As some of you may know, I speak for Girls Night Out events all over Canada and the United States, with a great group of other women! In that picture above, I'm second from the front, and my friend Connie Cavanaugh is at the back. Connie has a new book out, Following God One Yes at a Time, which has just been released by Harvest House Publishers. This book tells you how -- one simple, immediate, possible yes at a time – to do what Jesus commanded when He said, “Follow Me.” This is “following God for dummies”; it is a simple way for ordinary Christians to follow Christ through the maze of our complicated lives.
I asked Connie to come and talk to us about her book:
You said that God may have "seasonal" dreams for us. What does that look like if you're a mom of young kids, but you've always felt called to something big?
The dream of being a writer came to me in my 20s and the dream of speaking came in my 30s. Neither dream was realized until my 40s and 50s. The simple answer is that I could not pursue those dreams until I first pursued other dreams God also gave me, such as devoting 20 years to being a stay-home mom. Some people have the mental and physical energy to pursue more than one big dream at a time, such as the OBGYN who delivered my second baby and continued working through the births and rearing of six children of her own. I am not that kind of person. But God knows what we can and cannot do and He is good so during my years at home, He was giving me "material" to use in my subsequent season as a writer and speaker. For the young mom who feels called to something "big" I remind her that nothing is "bigger" than being a godly, effective parent.
But I hasten to add, don't lose hope because if God gives the dream, He will lead you to fulfill it in His time.
Do you think that husbands and wives usually share dreams? What do you do if you feel called to something but your husband doesn't?
Yes, I think couples often share dreams. When my husband pursued the dream of completing his education, it was actually the realization of a dream that I had in my heart that my husband would have a much broader ministry than he had at the time. That was a shared dream.
However, if you feel called to something that your husband is opposed to, then I would caution you to be absolutely certain that you are hearing clearly from God. God calls us to love and respect our spouse and I doubt He would ask us to do something that would damage the marriage relationship. It may be that you are to wait and pray until you and your spouse reach agreement. Perhaps God is using your spouse's hesitance to refine the dream into something a little different than what you are now thinking.
Bottom line: honour the marriage first and trust God for the dream.
You begin by saying “God has a dream for every believer.” I love that idea--that God "dreams" for us. What do you mean by it, though?
God does have a dream for every believer. In fact He has many overlapping, interlocking dreams for us: some big, some small; some lifelong, some seasonal; some manageable, some seemingly impossible. When His dream looks like a mountain we can’t climb, because we lack faith in ourselves and in Him, we think:
- This dream is too big; I don’t have what it takes.
- The process looks so complicated; I don’t even know where to start.
- The finish line is so far away; I don’t think I can go the distance.
- I’ve tried before and dropped out; I must be all out of chances.
- Is this God speaking or my own wishful thinking?
- People like me don’t get to do these things; I’m not worthy of this.
I think most of us can relate to those barriers that keep us from following God.
The biggest barriers to following God are internal, not external. It’s not situations, circumstances, tragedies, crises or even physical limitations but it’s things like fear, guilt, pride, shame, comparison, and doubt that hold us back from pursuing the dreams God has for us. Following God one yes at a time is about how God breaks down His impossible dream into manageable steps and once we begin to follow Him in faith, because He loves us, He sends us proofs that we’re on the right track.
Do you think God always sends us “proofs” when we follow Him? I sometimes get scared that I'm assuming God wants me to do something when it's me who wants to do it.
Even though we talk about a God who is alive and personal, all Christians occasionally feel like He is remote and invisible. Once God gets us to say yes to His dream and begin following Him, He knows that we’re going to be battling doubts and fears so He sends us proofs that we heard Him correctly and we’re on the right track. These proofs are little assurances that we pick up in a number of ways – through our daily Bible reading or hear in a sermon or through music or circumstance or pretty much anything that God chooses to use.
He’s not limited in the ways He communicates with us. These “proofs” are His way of encouraging us not to lose heart but to keep following.
Sheila talking now: I like this concept that God gives proofs, and that's what I really appreciated about the book, because quite frankly I don't think that I trust enough. I second guess myself all the time. Did I really hear God say that?
We had this one experience a few years ago that made me believe in proofs. It was the summer of 2007, and we as a family had planned to move to Kenya for a year. We were going to leave in August and return the following July. We had saved money so we could go; we had arranged a place to live; we had arranged for a hospital for Keith to work at; and we had arranged for work for me to do. We even had someone to live in our house.
It had been our dream.
And then things started to go wrong. Every time the mission organization called us, our phone line would go dead. Our phone line NEVER goes dead. And it happened no matter what phone they were calling from. Little tiny things kept going wrong, which I can't go into all the details about, but they left us really puzzled.
And then the final straw came. We received our acceptance package in the mail, but it had been burned to a crisp. It came in a Ziploc bag from Canada post, with a note apologizing for its condition, but apparently someone set the mailbox on fire. I had never heard of mail being burned before. We opened the package and ashes fell out instead of a book, and yet somehow the label with our address had survived.
I started asking friends if they thought it was a sign. Should I just assume it was a sign, or was that presumptuous? One very smart man said, "Sheila, what else do you expect God to do?" And so we didn't go. And four months later, Kenya erupted into the worst violence they had seen in decades. We would have been right in the middle of it. God protected us.
So God does give proofs, but often we second guess Him. I think it's good to keep checking things out, but sometimes we just have to learn to live by faith, and I find that hard. If you do, too, Connie's book can help!
Find Connie's book on Amazon, or for Kindle. And follow Connie on Facebook!
Labels: book review, faith