If your heart is in a place where you can trust God enough to be open to doing anything or going anywhere, following Jesus is a compelling adventure. In the gospels I read about His invitation to follow Him (Matthew 4:19) and I see the response: His disciples dropped everything they were doing and followed.
Over the last year, sisters like Katie Davis, and Jennie Allen, and Jen Hatmaker have been messing with me and rearranging my priorities (which I was previously certain where already categorized quite nicely thank you very much) through their thoughtfully shared words and faith infused examples. I’ve been left feeling parched, thirsty for more of God’s directional grace and pleading for his wise leading. The result was the desire to be genuinely open to anything, while guarding against falling into everything.
For many months I was left on the precipice of faith staring into an unknown future with butterflies dancing in my belly. Through a slow process of time, prayer, and soul searching, my husband and I were in that place: we were ready to sell anything and follow anywhere. We were prayerfully sensitive to the opportunities that came across our paths and sought to determine, “Is this opportunity God’s will for us or is this simply a distraction?” We waded through a sea of possibilities for almost a year. We prayed through business opportunities, selling our home, buying a duplex, moving within the US, and moving overseas. In the process, we discovered more about our passions, dreams and goals and we continued to bring these to the feet of Jesus and ask, “Show us what to do with these things in our hearts.”
The answer came like a wave of whispers confidently cascading into our hearts. As a family, we were to sell our RV, sell our boat, sell our home and move to a new town and do something we’ve never done before: live full time in an RV park as managers with hearts as missionaries, seeking to live out the opportunities He places before us each day. Each step of the process was a piece of the puzzle and each came before the next requiring a step of faith before the next part of the plan was to be reveled. We found that some parts of that process required that we simply wait. Through this time of waiting I was reminded that God is in charge. God gets to make the calls. God gets to decide time timeline of my life. I get to follow. I get to obey. I get to trust. I learned that what happens in “the waiting” often reveals the true value of my trust, the depth of my faith.
It has been almost three months since our move. Now that we have changed our location, our routines and the view outside our window, I have found that there is a temptation to look back at former moments with longing. While this may seem harmless or even “normal”, I believe that the best perspective is to look back with gratitude rather than longing. Although both choices may seem similar, I believe they are vastly different in both perspective and attitude. Longing focuses on what was lost, while gratitude places the emphasis on that which was gained.
The process is of course unending. I am being refined continuously. While at work moving our family to a new life, God was also working within me personally to bring me out of hiding. Hiding is my fancy way of describing fear. It’s was important for God to start with this because I believe that for faith to grow, fear must be faced.
Two years ago I stepped out of a role that I had filled for 10 years when I sold an online website that I had founded. At the time, I looked forward to the change of pace. God had things on the horizon and as I began to see glimpses of His new plan unfolding, I longed to share my new discoveries and struggles through writing. However, the “platform” from which I used to share was no longer mine. I wanted to flush out my thoughts with words, but without readers to share them with, the purpose felt flat. Or was it more than that? I began to question: had my purpose been too tightly tied to “my platform” and “my readers”? Why the desire to share with others rather than just journal for myself? Perhaps it was all a fancy way of saying that I missed being on stage. Was it all pride? Self glorification? I felt conflicted. I wanted to bring God glory but perhaps that was getting muddled? I couldn’t be sure and because of that, I couldn’t move forward with writing for an audience. Doing something good for the wrong reasons felt worse than doing nothing at all. The deceiver manipulated eloquently. Fear crept in. I set down my pen and closed the book.
I began leading a small weekly bible study in my home. The study (Restless) focuses on the story of Joseph in the Old Testament and weaves in truths from his story into our own. We began identifying our natural and spiritual gifts and discovering how our pain and suffering is all closely connected to the unique way that we are made to fit into God’s story. While examining the area of our gifts, we read about Eric Liddell who was born into the home of missionaries to the Chinese people in 1902. As explained by Jennie Allen, “His story is retold in the epic film Chariots of Fire. Eric felt called to give his life to God and in that pursuit he trained and planned to become a missionary, like his parents. But Eric had a gift. He could run, and every door was opening for him to do it. Doors opened all the way to the Olympics. As the film portrays Eric processing his calling and his gifts with his sister, he said these famous words: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure.”
We were then asked to identify when we feel God’s pleasure. I knew. It wasn’t in feeling my feet pound against the dirty road as it was for Eric, but rather feeling my fingers pound on the keys of my computer. Wrestling with words, crafting sentences, composing thoughts, that is when I feel His pleasure.
I was challenged to reflect on Joseph’s gift of leadership and dream interpretation and the generation of people who were saved because he submitted his gifts to be used for God’s glory, rather than hide them out of fear (Genesis 39). I needed to revisit the closed book. God gives us talents and gifts to use, not hide. I believe He wants us to use them to bring Him glory and in doing so we will feel His pleasure. Likewise, Satan (the deceiver) wants to distract us from the focus of God’s plan and convince us that we don’t have any genuine gifts to share or if we do, that we would be prideful to use them. Once we do begin using them he is right there to reason that the purpose of our gifts are to bring us glory. Satan’s lies created fear within me. Rather than taking that fear to God, I had allowed it to stop me from using my gift entirely. I shared my conflict with the ladies in our study and asked them to pray for me in this area and I asked God to make it clear if He wanted me to begin writing again. Specifically, I asked God to confirm His desire though a person I didn’t know. Within a hour of praying, I found a message waiting in my “other” folder on Facebook from a former customer and blog reader. She said, “Just writing a note to say I miss hearing about your family, life and faith. I really enjoyed your Mom 4 Life newsletters and emails. Do you write a blog now or keep people up to date on y’all? Praying you and your family are well.” I felt confident that God was asking me to begin writing my part in His story again. I had a hard time falling asleep that night.
I had a handful of posts swimming though my mind waiting to be written. I was feeling His pleasure. The next day I shared my plan to blog again with my Facebook friends and someone commented, “Oh, Heather! I was just thinking yesterday and talking to God about how much I miss your blog posts and wisdom and ideas. Wow! God sure is awesome.” It felt as though God was smiling at the explanation point He had just added to the plan.
I’ll be honest. I don’t want to write if I can’t be real, if I can’t be transparent about the process. There are aspects to blogging that can be difficult. The deceiver tries to whisper, “Don’t share that part about yourself, they won’t like you anymore.” and “If no one comments, it means they don’t care, it means your voice doesn’t matter.” However, for every lie there is a truth. I know that God encourages us to confess our sins one to another (James 5:16) and that all things were created by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16). Therefore, our gifts do matter when we are giving them back to the one who gave them to us. I commit to continue resisting the lies in exchange for the truth. I encourage you to do the same so that together we can feel His pleasure.