Have you ever been at a place in your spiritual journey where you feel like you are stuck in place? You don’t feel enthusiasm or passion anymore and you go through the motions of spiritual disciplines because you know you should and not because you want to.

I have been in this season for quite some time now. I don’t know exactly when or how it began, I didn’t notice until I was there. Then I began to feel as though my life had always been that way and always would be for the future. I can relate to the heart cry of King David from Psalm 13, “How long, O Lord?” but God seems silent in response.

How long, O Lord?

— Psalm 13

I have never minded being alone. I recharge by myself and love activities, like taking long walks in nature, where it is just me and the beauty of creation. It brings peace to my soul somehow. But physical aloneness is different than spiritual aloneness. For me it brings anxiety. "What do I do? I must be missing something, doing something wrong. How did I get to this place? And more urgently, can I get out of here, now, please?!"

It reminds me a lot of a horse in training, learning to rest under pressure. The trainer puts the horse in a stressful situation and the only way it can get out is by remaining calm, relaxing and just waiting for the next command.

The horse’s first and natural reaction is to run. It likely thinks: “Now I am going to die for sure! This silly human is trying to kill me, and I want to get out of here at all costs.” But gradually the horse realizes that when it stops running and fighting, the pressure lifts. It learns to trust that the trainer has its best interests and safety in mind and finds a place of peace and calm, by resting at his side.

I think God has placed me under pressure, so to speak, in a stressful training situation these past weeks and months by allowing silence, not giving answers and asking me not to run, but to rest. This has been incredibly challenging and painful for me.

This training session has played out in a few different ways. My health is one main area. This past year I have had some ongoing health challenges that have tested my endurance, my faith in God’s good plan for my life and in all honesty, made me want to run.

The physical and spiritual aspects of our lives are very much intertwined. If one area is undergoing battle, then the other area will be profoundly affected. In the thick of things, though, it is hard to remember this. I questioned: “God, am I doing something wrong? If I just had more faith, more will-power, would I get better? Is this all in my head?” I have worked so hard to get well, visited several doctors and don’t seem to be getting any answers or results. Not feeling well can easily lead to discouragement and it has been hard to keep a positive attitude.

One night I was laying in bed, pondering and praying through the challenges I had been walking through. Gradually, a sense of peace began to come into my heart, and in my spirit, I knew God was saying, “It’s going to be okay.”

I wasn’t asking God to speak to me then or even asking for answers. I had just come to a place where I knew there might not be an answer and I was okay with that. Somehow, finally, I could accept that if this is what God is asking me to walk through, He is going walk through it with me.

I began to realize that maybe He has been speaking to me. His voice is there even in the silence. It just doesn’t always look like I think it should. The Lord helped me understand that sometimes His voice is heard through my roommate asking me, “how are you doing this morning?” Or maybe during the Psalm readings at our daily prayer times, when a friend prays with me over the phone or simply when He gives me the strength to get out of bed another day.

It is a little like hanging out with your best friend. You don’t have to be talking the whole time because you are just satisfied with being in each other’s presence.

In a book I recently read, the author shared an encouraging incite that helped me realize, silence is not something I need to fear:

“Do not be afraid if all you seem to hear is silence. Sometimes the “silence” of God that we experience in prayer is a simple affirmation that we are where we need to be. God wants us to simply “be” and not overthink the work he has right in front of us. God’s silence in prayer can be a simple message of “you are where I need you to be, and when I want you to move, you will know it.” -Bobby Angel *

Sometimes the “silence” of God that we experience in prayer is a simple affirmation that we are where we need to be.

— Bobby Angel

I believe I am gradually coming to a place, where I can be ok with silence and accept that God has placed me where He wants me to be. Like the horse in training, I can rest in my master’s presence, even under pressure. When all my natural instincts are telling me to run, I remember He is ultimately good and has my best interests at heart. I can stay in this place, wait it out and trust that in His presence I will be safe.

Sometimes difficulties just happen, not because I’ve sinned or missed the mark or I’m not good enough, but because that is the way life is. If my focus is on beating myself up and wallowing in self-pity, I will miss the learning opportunity that is right in front of me. I am also learning to be ok with not accomplishing everything that I want to when I am feeling physically weak. I am beginning to let go of my expectations for each day and trusting that whatever I do get done, is what God intended for me to accomplish for that day.

I am grateful for this time because it has taught me more about who I am in Christ and how He sees me: I can persevere through more difficult times than I thought I could. I am not a failure or disappointment. God has not abandoned me or set me aside on a shelf to forget about me.

It’s also taught me more about who God is: He is completely and ultimately good, He never fails or allows things to happen by accident. My sickness, loneliness and struggles have not escaped His notice. Knowing who my Father is brings deep peace. On the good days and the bad, in silence and pain, through it all, there is assurance of His love and care over me.

I know this is not the end of training. The lesson I am currently in is not complete and there will no doubt be more down the road. But, like the horse, there is a deeper level of trust and love established between me and my Trainer. And even though the lessons might get harder, I am becoming stronger. Whatever comes I will be more equipped and prepared to face it with Him by my side.

I take comfort in the fact that King David, too, found peace in the silence and the waiting. He ends Psalm 13 with these words of faith and praise:

But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.

— Psalm 13:5-6

* Pray, Decide, and Don’t Worry: Five Steps to Discerning God’s Will - by Jackie and Bobby Angel in collaboration with Fr. Mike Schmitz



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What if making a significant impact for God’s kingdom was not about changing the world, but investing in a handful of ordinary, seemingly insignificant people?

What if our tools weren’t our knowledge and abilities, but relationships within the Body of Christ and Godly character?Jesus spent his time on earth with a small group of people, unlikely candidates to be world revolutionaries. Yet we read in the book of Acts that these men went on to turn the world of their time “upside down”!

What would it look like if we, as followers of Christ today, were to experience that same radical transformation in our day-to-day lives?

GFA Discipleship Program offers Christian single adults ages 18-27, the chance to walk in Christ’s steps and transform their life through an intense gap year at our home office in Stoney Creek, Ontario. We believe that it is possible to experience Biblical discipleship in our generation and transform our world for Christ.

The foundation of the Discipleship Program was laid when Dr. K.P. and Gisela Yohannan answered the call of God into full time ministry back in the 70’s. Being young adults they were so impacted by the opportunity given to them to do something for the Lord. It was from those early years of ministry that a foundation was laid for the Discipleship Program. The dream and vision to see hundreds of young people raised up to live out God’s calling on their lives with passion and purpose.

I have had the opportunity to learn from believers who have travelled farther than me in this journey of following Christ.

— DP Alumna

“I no longer wanted to be content with just knowing about being a follower of Jesus but actually have it become a lifestyle of radical devotion to Him. Growing up in a Christian home I knew so much about following Christ but often knowing was as far as it went. When I compared my own lifestyle with the examples I saw in God’s Word I knew there was so much more available for me to experience as a follower of Christ.

The willingness I have seen here to invest in other people’s lives and be an example of what it means to follow Christ has made a huge impact on me.

I have had the opportunity to learn from believers who have travelled farther than me in this journey of following Christ. They don’t just talk about having a radical faith, but actually live it out.”

Are you looking to make a difference for God’s Kingdom while walking with others who have the same goal? Apply for the GFA Discipleship Program today.

https://www.gfa.ca/discipleship/apply/

There's no going back after this radical transformation in your life through an intense year of discipleship.

Watch our latest video to hear alumni share about how discipleship impacted their lives.

https://www.gfa.ca/discipleship/why-discipleship/



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Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.

— Hosea 10:12

This verse really sums up well what I have been learning, especially through the opportunity we had this year to have a small garden.

I am not a gardener. At home, poor soil, cold summers, and wind combined to make gardening a futile effort, and after several years of battling against these things, my mother relented and gave up trying to grow vegetables, leaving just one flower bed that was sheltered from the wind.

I was very excited at the opportunity to have a garden here in Stoney Creek, but there were a lot of challenges.

First, we had to decide what to plant. Then we had to plant it - we were blessed to have a staff member till the garden for us, but I was not used to dealing with rabbits, who did their best to eat our beets and peas until we learned how to put chicken wire around them to keep the rabbits out. We also realized that we had planted our beets too close together and they were therefore rather stunted.

Then came the weeds.

At first, not being familiar with the differences between baby plants and weeds, I let both grow together. Then, having learned the difference, we cleared out the weeds.

Then came the portulaca. At home, portulaca is a lovely flower that people take great care to cultivate, but in Stoney Creek it is a dreadful weed. When it first came up, there were thousands of tiny plants, too tiny to possibly pull them all, so we let them grow. Soon, we were overrun.

It took a lot of work to get rid of the portulaca, and we ended up having to hoe out the rows, though of course by then the ground was hard so we were nigh unto needing a pickax. Needless to say, after that, we were more careful to pull them when they were small, however, as we didn't have hours to spend each week in the garden, the best we could do was to keep hoeing the soil to keep it soft, as portulaca doesn't like the soil that way.

Portulaca.jpg

There were many things that the Lord taught me about the spiritual life through this garden, and the weeds.

When I think about the fruit of the Spirit as plants trying to produce fruit, and the sins mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21 as weeds, I understand better, having tended a garden, how important it is to root out the weeds. Here are some things I have learned about weeds: both in the garden and in my own life.

They spread like crazy - just as weeds don't need a special invitation to invade, when I allow one sin -say pride, however small, into my heart, it propagates more - envy, perfectionism, and more pride.

Just because you got rid of every last one last week doesn't mean you get a pass on weeding this week - just because I repented of all of the little sins the Lord revealed to me, doesn't mean that I automatically stop sinning or no longer need to repent.

Weeds take nutrients and moisture away from plants - the sin of pride hinders my prayers, and stunts the growth of the fruits of joy, patience, and peace in my heart

Different environments produce different kinds of weeds - This was especially apparent to me with the portulaca. Portulaca especially likes to grow in hot places, with hard, dry soil. Where other plants struggle it thrives, and makes life harder for other plants. It likes desert-like conditions.

Some sins seem to grow in fertile hearts when everything is going well - such as self confidence, while others grow in stormy seasons - sins like doubt, despair, etc. Others, like portulaca, grow in the desert. These sins, as I have found in my own life, have been self-effort and complacency disguised as patience.

While in the Discipleship Program, I thought that I would grow exponentially in my spiritual walk, and I have grown, but I have also been (and still am) in a 'dry spot', and it's been hard, because you'd think that surrounded by so many opportunities growth would come... easier. And in this dry season, I've noticed that different weeds, different sins than I struggled with before, have started to grow, and they're hard to get rid of. Or perhaps they were always there, but now I know them to be weeds.

In the same way that we had to hoe the ground, to soften it to make it harder for the weeds to grow, the Lord has had to help me soften my heart. It's hard work, and I don't feel like I've made much progress some days. It hurts. It's dusty and there's still thousands of weeds. Some days a little rain comes, and I rejoice. Perhaps righteousness is a bit like potatoes, growing underground, unseen until harvest.

~ Disciple of 2019



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How can I know what God’s will is for my life? This has always been a question burning in my mind, ever since as a young child I realized I would be doing something with my life, and I had to figure out what that would be.

I didn’t want to just do what I want to do, I wanted to do what God wanted. How could I know what that was?

I have thought about this a lot with past decisions I have made in my life. Even before coming to the Discipleship Program, I struggled to know if this year was the Lord’s will for me. Looking back now, I know it was, due to the amazing ways the Lord has worked through it. Prayer is one big thing I have grown in this year, as well as becoming more others-focused – learning what it means to serve, and becoming more of an outgoing person, willing to give of myself.

As the year slowly comes to an end, there is the question of what is next, not often spoken but often running through my mind.

Through a few things we have studied, conversations we’ve had, and the Lord helping me understand, I have come to realize God’s will for my life isn’t and doesn’t need to be as complicated as I always thought it was.

A picture in my head that would describe what I had thought about God’s will would be of a road stretched out in front of me, my life. In that road, there is a fork - a decision I must make - right or left, this or that. One way would be God’s will and the other wouldn’t. If I chose the wrong path, well, it wouldn’t be very good from there. I didn’t consider what would happen down that path, but I knew that it would be bad, and it was crucial to make the right choice.

I have come to see that the picture I had is wrong.

God’s will for me is to know Him more. If I am earnestly seeking Him with my heart, the choice I make will be what He desires as well.

Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

1 Thessalonians 4:3a, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification”

Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

And what if I choose the things that are not of the Lord? It’s not the end of the world. Everybody slips off the path and stumbles at different points. The key is to get up again and get back on the right track.

I feel it is encouraging to know that God has a plan for my future. I am realizing that I will most likely not know all of it at once however. Each step I take of obedience will allow me to see one more step ahead, but I may not know (and don’t right now) what the next five years hold.

So, I don’t need to stress about what my life will look like. I simply need to trust the Lord and seek Him with all my heart. God’s call on my life is for me to know Him more and grow to be more like Him. Proverbs 3 seemed to make this all clearer to me. Verses 2-8 say:

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.

I don’t know that I feel it in my bones, but this has been a great source of comfort and peace to me, knowing that if I am changing to be more like Him, I am fulfilling His call. I don’t know where that will all take me, but I take joy in knowing I can trust Him with my future.

~ Disciple of 2019



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A little ago, we were listening to a devotional by a GFA staff member during one of our prayer meetings, sharing about the parable of the tenants in Mark 12. How the lord of the vineyard sent the servants to collect fruit from the vineyard and they were beaten, killed etc. The Lord of the vineyard knew what would happen from the beginning to the end, including that His Son would be killed. Why would He keep sending them if He was God and knew what was going to happen?

In another message (We get a lot of good teaching 😉) that we heard by Joni Eareckson Tada, she shared on the theology of suffering, and how God is able to use the evil in our lives and use it for our good (yes, good) and His glory, that wouldn’t have been possible if those bad things were not in our lives.

When I hear something more than once, it gets my attention. God can and will use the suffering in my life for good. Too often, I view what God is doing and has done in my life with a less than joyful attitude, viewing it almost as if it was of lesser quality. However, He has a plan and knows what is best for me, even if it isn’t what I would choose or plan.

I wouldn’t think that it would be very helpful for me to have seasonal allergies this Fall; however, things have gone differently then I would have planned, and I now have seasonal allergies. I know that this is just a small example of suffering; I don’t want to make light of the greater trials that others all over the world are going through.

Sometimes God allows what He hates to accomplish what He loves.

— Joni Eareckson Tada

I don’t know what God is going to teach me through my seasonal allergies, or how He will use it for His glory. It may be simply a small amount of patience or dependence on Him. I can live in faith, that he knows what is best for me. I want to grow to trust Him, knowing that He is the finest Author who is writing my story, even it doesn’t appear to be all happily ever afters. My life is not my own.

~ Disciple of 2019



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