Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My Struggle with God

When we moved here, all of me was sure that it would be long enough for us to pay off our debts and then we would be headed back. I really believe that God knew that at the time, thinking that was all that I could handle - all I needed to know. But since we have been here God has been wooing my heart. There have been many times when I am alone - painting and such - that I fell as though I have really conversed with my Savior. And every time I have walked away with a stronger stirring in my heart for this area. I have been open with John through the process and EVERY time I have gone to him to talk about what God is doing I am met with the same response - "I feel the same way."
When John left Campus Outreach to return to school to do web development we specifically prayed for God to use the potentials that this career had to put us in a position in the future both financially and timewise (not the constraint of a 9-5 job) that we could truly labor for His kingdom. We had no idea that it would happen so soon. (5years) Nor do we have any idea how long it may last (without the job he has we can't stay here) but we have faith that God is doing something here. This is not the place we would have picked for God to plant us to labor but we feel more and more every day that this is where He is leading us.
I have still been hesitant to say - yes this is what God is doing for several reasons:
1. it means a commitment. Do I really want to commit to living in this small town for longer than 18 months? I have lived in big cities (several in fact) and I LOVE IT!!!! i love all that it affords my family - different types of people, things to do, a mcdonalds, etc. I love that there have been solid churches that have feed us and minister to us. Here that is not the case. I have been afraid to get excited about what I will be saying no to because there is not much tangible that I feel like I am saying yes to. So often when I think about these things I become paralyzed with fear that we are going to miss out.
2. It means missing out. We will miss out. The kids won't get to do things that we would like for them to be a part of. We miss out on the fellowship we are use to (but thankfully God has brought us some people that love him to be our friends)
3. What if nothing happens. It is pretty Ironic how the town God has given us a heart for REFORM, Alabama got it's name. The story goes that a preacher refused to return to the town until the townspeople reformed their ways. What if God doesn't move in this town. What if he doesn't heal this land in my life, what if we labor in vain. I know that my labor for God's kingdom is not in vain - in my heart I know that but I am going to be honest and say that I have struggled with "Is all of the other good stuff worth giving up even if I never see fruit from my labor here on this earth? Will I be happy? What if God calls me to live in the place forever? Am I ok with that?"

Today, in my time with God He gave me a verse that I will claim for my life and pray that God makes true of my life. My quiet time had no relation to this discussion but God of course weaves all things for our good. I was meditating on Ps 16:11 and I realized that this is ALL the truth that I really need in life.
"You make known to me the path of life, In your presence is the fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Isn't that a great verse. Jesus said that He came to give me life abundantly. And God will make know to me the path of life. Does my life abundantly include a McDonalds? A rec center, a great solid church to attend with ease and without labor on my part? God says that in his presences is where my fullness of joy lies. It is with Him I will find joy, not the tangibles that we are leaving behind. With him are all the pleasures I will ever need FOREVERMORE!!!! As a believer I could have told you this truth in a conversation and thought I meant it with all my heart. But here I am faced with giving up the luxries that a big city and a body of believers provides me and I was shaking in my boots. It has been such a real internal struggle for me. When I'm talking about "seeing Jesus" I get excited because in the lives of these hurting people I see the potential - great potential to see jesus. I see an opportunity to be the hands and the feet of the gospel to them. But then I turn to my boys and I know that they loved their life in bham and do I really want to give it up for the long haul? Sure the country is fun for a while but for years? Do you see this struggle in my heart? It has been tormoil for me!!!! But today, God released me from it. The fear hasn't gone away but I am making a choice to believe that God has revealed to us the path of life for us, and that here with Him is where we will find joy and pleasures. We want God to reform Reform, Alabama. We want the men and women there to discover that they are not good people. That they (we) are wrectched sinners that look everywhere but God to fill those holes in our hearts - drugs, alchol, relationships, romance novels, ect. We want them to know that we can never be good enough to warrent heaven but that jesus made a way for that. And as we surrender and trust him with our life and learn to walk in obedience to him that there they will find fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore!!!!
So my friends, I know this post is long but I needed to write, to get it out. All that to say that the Cook's are here in this area until God says go. And we are excited to see what God does here. Any of you want to come join us and labor in this community? We would love to have you!!!!!!


April Brown said...

i posted a comment on your previous post, but I guess i did something wrong....anyway....glad your back and blogging. I love how God is committed to the process. It seems like in the middle of the struggle true sanctification and contentment comes.

love, love, love you!!

alieta young casey said...

Logan knew the day you guys left you'd be staying in Reform. I don't know how he does it, but he can always tell! I knew back in Nov when I "helped" you set up Christmas at the Caroline House. I've grieved this for months now, but I am so happy that God is assuredly planting you in this land. (Jer. 32:41)

Kristin said...

okay, really, john and jonathan have GOT to talk. the situations are so similar... after being here for three years, i can tell you it's still a little tough to feel like you're "missing out" on the city life and big, solid churches, but it feels really good to be right where God wants you to be. small town life has been wonderful for my children. we can talk more in Tuscaloosa! i could go on forever! we were taken by surprise, too, finding out our stay here was going to be much longer than the 3 MONTHS we were expecting!! :) a sweet surprise...

Laura said...

we need to talk. email me
lrenfroe57211(at) troy (dot)edu