So if you have ever been in a contemporary worship service in the past six years you have probably heard the popular Hillsong United jam called Oceans. If you have been living in a hole and don’t know the song CLICK HERE to take you to a youtube video with lyrics. Many Christians will say that the song has been over played and used to manipulate people sitting in the pews to give to missions or to move into the mission field. Not that going into missions is a bad thing, but you can’t help but notice the pull of emotion in the song that could be used as manipulation. There are worship leaders and pastors who do use the power of song to do that, but I am getting on a tangent away from the purpose of this post.
The reason I bring up the song is because I have a different connection to the song. When I hear the song (I am listening to it right now) it pulls me into the image that has been woven in this whole story – relentless waters. My constant prayer since college is that God takes me where he wants me – to guide my steps. I remember saying that prayer at my first Fire Fall in 2006 (college revival they did each year). When this song came out in 2013 it renewed my prayer all over again. The bridge is where I want to focus:
Spirit lead me where my faith is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith would be made stronger in the presence of my SaviorHillsong United 2013
I have always made this my prayer. That God would take me to where he needed me. That prayer has always been so big it scares me every time I pray it. My voice trembles and tears shed as I would ask God to guide my feet out into the waters wherever he wanted me. It has always been and will always be my surrender. There will always be a song or a verse or a speaker who will remind me of the surrender and prayer I need to lift up to God. Because my life is not my own and in college is when I realized that.
Now, were there larger moments when I forgot the prayer and tried to stay where I wanted? Yup. And each time God answered my surrender prayer I went, but I went kicking and screaming. It took me months to finally go home to Indiana. It was the most painful process and it is because I didn’t want to live up to the surrender God was calling me into.
When Nebraska called I saw God in it. I saw my surrender moment. I don’t remember where or when I heard the song, but it is called Just Want You by Sarah Reeves and the whole of the song is that the singer only wants the things that God is in. When I heard that song I knew that was just a new part of my surrender prayer. I didn’t want a new job unless God was in it. So I emailed PA and told them to take me out of the running. That night I sat down with my parents and told them I knew where I needed to go and that was Nebraska.
Saying it was easy, but moving there was going to be the challenge because the church is a church plant and can’t pay a normal salary. This was exactly what I was trying to get away from. I originally was looking for a job that was full-time in hours and pay to support myself, but instead God was calling me to trust him and for the first time in my walk I didn’t fight him kicking and screaming. I actually surrendered and trusted that hew as going to get me there. Boy did he move.
I put in an application with the children’s museum in Nebraska and I believe the next day I got an email. It was funny. My now boss said that I was someone they were looking for, but did I know they were in Nebraska and not in Indiana where I was. It made me laugh. I had a phone interview two days later and the next day she offered me the job – a full time job that would financially support me while I also worked at the church. Can you say God moment with me?! You know what else he did within that week? I found an apartment under budget. Wow!
None of that was me. It was all God. I surrendered all the worry and planning to him and he laid it all out. I felt like he was saying, “Good Ashley. Since for the first time you aren’t going to fight me here is all you need to go and love on the kids and students of Lincoln.” I can just imagine him sighing with relief that I wasn’t going to drag out a tantrum and I like to think my grandparents are thanking me for not allowing my Kreager stubbornness to overtake me.
Surrender isn’t always this easy and there are many times God will not place everything out on a silver platter for you. Some of his plans are rough and difficult, with lots of tears, struggles, and questioning of why. I don’t want you to think following God is easy. It isn’t. None of my story of getting to Nebraska was easy. He set it up for me to get there, but that was all at the end of July. I didn’t get to Nebraska until Labor Day weekend and there was a whole month of pain and tears and questioning to come.
There are two verses from this experience I want to share:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”Matthew 7:7
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33
The first verse in Matthew isn’t a magical verse that says God will give you whatever you ask for. No, what I think Jesus was saying is that when we seek after God’s heart he will open the door for us. When we ask questions, God will answer in his timing and in his way. During June I went to him in prayer everyday about where he wanted me and He gave me his answer and confirmed it with the speed of the job and living space.
Then in John it is a mix of heartache and peace all in one. Jesus told us we will have troubles and we will face hardship, BUT he has overcome the world and all its troubles. As I mentioned I still have a heartbreaking month to tell you about, but Jesus continuously gave me peace at the right moments needed. So for now I want to challenge you.
Are you seeking after God’s heart for your life right now? Or are you trying to write your own story away from your true Creator? I challenge you to think on this. Truly ask yourself. Are you surrendering to God’s plan or are you fighting it with all the toddler tantrum you can muster? Either way won’t be easy, BUT when we follow God’s plan there is peace knowing Jesus has overcome everything we will face and the victory is his!