Pass me the matches

match

Surrender: 1. To yield completely. 2. To give in or give up. 3 To submit to authority.

“Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” (Psalm 37:7)

“Submit and surrender yourself to God [agree with God and show yourself to be conformed to His will], and you will have peace. You will prosper and great things will come to you.” (Job 22:21)

“It’s really a matter of surrender.”

That one small sentence almost got lost amongst the other paragraphs I had highlighted this week in Chapters Three and Four of Ps Steven Furtick’s book Greater that I’m reading as part of Melissa Taylor’s online study.

Last week I loudly exclaimed “yes God, I do want greater things for my life” and now, two chapters further into the book I’m looking around hoping no-one noticed I put my hand up!

In the story in 1 Kings 19:21, the prophet Elijah found the farmer Elisha plowing in the back paddock. Elijah went up to Elisha and threw his cloak around him, indicating that the mantle of Elijah’s authority as a prophet was being passed onto Elisha. So Elisha gathered all his cows together and killed them. Then he went and burned all his plowing equipment and followed Elijah and became his servant. Elisha did this so that he could step into the new life God was calling Him to. He burned his plows so that he had nothing left to run back to.

If I want to live the ‘greater’ kind of life that Ps Steven talks about in his book, I must be willing to do what Elisha did. When God says “come” I have to be willing to burn my plows and follow Him.

Honestly, I need to say two things up front. Firstly, I don’t ‘do’ submission very well. Secondly, history has shown me that burning my plows doesn’t always guarantee an immediate answer or the results I want expect.

When my husband first heard God say “come, follow Me”, he burned his plows and left a very well paid job in the Performing Arts and Entertainment industry to enter full-time ministry. Within months, God spoke again and told us that His plan for full-time ministry was not where we were, but 12 hours drive away, back in our hometown of Geelong. We were being called to burn our plows and plant a church. So we did. We sold everything (including a brand new home we had just built and only lived in for 6 weeks that still smelled of fresh paint!) and moved back to Geelong. We had a four week old newborn baby, three other children under five years old and a dog and a cat. We also had no house. No car. No job. And no savings. Just a call. And the smell of smouldering plowing equipment in our nostrils.

Ten years later my husband again heard God say “come” and he burned his plows and stepped down from a full-time ministry position and walked away from senior pastoring the church we had planted and watched grow and flourish. We believed it would only be a matter of weeks before he found another job. Thirteen long months (and ninety-six rejection letters) later, he was finally offered what appeared to be a great job back in the Arts and Entertainment industry. He came home from work that first night and looked at me and asked: “What have I done? When God told me to leave the church, this is not what He called me to do.” Eight months later he came home from work and looked at me again and said: “I can’t do this anymore.” And he handed in his resignation, burning the next lot of plowing equipment.  In the meantime we had no house. No car. No job. And no savings. Just a promise and a call. And a whole lot more smouldering plowing equipment. Again, we believed it would only be a matter of weeks before he found another position. This time eleven more months passed before he was finally offered his “dream” job, working as the School Chaplain in a large co-educational private school.

Ps  Steven says I can’t step into my new life until I first set fire to whatever is holding me back and tethering me to my old life. Whilst this is true, reality for me screams that every single time I have burned my plows in the past it has taken God a long time to show up and show me what the new life is going to look like! Not only that, it has caused an enormous amount of pain and required incredible sacrifice. Each time I have burned my plows I appear to have lost so much.

Am I willing to trust Him again? Am I willing to burn my plows again? I do want to go forward into the ‘greater’ life that God has called me to, but for that to happen I have to offer every part of my life to Him. Surrender to Him. Submit to Him. Yield to Him. Trust Him. Show myself conformed to His will. Again.

Am I willing to pray again? “Lord, here’s my life. I give it up to You. I heard you say ‘come’ and I’ve decided to yield and follow Your call. My life is open ended and its pointed in the direction of the next step You are calling me to take. No matter what it costs, I am Yours.”

Before I change my mind, would someone please pass me the matches?! I’ve got some more plowing equipment to burn!

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52 thoughts on “Pass me the matches

  1. Again Nicki,
    I can only imagine what you have gone through. An awful light of upheaval and sacrifice. But you know God only has your best in mind and He is willing to give you His very best in return for your obedience.
    Compared to the sacrifices you have made, my life seems like a cake walk. I pray God does not require of me the courage you have shown in your walk with Him.

    love you tons and tons

    Blessings,
    Catherine

      1. OH GIRL, as I read this just now, it is similar to my situation. Been out of work, (and when I was working, underpaid and no benefits), fear set in, doubt, concern, I have run the gammet of emotions; I still await what God’s plan is, but I believe tha t he gave me gifts, and an entrapenural spirit, and believe that He is opening new doors – as I wait it out.. knowing His plans are perfect as I trust in Him! htank you for your encouraging me!!!!

  2. What incredible courage and commitment you and your husband have demonstrated. You have truly laid your life down in faith. Very inspiring. Perhaps, as with Elisha, God will grant you a double portion of His anointing.

    1. Isn’t it funny – I don’t see it that way at all. I don’t for one minute think I’ve done anything that requires faith! I compare myself with others who lay down everything to enter the mission field and somehow I can’t see that what we have done is the exact same thing except that our journey looks a bit different to theirs. Thanks Deanne for pointing that out to me. And I’ll gladly receive that double portion of His anointing any time He’d like to pour it out on me!
      Bless you.
      Love
      Nicki

  3. Hi, I just burned it yesterday and though I reallly felt compelled to do it. I feel like did I drink a bottle of tequila before work yesterday?? Did I really just quit without an actual plan? I have an idea, I have a destination…I just don’t have a job, a place to live or people living where I plan to move. I am a single mom with a child with Aspergers. A big part is I feel there is a better place for him. Me as well but it’s the whole thing. THIS just doesn’t feel right. Your blog was good because I can think of it if things don’t fall in to place immediately. Prayers for clarity to come your way!

  4. Hi Nicki. The fact that you’ve been able to surrender so fully in the past encourages me that you will be able to do it again. I enjoyed reading your story. The bumps along the road make those of us who have not stepped out in faith more comfortable taking a chance!

  5. Wow Nicki! I love your honesty, your vulnerability, and your loyalty to your husband! You are an inspiration! Thank you so much for sharing your powerful journey. So glad to “know” you and be on this God adventure with some amazing women! Praying for you 🙂

    1. Beth, I just want to say a huge thank you to you. Many people have not seen my “loyalty” towards my husband. I’m so glad I learned how put my trust in a Godly man who always listens to the voice of God. Whilst I might not always like the look of the journey we are on, I sleep well at night knowing that I’m on the right journey with the right man.
      Thanks for your comment Beth. I’m glad to “know” you too!
      Bless you
      Love
      Nicki

  6. Oh, wow Nicki! Your life is a true testament to trusting God no matter what. How hard that must have been with so many small children. This was such a great post!

  7. I am reading Greater. And when he asks about dreams, of what we wanted to do for the Lord and lost the dream along the way, l felt sad because l wasn’t raised in a Christian home so it was much later, and after many mistakes, two husbands and two children, (my children were not mistakes)that l began to attend church and realized l was part of a plan. Really it has just been since lv’e been reading Greater.
    So of course the deciever whispered in my ear, just forget it you have nothing to offer, time has gotten away, your now in your third marrage, what a loser. I live a comfortable life, with a husband that loves me unconditionally we have so much so many thing, for the last 10 years, my children are grown and l know God is calling us to a Greater life for him I just don’t want to keep on making the mistake of running away, instead of to this time. How can l be sure l don’t trust my feeling, how do you know! Maybe this study isn’t right for me oops am l runni

  8. Thanks for the inspiration! I’ve got my ‘burning’ to do with a little different situation. I feel as if I know my call to ‘Greater’, I’m scared sick over lighting that match (you can ‘hop’ over to my blog if you want to read more). You, on the other hand, have lit them every time God has asked you to. That’s truly following and I admire you for it, wish I had even some of the strength you do.
    God Bless
    Becky

    1. Becky I look forward to reading your blog. Let me just say, I have needed a lot of prompting to light that match!! Sometimes I’ve even needed my husband to light the match on my behalf! It’s never easy to burn plows. Never.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment on my post – I really appreciate it.
      God bless
      Love
      Nicki

  9. Nicki you were brought to it, but God led you thru it and He led you where you are today and wow I am glad He did. Love your blog, love your heart and love where God has put you – in our lives to share. Thank you so much for sharing your heart.

  10. Nicki, you always inspire me so much! I love that you do a word search. I don’t believe I have ever made a conscious decision to leave it all behind (deny myself) and follow Him! I’ve loved and desired Him, but to totally submit like you and your husband have done, I’m afraid I have not. I have loved “Greater” but felt myself still pulling back when it comes to “surrendering my heart” totally. Thank you so much for inspiring us all! Hugs!

    1. Thank you Lydnda.
      I’m sure there have been areas in your life that you have totally submitted to God – perhaps they just look very different to the things I have done. I pray God would keep tugging at your heart so that you would surrender yourself totally to Him.
      God bless
      Love
      Nicki

  11. Nicki. wow. I am so blessed and glad that I clicked on this link and read this. What a joy! Wow… I love that even in the what if’s and the even if you ended with I’ve got my matches… and I’m burning my plows. Thank you for that encouragement and sharing your story. I had chillbumps reading and following what God was doing in your life! Thank you!

  12. wow… I can say that you made me feel so much better about our own plow burning time right now. It has been 8 years in the making, lots of steady walking away from one life toward the new one. Thank you for sharing your story. We are moving in about 8 months to an area but I don’t have a city, or town yet, just a knowledge that we are going and a Bishop working on where at the moment. Trust and Obey! Right?

  13. Nicki,
    I had no idea about any of this! Words escape me at the moment. I do not know if I would have had the trust and courage to do what you did. You are an inspiration!

    Love and blessings,
    Kristen (OBS group leader)

  14. When I started to read without my glasses on I thought you said you had burned your pillows! LOL True!

    On a serious note, that story inspired me too when I left my career to go into full time ministry. You have refreshed the power of it all over again for me. xx

    1. Thanks Vicki. The funny thing is, I always look at others’ “calls” and think they are so much bigger and better than ours. I always think other people say “yes” to God and step out into much bigger faith-sized gaps. Perhaps it’s time I stopped and really thought about what we have done in ministry over the years. Thanks for making me think about this.
      Bless you
      Love
      Nicki

  15. Girl….that’s all I can say. I don’t do submission very well either, but it looks to me like you are doin great! Thank you for sharif your heart.

  16. Nicki – I am so glad to have found your blog! Great post and thank you for your faithfulness and your honesty. You said in one comment you didn’t feel like what you have done is the same as someone who leaves all and goes on the mission field…but it is! You left all you knew as security and went to a place to plant a church. That was your mission field. Very inspiring! I can’t wait to read more! Love, Judie

  17. I’m not in the Bible Study, but your words are very humbling. I need to absorb them, and pray that God will use them in my life. Blessings to you!

  18. Awesome post. I too was deeply challenged by ch.4 for much of the same reasons. My husband and I have experienced much of the same in ministry. I appreciate your insight as I too burn some of those same plows.

  19. Great post Nicki! Think of how much longer it would have taken God to ‘show up’ had your and your husband not burned the plows?? You could have gone back to what was comfortable and been content where you were while you were waiting for God. Look at where you are now and that faith that built in you and your family!? So sorry you have had to struggle… but in the end, it will all be worth it!

  20. Nicki, I am in tears right now after reading your post. It is so true. It often does take God a long time to reveal His greater plan after we have burned our plows. I saw you posted on my site that we have similar stories and we do! It took my husband 6 months after moving to find a new job. Then 2 years later, he felt led to quit that job and it then took him 1 1/2 years to find a new job!! 1 and 1/2 years!! He is now in a very prosperous position and we feel like God is once again asking us to burn our plows. I won’t go into that here, but like you I am scared of what that would mean and I know I would have to sacrifice so much. Please pray for us to have wisdom in all of this. I love you dear sister and so thankful God brought you into my life.

  21. Nicki, when I read that portion of the book about burning the plows, I have to say, my first reaction to it was fear, and my second reaction was doubt. Because I have never truly stepped out in faith to do something bigger than me, better for me, Greater for God. I have had 2 jobs in my whole adult life, I have gone to the same church that I’ve gone to since I was 10 years old, and I have lived in the house I was born in 42 years ago. I WANT to dream bigger and ignite God’s vision for my life, but it’s a scary notion. Especially being a single girl with bills and no fallback with skin on. I am earnestly praying that God will give me the faith and show me where he wants me to go in this life so that I might make an impact for His kingdom.

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