Seeking God

Seeking God is not in vain if you seek: humbly, wholeheartedly and in faith that he will answer you.

What a joy it is to know God wants us to find him because he wants to be found. He wants a relationship with us. He is a forgiving and grace-giving God waiting for us to acknowledge, admit and adhere to his love. Our part is to realize we are in need of him; the start to seeking.

Personal Testimony

I grew up in a Christian, God-serving, church-going household and I am forever grateful for my upbringing as my parents guided me to faith. Growing up, I also grew very passionate about playing basketball with the goal to receive a scholarship to play in university. In 2007, I achieved that goal and accomplished a great rookie year. However, the academic side of school became a huge stress in my life and basketball became more of a job than a sport I loved. I started to question my own happiness and wondered where God was in all of this. I worked so hard, yet became so unhappy. Aren’t “Christians” happy people? I’d often ask myself. I realized I needed help beyond myself. I needed God.

Seeking begins with a realization we cannot save ourselves.

Summer of 2008, I cried out to God in desperation to find this “inner peace” and “joy” I heard so many times in church. Why hadn’t I found this to be true for me? I went straight to the source – God in prayer. Laying it all out, my fears, disappointments and feelings. Then, after much prayer, I decided to take a year off to learn about my identity as a Christ-follower instead of a basketball player.

Seek and you will find.

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

I sought God in prayer, surrendering my scholarship or what else I knew to give me happiness in exchange to learn more about following him. So, I asked God for three things: the ability to keep training my basketball skills (to keep the option of playing again probable), to get a job and to travel. Within three weeks of this surrendering prayer, God answered me. I received a job as an assistance basketball coach, whilst on the side being trained by the head coach. As well as, working as a front desk clerk for GoodLife Fitness (which included a free membership). Then a friend invited me to join her to volunteer for a bible school called, “Youth with a Mission” (YWAM) in the Sunshine Coast of Australia. God gave me the three specific things I asked for in prayer (basketball training, a job and travel). To me that was confirmation that God heard my prayer. Now, it was my turn to learn about following him…

I took the year off to travel and seek God.

I took a year off of university and set off in January 2009 to travel with YWAM in Australia. During my time volunteering with the Bible school I got to sit in all the Bible lectures teaching me about how to have a personal relationship with Jesus.

One day I can remember the moment that all my seeking came to a halt because the presence of God met me. It was during a worship song and prayer time. I felt so discouraged that I made all this effort to serve God and I still didn’t feel he was near. I became mad and left the room towards a bathroom stall to pout. Then I prayed again, “God, why aren’t you answering me? Don’t you see all my effort I am doing to pursue you???” I will never forget the immediate answer I felt in my heart from the Lord that day. I heard within my Spirit God say, “Emily, you are here because I pursued you.

God is always in Pursuit of you.

Sunshine Coast, Australia, January 2009

God wants a relationship, a two-way-street. He wants us to respond to his pursuit of love for us. For me, I realized he wanted more than just faith, he wanted my participation or willingness to allow him to change me. The moment I realized he wanted my participation was the moment our relationship became real. He wasn’t forcing me to follow him, he was waiting for me to say “yes”.

You seeking him is a response to that initial pursuit of his.

Saying “yes” to God means repenting of our sins and adhering to his will. We learn about his will through reading the the Bible. Understanding God’s character makes his presence more known than simply waiting on a physical “feeling” to emerge.

The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.

Psalm 14:2

I am more aware of the presence of God because of how much more I know about him. And one thing I know about him is that he calls us to seek him diligently (Proverbs 8:17) and continually (1 Chronicles 16:11). In all things and in any circumstance he is there and he is approachable because his love for us came before our love for him.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

Seeking God will change your life as it did mine.

Germany, July 2009

Deciding to take that year off changed the course of my life and my faith for the better. As it lead to another month of travel and yet another bible school with YWAM in Montana, USA, called: Summer of Sports. Continuing my training on the court whilst training spiritually off the court.

After that year off, I was able to return to my university basketball scholarship and finish my degree. What a miracle that was! Praise God!

Why I share my story.

I share part of my life to encourage you that when you seek God with your whole heart, your seeking is not in vain. Every time I go back to God, whether its in a life-crisis or a day’s stresses, he answers me. He answers me in peace to not understand why some things happen and others don’t. In joy, knowing I am secure in my eternal fate or in friendships and community when I experience change and transition. The Christian life isn’t a perfect one but it is a content one, which was the most important thing I’ve learned in my year of seeking God. As I understood that my identity is not in my ability to play basketball or in my ability to make people like me, but it’s found in the acceptance of Jesus Christ.

Sydney, Australia, February 2009

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment,

1 Timothy 6:6

What about you? Are you seeking God, willing to trust he’ll find you?

Are you seeking? Searching, pursuing, thinking, mediating, or striving after God in order to be found? As we seek God in faith, we trust that he answers us in the best way possible. Trusting God knows us better than we know ourselves, which includes the answers and outcomes of our prayers. We can be uncertain of how God will answer, but certain that he does answer. There is not an if he will answer but a HOW he will answer, which is the beauty of faith. When we trust in the character of God and rely on the previous testimonies of how he met us before (or others we know, or people in the Bible), we are more willing and continually able to seek him again and again.

Come to Jesus, in the current mess you are in, because your search after his presence is not in vain rather it’s a miracle in waiting.

The Blazed trail

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 9:10

Prayers for the Women I Know

Dear Heavenly Father, the most high God, the creator of the world and everything in it. You made, know and see the largest of creation – the mountains, the seas, and you know each animal that rest and live among them. You are vast, great and powerful and everywhere at one time. Yet, you delight for us to know you personally because you know us personally. You seek the 1 out of the 99, desiring a personal relationship with care, comfort, counsel and connection. I praise you for your mightiness and your gentleness. You can stop a storm and comfort a heart in one second. I come to you, oh mighty God, in prayer for the women I know and pray for them today.

For the Women I Know

I pray for the women I know that you would connect to them on a deeper more intimate level where there isn’t a doubt you aren’t in their midst. I present to you God these particular women in my life that long to know you more… seeking to find your peace. May you present to them your miraculous love and affection. Change the course of their life for the better. Help them to see you as alive and in pursuit of them. Make them know and feel your peace as it rests within their soul.

Specific Prayers for Women in Need…

God, I present these women to you in need of your divine power, grace and love. I pray that you would mark in them a stamp of your care today and forevermore.

I pray for the women that doubt you in disbelief, I pray that you would break down those strongholds of lies, deception and power of the enemy and open their eyes to see you.

I pray for the hurting women, Lord, comfort their heart in care, help them to see your working love in their midst.

I pray for the women in stress, God, in decision making mode and chaos – protect and guard their minds from negative self-talk and guilt, free them from the pressure to perform or to be perfect and offer up your grace. May your grace be enough for them today, so they can walk in contentment.

God, I pray for the women that are sad, please grieve alongside them – help them to see that their pain is your pain too and you are more than available to hear their cries. Rescue their souls from darkness and remove the lie that says, “I am alone”, as they never are when they have you.

God, I pray for the inspired women with big dreams, give them direction, hope and reassurance of their next steps. Offer up your confirmation of what to do next. Build up their faith to wait upon instruction.

Finally, Lord, in Prayer I Ask

Finally, Lord, give us all patience to parent, energy to use and joy to sustain us. Thank you for the women who seek your face and long to know you more. Present yourself to these women and offer up your holy power to renew, refresh and refrain their minds to know you more. Amen.

Psalm 93 – The Lord Reigns

The Lord reigns; he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
Your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their roaring.
Mightier than the thunders of many waters,
mightier than the waves of the sea,
the Lord on high is mighty!
Your decrees are very trustworthy;
holiness befits your house,
O Lord, forevermore.

PSALM 93 ESV

Perseverance

Perseverance Poem

Could time stop?
Just for a minute… or ten.
I just need to catch my thoughts which are running ahead.
I need to slow down, process some pain,
not sure when it’ll feel fine, like it did the other day.
I’m not sad about my future, I’m actually thankful.
It’s the current state of my mind that is painful.
If time stopped just for me, I could catch my breathe and work out the possibilities.
What to do, how to do it, and work through my responsibilities.
Alas! Time ticks forward not slowing down today.
I guess this is perseverance; working through difficulty without delay.

Emily Aspinall

Follow the Trail

As we walk the trail of following Jesus we will face mountains in our life. To stay on trail you must climb the mountains along the way. This requires perseverance – “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”. If you know hiking, you know the pain it takes to endure and you know of the reward that waits at the top. You eat your snacks, take in the view and give yourself a real satisfaction of “I did it”. Perseverance is agreeing to climb the mountain then actually climbing the mountain and finishing the climb to feel that satisfaction. It’s a process not a product. You can’t just buy perseverance and slap in on yourself – you have to endure the difficult terrain to get it.

Why I wrote the Poem

I wrote this poem because I wanted to avoid that climb. I wanted to be okay with stepping off the trail for a moment. Asking God, give me another way, please. But the funny thing about the trail is that it doesn’t give you many options. There is only one trail and it’s narrow (Matthew 7:14). Most of the time, along the trail, there are mountains to climb. The more we CHOOSE to climb them, the easier the climb will be.

Don’t Step Off the Trail – Persevere!

Anytime I choose to persevere God meets me in midst of my struggle. I witness the provision of God come through time and time again.

God is asking us to stay on the trail of following Him, how? With perseverance. We cannot have perseverance without testing our faith during difficult terrain that scares us. Perseverance means you don’t quit easily despite the mountain you face.

So, I am thankful I do not control time because it forces me to constantly make a decision. Will I climb this mountain or wait for a new one to appear? In my experience, waiting for a new one to appear is deciding to step off the trail of following Jesus. And for me, there is only one trail I am willing to take and that is following Him, the original trailblazer.

Overcome your Mountain with Jesus

Mountains (or hardships) are inevitable in life. It’s the choice that we make that determines if we find perseverance or not.

Stuck in fear? Distracted by the heights or are you willing to just take that first step? Perseverance is continually taking that step… one foot after the other until it becomes part of who you are. Don’t underestimate the power of Jesus who has given us His Spirit to endure all things.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4 NIV

Commit to the Journey

Commit to the journey

September 2016.
Golden Ears Mountain. Maple Ridge, BC, Canada.

This photo was taken in September of 2016, newly married, and almost about to summit my first mountain with my husband. I have a huge smile on my face for many reasons. 1. conquering a mountain 2. overcoming my fear of heights and 3. sharing it with my husband. But right before this moment, there was an intense portion of the climb for me. It started to rain. A rope was dangling ready for us to use to tackle a steep section of wet rock. Trembling in doubt and then fear, I told my husband, “I don’t think I can do this.” My husband’s response, in his calm, cool, and collected manner was, “you don’t have to”.

Committing is a Choice

I am reminded of that moment because being on the trail is a choice. It is a choice to follow Jesus and to commit to changing your ways to knowing and becoming more like him. It is a choice because it is also a relationship.

Because of the relationship I have with my husband I trusted in my ability because he was there with me. I overcame my fear that day and finished the treacherous climb of Golden Ears Mountain.

One Path – Different Journey

There is only 1 path and its the same for all who commit their lives to Jesus. But two individuals on the same trail can have different experiences, perspectives, and strengths just like my husband and I that day. It was stormy for me, and not for him. A hard slog for me, and not for him. Comparing our journeys with other believer will keep us stuck, frozen and unable to move forward. Commit to your own journey with Christ and ask God to remove the temptation of comparison.

Prayer

I pray that you continue to step forward in your walk with God. Despite the fear you face and the lack of confidence you’ll have. I pray you will still persevere knowing Christ is with you.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life

Follow the Trail

I have been a follower of Jesus since I was around 4 years old. I cannot remember the exact moment of giving my life to Christ and at the same time I also cannot remember ever doubting His existence. Sure, I’ve questioned His presence in my circumstances, current situations or struggles throughout my life. But never doubted His existence of being my Saviour and Creator – “being the way, the truth and the life”. There is something very faithful about God in that. He never left me believing He was “not there”. I always knew deep within my soul that he was there and alive with me. Jesus is the way, the truth and the Life. I believe this to be true.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

Commit to the Trail

Committing your heart to Jesus means to repent of your sins and opening your heart to receive Jesus as your Saviour – forgiver of your sins (past, present and future). As well as, receiving this certainty of His existence and presence. This never leaving presence that is always in pursuit of you and your heart. The more I turn myself upward to God the more He turns INWARD to me. To gain more of God’s presence you must first believe that Jesus is the only Way, the only Truth and the only Life for you. Rejoice that there is a trail and Jesus created it for you to walk on. So you can have a lifetime of faith in His presence.

Jesus is our way to God – allow Him to mediate in your heart so you can have daily communion with Him. Despite what you encounter, endure on the trail you can rest in knowing you are never alone. The ever powerful, all-knowing, full of love and the creator of the world: God, is always with you. For me, this has always been true and I walk more boldly, more confident and more in peace knowing He abides in me.

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

John 14:1

Heavenly Father

Heavenly Father

I see God working in lives of sinners all through scripture. His kindness and mercy never seem to cease. God takes the time to direct and correct out of His love for us. This kind of love sent Jesus Christ to die as a sacrifice for our sin (John 3:16). Giving us a pathway directly to God like children we can come to Him as our Heavenly Father. A Father who says, “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

As a Mother

As a mother, I have understood more about God as my Heavenly Father. I can understand why we are His adopted children and not just His to “use”. He wants to lead us, guide us and more importantly LOVE us by telling us we are HIS (Galatians 3:26). Not some robots he wants to control and manipulate in doing His will. As a mother I cannot control my child, I instruct, discipline and love her. God is teaching me to give my daughter the grace she needs, like He does for me. Just like a toddler who tantrums, I too can feel out-of-control in front of God. Yet, in my affliction and tantrum the Lord wants me to come to Him. The Lord always wants us to come to Him as he is our Heavenly Father.

Come to your Heavenly Father

My daughter is three years old. I always try to help her throughout her troubles by stretching out my arms and saying, “come”. I never stop loving and caring for her. The best part is when my daughter does come, snotty and teary, she can trust to fall into my arms. Even when she knows she has done wrong, she needs her mom. I want to have that same love and admiration for my Heavenly Father. Where I am not ashamed to come to Him with my sin. I need Him, He knows that and with arms wide open He says, “come”. This is what God does for us as our Heavenly Father, except he is not flawed as a parent like I am. No, He is perfect, kind and merciful. The more I learn about the character of God the more I come to Him as His daughter.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!

1 John 3:1

Pray

Dear Heavenly Father,

I come to you in my sin, in my joy, in my troubles and ask you to create in me a clean heart (Psalm 51:10). So I can confess my sin and grow in likeness of you. Help me to come to you even when I’m ashamed to. Thank-you Lord that you see me and know me better than I know myself. Teach me to come to you even when I don’t want or understand to.

Amen.

Stay Curious, Not Confused

God is calling us to trust Him despite what we do not know. In Proverbs 3:5 it says, “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding“. I believe by changing our mindset from confusion to curiosity begins the process of trusting God. Let’s take a look at the difference between confusion and curiosity and why we should stay curious and not confused.

Confusion

Confusion arises when we lack the wisdom of understanding. For example,“why did this happen to me?” Circling around the same problem hoping for a different outcome. By definition confused/confusion means, “lack of understanding; uncertainty” and “unable to think clearly”. If we allow ourselves to stay confused, unable to think clearly, we become angry. This anger can grow into bitterness. Bitterness towards God because of our own lack of understanding and lack of trust. This not only effects our faith but our attitudes towards those around us.

Curiosity

Curiosity by definition means, “eager to know or learn something”. I may not understand why something happened to me, but I can learn more about God through it. Curiosity gives traction to God while confusion distracts us from God. What is good for us is not to know everything, instead, we aim to know God who does. Let’s start with learning to lean on Him through a curiosity of His character not a confusion of our circumstances.

Conclusion

I trust in God and lean on His understanding because of what I lack. I may be angry and I may have questions. But, I do not let that stop me from pursuing God. Especially, since I know God gives and takes away, Job 1:21. I accept the hard truths even if I don’t understand them at the time. For who knows more than God? So, why would I assume I know better than He? I am curious of who God is despite my struggle, suffering and unknown plans of my life.

I stay curious about God through the uncertainty of my circumstances.

Trust in the Lord for He is good His love endures forever.

Psalm 136

Overwhelmed by God’s Grace

Moving provinces has its excitement and its tough transitions. It can be tough navigating a new routine in a new city whilst making new friends. That alone can be overwhelming. For me, the most challenging part was navigating it all alongside the needs of my newly turned 3 year old daughter. In midst of a big change I became overwhelmed in motherhood and I needed to be overwhelmed by God’s grace.

Overwhelmed in Motherhood

I started to focus more on the needs of my daughter and less on my own. The pressure of making sure she was OKAY definitely made me NOT okay. Repeating the phrase, “I am not okay” to my husband. Like any big move, it affects everyone involved and he too had his own set of transitions to work through.

Attending to the every need of my daughter left me exhausted to find time for myself. Mentally, spiritually and emotionally I needed a change – a shift, a refreshment – something! How? Through vulnerability and the grace of God.

Overwhelmed by God’s Grace

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

First, I attended a church event solo and had a pastor pray over me. As the pastor asked what I needed prayer for, I couldn’t get the words out, I just started to cry uncontrollably. All I managed to say was, “motherhood”. Clearly there had been feelings I hadn’t yet processed – overwhelming feelings. There I was, new to the church, vulnerably balling my eyes out, asking for prayer. Asking for help through her prayer to receive God’s grace.

Next, I got involved in a mom’s group at church. At the end of each session there is time of prayer. Again, tears rolling down (into my mask (“the tear catcher”, I called it) I opened up with my struggles and received prayer.

Slowly by slowly, I stayed open to God’s grace, making time to receive prayer. I continued to seek God through the love and support of fellow believers.

The Final Shift of Faith

Third example of staying vulnerable and open to God, I asked a friend over the phone to pray for me. Just like the church event, and the mom’s group, I could not speak without tears. I shared my stresses and I shared my struggles. She prayed over me. Over the phone, the Spirit of the Lord used her to bless me. Her prayer was authentic, heartfelt and filled with the presence of God as she began to tear up herself, talking about God’s grace and faithfulness. Something spiritually in me shifted. I kid you not – it was the final shift of faith I needed to focus my heart back unto the Lord.

Be open to receive God’s Grace

Jesus is the hope we look for in all circumstances – in every pain and in every praise there He remains. I encourage you to align yourselves with fellow Godly friends. People in your life you can go to in times of need or refreshment. It is truly life giving. We all have our moments, seasons and times where we cannot grasp the hope ourselves, we need a friend to grasp it for us.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus

Philippians 2:4-5

Poem and a prayer

Lord, turn my pain into praise,
sorrow into smiles,
united to friends who care.

Fill us up, to pour us out,
To love like you love,
United in Christ Jesus.

Amen.