As each new calendar year rolls by, I always find myself reflecting back on my spiritual timeline with my Lord and Savior. I am so grateful for the way that He has led me over this last decade – well, the last 3 decades really. I could not have planned any of this if I had tried! While I was pondering the steps that brought me here, some noteworthy events were highlighted to me that happened a decade ago. These decade reflections have a fun way of tying into my more recent journey.
I was thinking about how our recent decision to jump into a 3-month internship at IHOPKC in September 2016 resulted in a significant spiritual shift for our little Atkins clan. This triggered a memory to surface from when I had a similar event in September of 2006 that radically changed the course of my life. As a young 19-year-old I was faced with these two options; art school in Los Angeles, California or “the unknown” in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I had already made my plans and enrolled in the art school and I was a few weeks out from paying a hefty tuition cost when this alternative route popped up on my radar. I ended up choosing ‘the unknown’ out of a sheer desire to get free from my past…and I was just desperate enough to take a chance on God. It turned out to be exactly what He had planned for me! At the last-minute, I had the choice to go an entirely different direction. Saying yes to stepping out in faith with Him has caused me to hunger for more of His presence ever since.
I wish I could cover everything that happened during my 8-month sojourn in the wilderness of ABQ, but I do not have enough time. In a nut shell, I was discipled by an amazing pastor, baptized in the Holy Spirit and then baptized in the Rio Grande. It was a time when my heart matured in the place of worship while attending the local vineyard church and it grew in love in the context of community with weak and broken believers. But it was there on my 20th birthday (11/7/2006) when Pastor Gerald took me to a Christian book store and bought me a Zondervan (NAS) Life Application Study Bible with black, genuine leather, and my name imprinted on the front. On the ‘presented to’ page he wrote my name with a bible verse, Matthew 5:6. I encountered more of Jesus as I grew in the Word and I became discontent with yesterdays manna.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
This has since been one of my life verses. Let’s warp speed exactly a decade later, to my 30th birthday on November 2016. We were a little over a month into our internship and we were really feeling good about our plans. But it was on that day that I realized I was at a crossroad and God was giving me another alternative route. I could go back to my plan after the 3-months and continue working at my job and continue to develop my skill sets to lock in for the next 30 years at a very successful and enjoyable company; or I could step out into ‘the unknown’ with God. It was hunger that got us out there and it was His ‘filling’ that was stirring us up to trust in Him. I really felt the Lord leading me to lay down my job and continue to pursue Him in this way with my family. So, just like I trusted Him to lead me to Albuquerque for 8 months, we leaned into Him to lead our family as we spent a consecrated season of growing in the Word, in prayer and worship and in greater friendship with Him. We ended up being at the International House of Prayer for a total of 8 months, knowing that God would show us what was next!
It was during that time that the Lord strengthened our dependence in Him as well as our confidence in what He has called our family to. He made it clear that we were to pursue full-time ministry once the extended internship time ended. Ministry was something that both Aimee and I had in our hearts from the beginning of our relationship and we had even pursued it earlier in life. We had thought the door closed for full-time ministry once we had the kids, the house, and the job (yes it was in that order for us). We are now very confident that the Lord opened the door for us again so that we could do ministry as a family. So, in May of 2017 we took 6 months to develop a partnership team so that our family could go into full-time occupational ministry as intercessory missionaries at the International House of Prayer. We could not do this without the leadership of the Lord and our amazing team that has so graciously partnered with us. We arrived back in KC just in time to celebrate my 31st birthday and wrap up the year.
This last event really triggered this whole ‘10 year train of thought’. In December, our whole family attended the 2017 Onething Conference. 10 years prior when Aimee and I were dating, we attended the same conference. It was at the Onething Conference 2007 that I was first introduced to the message of intimacy, intercession and the global prayer and worship movement. After that conference in 2007 my heart started to burn for prayer and worship. In fact, a month after that conference I had considered applying to IHOPU (International House of Prayer University), I even found my incomplete application form for the school when we were packing up boxes to move to KC! Yes, it would have been easier to transition out here during that time in my life when I was single, but the Lord had my whole family in mind – even before Aimee and I were married! Now 10 years later our family of 5 was able to be a part of the conference. Plus we now get to serve and help others burn in the place of prayer and intimacy with Jesus.
I will just throw this in for fun. I found a journal entry in January of 2008 when i was considering doing IHOPU and moving to Kansas City. Aimee and I had been dating for 5 months and I was at another fork in the road. I was in a serious wrestle with this decision! My prayer was, “Should I be here (Tuolumne) or Kansas City, also give me clarity on Aimee and our relationship.” Well, it turns out that the answer was yes to all of it, the Lord answered my prayer! I don’t know if I was able to clearly connect all the dots. But it reminded me that the Lord is faithful to lead and He has a much better plan for our lives. I love looking back at those marker points to where the Lord actually pursued me by interrupting my plans in order to bring me closer to Him. Having a history in God brings me great joy and it teaches me to feed on His faithfulness. He truly is the one that satisfies those who hunger and thirst for His righteousness and He satisfies that hunger with Himself.
Can you look back over the last decade and see the Lords hand in your life? I know He has great plans for your life!