Swimming (part 3)

Learning to Swim

“You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail.
And there I find You in the mystery, in oceans deep, my faith will stand.

And I will call upon Your name. And keep my eyes above the waves, when oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace. For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters, Your sovereign hand will be my guide.
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior”
{Oceans – Hillsong United}

This might be the hardest one of the three blogs to write, because I’m still in the middle of this process. It is not going to be a finished story, where I tell you the secret or the 3 steps on how to succeed. It is a life long process and I just want to share with you the last part of what I discovered and how I try to swim through the ocean of life.

I believe we are not meant to live our lives on the sideline, the beach, watching the ocean, wishing we knew how to swim. And so after I regained some strength God gave we the choice again, to trust Him and come into the ocean and learn how to swim. I was asked to become the Kids Service Oversight for the Saturday night service and I decided to trust God and step into the ocean again. But this time I knew that I wasn’t trying on my own. God was there and He would teach me how to swim. I remember when I learned how to swim as a kid. When you first start they put these floaters around your waist and arms and you have this little bodyboard that you hold on to, and the only thing you use to swim are your legs and as you get better and stronger and more confident in the water they’ll start take away the floaters one by one and lastly they’ll take away the board and teach you how to use your arms in swimming. God does the same, yes He asks you immediately into the ocean, which might feel to us as if He threw us into the deep and it is sink or swim. But if we trust Him and listen to Him He will actually teach us how to swim, He will give us what we need, sometimes some extra floaters, until we are strong enough to actually swim.

What I’m learning most in this season is that I need time to grow. That it doesn’t matter how many times I go under, God’s arms are surrounding me, ready to catch me and get me back up. And I’m learning that rather than a failure I start to see it as learning. I am learning to not only accept God’s grace for me, but to have grace for myself.

Not a finished story, because I go under often still, but I hope it will encourage you. Encourage you to accept God’s invite and step into the ocean, knowing that He is full of grace and love and He can’t wait to teach you how to swim.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. {Isaiah 41:10}

Swimming (part 2)

Finding my Feet

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honour depend on God; He is my mighty Rock, my Refuge. Trust in Him at all times, pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our Refuge.” {Psalms 62:5-8}

How is it possible that a period of rest can be so stressful? I realised that most of who I believed I was, was based on what I did, and I did not much at the moment. I worked as a receptionist (which is not exactly high ambition/great carrier kind of work) and most of the time had to answer the question ‘so what are you gonna do now?’ or ‘how long do you plan to stay’ and ‘what are your goals’. Not bad questions, I just didn’t have an answer on any of them and I tried to answer it with ‘I don’t know (with a smile on my face, as if I was ok with that)’. And so to avoid the questions and because I was convinced people saw me as a failure anyway, I started to isolate myself. My room became my world.

But during the resting I learned to listen to God whispering into my soul. He would say ‘I LOVE YOU’, ‘YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE’ and ‘TRUST ME’, ‘JUST BE IN MY PRESENCE’. And through these whispers I discovered it was His love that i was longing for, not His approval. That I could never earn His approval, but I tried so hard. This was the great, warm and fuzzy part of the journey, they other side was a bit uglier. When God started pointing out the lies and spasms in my head. I had to stop blame people for where I was in life and face head first that it all came back to what happened in my head. It wasn’t working in ministry that got me almost burned out and it wasn’t the pressure of College that tipped me over. It was the constant feeling of not being good enough that kept me striving for approval, from God but also from people. Suddenly there was no-one to blame for my failure than myself and the only solution was to let God do some ‘heart-work’ on me.

Bit by bit I saw my part in it all and it made me realise that there was nothing I could do to fix it. I tried that path and it had me nearly drowned. It was when I came to this point God showed me His way, the way of Grace. The undeserved favour that He wanted to give me, because His Son died just for that! I began to understand how much I need His Grace and how much He loves me, unconditionally, just where I was at, right now.

Swimming (part 1)

Nearly Drowned

beach

If you have ever swam in the ocean you know that feeling of cold water on your toes when you first step into the ocean. You push through and get to waist-high water, the point where you have to decide whether to push through and actually go for a swim or to retreat and go back to the beach. I believe in life God gives us the same choice, to push through and go for a swim with Him or to go back and watch other people swim. Continue reading

When God tells you to rest…

What would happen if God told you to rest??? Not just a day of rest, but a season of rest. This is exactly what He told me to do at the beginning of my summer break from college. Not just taking rest during the break, but actually a season of rest without returning to college… I don’t know what you’re response would be, but I knew immediately that it was from God, because I wouldn’t come up with something like that (which probably got me in the situation I’m in and why I have to take this period of rest). And so I quickly decided to obey, to take this time off college and actually plan time to rest and this time really recharge for whatever is ahead. 

And it struck me that Jesus actually tells us to come to Him when we’re weary and tired and that He will give us rest. But somehow I always felt that as He will give us in whatever we’re doing, not He will give us actual rest. But God was pretty clear when He told me this and so I had to chance my view on God about this! God really has the best for me and if I need to rest He will tell me to rest. It’s ok to have a day where you do nothing and rest, it’s not ok when you don’t really know how to handle a day like that because you have been to busy for 7 years now… 

I don’t know what this season will bring, but I know it’s gonna be good because this is according to His plan! I know it’s gonna be challenging because that’s how He likes to do things. But I also know it’s gonna be filled with discovery, joy and rest! 

If I go ever go back to college?? I don’t know! God asked me my full commitment at the beginning of last year and that’s what I intend to give Him! Wherever and whenever He leads me I want to follow Him! 

Freedom

“I stared at the wall, people behind me but I was not allowed to look behind me. They took pictures of me, they laughed, I couldn’t tell why… My hands tight behind my back, my mouth covered. I couldn’t speak, couldn’t move, only when they told me to move. I wasn’t sure what would happen next, where they would take me and what I would have to do…”

Continue reading

Overwhelming grace

“Always stay overwhelmed by grace” (Jonathan Douglas)

I tried to read the whole Bible several times, but somehow I always got stuck somewhere in the first five books of the Old Testament. I never really understood why this was relevant information for me right now. Was it just in there to tell the story of the Israelites? Or maybe it was just for the Jews and not for me? But if it wasn’t for me why was it in the Bible that God gave for us now? You probably never had these questions, but I did and so I was actually thrilled that we have Old Testament Introduction as a subject, because I couldn’t believe that the Old Testament was just there. God put it in the Bible for a reason and I couldn’t wait to find that reason and what He was trying to tell me through it. Continue reading

Facing fears

Imagine: You just arrived two days in your new hometown and you’re on the toilet, you’re getting some toiletpaper and suddenly something falls out of the roll. In a splitsecond you drop the paper you’re holding and there he is. In-between the toiletpaper is an Australian Spider. Not comparable with the small dutch spiders, but a spider almost as big as my hand with long legs, a big, black body and two front legs that look like nippers… Continue reading

Saying Goodbye

And now I say goodbye. I let go of AIA to go on a new journey. That’s what you taught me, going for new adventures, see new places and discover new things about myself. I’m looking forward for all the new things coming, but I let go of AIA with a little pain in my heart.”</blockquote>
Yesterday, at the Christmas party at the AIA-office, I said my official goodbye and with that my time with AIA is officially ended. The speech they gave me, beautiful words were spoken about my growth and development during my time with AIA and about the person I have become over this last four years. Continue reading

Wet cement

“Hey Anja! Just a question: could you babysit our children next week?”

A question I got asked a lot over the last 10 years. And if I got a possibility, I would love to do it. And still, sometime three nights in a row, every night somewhere else.

Two of my small 'Big' friends!

Two of my small ‘Big’ friends!

And so, over the years I got to have a lot of ‘little’ friends. But why do I do this and with so much pleasure? And why am I going to Australia to study Pastoral Leadership in Kidsministry? Continue reading