Six years and one day ago I was baptized.
Spiritually, I felt like the chic in this photo… but with really cold bubbles ‘cause my pastor thought it was funny to dunk us in freezing water. (Just kidding, but it was legit COLD!)
Anyhow, that baptism was the cumulation of a week of fasting for my marriage (during which I realized I didn’t actually believe the gospel), a time of complete surrender, and the beginning of this ministry journey I have been on ever since.
The realization of my unbelief CRUSHED me. It was the darkest hour of my life. In an instant everything lost its meaning and there was no hope. No purpose.
I begged for faith. I received it immediately. I went right back to scripture and read about Peter’s reconciliation with Jesus.
“Do you love me?” Jesus asked three times. After the third time Peter professed his love for Christ he was instructed to “feed My sheep” by his Savior.
I had faith. I had gratitude overflowing as a result. I wanted to feed His sheep too!! So I begged:
“Let me feed your sheep!”
He granted this ability along with the passion faith had produced. I had purpose! Only, it didn’t materialize as quickly as I hoped.
This eventually frustrated me.
I’m an action person. Observe, orient, decide, act. I’m such an action person that I often skipped the other steps.
This landed me in little puddles of hot water along my ministry journey.
I needed time to mature in faith.
I kept walking in my calling the best I could, awaiting the time I might be entrusted with a larger flock. Sometimes I wanted to quit. I got tired in all kinds of ways: physically, spiritually, emotionally. Sometimes I picked up other people’s demons and didn’t know how to battle in prayer to get the suckers off my back. At one point, my marriage (the very thing that had prompted my spiritual honesty) almost ended.
I was spent. I couldn’t go another day. I had allowed myself to be isolated…
And then I found a church that felt like home.
Not only could I serve here, but I was taught how to really battle in prayer. Our family was prayed over. My marriage was restored beyond belief. Our finances were restored. (We had made quite a mess of things.)
Now, I could settle in and just be a part of instead of leading so much. After two years of serving, however, the opportunity to serve again in the way I pleaded for has presented itself. So…
What happens when everything you’ve wanted suddenly becomes possible? Will you still want it? Will you ignore the naysayers (including yourself)?
The answer to these questions may uncover if your really ever wanted it at all.
My first reaction was to recoil and not be “self-promotional”. Then I remembered a sermon one of our pastors delivered about discerning God’s will. In a nutshell, it was ‘obey God, be helpful not harmful, and include room for the desires of your heart’ (God put them there after all!)
my chicken-scratch notes:
I found myself wrestling with that top right corner. The most difficult option for me.
The option that was left after I had checked the situation against scripture, prayed about it and discerned that my preferred decision is actually very beneficial… too beneficial, because it includes benefit for me.
I have to make a decision that is what I want to do.
No matter how far I separate myself from fear and shame it seems to find a way to creep up and start tapping at the door again. Perhaps my biggest struggle is sheer unfamiliarity with the concept itself.
The concept that we should actually enjoy this life.
Without struggle or self sacrifice as an option and with my dreams in front of me wide-open for the taking, I have to choose to do something that could be seemingly selfish.
The shame I left behind when I accepted Jesus as sufficient is still beckoning me to depart from my calling.
Today I’m choosing not to listen to it. I can’t know the perfect will of God in every choice I make. When I meet Him someday it will all be clear.
Until then all I’ve got is the next best step and confidence that I have walked in righteousness the best I can. I can trust my discernment even if it happens to include my benefit…
Because He loves me and wants good for me.
So I want to encourage any of you who are struggling with similar things. Any of you who have become so adept at survival that it is foreign to see things working for your good.… I’m here to tell you that this is not how it was meant to be.
God DOES work for your good!
Whatever voices are stuck in your head: be it from parents, teachers, or simply a well intended yet false message delivered from the lips of a friend… It is time to walk away from the lies!
Step into who you are and fully into your calling. Don’t apologize. Don’t explain.
Lose yourself in mountains of prayer and praise as you navigate through these times. Hide away and stay on your knees until they go numb if you must. Seek the heart of God. For it is there and ONLY there you will find your true self your true purpose… and there is no shame in His presence.
It is only there that you can truly honor Him by being who He has created you to be.
May you walk in freedom and joy every day.