I have never used the holidays in my articles, but with the New Year here I thought I would use this month’s article to just highlight the God-things from 2019.

God wants nothing more from us than for us to lean into Him to truly desire Him and to learn to trust Him. That’s it. That’s all He wants. As I look back at 2019 and all the ups and downs, I notice the last couple months are surrounded by two things:  Joy and Peace.

How did I get here?

Let’s take a look back at some key turning points in my walk with my Heavenly Father for the answer to that question:

(photo courtesy of Doug Gephardt)

I am a very analytical person and I love math, which has taught me to be very structured and organized and deliberate in finding answers to problems. Because of this, I approach my faith with the same type of mentality. I often ask God to just reveal to me the steps to this walk with Him and I will take them.

I wanted to know the solution to effective prayer, to healing, to walking this life as He wanted me to and I wanted it all in 5 simple steps so I could easily implement them. I would have to say that destroying that way of thinking was the first turning point, although it was not the first word of knowledge I received. I will explain that a little later. Finally, realizing and accepting that there was no quick reveal master road map to this place of Joy and Peace was the beginning and the end to Joy and Peace.

Because I was so desperate to know what I needed to do, I leaned into God in a way I had never done previously and that was continuously. I have had amazing seasons with God, I have had amazing moments with God and I have time after time drifted away from the very thing that produced those moments: time in His presence. The last few months of 2019 I consistently spent time with Him and this new season has been prolonged and more fruitful because of it.

Stepping up and volunteering to lead a Life Group was another significant turning point. I knew God had been preparing me for a couple of years to do this and when the opportunity arose, I stepped out in faith. This new responsibility naturally came with the task of preparing lessons for the group time together. These times turned out to be the starting points of consistently spending time with God as I prepared.

My church’s goal to create an outreach list was another turning point for me this year. One of the people I had on my list was a co-worker who I was in the process developing a friendship with. She and I had always connected and over the last few years our relationship began to deepen. She shared her story with me of how she used to go to church and things just happened, and she pulled away. Because she had seen Christians do, say and live their life contrary to the word of God, I had be more conscientious of how I lived in front of her. Don’t get me wrong. I take my daily life commitment to Christ very seriously, but we all have areas we let slip and can definitely do a much better job. To woo her back to God, I have found that I now stop and make the conscious choice to choose to leave areas of my life more aligned with the Word. It has been great for me and I love what God is doing in her life as well.

Lastly, (because this list could go on and on) is truly understanding how to pray. This came for me from two different books recommended by a friend. The first Prayer by Richard Foster, tackled an issue with my conception about prayer, which goes back to my original confession of doing it the right way. Here is the paragraph that just broke the chains of bondage I had been living with in regards to prayer.

The truth of the matter is, we all come to prayer with a tangled mass of motives – altruistic and selfish,

merciful and hateful, loving and bitter. Frankly, this side of eternity we will never unravel the good from the bad,

the pure from the impure. But what I have come to see is that God is big enough to receive us will all our mixture.

We do not have to be bright, or pure, or filled with faith or anything.

That is what grace means and not only are we saved by grace, we live by it as well.

And we pray by it.

I felt the tumblers in the lock align and the chains of bondage over my prayer life fall off. I can’t explain it any better than that. It just made sense to me and freed me from my struggles of having to pray the perfect prayer and thinking it had to be just so, in order for God to answer it. The second book Praying Circles around your Children, by Mark Batterson, was so inspirational that it is now the center of a small and hopefully growing group of women getting together and praying for our children. It is one of those books that I wish I had when the boys were younger.

Now back to my earlier statement about my first word of knowledge. About two years ago I had a “rebuke the enemy show down” in my car on the way to work about a generational curse that was taking hold in my children. I will never forget the night when the Holy Spirit roused me from my sleep and it felt in my spirit like the chains of that curse were broken. That day in the car was one of the early, if not the first, turning points in learning to live a life of Joy and Peace. You see, putting the enemy in his place was critical. It required me to know the Word because that is the only thing that will cause him to flee. It will not keep him from trying to come back, and that is why we have to stay diligent. We have to continue to press into God and His Word as they are what we need to attack in battle.

So that road map I desperately wanted?

I had it the whole time.

I leaned into Him, I truly desired Him and I learned to trust Him. As Richard Foster said in the excerpt, it does not have to be perfect, but it does need to be sincere and He knows the place that we seek Him from. So as I say good-bye to a wonderfully blessed 2019, I look forward to a more fruitful 2020 because I am going to make sure it is overflowing with time in His presence.

Turning Points
by Erica Simmons

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