Something is brewing in my heart these days and I am excited to share it with all of you lovely ladies and gents. I have found my determination. Not that I haven't been determined in the past, but I'm at a whole other level with it now. It's difficult to explain but I'm going to try. Not too long ago, I prayed a prayer like this: "God, I trust you, but you are killing me." I heard a response in the quiet of my mind, "That's the point." If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus and have spent any time in a Christian context, you have probably heard this verse: "Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). I feel like we trivialize the impact and significance of this statement. I feel like most of the time we don't truly get it. It catches us off guard when we face difficult decisions and circumstances that cause us to actually make sacrifices. Take up your cross...the cross was an instrument of death. It serves the same purpose in our lives. It causes us to die to our flesh. It causes us to die to our own natural inclinations and desires. It causes us at times to sacrifice our hopes and dreams at the altar of the Lord, trusting and being confident that, ultimately, He is going to have His way and His purposes in our lives. And guess what? Dying hurts.

Back to the subject of determination. It has become crystal clear to me that in order to obtain all that God has promised me, I will first need to push through the pain. I think about the miracle of life itself. In order to see a baby delivered, mom first needs to push through the pain of labor. I don't have any children of my own, but from what I hear, it is no picnic. However, I have not spoken to one mother who would not say that all the pain they endured was worth it to obtain the gift of a precious son or daughter. I think too many of us, including myself, have tried to avoid necessary pain for too long. We have relied on bandages and crutches to mask our pain, but have never fully allowed our wounds to be exposed long enough for God to do the surgery required to bring total wholeness and restoration to our lives.

How many of us would say that our biggest fear is getting hurt? To what lengths would we go to, in order to avoid it? What if the shortest path between where we are now and a destiny of promise actually requires us to embrace our pain? What if there are lessons so valuable that they can only be learned by facing and confronting our pain head on? Are you up for the challenge?

I am. I am determined to use this season to delve deeper into the heart of Jesus than ever before. I am determined to be aware of every gift that God has placed in my hands, even if pain is the wrapping paper that I must tear through to get at the prize. I am determined to grow and to learn. I am throwing aside every false sense of comfort and stability that I have relied on in the past and am choosing to lean on Jesus with my full weight. I am determined to trust Him with every step along the way, even with the steps that don't make sense. Even with the ones I don't understand. Even with the ones that seem to lead me further away from my end goal. I am determined to trust His process.

It has finally hit me that although many of the twists and curves and windy roads of this journey may seem like detours and delays to me, they are actually apart of God's design to get me to His intended destination faster than I would have otherwise. Sometimes the highway isn't the fastest route. Sometimes the highway can be more like a parking lot. Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to get off at the nearest exit and take the backroads. Sometimes taking a route that seems unconventional and off course will get you to where you are going faster than what "seems" to be a more direct road.

When I consider the fact that I have no idea where the road will end up, many emotions come into play: fear, excitement, anticipation, to list a few. But underneath all of that, I feel a deep well of peace in my soul. With each yes I say to Jesus, with each move I make to posture my heart towads Him, with each act of obedience, I feel that peace grow. It's the kind of peace that allows me to experience joy despite what my circumstances may look like. It's the kind of peace that allows me to be hopeful even when things may appear hopeless to the untrained eye. I sense His goodness all around me. I know His faithfulness surrounds me. And although I can't say I know where I am heading, I can say that I know who is going with me, my heavenly daddy. He is leading me to something far brighter and more beautiful than I ever would have planned or dreamed up for myself. My determination doesn't come from my circumstances. It comes from wanting more of Him.

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