Happy Wednesday everyone! This morning we have a HUGE treat! Meet Jenny Erlingsson, who is writing to us all the way from ICELAND!!!! Jenny is the first contributor to this series who is also new to me, so I am going to let her tell you a little about herself, but she is FABULOUS and you are going to breathe a little slower after reading her words. I am so honored to have Jenny on the blog today, and here is a little snapshot of her life…

Jenny Erlingsson is a wife to her amazing Viking husband and mother to four cute and fierce mocha drops. After over twelve years of serving in pastoral ministry in Alabama, she and her family currently live in Iceland working in various areas of ministry. Jenny is  passionate about empowering others, especially women through her writing and speaking. She is also the author of two books, including her latest Milk & Honey in the Land of Fire & Ice.

 

Moving Forward from this Place

By Jenny Erlingsson

 

I cannot count how many times I want to give myself a timeout this season. 

There are moments when I get myself in trouble for my own stank attitude and sit with my face to the wall for a few moments. Just five minutes Lord! Can anyone else relate? It is not just those of us who have kids. As we face a global pandemic, we are coming face to face with ourselves.  Our quirks, habits, tendencies and flaws are on full display. The routine is diminished.  The ins and outs of quarantine culture are pulling stuff out of us that we have not seen before. 

It can be overwhelming. 

The institutions and activities we thought would last forever are at a standstill, if not halted altogether. For many of us, our identities are consumed in those things. They bring peace and comfort in ways we didn’t see until they were gone. So on top of the weirdness, anxiety and pain we feel from legitimate loss, we are grieving. Waving goodbye to a diminishing norm, wondering what it will all look after its over and who we are becoming in the process.

Every time I look back at my life before the pandemic, I feel this tug at my core.  A gentle whisper from the Holy Spirit. It is as if  His hand is turning my chin towards himself to say, “Keep your eyes on me.” I get the sense that the Lord doesn’t want us to come out of this world-wide crisis the same way we entered it. Moving forward, we are not meant to hold on to everything that is behind us. 

As I ponder these things, I think about the Biblical role of Lot’s wife. Remember her story? She settled in Sodom & Gomorrah. A city that was not the best neighborhood by heavenly standards, but it was where she lived nonetheless. She would see her daughters marry and live a relatively comfortable life. Until her husband, Lot, brings home some guys that were different than the usual dinner guests. They were angelic beings who were sent by God to make a way of rescue for her family before God’s judgement rained down on the wicked city. There was one instruction as the family ran… do not look back. Lot’s wife failed miserably and the consequences were severe. She never took another step and instead became a part of the landscape as a pillar of salt. 

I used to judge her.  I looked at her with the prideful eyes that we sometimes use when we look at Biblical figures from our modern perspective. I read her story as if it could never be me. But between my family’s move from the states to northern Iceland two years ago, the loss of a dear friend recently, our current global issues, and my family preparing for another move to the south of Iceland. I see the story differently now. I grieve what is lost, pining over memories of what was normal before all this. Wishing it would all go back, even when a new adventure beckons. I see now that she could very well be me. I see my soul laid bare and all the idols of my heart uncovered:

Safety

Stability 

Financial assurance

Travel home

Comfort

Routine

Food Cravings

You fill in the blank… 

These are good and necessary things that make up what we believe to be normal lives, yet they are not always beneficial to a Kingdom perspective. Sometimes they hold us back from pursuing kingdom things and seeking what moves the heart of God. My husband’s favorite verse says:

 

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…” Romans 14:17

If our pursuits of various levels of comfort and nostalgia disrupt true peace or counteract lasting joy, then they are turning our hearts slowly away from moving forward with Jesus. We are meant for more than the normal lives we crave. We are called to step boldly into the way being made for us.

Yet if we continue to look back, we will not engage in the present, tossing out the testimony forming in this season. The testimony of how the Lord sustained and strengthened us. Of how He pulled us deeper into the shadow of His wings. Instead of preserving or enhancing the salt of the earth that we are called to be… We will become solitary statues. We will only reflect days gone by but stuck where we stand, hindering our ability to bring influence in the future.

We are the salt of the earth, most effective when we are sprinkled and poured out by the hand of God.

One day the doors will open again. We will no longer be socially distanced or isolated. We’ll shift into a different season, into a new normal. 

What will we look like when we get there? Will we remain stuck at a standstill looking back at what we once knew or will we continue moving with the One we know? The Lord is gentle and faithful, aware of our weaknesses. He doesn’t give us a yoke we can’t carry but beckons us to take on what He especially designed for us. The core of that design and desire is for us to be with Him and remain within Him.

So the question is this:  Will we abide or be left behind?

Friends, let’s move with Him, knowing and trusting that all the things we long for are actually wrapped up in Jesus. There is no safer place than the will of God. We do not  have to worry about the next step because He is already there with us. 

 

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John 15:9 NIV

 

Instagram: @jennyerlingsson

Facebook: facebook.com/jenny.erlingsson

Website: jennyerlingsson.com or milkandhoneywomen.com

Email: info@milkandhoneywomen.com

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