Election and basketball practice. The New Creation/Old Creation debate wasn’t as hard as the nightly debate about what was for supper. Calvinism verses Armenianisim was easier to decide between than the question that hung over my head as I walked through the door of my simple farm house; wash clothes or read. The demand of both never ceases. I prefer to read, so I usually chose the latter. But then the kids needed clean clothes for school, the baby’s socks needed bleached because he obviously walked on an unmopped floor. I still don’t know where at. (Do you sense the sarcasm?) Homework to sign off on, practices to go to, play dates to make, sleepovers to host, pjs to wash, tubs to scrub, food to buy, a small menagerie of animals to feed, a husband to love, kids to nurture, and a ministry to fulfill.
I’ve learned so much in the past few months. I am a student at heart. But not any student. No, I barely scrapped through high school. I’m a bible student. It intrigues me. It is my passion. I have been privileged enough to learn the ins and outs of ministry as well as in depth theology from the staff of one of the fastest growing churches in America. Their the real deal.
So, what did I learn in the manic rush of home and ministry?
I’ve learned theology is lived out or it isn’t worth much. I’ve learned that it seeps down into your reasoning and colors everything you do. I’ve learned theology is more than a book, it’s a basis for life. For ultimately, we will live out what we believe.
With ministry school wrapping up and graduation right around the corner I sat down to consider all I’ve learned over the past 9 months that cannot be taught in a book. Much was learned in the wee morning hours and over dirty diapers; as theology became reality.
*Don’t cap off your calling. God has more for you than you have ever imagined. Coming into ministry school, I had my calling figured out, or so I thought. I could see how it all unfolded and what paths I would take. But much to my surprise my calling was bigger than I could ever have dreamed. I had unknowingly placed a ceiling above my call-no wonder I felt secluded and desperate-I was cramped by a box of my own making. I had no idea when God called me to leave my previous ministry He was about to rip the top off my expectations. He was broadening my ministry, but the irony is that in the process of it I thought He was crushing it. That’s often what happens when the cap is screwed off of our plans; we feel like the weight of the open space will crush us. We all need wide open spaces; where we can grow and develop into the men and women we are destined to be. Destiny is never found in the confines of a box. We must learn to fly in the wide open; not coware in the comfort of complacency.
*Passion knows no gender.
*Be humble enough to be vulnerable. The world doesn’t need a “masquerade” it needs us to be real, authentic. People will forgive you for not being perfect, but they will not forgive you for being a phony.
*My Knowledge of the Bible itself doesn’t guarantee I see what God is doing. I must feverishly seek His mind and heart. We can be so loaded down with head knowledge that we miss what He has set up right in front of us. We can be so distracted by serving Him that we miss what He’s doing right in. (Ask Martha if you don’t believe me. Luke 10)
*Adapt or die. This one wasn’t mine originally, but nothing has been truer for me in this season. When I came into Ministry school I stepped into the unknown. Being born and raised in a certain denomination-there were things that I had never been exposed to. Biblical things-but they were strange to me. I realized that what worked for me previously would not carry me any farther and that’s a hard pill to swallow. Effectiveness shrivels up and dies in the comfort zone. There will come a time when we all are faced with the choice; be comfortable or be effective.
*He does what He says He will, even when it seems like He isn’t. Almost two years ago I made one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. I had to release what was in my hand. The Lord asked me to lay down the only ministry I ever had known to pour myself into a church where I knew no one and no one knew me. The comfort in my prior church was, everyone knew I was called into ministry, I didn’t have to “prove” that. So, one Wednesday night with teary eyes I sat in my new church as a visitor…begging God desperately not to send me….my fear was that I would be swallowed up, with no outlet for ministry. I wasn’t after a platform, I was after purpose and the thought of that evading me scared the daylights out of me. I silently told God as I sat in the giant worship center, “But they don’t know that I have been called to ministry…” and in my spirit the Lord spoke more clearly than He ever has, “But I do. I will make a way..” Over the next few months He affirmed that Word through the Scriptures. He seemed to promise me a red sea road, if only I would not turn back. So, for months I sat silently in the seat, until one Sunday they announced the start of a ministry school. Immediately, I knew that was my red sea road; HE was doing what He said. And He has proven Himself true. I shouldn’t be where I am, with the opportunities given to me. He’s so faithful.
*Don’t pursue a platform; pursue His presence.
*He fights for us, without reservation.
*Comparison will kill your calling. The tension is always there; to speak like her, to study like him, to have faith like them. And while it’s good to be challenged, comparing our callings to another will squash our destinies under the weight of someone else’s purpose. God has designed you for a specific purpose. You weren’t called to be them, you were called to be you.
*Spiritual warfare is real, and the enemy is mean. He doesn’t hold back because you feel vulnerable and afraid, he presses even harder. There were honest moments, with tears streaming down my face that I told God I was done, that I couldn’t handle the pressure of motherhood and vocational ministry. There were moments when I have been so suppressed, that I literally thought it would break me. There were moments when I almost handed over the very thing I had been waiting years for. But what I learned through those dark moments is that the enemy is nasty and cynical and if we take the bait we will become the same way. CALL HIS BLUFF AND CALL GOD FAITHFUL- he will run with his proverbial tail between his legs.
*Wisdom isn’t bound by age. One of the wisest people I know is in her early 20’s.
*People will celebrate your success but show contempt for your sacrifice. They won’t understand; don’t hold it against them.
*The scattered pieces of our sacrifice given into the hands of God, makes a sacrament for His glory, that is worth every hurt and disappointment. Leaving my one year old in the care of another has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Mothers do it all the time- I know. But that doesn’t make it easy. But something I want my children to be able to say about me above all else is this: She was faithful to her God, even when it was hard. And to leave a legacy of faith, one must live by faith. How silly would it be to live without sacrifice and expect our lives to be an aroma of faith to those around us.
* The greatest legacy you can leave is loving Jesus more than you love yourself. Legacies are built in the dark night of sacrifice, when nothing is sure, and everything seems shaky as we cling to the only One who is not shaken; Jesus.
*He’ll use your weakness to display His glory. Don’t despise your weakness, embrace it.
*Don’t underestimate yourself. For in doing so you underestimate what God is doing through you. It was the morning of exams and someone gave me a compliment, I responded with “Don’t overestimate me.” And in my spirit God spoke right to my heart with “Don’t underestimate yourself.” It’s easy to hide behind the fake façade of false humility; insecurity. When we do, we unconsciously hide ourselves from the opportunities God wants to use us in. We make little of ourselves and in doing so-make little of God.
*God doesn’t tease, He woos.
*IF you say you’ll follow Him, He may test your sincerity.
*There’s a sabbath in release; when we hand over our plans and purpose to His providence.
*Self-preservation will rob us of the very thing we are seeking. We protect ourselves out of blessings.
*How well you love others, ultimately tells what you believe about God.
*When you go after your God given dream, you unconsciously give others courage to do the same.
* This, all of this, motherhood and ministry, it isn’t about me-its about Jesus.
*live a life of ransom; Just as Jesus did not come to be serve but to serve and give Himself as a ransom for many. Live in humility. Give all you have to the ones around you. Serve with grace.
*Worry about creating disciples not a following. In today’s culture it’s much more trendy to create a following than to create disciples. We are overwhelmed by “Christian Celebrities”. While a following isn’t always bad-it’s not the goal. Discipleship is.
Most importantly. I’ve learned that the pull for any of us, to live our lives for Christ in the rush of the everyday monotony can leave us broken. But it’s in that brokenness that we become most like our Savior. For He was broken on our behalf; subject to the scourge of sacrifice. It’s in that brokenness that I have found the sweet spot; abundance in the midst of chaos, peace in uncertainty and fullness in emptiness. Its here in the sacred scars of Christ hands that I have found freedom and fellowship. Nothing has been sweeter. It’s been an honor and a thrill to serve the Most High God, both in the church and in my home. I can’t wait to see what HE does next.