Do you ever struggle with knowing if you really are hearing from God? Me too. My mind is always playing tricks on me and I wonder if I came up with it or did I really feel this in my spirit. It has been a hard journey for me with figuring it all out, but one thing that has helped me discern who’s voice it really is, is through prayer.
“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jeremiah 33:3
Last January when I was asked to pick a word for the year, I prayed “Lord please place a word on my heart that is an area I need to work and improve to bring me closer to you.” As I began to pray, immediately the word that kept coming to mind was discipline. I spent a full week praying over my word and discipline just kept coming to mind and then, others would say things like, “You need to be more disciplined in this or that.” In my spirit, I knew this word came from God.
I did what every good, obedient person does and decided myself what I needed to be disciplined in. Please tell me I am not the only person who thinks God needs an assistant and tries to take control of what I know He is more than capable of handling? Hi, my name is Ashley and I have control issues.
So I got busy and made a plan. My plan was to wake up every day, do my devotional, and write in prayer journal. I was ready for massive growth in my relationship with the Lord and I knew that being disciplined in seeking him every single morning would help to draw me closer to him. And boy, did it. One of my favorite verses of a song is ‘the more I seek you, the more I find you’. I don’t think I was prepared for how much I was going to start finding Him. Right there in everything that I read, in every devotional, I had an “oh wow He’s talking to me” moment. You know those moments in Church when the Pastor is speaking and you are like, oh my goodness how does he know, is he speaking right to me. God was talking to me because I had invited him to. It’s that simple. Seek to find.
The year went on and as my relationship grew by leaps and bounds I started uncovering desires to pursue my gifts and talents God had given little ole’ me. Special gifts that He made me with to live out a purpose, a Kingdom purpose. I discovered God wanted me to share my story with the world and connect with women. It was time for me to start writing, but the second I began to put my gifts into action was when the opposition began.
My year wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Yes, I was seeking the Lord but behind doors the enemy was prowling around me. It’s weird to even say this but 2018 “the year that I grew by leaps and bounds with the Lord,” was also the year that my marriage was falling apart, the year I felt like anxiety taking over, the year I felt so unrested and chaotic as a parent and wife, and the year that we suffered financially. Oh, the enemy loves that; he loves to hit us right where it hurts the most. We often have hardships in our life, and wonder how do we handle them? I cried out to the Lord a lot in 2018, seeking His wisdom and help in prayer. It’s funny how we can look back on something and realize it’s not really what it seemed all along. It’s like you can take yourself out and look over a situation and have an “ah-ha” moment.
The enemy saw how close I was getting to God, and how I was bringing others to know Jesus. He wanted to create chaos and confusion. But I was standing firm. Not this time. Through prayer and reading the Word, the Lord revealed to me that He was strengthening and disciplining me in several areas of my life that the enemy tried to distract. And God knew that discipline with Him would be the only thing to get me through it.
So here we are the start of a new year, 2019. I spent much time praying about the last year and I finally had a major breakthrough moment. If you remember my word for the year that God laid on my heart was discipline. I really tried to run with that word and do with it what I thought He wanted me to do but I realized, God had different plans. Now, yes, I was disciplined in my time with the Lord every single morning of 2018, and that lead me to more of Him. But what God wanted to do is take me out in that dessert so I would thirst for more of Him. He wanted to take me to some hard places, to truly find discipline. He showed me I needed to be more disciplined in my tithing, my budget, my marriage, and my parenting. Would I cry out to him and fully surrender? Would I seek wisdom from mentors? Would I seek Him through His Word?
Sometimes He needs to take us to the very hard places so we can find Him, and grow. That’s where he finds us and speaks to us. He does this to invite us closer to Him. He wants us, all of us in 2019, the year of Obedience. Are you ready?
About Ashley Francis:
Ashley Francis is part of Beautifully Designed’s writing team. She lives in Chattanooga, TN with her husband, Matt and 2 beautiful kids. She is a work from home mom who has a passion to encourage women. God has spoken very clear to her that it’s time to share her heart and message to women across the world, and she has a sweet way of communicating that makes you feel like you are sitting with her on the couch drinking coffee.