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Endurance for the Journey, Featured, On the Journey Together

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely
so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen
or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.
Teach them to your children
and to their children after them.
DEUTERONOMY 4:9 (NIV)



As the mother of two teenagers, the co-founder and left hand (literally) of the ministry Outreach of Hope, and as the wife of Dave “the Visionary” Dravecky, I frequently feel as though I’m forgetting something or someone. In a recent four-week span, I lost my car keys, our gas card and my Bible. But one thing I do not forget – cannot forget – are the lessons I learned in the wilderness of suffering.


I remember because God arranges regular encounters for me with people who are still in the wilderness. When I read their tear-stained letters or look into their sorrow-filled eyes, I remember the pain and I recall the promises of God I clung to for survival. By His grace I am able to share the comfort I received when I passed through those desolate places.


If I just brushed the desert sand off my clothing and went on my way without regularly communicating what God taught me there, I know what would happen: In my human weakness, I would forget the things my “eyes have seen” and I would let them “slip from my heart.”



All praise to the God and Father of our Master,
Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy!
God of all healing counsel!
He comes alongside us when we go through hard times,
And before you know it,
He brings us alongside someone else
who is going through hard times so that
we can be there for that person
just as God was there for us.
2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-4 (THE MESSAGE)


On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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On the Journey Together, Words of Endurance

Friends love through all kinds
of weather, and families stick together
in all kinds of trouble.
Proverbs 17:17 (The Message)



Don’t face your valley alone! You have a heavenly Father who loves you and cares for you deeply. Ask Him to find the supportive friendships, the family you need. Then don’t overlook the surprising help that might arrive! He may use long-lost relatives, neighbors, a support group, your local church, a very old (or very new) friend to provide comfort and encouragement in unlooked for ways.


But the most important friend is the Lord. The Bible describes Him as one who “is close to the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18) and the “friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). So invite Him into your home. Make room! Allow Him to fill your heart with peace, grace, mercy and love. Because He has promised to …



“… never leave you or forsake you.”
Joshua 1:5 (NIV)



On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

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Love, On the Journey Together, Words of Endurance

But while Joseph was there in prison,
the Lord was with him;
He showed him kindness and
granted him favor …
GENESIS 39:20-21 (NIV)



Falsely accused and subsequently jailed, Joseph was (again) the victim of a terrible injustice. His plight was like the cancer victim abandoned by her spouse or the man permanently disabled by a drunk driver. He was innocent!


But what is remarkable about Joseph’s life isn’t the series of injustices he endured, but rather how he responded in the face of those terrible trials. He never blamed God. He never turned away from God. He never lashed out at those around him. Regardless of the situation, Joseph’s relationship with his Lord never changed.


God does not give his children a “hall pass” to skip out on the negative effects of living in a sinful world. He gives us something much better … his own sustaining, encouraging presence.



You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever.
PSALM 16:11 (NLT)



ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
JAN & DAVE DRAVECKY

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On the Journey Together, Pain, Prayer, Words of Endurance

And we are confident that he hears us
whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.
1 JOHN 5:14 (NLT)



I have not always been confident in my prayers. There have been many dark seasons of my life where I felt like there was a concrete ceiling between God and me. During those dark sleepless nights my heartfelt, desperate prayers just seemed to bounce back – unanswered – to my waiting and then disappointed heart.



But during this last season of darkness, when I would wake up in the middle of the night in desperation, I found myself not having any words to express my pain. All I could do was groan because I did not know how to or what to pray for – I just knew that I wanted deliverance. But I learned that God heard my prayers despite my inability to express my prayers in words.



And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.
For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for.
But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings
that cannot be expressed in words.
ROMANS 8:26-27 (NLT)



So I started praying without words – praying with my tears and my painful groans (I was glad that no one could hear but Him). I trusted Him at His Word.



I trusted that my prayers did not rely on me but on the Holy Spirit within me to pray. Knowing that my prayers were heard – not because of me but because of the Helper within me – I could trust that all my prayers would be heard.



We are confident of all this because of
our great trust in God through Christ.
2 CORINTHIANS 3:4 (NLT)



ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
JAN DRAVECKY

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Fear, Hope, On the Journey Together, Words of Endurance

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord.
Remember the great reward it brings you!
Patient endurance is what you need now,
so that you will continue to do God’s will.
Then you will receive all that he has promised.
HEBREWS 10:35-36 (NLT)



One of my greatest fears is turning back to my old ways and losing my confident trust in the Lord. I know my sinful and controlling flesh. I know how I am “prone to wander” and take back control of my life finding my own solutions to my pain instead of surrendering and trusting the Holy Spirit within me.



But the Scriptures tell me that patient endurance is what I need in order not to turn back or throw away my confident trust in the Lord. Patient endurance is the strength to continue calmly and without complaint despite fatigue, stress and other adverse conditions.



And where do I find this patient strength? From God’s Spirit within me – for patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that dwells within each and every child of God and “I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)



So this New Year I am intent on believing and knowing that there is no turning back for me because I have known and seen the faithfulness of God. (Lamentations 3:23) I can be confident in the Holy Spirit that dwells within me because I know He will never fail me or abandon me. (Hebrews 13:5) And whenever I am “prone to wander” that He will guide and lead me back to “the God I love.” (John 16:13)



O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
COME, THOU FOUNT OF EVERY BLESSING
BY ROBERT ROBINSON & JOHN WYETH



ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
JAN DRAVECKY

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Grace, Healing, On the Journey Together, Words of Endurance

For we who worship by the Spirit of God
Are the ones who are truly circumcised.
We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us.
We put no confidence in human effort.
PHILIPPIANS 3:3 (NLT)



The other morning Dave and I were discussing our most recent experiences and feelings. I shared with Dave my positive experiences and feelings but also my insecure and negative thoughts. At the end of our conversation, Dave said to me, “Jan you need to have more confidence in yourself.”



I was touched by what he said – at first I took it as an encouraging word as I know he meant it to be. But immediately my thoughts went to how could I be confident in me (my sinful flesh) when I had made so many wrong sinful choices in the past? But then I realized that within me there is not only my sinful flesh but there is also the Holy Spirit. And while I cannot be confident in my flesh I know I can be confident of the Holy Spirit that lives within me.



Over the past two years Dave and I have been on a journey to confidently trust God with who we truly are. This journey has been more difficult for me than Dave because my confidence and trust has wavered between myself and God. I have found as I looked back over my Spiritual journey that I would continually surrender control of my life to God but during life’s most difficult trials I would take control of my life back – finding my own ways to escape the pain.



Over the past year, I have chosen to surrender control to the Holy Spirit and trust Him to lead me and be my strength because I have come to the realization that I could no longer trust myself. And since that critical choice He has led me on a path to healing that I never dreamed possible.



My word from God for 2017 is “Confidence”. Not confidence in my flesh but knowingly confident in the One who dwells within me – confidence within Whom I place my Trust and Hope.



But blessed are those who trust in the LORD
and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.
They are like tress planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.
JEREMIAH 17:7-8 (NLT)



ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
JAN DRAVECKY

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Grace, On the Journey Together, Peace, Words of Endurance

Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
PSALM 27:14 (NLT)



Every day, I look forward to receiving a devotional via email by Henri Nouwen. During the Advent season, he sends out a weekly thought of encouragement that corresponds with that week’s Advent theme. For the first Sunday of Advent he shared the above passage.



To follow this truth he added, “waiting is a dry desert between where we are and where we want to be. We don’t enjoy such a place, we want to move out of it and do something worthwhile.”



Henri’s thought caught my attention and it has been a great encouragement for me to intentionally remember this Christmas season. I don’t want Christmas to feel rushed or burdensome this year. I don’t want to let parties, shopping or anything else distract me from enjoying this Advent season for what it really is: A preparation for the coming of Jesus – the birth of the Christ child.



One of our family traditions for the past 31 years has been to gather the kids and trim the tree while listening to Amy Grant’s Tennessee Christmas album. Music really sets the stage and stirs our hearts to focus on the amazing celebration that is about to take place. This year we get to carry on that tradition with our grandkids.



This Christmas, I want to be patient; to wait expectantly and prepare for the remembrance of the birth of Christ. I want to remove all the distractions around us so that we can engage in this celebration and really soak in the True Meaning of Christmas. Like wise, I don’t want my grandkids to be forced into the hustle and bustle. This time of year is very special. We celebrate it for a reason and that reason is to receive the gift of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.



For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 (NLT)



On The Journey With You,
Dave Dravecky

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Grace, Guilt, On the Journey Together, Words of Endurance

“Fear not; you will no longer live in shame.
Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you.”
ISAIAH 54:4 (NLT)



I was ashamed of who I had become. I kept asking God “how did I get to this place?” It was not as if this place was a goal in life that I wanted to achieve. I had tried relentlessly in my own strength to manage my sin but had failed countless times. My only option left was to surrender myself to God.



“Quit keeping score altogether and surrender yourself
with all your sinfulness to God
who sees neither the score or the scorekeeper
but only his child redeemed by Christ”
THOMAS MERTON



As I surrendered myself with all my sinfulness to God, He began to show me how I got to this place. He showed me through the wise Godly counsel of others with whom I entrusted my sinfulness, that I was extremely codependent – a people pleaser with low self-esteem who feared my family’s disapproval, who avoided others’ anger at all cost and stuffed my own feelings of anger for the sake of peace.



I learned that my addictive tendencies were a by-product of my codependency. These tendencies were my self-effort to self-comfort and escape from the pain that I experienced within my sensitive wounded heart.



As I began to understand how God wired me and why I chose those addictive patterns the shame dissipated and I experienced His Grace for myself. As I trusted God and His promises I have been able to receive His forgiveness and therefore been able to forgive myself. His Truth has broken my chains and set me free, as I have trusted Him and others with whom I truly am!



“Those who trust in me will never be put to shame.”
ISAIAH 49:23 (NLT)



On The Journey With You,
Jan Dravecky

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Grace, Guilt, On the Journey Together, Words of Endurance

Every day I’m up against it,
my nose rubbed in my shame –
PSALM 44:15 (THE MESSAGE)



While I have seen the Holy Spirit within me temper my words in tone and season them with love, whenever I am reminded of the damage that I have caused with my words in the past I feel “my nose rubbed in shame.” But whenever I am “tweaked” by shame I am reminded of a sermon given by our Pastor Ken Van Vliet on James 3:1-13. That Scripture reminded me of the power of my tongue.



A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse.
A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain
sets a course in the face of the strongest winds.
A word out of your mouth may seem of no account,
but it can accomplish nearly anything – or destroy it.
JAMES 3:3-5 (THE MESSAGE)



Once again I felt the shame of my past but Pastor Ken didn’t leave us there – he continued by reminding us that we are fully loved by God.



None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us.
I’m absolutely convinced that nothing –
nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic,
today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable of unthinkable –
absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love
because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
ROMANS 8:35-39 (THE MESSAGE)



He then urged us to pay attention to our words for they are the windows into our true being.



“Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.”
LUKE 6:45 (WORDS OF JESUS – THE MESSAGE)



And then he encouraged us to confess to God what our words reveal about our true beings.



If we admit our sins – make a clean breast of them –
He won’t let us down; He’ll be true to Himself.
He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.
1 JOHN 1:9 (THE MESSAGE)



Pastor Ken then reminded us that we could invite Jesus to heal our brokenness.



The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me
because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
heal the heartbroken,
ISAIAH 61:1-2 (THE MESSAGE)



And that is exactly what the Holy Spirit, within me, did – I went to Him for help and He healed my heart and rid me of my shame.



Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
PSALM 34:5 (NLT)



On The Journey With You,
Dave Dravecky

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Grace, Hope, On the Journey Together, Words of Endurance

But I need something more!
For if I know the law but still can’t keep it,
and if the power of sin within me keeps
sabotaging my best intentions,
I obviously need help!
I can will it, but I can’t do it.
ROMANS 7:17-19 (THE MESSAGE)



As I have shared before, these past five years have been one of the most significant seasons of my spiritual journey. I have learned about the power of my words and the hurt they can inflict but I have also learned that I, alone, cannot manage this sin. It is impossible, trust me, I’ve tried it and frustratingly it doesn’t work.



What I have been learning over these past five years is that I can trust the Holy Spirit within me to guide and transform my heart. I can trust that while my flesh is always with me so is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can reflect the person of Jesus in me for the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and self control which my flesh is incapable of. The result of trusting the Holy Spirit within me is words spoken that affirm and don’t tear down.



Has this been easy? No! Trusting was really letting go of everything I thought was the way I “should” live and then relying on the Holy Spirit to transform my heart to speak the words that express my love and care, that encourage and build people up instead of tearing them down.



I really don’t know how else to explain it but I’ve discovered that this really does work! Although I haven’t been perfect my words have been more encouraging, more loving, more caring and understanding. I have learned to listen more and speak less. The result is my life looks so different today than it used to. It is more than just the words I speak – it is the way I am living and it has been oh so freeing!



Those who think they can do it on their own
end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle
but never get around to exercising it in real life.
Those who trust God’s action in them
find that God’s Spirit is in them –
living and breathing God!
Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end;
attention to God leads us out into the open,
into a spacious free life.
ROMANS 8:5-7 (THE MESSAGE)



On The Journey With You,
Dave Dravecky

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