Friday’s blog about experiencing the nearness of God resonated with many readers. Thank you for posting comments and sharing your own stories and insights on this topic—I value them and I know that other readers do, too. We learn from one another.
Because of the response, I want to “camp” on this topic for another day. This time, I’ll tell a story that illustrates how God’s nearness means we can trust Him to guide us.
As 2014 dawned, I sensed a change of direction in my speaking ministry. The first clue? Decreased invitations to speak at women’s events. In years past, my calendar was booked up to 18 months in advance. But now it sat nearly empty.
At first I wondered if my ministry was over. Then came the doubts: You’re washed up. No one likes you anymore. You’re done. The negative voice tried to lure me into a dark space, and I had to intentionally refute its tug with the truth: God is in control of every detail of my life. Nothing can thwart His purposes.
An eight-month waiting period ensued. Focusing on biblical truths about God’s love and faithfulness replaced my fears with anticipation. Deep inside, I knew God was about to birth something special and I needed to be patient. He would reveal the pathway in His timing. That sense proved right.
On August 12, I read these verses: “The LORD says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life, I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.’ Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust in the LORD. So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey Him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!” (Psalm 32:8-11 NLT)
I wrote those verses on a recipe card and placed the card by my kitchen sink where I read them several times a day. Doing so flooded me with peace. He’d reassured me of His presence. And He’d promised to guide me along the BEST pathway for my life, to advise me, to watch over me, and to surround me with His unfailing love. He removed every lingering speck of doubt and anxiety. I asked Him to grant me an obedient heart and to guard me from behaving like a senseless horse that might race ahead of Him or a stubborn mule that would refuse to budge when the time came for action.
Two weeks later, while reading the Word early one morning, God revealed His plan. He placed into my mind the concept of a one-day women’s conference designed to draw Christian women into a deeper relationship with Him. It would be called “RADIANT.” He also placed into my mind the concept of RADIANT being a team effort, and then He gave me two names: Heidi McLaughlin and Kelita Haverland.
I’d seen Heidi in action when she accompanied me and Gene on a ministry trip to Poland in 2009. I appreciated her spiritual maturity and passion for women’s ministries. Added to that, she lives only four hours’ drive from me—that’s fairly local for Canada!
I’d met Kelita in 2007 when we toured together for World Vision’s Girls Night Out events. Her musical and comedic skills combined with her testimony of surviving more pain than most people encounter in a lifetime had impressed me then, and I knew she’d be a huge asset. She’d recently moved to BC from Ontario and relocated about 30 minutes’ drive from where I live. How coincidental was that?
I phoned both women, explained my vision, and asked them to pray about the possibility of forming a RADIANT team. Both told me that they’d been waiting on God for direction regarding their future in women’s ministries. Within two weeks, they said yes. Then the work began. So many questions needed answers. Where to even begin?
We took one step at a time. And as we did, God fulfilled His promise to guide us, advise us, and watch over us. He helped us settle on a tagline: “Creating a Deeper Life,” directed us to skilled graphic artists, photographers, and marketing folks who helped us develop a logo and publicity materials, enabled us to become an official ministry of International Messengers Canada so donors could receive tax-deductible receipts, provided sponsors who paid expenses involved—developing and publishing our marketing materials, buying books to give every attendee, paying for travel costs to and from our first event, and more. Then He gave us a church willing to host our launch—Campbell River Baptist Church on Vancouver Island. I’d attended that church for seven years when I lived in that area, and it’s been a faithful ministry sponsor for International Messengers Canada ever since.
Hundreds of hours and emails later, RADIANT launched on Saturday, and it was an overwhelming success. Women laughed and cried. They felt loved and experienced life change. God showed up, and Heidi, Kelita, and I give Him the glory.
In retrospect, I see that my nearly-empty speaking itinerary—as painful as it was initially—enabled me to focus on the behind-the-scenes labor needed to launch RADIANT. A couple of months ago when the intensity of developing materials for RADIANT eased, speaking invitations began coming in again. Only God could have orchestrated that timing.
My dear readers, I hope this story encourages you today. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through my journey is this: God is near. His unfailing love surrounds us when we trust in Him. He guides us, advises us, and watches over us. He is fully engaged in our lives, and He has a purpose and a plan.
We. Can. Trust. Him.
How has God’s nearness being instrumental in guiding you along the best pathway for your life? #bgbg2 #SeekingGod #RadiantLiving
Yes, we can trust Him. This is awesome. I have just been learning to really trust God and He is teaching me this by His Word and by life experiences. Wow, Grace, that is awesome how God worked all that stuff out in your life. I have had quite a few extremely shocking and painful experiences lately which could, in the natural, be telling me that I’m all washed up, too. Done! That nothing I do is right, and I am stuck somewhere. But I called upon the Lord, and he gave me a dream. I went out my back door where there is a patio. Holding door handle, I looked around. There were Lions everywhere. Along the righthand yard lions were lying, male and female; lying there….relaxed; into the yard were more, walking about……to my left, a few more, and my first natural reaction was to be afraid, BUT, I wasn’t afraid. It was the strangest sensation even in the dream, I “wanted” to be afraid because “I was supposed to be, right?” Lions. In the dream: I stepped out onto the patio and a female lioness came and walked up to me. I put out my hand and stroked her head. They weren’t afraid, and I was not afraid either. There was no fear there……in the dream…..no need to be afraid. It was not like anything I’d ever experienced. God has removed my fear, and the message he’s sending is (actually the way we are supposed to be): “I am here”. I love you; you are mine. I will provide; be not afraid. I am looking after you……….AND, I am protecting you!!!!! I repented of my lack of trust in Him, and asked him to continue to help me to trust in Him; always. It’s an incredible feeling. I am thankful for the Scriptures you shared today, and all you Christians out there: “Be not afraid”. Yes, God is near…………here………..He Is.
Marge, I LOVE this post. Thank you for sharing it. Powerful, powerful truth that’s applicable to everyone who puts their trust in Jesus. When I feel fear rising in me, I often counter it by asking myself, “What aspect of God’s character am I doubting?” That really helps me identify the specific lie that Satan is trying to use on me. Then I refute it with the truth of God’s Word.
Have a wonderful, Son-filled day, my friend.
So thrilled to hear your launch was a success! I’m grateful that you invited my team to help behind-the-scenes with fine-tuning your tagline and designing your logo.
I feel as if I’m in a place of waiting for God to reveal a change of direction in my own worklife, and I am finding your articles encouraging as I move through this transition.
Hi Laura. I’m grateful, too, for your team’s help in designing RADIANT’s logo and in fine-tuning our tagline. You’re so easy to work with!
Waiting on God through transition isn’t easy, but it helps to know He’s sovereign and a Master of details. When everything’s in place according to His perspective, then He’ll give you the go-ahead to start walking and He’ll direct your steps. I find such rest and peace in knowing He’s in control and nothing can thwart His purposes. Keep me posted, okay?