A few weeks ago, I was asked to write a guest blog post for RAVE Ministries about their new campaign they have for April. It is called AprilRAVEs. It is a whole month of giving extravagant praise and encouragement to others. Below is my post I did for RAVE. Also, here is the link to find out more about the campaign and get involved! AprilRAVEs
It was Saturday morning, and I was strolling through a store in hopes of finding some spring pants. As I sifted through the variety of styles of colored jeans, my ical started beeping obnoxiously. Irritated that something would interrupt my shopping experience, I looked at my phone and realized I had committed to a “phone date” with one of my old youth group girls in Alabama. She had texted me the night before asking to talk. I called her, and we began our typical talk. We did the cordial greetings, and then dove right in to the real stuff. She is a senior. We have the type of relationship that we can go from “Hey, how are you?” right into “what’s God saying to you right now?” or “I was dumb last night, and I lied to my parents about where I was going with my boyfriend.” The reasons we can have frank real conversations is because we have been through several different seasons in faith together. As I began asking questions and probing about friends, faith, family, prom, college, and her leadership at church, I decided to sit down in the store. After an hour of talking, I went to hang up and realized how different that conversation may of looked two years ago.
You see, in the last two years I have walked through the trenches of divorce with her and her family, wiping away tears, listening, speaking truth, and giving hugs. There was a season when a close family member of hers came home from rehab, and the reunion stirred up unsolved issues and malice. I was there to call out the bitterness. In turn, I got to witness her release and forgive. Also, there was a season when I got the calls about the frustrations of her seeing her once loving parents date other people…which as a high school student is not easy and a little ucky. Still, in another season, I had the joy to watch her get her first real boyfriend…and wanted to “bop” both of them at different times during that relationship. We walked through failures and successes with that relationship. There was a season where I saw God light up her path and give her exactly what she needed even when she didn’t know what she really needed. We rejoiced in that.
There have been many seasons that I have been honored to be a part of in this young woman of the Lord’s life and journey in faith. I was there when she received a call into ministry, and began the journey of doing ministry.
This season is different. As I went online to watch her speak to over 500 of her peers at a retreat, my heart broke that I could not be there in person. I am so very proud of the way that she has allowed the Lord to refine her. It truly is a gift to be a part of the refining process.
In Isaiah 55: 7-11 it says, “Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously (or extravagantly). “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are FAR beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”
There are so many times that when a student like this one comes to me with a struggle or a problem, it would be easier to just remind them of only a portion of that scripture. That His thoughts are not ours, and His ways are above our own. However, I am called to help them not only know that God’s plans are above our own, but be faithful in the rain. There are seasons of sowing and watering. We water by speaking truth, love, and encouragement consistently. The hard part is the not knowing whether it will take root. So, as a sower, there is also seasons where you wait.
In due season, it produces fruit. The fruit usually looks different each time. It is unique, yet perfect. You’ve heard “April showers bring May flowers.” It is true! It takes those whole 30 days of rain, waiting, and faithfulness to bring about an extravagant buttercup.
RAVE is calling people to a whole month of EXTRAVAGANT praise. This is your opportunity to rain down on others extravagant praise for what God is doing, will do, and has done in and through people’s lives. Those words don’t return void. They speak life into existence and call, even cause, people to cheer up (buttercup). In situations that seem hopeless, you must remember that words do not come empty handed. They have power to bring about life and death. The good fruit may not come immediately, however, it always comes extravagantly.