in my heart.

I trusted the Lord when He instructed me to pursue this opportunity now, rather than later.

God has proven faithful these last several weeks as I began pursuing a new role that brings a new home for me in Africa. He has continued to confirm His plans for me to transfer to Nairobi and now it appears I will be moving sometime in October.

When He called me to serve overseas in 2004 He led me to return to the University of Arkansas – Little Rock to complete my bachelor’s degree in journalism. Now I know why.

What a blessing this journey of the past few weeks has been for me. I know I’m truly not worthy of this work and am incapable of taking on this role without the strength, grace and mercy of my heavenly Father. While I am leaving behind some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met in Johannesburg I am so excited and blessed to be using my gifts in writing to share God’s stories in Africa and to be moving near some of my closest friends in the world who I went through training with one year ago.

Praise the Lord for His faithfulness and reminding me His plans prevail over mine and He can choose to send me and use me anywhere and anytime He desires.