Next Steps

Recently Bruce and I were in the pasture clearing blackberries and old, rotting wood.  We threw things in the utility trailer, ready to be hauled away.  It is back-breaking work – especially for a couple of folks in their 50’s.  The black berries branches have incredibly sharp thorns, and the old wood is decayed, and often full of splinters and rusty nails.  While we worked, I spent time thinking about the way God’s plans unfold in our lives.

As the sun beats down on me today, and we bend and move dead bushes, I have a lot of time to think.  Certainly about when our next water break will be, or ways to grab the wood without getting caught on nails, but also about God’s call to us.  Creating plans, drawing garden dimensions, and offering spiritual direction to women…are all part of this call.  But reaching that goal also includes hours of just plain, hard labor. 

This makes me think of Noah and the challenges He faced in responding to God’s call.  He was 500 years old when God commanded him to build an ark.  This was to provide safety to Noah, his extended family and many animals, when God flooded the earth. 

Talk about back-breaking work!  It took him years to build an ark.  But he persevered, believing that God wanted him to do this task.  No matter that his neighbors scoffed at him, no matter that he lived in a desert, far from water.  Noah was asked to trust God and in faith, do what God asked. 

I believe that God has called us not to build an ark, but to provide a place of rest, reflection and renewal for women.  We have our own set of challenges, but the foundational questions are the same – do we trust God to provide what we need?  Are we willing to walk by faith and not by sight?  Do we believe that God will do what He has said He will do? 

In the midst of shoveling, with dirt on my clothes, surrounded by rotting lumber and dead shrubbery, I am caught by the vision, and stand silent and still…what is there to say?  The Almighty God has asked me, (with the support of Bruce and others) to offer this land for His purposes.  Our part is to listen and then to respond, as He unfolds His plan.  Amazing. 

Recently a member of our prayer team sent me a note regarding a prayer time with God about the Lavender Pavilion.  Here is some of what he said:

“First, my beginning words in prayer speaking to God flowed simply out of my desire to acknowledge to Him that "it is Your Property, Your Plan and Your Provision."  That being said, I wondered how to continue in prayer about the situation and immediately this short prayer flowed out.  ‘Open your servant's eyes today to Your Providence’. 

“That took me on a little study in the dictionary to go a little deeper on the meaning of the word ‘Providence’ that I clearly heard God speak, and I found the following:  Providence means divine guidance, foresight, management of resources and direction. 

“Ultimately, the whole ministry plan and all its elements are God's, and what we as servants of the Lord really need most is direction.  So, now my closing words to God in concluding my prayer time for both of you today is, ‘I got it.  I know how to pray.  Thanks’”. 

Direction is what we seek every step of the way.  I thought building a sound wall was next, but God instead has given us someone to clear the rest of the property.   

I really wanted to build the prayer walk, but that is waiting for the planting of the 24 trees and bushes we just purchased, to help provide privacy and a boundary along the lane next to the Lavender Pavilion.  So planting seems to be the next step.  

We are so thankful for God's providence to us.  The Lord has provided encouragement and prayer from many different people.  We've even received some financial donations, though we have yet to finalize our non-profit status.  We are grateful and amazed.  

This is my prayer as we plant these trees and take another step in developing the Lavender Pavilion:

Lord, take this place and fill it with Your blessing.
Let it be a haven where the poor in spirit sing.
Take this place and fill it, Lord.  Fill it with Yourself.
Northumbria Prayer 

- Julie