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My journey to Journey Unwrapped

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My journey to Journey Unwrapped

Heather Darnell

A year ago I went to a silent retreat.  I had never done one before, but had heard good things about them, so I decided to give it a try. I went down to the river, setup a chair, had my coffee in hand, bible and notebook on my lap and starred at the river.  To be honest, it was one of those uncomfortable moments, kind of like a first date when you have no idea what to say.  I sat there and thought, gosh this is awful. What am I doing here?  

I decided to surrender to the process, even though I was really uncomfortable with it. I opened up my bible to a verse, I read it and felt nothing. I couldn’t figure out how to do this.  How was I supposed to hear God? This had been a question I was asking for years.

I opened up my Bible to a new verse, Acts 1:8. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witness in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

WOW, this verse hit me. It was in this moment, of the word coming to life for me.  After reading the word a few times and then skimming through the study notes in my Bible, God made it so clear that I often like to get on with things, I’m very impatient and tend to run ahead of God. God said he has important work for me to do, BUT I MUST do it by the power of the Holy Spirit. You need MY timing and power to be truly effective, but I also must listen to him when I need to wait. WHAT, me waiting, I didn’t get it YET, but I knew he was talking to me right in this moment. 

At this time of life I was coming out of a two to three-year season that felt extremely heavy, barred by depression, anxiety, grief and uncertainty. I recall while in that heavy season asking my therapist if this was it for my life? I couldn’t see out of it at all, but she told me that I would get through this and that it wasn’t it. I didn’t believe her, but sure enough she was right.

While by the river I knew God had more for me in this moment, so I decided to write a letter. Here is the beginning.  

Dear God,

You know that I’ve been struggling with uncertainty, grief, confusion, sadness… I really feel that you are tugging at my heart to follow you more closely. I know you know my plan and purpose, please make your plan clear to me and give me the strength to execute it in a manner that honors you. 

I wrote a lot more but when I look back at the entirety of what I wrote, I know God was moving the pen the entire time. It was almost like I was sitting at a movie, with nature being on the screen and God being the sound coming through my pen to paper.  What I wrote wasn’t ANYTHING I could have come up with on my own. This was the first time I knew I TRULY heard God.

God was making it so clear that there is something more for me. However, I needed to get a clear head and clean slate to be ready for it. Now the hard part was to actually listen to what he was telling me.  This meant closing my business of seven years that I had been enjoying.  It meant doing something for God that I wasn’t sure what friends, family and society would think of me.  I meant that I may have people unfriend me and not agree with what I’m doing. It meant I had to face my own insecurities, but I knew God was very clear in my calling.

The beauty of my journey is that God knew my purpose all along, and he knows yours too. He didn’t make it clear to me right away, he prepared me and showed me the way and then when he knew I was ready he responded.  All the hurt, pain and uncertainty I felt, I know now will be used for good. What a beautiful message for me to remember, that nothing is wasted and to follow God’s timing always, not my own.  I need to be open to listen and act. I need to pause when he wants me to and move forward when called. 

And so… I moved forward trusting God’s plan for me with Journey Unwrapped. I don’t know where this journey will take me or you, but I do know that when following Christ we will not be lead astray. My hope and prayer for this journey is that everyone touched by this ministry will feel encouraged, loved and never alone no matter the journey they are on.

God Bless ~ Heather