Posts in surrender
thoughts from mozambique.

Living in Mozambique has been such a beautiful season with the Lord for me… and even as I type my eyes can’t focus from the tears because I am SO overwhelmingly thankful that he would take our little yes, and take us on such a journey of learning to be like Him. It’s all about character. It’s all about Jesus.. and it’s so all about asking him to help us look more like him.

When we packed up everything over a year and a half ago, all we really knew was that God had more for us than what we could see. We had no idea that the greatest lesson he would teach us was through those that would never be known, would never have a facebook profile or would leave their own country. The people here have impacted and changed my heart in a way that nothing else could. Of course the teaching from Harvest School has been amazing, and God has brought such beautiful revelation to my heart.. but the most beautiful revelation he has brought is seeing Jesus in the ones we meet.

This week I found myself sitting down with the sweet little ones are the Iris base gate, and although I got bitten by a fire ant on my bum, I truly saw Jesus in their eyes. I saw him in the eyes of Flora, who had her little sister Cici strung on her back. I saw him through Aurealia, who’s name means beautiful. As I gazed into their eyes, as they asked for water, as I saw the weight of poverty on their shoulders, I saw Jesus. And then there was Susanna - the sweetest one of all because she shares my precious name - a name that means purity, that means a lily - a beautiful rose. As I held her in my arms, her bloated hard stomach pinched my heart. I was so grateful that Jesus would let me feel a little of what he does for her.

As I gave my small offering of biscuits and water, I saw a King born in a manger and the compassion he felt for the hungry multitudes. Jesus showed us that love has to look like something. That words are are so so small unless actions follow. Truly, there is no greater honour than to love the least of these, and my heart aches that my pride has blinded my eyes from truly seeing His favourite ones - whether in Africa, Australia, or anywhere else in the world.

As we washed the feet of our Mozambican brothers - the bible school students that we are share small groups with - I saw Him again. I saw that there is truly no fame in the stage, no fame in being known, in being understood or even listened to - but as Herodias and our friend Callisto washed our feet all I could think about was how famous they are in heaven. Every day this week they have worn the exact same old dirty shirts, but still greeted us with a kind, gentle smile. These men literally give up everything to come and learn about Jesus, most can’t read, and nearly all don’t speak English and have never left their home province before now - but to God, they are mega church pastors that have all the authority of heaven placed in their hands.

Oh the humility of having the layers and layers of red dirt washed from my feet by these men - I’ve never felt so honoured before. Jesus - give me that humilty, that you would teach me little by little what it looks like to lower myself to the level that you did. My heart is beginning to understand the beautiful gift you gave your disciples as you, the King of the entire universe, the firstborn of all creation, the one who breathed earth into exsistense, washed their feet. Thank you Jesus.

A precious one named Susanna.

Today I met another Susanna, from a very different world, who has a very different culture and a very different story than mine. She would have been barely three years old. I didn’t see her smile, I didn’t see her laugh.. surrounded by poverty, she could barely stand on her own. I smiled and laughed as I realised that she had the same name as me, and there were giggles all round as each child repeated my name and pointed to this little one. I picked her up and gave her a cuddle, her eyes were dirty and sad, she barely responded. I wrapped my arms around her only to realise she was incredibly sick, her hard stomach was half the size of her entire body.

It’s so easy to look at all the brokenness and poverty surrounding us and just say it’s all too hard. Say that there’s nothing you can do. Pray for healing, whisper Jesus loves them, and move on. Today my heart ached as I held little Susanna in my arms.. and the phrase Mama Heidi has been speaking over us repeated over and over in my head. Love has to look like something. I went and got some biscuits and extra water bottles, my offering so small and insignificant, and grabbed up so desperately by each child.

At times in my life I’ve been so drained by my over empathetic heart, but today all I could do was thank Abba for such deep emotions for this little one and her family. For letting me feel even just a taste of the brokenness he feels for her. For this little one who’s name means a lily, a rose, purity and wholeness. As I prayed her name over her, sores covering her feet, a terrible cough racking her body, all I could do was ask the Father to let love look like something more than I had to give. To let it look like healing and freedom, to let it be that one day she is able to go to school, that she won’t have stunted growth and won’t suffer anymore.

The truth of the world is that she is just another nameless, faceless poverty stricken child. But the truth of heaven is that she is known by name, Susanna, she is seen and every hair on her head is numbered.

That the Father sees her, as he sees me, that he longs for the same relationship I have with him to be in her. That his thoughts about her matter, and that when the kingdom fully comes she will no longer be unknown, no longer be in pain.. that she will be seated with the princes and kings of heaven as a queen and daughter who knows how she has been rescued and covered with light.

I used to think of Africa and be so daunted by the emotions, the need, the desperation. I used to think that the only thing that would really make a difference in the kingdom was praying for Jesus to return and bring wholeness (which I still pray for every day!). But as I begin to understand how he longs to partner with us to stop for the one, it changes everything. One little one who shares my name, shares the meaning of purity and wholeness. A little one who’s name means a flower, who is the lily of the valley, which only blooms in the lowest of places.

My prayer for her is that she would bloom despite the pain and poverty she is surrounded by. That she would desire to live and not die, that you Jesus, would crown her with glory and honour. That I would see her again and that you would continue to teach me what love looks like to the least of these. That I would never think or feel that my influence is too great to go low and see the ones that your heart beats for - the ones that you yourself saw Jesus.

The painful digging with the wonderful Digger.

Jesus looks at me and holds out a shovel.. "Will you dig with me?" he says, with soft, beautiful eyes.I look at him, knowing that I have a choice to say yes or no. Knowing that regardless of the answer, he’s still going to look at me the same way, with those same loving eyes. I look to the tree beside us. It’s huge. It’s branches stretch out so wide and strong, and it’s trunk is wider than I can wrap my arms around. The only thing is it’s roots - they’re not planted. It looks like it’s been uprooted, and I can see it’s roots have been out of the nutrients of the soil for too long. It’s not dying yet, but I can see that soon, without the richness of the dirt all around it, it could start to wither and die.

I look at Jesus. In one hand he holds a shovel, and in the other he holds one out to me. I know I have a choice.. and I also know that there’s no way I can dig a hole deep enough for this tree on my own. I’m too weak, too frail.. too tired. “This tree is the life I have for you” He says with a gentle smile, looking up to it’s beautiful branches with joy in his eyes. “Will you help me root it in a solid foundation?”

I know that it will be work. I know that it will be tiring. But as I look at him, my body fills with strength, and I whisper a tiny, small and slightly overwhelmed “yes” to him. We start to dig. I can tell by the size of the width of the hole, that this is not going to be a quick process. The roots on the tree have grown really really wide. I look at the tree a little daunted, and he looks back at me.. and with a chuckle says “and you think there’s a lot of roots now? Wait until it’s been planted for a few years.. then you’ll see."

As we begin to dig I feel a great companionship. We laugh, and talk.. but after a while I start to get very weary. My whole body aches. The hole is now over my head, and I look to Jesus as ask him if it’s deep enough yet. He looks back at me with a smile,

“It’s your choice, little one. Do you think it’s deep enough?”

I realise once more that I have a choice. He’s giving me the chance to stop now, rest up, and plant the tree. I look at the size of the root system again, and I just know that if we planted the tree now, it would be quite shallow. Maybe the roots would grow, but if a storm came, there’s a chance it could fall.

Knowingly he looks at me, and keeps on digging. After a while longer, we hit some rock. It’s solid, and I can tell there’s no way I can dig past it. I look at him with a little bit of frustration, and weariness.

He says to me with renewed energy, “It’s okay little one, rest for a while, I’ve got this bit.” I gratefully sink down as he chips away at the rock, piece by piece. “Do you know what this is?” He says to me as he faithfully chips away at each piece. I look at him with confusion and say I don’t know. “It’s all the walls that separate us. You don’t bring them down, we bring them down together.”

After many more hours of digging, until the hole is almost twice his height, he whispers to me that we’re finished. I breathe a sigh of relief as we climb to the top and he pulls the tree with his deep strength, into the hole. “That was REALLY hard.” I say to him, exhausted. “Oh, but it was so so worth it..” he says. “You will see, one day, you will see."

He pulls the tree with it’s massive roots toward the hole, and drops it in. It falls with a thud, and I see that the top with it’s trunk only just peaks through the top of the hole. He begins to fill it. He pulls out a hose and begins to water it. “No storm is gonna get this one.” He says with a grin.

“One day you will look back on this time little one, and the power of this time will no longer be a mystery - rather you will always draw strength from it." I look at him with a smile and deep peace in my heart. Just to spend all this time with him made it worth it.

“What now, Jesus?” I ask him.

He replies with a smile... “Now, we watch as it bears fruit.”

Psalm 1:3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields it's fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither - whatever they do prospers.

Image source:Junyi Wu

surrenderSusanna DobbinComment
552 hours.

So here I am - 8 months down this crazy road that Jesus has been leading us on. How can I even gage how He’s touched and moulded my heart? 552.

The number of hours I’ve spent in the prayer room in the last months. The number of hours I’ve cried, sat, prayed, and vulnerably placed my weak yes before Him asking Him to mould me into a vessel worthy of His plans. Truthfully, the number of hours I’ve sat in total boredom, looking at the clock, wishing that they wouldn’t sing that same song again, and again. They number of hours I’ve chosen to press in and lock my phone away from my wandering eyes. The number of hours I’ve been convicted again and again by my total humanness - when my flesh is screaming out that pressing in won’t do a thing, but my spirit yearns just for a touch from Him.

The number of hours I’ve felt dry and barren, only to be met with the gracious river of His beautiful presence. The presence that gently reveals to me how much closer my roots could be planted to His life giving waters. The number of hours I’ve fought distraction, only to give in and be sadden by the wasted hours I could be spending drinking in all He wants to say. The journals I filled with the same prayers over and over again - "make my yes real Jesus, grow my heart in love for You.” And the beautiful revelation and encounter He lavished on me as He wooed me closer with gentle whispers of love.. that giving it all for love is enough, love is the reward of love.

The countless tear stains on the book of the Song of Solomon as He revealed to me how He see’s me amidst the struggles to lock eyes with His beautiful gaze. That amidst the struggle He sees me as beautiful, worthy, worth everything He had to give on that cross. The beautiful story He is writing over humanity - and the wonderful ending that Jesus has planned to truly bring the church into victorious love as she leans in with everything.

It’s been a roller coaster to say the least, and truthfully it hasn’t been easy to sit, pace, and stand in the same room for so long. But even in all the highs and lows, He truly has been faithful to grow my heart in ways that I can’t even imagine. The deepest delight and highest calling of my life - to learn to love You Jesus.

So where to from here? Above all, we just want to go where he says - and clearly God's not done with this intense training season. So off to Africa & the Middle East we’re going to serve with Iris Global. We’re heading to Mozambique to do their Harvest School of Missions for the next four months - to test and put hands to all Jesus has grown in our hearts this year. To say that He truly is worthy of our utmost lovesick obedience, what a joy to follow a King worth everything we have to give Him.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever create artworks and run a business again, and at the moment - I’m totally okay with that. This space will continue to become a place where I can share the journey with others, and I hope it encourages your heart to say yes to Jesus more and more.

#7 When God is silent

Last year was a hard season, and looking back, I didn’t realise how dry and empty I was until the drought broke. It felt like for months and months, I didn’t hear a single word, single drop, single emotion from God. I would spend hours in the word, time at his feet, crying out for him to speak - but nothing came. It really was a winter season - like a bleak, cold, rainy day that shows no promise of sunshine. After a few months my devotion started to wane, quiet times became a chore.. and although my relationship with Jesus was very real and very much still there, I felt weary and sad that I felt so dry and emotionless. In that season I wondered if it was my fault, if there was sin or distraction taking his voice.. but as He’s led me to reflect on it, it’s quite obvious that it was the opposite. I was so hungry for God, I so desired his voice and his presence.. but He had lifted it from me - as a gift. He wasn’t withholding his presence from me as punishment, but as a gift to draw me closer to him. A gift to reveal the REAL state of my heart. A gift so that when the rain came, when the flood was emptied, my heart and soul would be ready - like a dry desert, to soak up all he wanted to say.

In Psalm 63 David talks about a time of deep hunger. A time where he was in a desert season in his intimacy with the Lord - but yet he praised Him. "Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” He lifted his name high, and gave him the glory, instead of letting the hunger overcome him and doubt God's character.

Hunger is gift because it draws us closer to Jesus - it makes room in our hearts.. In a season of fullness, there is not always room for him. He makes room by hunger. A few weeks ago I heard this quote and it impacted my heart so deeply:

"Only the hungry get Jesus, you don't get him if you're not hungry. You cannot swim in the deep knowledge of God without swimming in the waters of hunger, longing and absence of his presence.” ~ Dana Candler.

Looking back I can see how God was making room. He was positioning my heart in a place to receive, to fill up the dry cracks of my soul with his life giving waters. He was teaching me that regardless of why I don’t feel him, I still have to run after him. Run with my brokenness, with my heart and with my love.. and choose to love him anyway. Sharks follow us everywhere in the waters of hunger, sharks of bitterness and offence.. the shark of ‘why’.. and I can see now that I spent too much time trying to figure out why I was dry and emotionless. Instead of letting the shark overcome my heart, He was continuing to train me to seek Him first, in the midst of the desert.

So today if you’re dry in your relationship with Jesus - continue to lean in. Continue to seek him, chase after all he has for you. Tell him that he’s the one that you love. He’s just growing your spirit for the rain that will surely come.

#5 You'll find me leaning

This is my success: to love you and be loved by you..and with a big yes in my heart and spirit I lift my heart to heaven and embrace the beauty of Jesus a fresh. Only he truly satisfies, in every season, in every circumstance - all of creation finds their identity in his beautiful person. So I lean in, with my weak frame and weak prayers, with my mind full of distractions & dreams. I lean, trusting, hoping, believing, leaning on his kindness, his beauty, his promises.

When my ‘yes’ feels small and insignificant, and when I’m not sure how to respond with my wholehearted belief in his goodness and his plans. When I have a lack of hunger and desire after Jesus face, and when the words don’t seem to come. When he's cutting off dead branches and refining my character, and pruning those to produce more fruit than ever before. When my mind is full of doubt, and when I don't see the big picture of his wonderful plans. There you’ll find me leaning.

When the pleasures of this worlds seem so close, and my mind is tempted to fill my heart and capacity with dry, barren, lifeless things.. when the longing to be with him isn’t there and when my prayer is barely a whisper, 'you’re the one that I love.. Jesus, you’re the one that I love.. I need your help to love you.’ There, you’ll find me leaning.

When the season is painful, and I don’t see any of the fruit, and its a struggle to abide. When my mind feels weak and my heart feels dry. When people call me immature and crazy for my choices to follow God. When I’m accused, stolen from, burnt out, sick, spoken about and when I’m at my lowest and my mind is tempted to regret the yes in my heart… There, you’ll find me leaning.

When the YES in my spirit matches the YES in my actions, and when I feel his kindness, presence and power daily. When the provision comes through at the last minute and I’m left on my knees in adoration and praise for how he works. When my heart is so surrendered that nothing is too big and my faith moves spiritual mountains. When my intercession sees captives set free and the joy of laying down my life is easy. When my heart is tender to his beautiful presence and there's nothing I'd rather do than spend all day with him. There, you’ll find me leaning.

And one day when I see him face to face and experience him in all his humble humanity with deep kindness in his eyes.. as he locks eyes with me with and gives me that beautiful, knowing smile of the history we carry together. When the day comes that I’ll be able to lock eyes with him and say that I KNOW him. I know his purposes, his voice, his motives and the beauty of his humanity. To lock eyes and know that this relationship is beyond any other, is more satisfying, is more life giving, than any other on earth. There, you'll find me leaning.

So here it goes..

For a while now I’ve known. That the season is shifting, that things are changing.

A few weeks ago I began to feel that maybe there was something new God had for me to do.. and let’s be honest, I’ve tried and failed about 10 times now to start blogging. I’ve tried wordpress, wix, tumblr, probably used FB wrongly far too many times.. and lately Instagram.. which I’m realising is really not the most ideal place to write paragraph after paragraph of my feelings (yes - big feeler here!).

But here I am, again, starting fresh, but this time with perspective, with purpose. Over the past year God has taken me on a journey of discovering my place in the creative world, of writing beautiful words that speak deeply to the heart.. but lately I’ve been realising that that’s not enough. I post things that stir my heart and spirit, and often feel that it’s only grating the surface of what really needs to be said.

So here I am. About to enter a new season.. both in the spiritual and the natural.

So, comes to my second reason for this blog...

The past couple of months He’s been teaching me what it means to be truly surrendered, yielded, undone, to everything he has for us.

In about four months my husband Nick and I are heading on an exciting adventure, quitting our jobs, packing up everything and heading to the International House of Prayer for a season of training, prayer and worship.

This has been something so huge on my heart for so long, and for both of us it’s not only a huge life change, but also a massive faith step.
It means sacrifice, giving up things we love (like my inks!) and exchanging them for things we want to grow in (like blogging.. blehh). It means being challenged in our spiritual gifts, and it means praying in a way we’ve never prayed before. It means learning to really lean on God for everything, learning to stay surrendered to his beautiful plan, and most of all learning not to take control the moment things get messy.

My biggest hope and prayer is that through this season, through blogging and sharing about what God is teaching me, the challenges and highs and lows, that not only will my heart become more surrendered to His ways, but that yours will also.

Even if no one ever reads this blog.. this place will be a place to write and share my thoughts, my heart, the little things that grow and the big things that REALLY grow. This place will be a place to read back over and see what God has done, and then just be like WOW.. because the journey means that we're never the same. That He is constantly maturing, speaking, leading, correcting and positioning us for the next thing he wants to do.. it's a beautiful circle of His grace and love.

Surrendered hearts & surrendered lives, on a journey of letting the One that knows all, yet loves unconditionally, lead and guide.

It leaves me excited, breathless, hopeful, maybe a little stressed with the process, but oh so glad to continue to rest in who He is. Joy. Peace. Always available, always there. Yes.

xx
Susanna