Thursday, February 4, 2010

A summary of finishing seasons and new beginnings

Much time has passed since my last post, and its about time that I gave an update. In the whirlwind of October and November, I suddenly found myself walking across the stage for graduation from my first year of Bible College. Shortly after graduation, I moved into my new flat with a handful of amazing Christian young men. There are six of us total and what a group--every one of us represents a different nation!

A week after moving, I boarded a plane to Auckland, New Zealand--my mission to get a new visa. This would allow me to work in order to save up for another year of College. After making my financial needs known to friends and family and asking for their support in prayer, I felt that getting a working and holiday visa was the best option to continue into the new year, and that it would allow me to take ownership in supporting my dream. However, just days before I boarded the plane, I received news that family friends from back home had supported me with enough finance to pay for my first semester's fees and tuition! After praying and seeking counsel for my next year with this new development, I decided it would be best to continue along my original plan to save finance for the span of the whole year, and therefore put this gift into savings. What a blessing this was as were the other financial gifts that began to appear. It appeared that God was reminding me of his favor over this season and assuring me that he was with me during a time when it was easy to lose sight of the goal and get tossed around in the often frequent storms. How grateful I am to these family members in Christ who have valiantly and boldly offered their support in prayers and finance for this kingdom-building journey in which I find myself!

And so returning from New Zealand's North Island to Sydney, Australia, I have begun to work full-time at an Organic Health Food Cafe. My goal is to save enough finance in the next five months to be able to pay for the second semester of college and, God-willing, squeeze in a visit home to family and friends. This latest move has been a step of faith, and I love my job, although working full-time has proved challenging with health that has been shaky, at best, with adjusting to a new and full schedule. However, God has used this time to really cause me to rely on him once again, yet in new ways.

Through this season of transition, perhaps one of the greatest lessons that stands out to me is found in Proverbs 19:21... "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." I have found that during this time, I have made all these arrangements and created options and formed plans for the future just so that everything will work out for the dream I feel God has called me to. However, it is through all these plans that I have found myself striving to make them work out and sadly, this has disguisedly become more about me than even about intimacy with the Father.

Suddenly, I feel more stranded than I have in this desert of self-effort and more lonely than I can recall in a long time. The rain pours from the heavens, bursting in great drops on the ground below my twelve-story apartment, serving to remind me that as I surrender to the grace of the father and recognize my own limitation in weakness, his grace and strength become manifest in my life. And so tonight I come back to center, back to home base and repent of my own striving and give my efforts back to God and in his timing alone. And do you know what? For the first time in months, I feel refreshed. All of the things that have tried to take the place of God like fun, friends, relaxation, education, ambitions, plans, and even dreams, have now come under the proper order, and as a result, peace arises.

So this reminds me to continually go to our refueling source--the Father--for the world does not know Him nor of the life that He brings. But he is our Father and when we neglect his place in our lives, we foolishly run in circles and clutter our lives with noise--noise which is both uneccessary and harmful. And its not that its bad to make decisions and step out in faith. I believe that this is very necessary in our journeys to maturity in Christ. But stepping out must always be preempted by an absolute abandonement of self to Christ in complete humility and surrender. And so, as these are a few of the things I have been learning and reflecing on, it's my hope that they might be of some encouragement to you in you journey as well.

Every blessing!

Ian Ashton