Below is a letter that I wrote to my Prayer Team, Senior Pastor and other ministry leaders at my church as I have sought to follow and surrender to God and his will for my life. May it encourage you as you walk in surrender an obedience as well.
Coming Full-Circle: It Always Comes Back To Surrender and Obedience. As I listened to Pastor Jamie’s sermon this past Sunday, once again I heard those familiar words of Surrender; words that have carried me through, grown me, and shaped me in the last 6 years of sitting under Pastor Jim’s teachings. I have learned, as Chad has sung so many times to embrace surrender, running to God in many different seasons. I have been blessed to share with so many, all the miracles that God has bestowed on me, through good times and in bad. It has been a blessing beyond words to be such an integrated part of this church and this prayer team. Now, as I continue to walk in obedience and surrender, God is leading me on another adventure. It’s taken close to a year to hear and make sure that I understood what was being asked of me. At times I felt as though I was being tossed back and forth, not too sure where God wanted me to end up. And the more I sought to understand, the more I would cry out in surrender, telling him that I just wanted his will and not mine over and over. As I prayed and sought his voice, it would become clearer, to the point of unmistakable clarity that I could not ignore any longer. I had to make a decision. Even though God was using me in many ways here at Open Door, and could continue to do so, he wanted to increase my faith, he wanted to do some new things in and through me, he wanted me to experience him in new ways, and he was asking me if I would surrender, trust and obey. So, very much like Peter, who got out of the boat, out of his comfort zone into the unknown waters to have a life-changing experience with Jesus on the water ( Matt.14:22-33), I too have been ask to step out in faith, trusting and remembering all that he has done and brought me through thus far. For all the times that my heart felt torn and indecisive, his voice would remain and the peace of knowing that I was walking in his will finally would come. John Ortberg writes in his book “If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have To Get Out of the Boat”, that growth always takes faith, and faith takes risk, and risk is always scary! This too is what surrender is all about. When we choose his will and his ways instead of ours, when our hearts become fully abandoned to him and all we want is what he wants for us, we give God room to move. Whether you are the 11 disciples in the boat watching what is going on, or a church member watching others move out of a pew, God is always wanting to do more with us. What have you done with those sermon’s that convicted you? What do you do with that inner nudge that never seems to go away? I believe God puts those in all of us. We are created for such great purposes. We are saved and set apart for good works. It is the thrill of a lifetime to be used of God!!! Is scary, heck ya! But I know who’s driving my life, and that is all that matters. Are there tons of unknowns? Yes, tons, but that’s part of the adventure! I guess I have gotten to a point with God to say, “Lord, if you lead me to it, I have to trust and believe that you are going to lead me through it” I have to believe new relationships will come, I have to trust that all the small details and concerns of a single mom will be handled divinely. He hasn’t failed me yet, and I know he’s not going to. So, it is with bitter-sweet joy, excitement, and a good dose of Holy fear that I am being called out of Church of the Open Door and into the Church of the Nazarene. I will be heading out to Wooster Church of the Nazarene at least two times a week for now for Mid-week and Sunday services. I have been attending there on and off for the last 10 months, and God has met me in some really powerful ways that it was so clear without a shadow of a doubt that I am to be a part of this new congregation. My hope and prayer is that I will be able to move down there so I can be more involved in the church; so I would ask your continued prayers for me and Olivia that God will keep us safe as we travel, and that relationships will begin with others at the church. Here is the link, so you can see where I will be and pray for me as I journey on. I look forward to sharing with you more as God moves in my life. As a member of Open Door and the Prayer Team, I have been blessed beyond words. I have learned so much and experienced prayer on such new depths. I have grown with all of you and I am so grateful that God has placed me in your lives for this season to learn so much from you. Know that I will continue to pray for you as a team, and the body of Church of the Open Door, its Pastors and ministries, as well as fasting with you on the first Wed. of the month. I look forward to keeping up with you and hearing of how God is moving in your lives and at Open Door. I have learned so much and grown so much, it seems so hard to sum it up in words that always fall short of what is in my heart; but if I could encourage you out of the depths of my soul it would be this: Live surrendered. Learn to surrender in the everyday moments of life; it will help when the storms come. It will grow you closer to God in ways you never imagined, and when God calls you out of the boat in your life circumstances, you will be ready to risk it all for Jesus. Live in Holy fear of him. Never lose your reverence for who he is; he is Holy, and Powerful, as well as loving and full of mercy and grace. Strive to live in humility; it will keep your pride in check. I have had to learn to pray often for humility, especially when God wants to use me. Live in obedience to him. He is good, and he knows the plans and purposes for all of our lives. I have had to learn to trust him in that; looking back at all he has brought me through, knowing that the circumstances are life-lessons he wants me to learn from. Seek comfort and direction in his Word, ask him to lead you and speak to you, and teach you as you seek him there. Your relationship with him comes first above all else; above family and life demands. Love him with total abandonment and watch him grow you in leaps and bounds and use you in mighty ways. Give him your whole heart, because he gave his whole life for you! Love each other and live united as a team and church body, this bring a huge smile on his face, just think, those of you who have kids, the great joy it brings you when everyone gets along and lives in harmony. This too is God’s desire for his church. My prayer and my hope is that as I continue to walk in surrender and obedience I would shine for Jesus; that people would see that he is so worth the risk of a life lived surrendered. That too, is my prayer for each one of you, that you would live in such abandonment to God for all that he has done, that surrendering would be an out flowing of your heart to his. I want to thank all of you for your prayers and support that have gotten me to this point, I am so grateful for all of you. I want to also thank Pastor Jim, who has been somewhat of a spiritual mentor to me these last several years and whom I have the utmost respect for, I dare say he probably is my hero, next to Jesus. When I see Pastor Jim, I see a life surrendered and it is that lifestyle of surrender that I have learned to seek and desire for myself and everyone at Church of the Open Door. Let me close in prayer, as the page is getting shorter J Father God, I am so grateful that you have placed me here at C.O.D. for this season. I pray that all would truly desire a life lived for you alone. I pray as I and others live lives of surrender and obedience that you be glorified and that others would desire to follow you in the same way. Continue to rise up your people at Open Door, grow them in the mission and vision and help them live and serve as Jesus did. We love you, and thank you for all you have done in our lives and we are so excited to see what you will continue to do as we live surrendered for you alone. In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen!! Love, your sister in Christ, Robin Richards