Stripped.

*Warning. This blog has potentially sappy content. The reader is advised to stop here if having an unsympathetic day.

As many know, there is an economic cycle that is really fairly impossible to avoid. There are times when the economy is booming and everyone has a job and most are content with life. Then there are recessions, depressions, and a cycle of rebuilding back to that point. These times are usually really stressful and many people learn better ways to save and spend in the tougher times in order to get back to the peak of the economy again.
As of recent, I have been homesick. Not because I hate Greeley, Colorado although, I have lashed out at this mediocre city from time to time out of pure frustration. Some mornings I wake up and feel like this is right where God wants me to be and I am doing just what He wants me to be doing and I go about my day as if my starvation for more of Jesus is covered by the mirages of fake water in my sight.
Other days, and of recent, most days, I wake up with this awful pit in my stomach. It seems as though I want so much of Him, but I literally can’t reach Him. Often I remember my days at Evangel and think with a heavy heart of all the “feeding” that I got there. I think of my home church, Evangel Temple, and thought of how much I was “fed” there. Then a great sadness comes over me because of two things:
One. I don’t get that feeding here. I read books, I read the Bible, I pray, but I still need more.
Two. Golly, I am so thankful for all the spiritual leaders that I have had in my life that also feel that complete starvation to be spiritually fed and don’t get that opportunity because they are doing all the spiritual feeding themselves.
Along with those two feelings, I usually have two different reactions depending on the day and the temperature in the house.
One. Woe is me. I am homesick. Although I feel like I am doing what God wants of me, I feel as though it’s hurting me more than helping me.
Two. Wow. Look at me. I have obeyed God thus far, and although I am super lonely, I am a spiritual leader to many people in the church and that is so cool to me.
When you break it all down (even more than what I just did) underneath all of that confusing mess of emotions (that are not ONLY girl emotions) I find myself asking, “Alright, God, what now?” and I find myself listening…
And listening…
Still listening…
Yes, I am “self-feeding” via books and the Bible. However, I am also being directly fed by the Creator of all, and that is amazing. When you have no interpreter between you and God (as I have had most of my life) you are left to either walk away, or stand before your God face-to-face and hash it out. I’ve learned that God always gives it straight, but He doesn’t always give it “feel good”. In other words (because I know that made no sense) when communicating directly with God listening to Him you will always get the truth, but it doesn’t always feel great and warm and fuzzy.
God has brought me more than five hundred miles from friends, families, my church, my life. God has guided me to get married, attend school, and go to work. God has put Joshua and I in a position of leadership over a middle school youth group that has had very different lives then we have had.
God has stripped me.
God is putting me through the flame.
God is molding me.
And it’s a hard, painful experience now. But the result is a more beautiful me. A me more in his image. A me even more prepared for what God has for me.
So. I have been stripped. For now. But one day. I will emerge from this flame. With a new set of armor. Armor for the next flame.
You see, just like the economic cycle, God gives us seasons of prosperity and seasons where we feel like we have almost nothing. In the seasons that we are prosperous and have countless things to be thankful for, we must remember that it is only a matter of time before He is testing us again; stripping things from us that we love. He wants us to grow. He wants us to be desperate for Him. Starving for Him.
And in all honesty.
Being stripped sucks.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Stay Tuned for Profound Thoughts,
Ashlee

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