Monday, March 9, 2015

A New Adventure

                Starting a new adventure, a new journey, or a new path in life is always a little scary. We have a dream, a hope, and a desire to build something, to start a business, to start a ministry, to fulfill a need. We see it before us, but do not know if this is our dream or is this God’s dream for us. We don’t know what to do, where to begin or where to go. I have found myself in this state of mind for the past few weeks. A few days ago I wrote a blog titled “My Success”. (link is at end of this page) In this blog I talked about my business that I own and operate with my daughter in law. We own a Pet
Care Company and we are looking to expand and grow into a place of our own. This is something that we have talked about, thought about and even dreamed about since we started in the Pet Care business years ago. But not until recently did this dream of ours become a possibility.
                It all started with a prayer, a prayer said by me at the beginning of the year. To be completely honest the beginning of the year was a hard for us. Our future in this business looked bleak. We didn’t have many bookings for the upcoming months, we were not getting any new client calls, and both of us were wondering if we should just call it quits and give up all together. So I prayed. I prayed and asked the Lord what He wanted us to do. He knew our hearts, He knew our dreams and desires, but what He wanted from us and for us was more important than what we wanted. We knew and believed that no matter what His will was the best will of all.
                For the first few weeks, this was my daily prayer. And, for the first few weeks there was no answer, and nothing much changed. We got a new booking here and there, a new client or two, but still not a whole lot of anything going on. Then it happened. All of a sudden, out of nowhere calls and needs came like a flood through our gates. We went from no bookings to overbooked and over capacity in a matter of two weeks, and we haven’t stopped since. We were flabbergasted, full of praise and awed at the grace of His provision. At that moment we had our answer, and through various people, scriptures and “signs” (for lack of a better word) we knew that we needed to expand, and that it was not what we wanted to do, but what God was telling us to do.
                As we stand on the starting line of our new journey, my heart is overwhelmed with fear, questions, doubts, but with a strong desire to do this for Him and only Him. I have been praying daily, and many times throughout the day, for the Lord to give me wisdom and direction as we begin to venture out in faith towards this dream of ours. This morning, I opened my ears and heard His wisdom come to us through the words of Nehemiah, the faithful servant who also took a step of faith into a new journey to build something from nothing.
                The book of Nehemiah is often the go to book when one is beginning a new journey or a new project. In the beginning of the book we see Nehemiah going about his daily duties as the cup bearer to the king Artaxerxes. While he is doing his daily duties, along come some men from Judah (Nehemiah 1:1-3). Nehemiah asks about his homeland, Jerusalem, and what has become of it. I like to read in between the lines and imagine Nehemiah thinking about his homeland and the dream of one day returning. Perhaps he has been praying and asking the Lord to bring this dream to pass. The bible does not tell us this, but I like to think that Nehemiah had a dream and a desire just like we do.
                “And they said to me, ‘The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.’” Nehemiah 1:3
                Nehemiah is told that his beloved city, Jerusalem is in great need. The people there are in need of hope and encouragement. The walls are broken down. Everything Nehemiah remembered about his homeland is gone and nothing is left but rubble. Before we step into any dream or desire of our heart we need to ask ourselves if there is a need for it. The business that we are in is a service based industry, so before we do anything or take any step towards our dream we need to determine if there is a need. Perhaps you want to start a ministry, or start a business like we are, or perhaps you want to provide a service to the community. Whatever your dream is, you need to determine if there is a need for it. Nehemiah was told by these men who were living in the region of Judah that there was a need for someone to bring hope and healing to the people still there. The people had a need for someone to step up and do something about it.
                “As soon as I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 1:4
                Nehemiah’s heart broke for his people and for his homeland. His heart was broken because he saw their needs and was passionate about getting them the help they needed. My pastor always says to us that if your heart breaks for someone or something, then most likely that is the area the Lord wants to use you. For us, our hearts break for all the creation of God who need love and a safe place to sleep at night. Our heart wants to help those who are of the four legged kind, but also to be there for their moms and dads on a daily basis too. Our business is not just a business, it is a ministry too.
              Nehemiah sat down, he wept and he mourned for days over what he had just heard. Before we jump into any new project or ministry, or before we decide to start our own business, we need to sit down and ask ourselves if we are passionate about it. Is this an area that we can dedicate our time and attention to? Starting a business, or a ministry or any venture will consume your time and energy. If you are not passionate about it enough to give up and let go of whatever needs to go in your life, then don’t take one more step. There are areas of your life that you are going to have to sacrifice, you are going to have to spend time and be almost work-aholic like until the fruition of your labors have come to blossom. Unless you are willing to do what it takes, don’t do it. You must be passionate about it or don’t be anything about it at all.
                Nehemiah also fasted and prayed. He set his heart, his desire and his dream before the Lord God and he asked Him for His help, wisdom and guidance. He fasted. He denied his flesh. He sacrificed self. He came before the Lord naked and bare, not asking for or hoping for anything, just humbled in his brokenness for his people, for the needs that he saw. Nehemiah knew that if God wanted the city to be restored He would make it happen. If God wants you to start this new venture then He will make it happen.
                Nehemiah’s prayer is not a prayer begging God to choose him to do the work, or to make his dream a reality. Nehemiah saw a need and He trusted God to initiate and accomplish His purposes through whomever He chose. It may be our dream, but is it God’s dream for us? Just because we want it, or we see the need doesn’t mean God wants us to jump in head first- He might have other plans for us.
                “O Lord, let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear Your name, and give success to Your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Nehemiah 1:11
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                Nehemiah knew that any success he was going to have would come from the Lord. At this moment, as Nehemiah is praying, I think he knew and had a desire in his heart to go to Jerusalem and fill the need. I think at this moment Nehemiah’s dream became a reality. It was at this moment that Nehemiah understood the calling God was placing on his life, for such a time as this. Until you have that moment of confirmation I want you to continue to pray, continue to fast, and seek the Lord for His wisdom. Trust me when I say diving in head first will only ever get you hurt. You must be patient and trust that if God wants you to take this path He will give you the confirmation you seek. It may come in the oddest ways, but it will come and you will know -that you know -that you know- when it comes.
                For me today I learned many things about starting a new journey from Nehemiah. I hope that as I continue to read and dig up the treasure of wisdom God has for me, you will be blessed by them as well. It is my hope that over the next few weeks of blogs I will take you with me on this journey and on this path, as we venture out into the unknown, and trust that this dream of ours will become a reality in and through the hands of our God. I hope that as I learn and as the Lord leads me through His Word that I can encourage you and strengthen you to follow your dreams, your new endeavors and perhaps make a new start on His solid ground. Our dream is becoming more and more real every day, may the Lord God give us all wisdom to follow Him to the other end. In Jesus Name amen and amen.

Starting a new journey? Ask these questions first:
Is there a need?
Are we passionate?
Have we prayed, fasted, and sought the Lord for His wisdom?
Have we cleared away all our fleshly desires and became naked and open before Him?
Is this our dream or is this His dream for us?