Saturday morning was pretty busy for us as we dropped off a vehicle for repair, picked up a few essentials, and headed home to plant a few things in our container gardens. I put away the groceries, grabbed a mango popsicle (I am addicted to the Outshine ones!), and put my feet up to enjoy it. My cat soon joined me, since an open lap is apparently a sin as far as he is concerned. Almost immediately my phone buzzed–actually, the Minions giggled, because that just cracks me up–and a text came in from a dear friend who was attending a Priscilla Shirer simulcast. The text read:
“God is looking for people with MARGIN in their lives….who have left room for Him and His work and His gifts.” ~Priscilla Shirer
Isn’t that the truth?! Preach, sister, PREACH!
I want that! I want to be that woman for God…and that desire has been a driving force behind my determination to clear out the things in my life and in my schedule that “I” (boldface, italics, quotation marks, and EVERY other emphasis indicator you can think of!) have too often loaded me up for…without asking Him if “that one” was for me or not. It’s so easy to get caught up in the excess (feel-good, praise, and public attention) that comes from saying “yes” and we can forget that the God of “yes” also created the “no” for our blessing, as well.
Please don’t miss my point. God DOES call us to the “yes” for Him and His people, but He does NOT call us as individuals to EVERY “yes” we’re encouraged to say. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in to speak of Jesus. That is the first “yes” we need hear and say. The other “yes” answers you’ll be called to say should always take their cue from that first one: what is the expressed will of the Father? That the whole world would come to know Him personally. Is that even possible if we’re too busy to stop and tell them about Him…or show them that they matter to Him and, as a result, to us?
What do you need to say “No” to today in order to be available to say “YES!” when God asks you to do so?
Societal values are cyclical and the cycle we’ve been in for a very long time (too long!) is one where “the busiest one wins.” Having that mindset makes it very difficult to hear the Holy Spirit speak Jesus in our ears because all we’ve learned to focus on is being the one who wins, the one who can be “depended on”, or the pride factor that comes from being the first one thought of and the last-minute savior of all things chaotic. When we get so caught up in all that WE can do, we forget to listen for HIS name, HIS voice, and HIS choices for us. There’s a very good reason that Psalm 46:10 tells us “Be still and know that I am God.”–and we often stop there as if that is the whole verse, but IT IS NOT!
The rest of that verse is critical to showing us the reason behind our need for quieter schedules. Read it with me:
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
Have you ever noticed that before? He didn’t say stay busy and loudly proclaim your busy-ness, and stay overworked trying to prove that there IS a God and that you belong to Him so that in the process YOU are exalted. He didn’t say that at all. Our quietness is so that HE can be exalted.
I’m just enough of a nut to believe that He was serious about the way He had it written…and I desperately want to live that way so that HE is the one exalted and heralded and known and not just build my own resume of good works. It didn’t use to be that way, but I am listening and I am still learning. One of the things I’ve learned is that saying “No” actually gives me the opportunity to say “Yes” when God calls my name–and sometimes, He has us say the “No” without telling us the WHY…at the time.
I write all of this on the 7th anniversary weekend of when God called me to one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done: herding Baptists who wanted to help in the wake of the massive E-5 tornado that swept Smithville, MS and much of the surrounding area clean. I thought I was simply going to a meeting to take notes, but one of my pastors at the time, Tommy Gillon from Fairview Baptist in Columbus, actually took me up there to roll up my sleeves and stay awhile. For almost 3 months, I had the daily privilege of using my organizational skills to serve God and His people alongside Pastor Allen Simpson and his wonderful staff and the amazing people of First Baptist Church in Amory, MS. In the wake of unimaginable loss for many of their nearby Smithville, MS neighbors, we sought to match skill sets from all over the United States with needs in North Mississippi, meet basic life needs for people who often no longer had possessions of any kind, encourage where possible, pray continuously, and keep a few ‘helpers’ from making it worse. (written with a very thankful heart…and very wry grin)
Along the way I met some of the most incredible people doing impossible things because God was showing up and showing out through them–because they deliberately made some margin for God to use them! I watched families take in families–that they didn’t know, homes and churches get rebuilt, groups of students de-trashed huge fields making them ready to be planted so farmers could make something to help their families, and so much more. Simple things were made more profound than can be acknowledged through the working of God’s people who had hearts for Him and their neighbors because they chose to say the “yes” –and the “no”!–for margin so they could be available when they were needed.
God-Margin…who needs it? We all do–either as givers or receivers. Which one are you today?
Grace and Peace!