Staying on Margin-mission

I’ve written quite a bit about Margin this year. I’ve thought about it even more than I’ve written about it, but I have to say that one of the things I neglected to really think about was the WHY of it…at least until the last couple of weeks, anyway.

Like many of you, I was tired and rundown by the end of last year and, since I knew that God had given me the majority of those assignments (but…let’s be real here, I added plenty of things to my own plate, as well!), I blithely assumed that this call for more Margin was another of His many gifts to me. I still don’t think I’m wrong on that.

I was just so grateful for the call to Margin that I forgot to ask many more questions. Actually, I may have been too tired to ask more questions at that point, but since we’re already into the month of JULY, that means I’ve had some time to give it some thought and…and…but…but…

what if I don’t always like where it might lead? What if it makes me uncomfortable or steps on my toes sometimes?

A few weeks ago I was with a group of friends and as the conversation progressed I noticed that one of them had wandered dangerously into my territory. (wow. that sounds melodramatic, doesn’t it?! HA!) Anyway! She began talking about all the things she wanted to do and she had plenty of fresh ideas and tons of energy and…all of the sudden I started getting a little bit antsy. Didn’t she know I already knew how to do that? Why didn’t she ask me to help? I could make things SO much simpler for her if she’d only ask!

Y’all! It took God about midway through that last sentence-thought in my head to snap me into attention as He LOUDLY in my spirit/headspace reminded me that HE was in charge of things and that MY job was to be obedient to what He was calling me to…and that was NOT what He was calling HER to right then! As clear as day, God said to me, “I am calling you to Margin, but I am loading her plate.”

Let me just stop and mention here that Scripture (in 1 Kings 19:12) tells us that Elijah looked for God in the earthquake and the fire, but found Him in “a still, small voice.” Well. The voice in my headspace was neither still, nor small. It was quick and powerful and full of conviction as God reminded me of my mission and quickly gave instruction about how I was to proceed. MY job, you see, isn’t to be one of DOING in this instance, but to be one of SUPPORTING! MY job is to cheer her on, build her up, pray for her and speak words of encouragement both to her and on her behalf.

And just like that, I settled down. As I did so, it is amazing how much easier it was to listen without all those voices in my head! HA!!

Being on mission with God doesn’t always look the same from the outside and this was the perfect example of that to me. I was instantly made aware (AGAIN!) that

  • it isn’t my job to do Every Thing,
  • it IS my job to do what God tells ME to do and support others as they do the same, AND
  • there will come a time when God chooses to fills my plate again.

That last one is important because it reminded me of ONE of the reasons I need this time of margin: I need to be ‘rested up’ and ready for the next time of heavy assignment.

No matter what mission God has assigned you today–either for margin or the filled plate or somewhere in between–I pray that you are filled with peace and able to hear His voice without your own getting in the way like mine did for a bit. I also pray that if your voice does get in the way, that His will override it with the same quickness and authority that He did with me and that you’ll be just as happy as a bird with a french fry at whatever He has to say.

“Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” Deuteronomy 5:33

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 

Sunday blessings on you today, dear friends.

Grace and peace!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of joint

Sometimes following Jesus is easy and sometimes, to be completely honest, it can be a real pain. That’s not the “churchy” thing to say, but it is the truth–especially if you’re really serious about desiring to do it well.

There is an Old Testament account of a man facing the possibility of trouble who wrestled with God. All through the night he grappled and held tight. He refused to let go until God gave him a blessing. He got what he asked for, alright; he got his blessing and a little something extra. He walked away a new name…and a limp.

That happens sometimes when you’re determined not to let go of God and you’re desiring His blessing. I use the present tense here on purpose because I know it to be true. I’ve been wrestling with God this morning about something and, as a result, it’s not my hip, but probably more accurate to say that my nose is out of joint about it.

God has a funny way of working on me. He’s so good to allow me to teach His Word and be in a position to give counsel at times. He gives me space to recover from doing those things and retreat from the energy expenditure, as well. As a deep introvert, that’s a critical blessing for me and I value it highly. As my Creator, He knows that AND (not BUT–AND!) this morning He put a thought into my head about considering the possibility of that going away for a bit.

Let me be clear: He hasn’t asked me to go DO a hard thing yet, He’s just asking me to consider the possibility of doing a hard thing…and I balked. Big. Time. I get why He’s pushing me to even consider this. I deeply appreciate that He’s still speaking to me and stretching my faith. I want to be able to run joyfully toward every single thing that He calls me to do, but this morning…well, I just felt a big old “No” rise up at the very thought of this thing He brought up to me.

How do I know it was from Him? Well, let’s just say that it isn’t anything I would ever choose to do on my own. I’ve got multiple “reasons” why I wouldn’t want to do it and only one really concrete reason to consider it: because I made a decision to and have the privilege of belonging to God. (that sounds like two, but it is actually just one thing, I promise.)

If/when the rubber meets the road, I will respond with a “yes.” I know that. That decision was made a long time ago. My problem is that I would wish to say that I can’t wait to do whatever He might ask of me–as SOON as He mentions it…and, as evidenced by my response this morning, that’s not where I am just yet. I hate that. I really, really hate that. I thought I was better than my response today, but apparently, I am not. It is humbling. Perhaps that was the point.

My husband says that determined obedience is enough for now and that if–or when–God actually asks me to do this thing, that will be the time to get to doing with a right attitude, but I’m still wrestling with this idea. I am making progress already, though, and I’m grateful for that. I am deeply aware that becoming a person of influence doesn’t automatically come on the “easy pay” program. It means things might–will!–often become uncomfortable because the people who are watching need to see God at work in every area of our lives…and they need to see Him win. Although I first balked at the very idea, now I am wrestling with the possibility of doing it the with the right attitude. My nose is still out of joint a bit about it, but at least I should be able to walk without a limp today…

maybe.

I guess we’ll see.

Praying all your joints remain in place today and that mine gets back in line as quickly as possible.

Grace and Peace!

Well, it sounds simple…

Well, it sounds simple.

“Then Joseph, being roused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife…”  Matthew 1:24 (NKJV)

Yeah, it sounds simple…but I’m betting it didn’t feel all that simple. That’s the way of obedience. On one hand, it is exactly what you’d expect–you hear and then you do. On the other hand…well, we’ve all been there. We’ve all been there more than once. “Hear, then do” more typically looks like “hear, then think/rationalize/make excuses/make possible alternate plans/talk to other people/get their opinions/wonder why God can’t or won’t do it that way/worry a little about why He’s doing it this way/ask again to make sure you heard it right the first time/ wait a little bit longer…to make really sure/long road/long sighs/long faces…

(PSST! Hey! Anybody else out there? or is this just for me?) Yeah, I’ve done that…at least a time or two. If you’re going to tell me you haven’t…then I’m probably going to have to have a little chat about truth-telling with you a bit later, too. Either way, we humans tend to take the simple thing and complicate it…regularly.

Sometimes the command sounds simple, but the follow-through actually is complicated. I think that was the case for Joseph. I’ll bet the follow-through changed him. I’ll bet he heard a LOT of unsolicited advice and opinions over the years. I’ll bet he wondered about a lot of it…for a long time…and yet, he obeyed…as soon as he heard and woke up–and maybe even while he was still rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

I think that may be one of the reasons why God chose Joseph to be His Son’s earthly father. Joseph already had that obedience thing down and you can’t model what you do not know. God knew Jesus would be obedient when the time for the hard choices came–Jesus is GOD, after all, and this was part of the plan, but I can’t help but think that having that Joseph-obedience right there in front of you all the time was both a blessing to God the Father in heaven and to Jesus-God-with-us right over there in the living room! I want that kind of faith. I want that kind of obedience to mark my life. I want more of HIM and His choices and less of me and fewer of mine. (I’ve seen how well they work out.)

Sounds simple enough…doesn’t it?

So, what are you waiting on where you are? What do you need to do–right now!–that sounds simple, but feels complicated, and is STILL what God told you to do? Trust? Go? Stay? Be? Choose? Yes. We have to choose obedience. There’s only one other option…and it really is that simple.

Grace & Peace! (and quick obedience!!)

Annniversary

Exactly one year ago today I sat in front of my computer, took a really deep breath and started punching keys.  Because I’d rather punch a button and see what it does than read a whole series of instructions, it was some time before I got up again…but when I finally did, I had started a blog.

I didn’t have a long list of complicated reasons for doing so.  I mainly had just one:  God wouldn’t let me alone about it.

I wasn’t sure what He was up to and I really wasn’t sure what I was doing…except being obedient.

Being obedient hasn’t always been second nature to me.  Just ask my parents and a few of my teachers. (grin)  What I’ve found out over the years, however, is that loving God and doing what He says may be scary at times and it may lead you into some very uncomfortable places, but the reward—knowing that you’re pleasing Him—is worth every single second of the unknown.

In the past year, I’ve found that to be true all over again.  I’ve heard from people I never expected to hear from again, watched in amazement at the growing list of countries where people have checked in to read something I wrote, received feedback from people I’ve never even met and been totally astounded that it took so much time to write out even simple posts.  Again, it has been worth every single second.

I wish I could tell you that I totally “get it” now and I understand exactly what God was up to when He started all this, but that wouldn’t be true.  Sharing these pieces of my heart and my life can often seem a lot more personal than I would normally even share in person…and yet I write and I hit the “publish” button and seconds later, there it all is on display to the world…because that’s what He seems to want for now.

To those who join me on a regular basis, thank you.  Though they are simple words, the gratitude they convey is much larger than you can imagine.

To the many friends who have sent words of encouragement, mentioned this blog to others or shared it even once:  your generosity of spirit overwhelms me and I am always amazed at the grace God have given me in you.

To my husband, who has sat waiting to leave on so many occasions as I typed frantically and called out “just one more minute, please” and been kind enough to do so…not to mention being my very first follower!—ILYM&B!!!  ALWAYS!!!

And finally, to the God who gives me words and a place to share them, I am Yours.  Though the grace and forgiveness You have poured into my life are greater than words could ever say, I’m having fun trying and I love that You see into me and find ways to let me have fun doing what You told me to do in the first place.  May all all my ambitions–quiet and otherwise–come from You.

Now let’s see where it goes from here…

Being obedient even when we don’t understand…

I was looking around church yesterday before the services started.  Our sanctuary was decorated for the Christmas holiday celebrations, the choir was filing in wearing their red stoles for the season, people were settling into their seats and getting prepared to worship.  As I looked around, I noticed a couple sitting nearby.  The husband’s arm was wrapped around his wife’s shoulder and he was leaning in close to tell her something.  There were big smiles on both of their faces.  Beautiful.  Totally beautiful.

Now, these people make me happy just by being in the world, but the looks on their faces made it even better.  Part of the reason for my joy was that I knew a very small portion of their story.  Quite awhile back I had a conversation with the wife.  She is gifted in several different areas and she was serving God with the use of those gifts at home, at work and at church…but…she had decided that she needed to scale back some of her involvement in order to worship with her husband.  They were fine—the marriage wasn’t in trouble and there hadn’t been any big discussions about feeling neglected.  She wasn’t being pressured by her husband to make these changes.  She just felt this tug from God to do so.  Unfortunately, she was getting quite a bit of push-back about reducing her involvement…from others.

Admittedly, she is gifted and our whole congregation has received both blessing and benefit from the use of her gifts.  Most of the questions she was getting centered around the “Are you SURE this is from God?—Maybe you misunderstood” variety.  It’s hard to say no sometimes…especially when it’s a good thing.  It’s even more difficult when it’s something that’s seen by so many as a God-thing.  For my friend, however, it came down to a choice to be obedient to honor her husband and strengthen her marriage.  That was the real God-thing.

I got it.  That doesn’t make me smarter than some of the others.  It just meant that I had been there—exactly there—years before.  I got the same questions; the same push-back.  I made the same decision she did…and I’ve never regretted it.  I shared with her that strengthening an already great, healthy marriage was also an important way to bless others in our church and in the world at large.

As I looked at their faces, I was reminded of the following verses:

 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Later in the sermon, our pastor made the following statement:  “It’s high time we stop trying to make sense of what God tells us to do and just be obedient.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Once more, I looked in their direction, saw their joy and gave thanks to God for knowing best…even when it doesn’t always “make sense” to us.  From the looks on their faces yesterday, I’d say that God was speaking to my friend about this matter.  She was wise to listen and God really did have a plan for her good.

Imagine that! God was right!  (smile)

You may not be in the same situation as my friend, but if God is tugging at your heart to follow His direction in an area of your life, DO NOT WAIT!  Be obedient today!  Whether you understand completely or not, trust Him to know best!  God has great plans for you and the sooner you get with His program, the sooner you’ll begin to reap the benefits that only come with obedience to Him!

Grace & Peace!

wanderings (and wonderings)

It is WAY too early in the morning and here I am…reading and typing and learning more about who I am in Christ.  I started to leave off those last two words, but I find I can’t really separate who I am from Him.  It isn’t pious.  It is passionate.  Passionate faith can be difficult…

Sometimes I can’t sleep.  Questions run through my mind over and over and it’s not worry so much as it is that I hate waiting on the answers and wondering why I’m supposed to be doing “this.”  No matter what the answer is…I just want to know now.  I can be impatient.  (Sound familiar?)  Part of my reading brings me back to Oswald Chambers and his writing for September 12th (PLEASE make sure you join me there sometime today–in print, if you already have it or check it out online at  http://utmost.org/ …) where I come to the very last two sentences which say, “Stand off in faith believing that what Jesus said is true, though in the meantime you do not understand what God is doing.  He has bigger issues at stake than the particular thing you ask.”  Well, yeah, of course He does!…and ouch!

There’s nothing unknown there for me, but it hits me all brand new in these early morning hours and gives me a spiritual wake-up call.  Once again, it isn’t all about me.  Regardless of His decision about even the most unimportant details of my life, they are His to make.  It isn’t a cop-out and it isn’t always easy, but there it is:  if I really want to belong to Him, to be in relationship with Him and say that He is Lord, then shouldn’t my job be more focused on following His instructions and less on the reasoning why and the trying to figure out all the solutions that I want and how to get them?

Please don’t take that last sentence as a call to check your brain at the door and follow blindly.  God created us with the ability to think, to reason, and I fully believe that He intends for us to do so…we’re just not going to always immediately come to the same conclusions that He does because while there are days that we’re marching behind the elephants, He’s always seeing the whole parade.

While in the elephant’s shadow, I’ve come to the stunning (note the sarcasm) conclusion that I don’t always share well.  Oh, I don’t have trouble sharing things.  I have more trouble sharing me…which makes me wonder why God wanted me to start a blog…where sharing is the largest part of things.  I’ve always been a private person.  I’ve been known to sit and just listen for hours and take little part in the conversation while another person poured out their soul.  I wasn’t always like that.  (At this point there are actually people who are laughing out loud at that last sentence…just so you know.)  I used to freely share any and all opinions with the world at large…and then I figured out that I didn’t really know enough to do that.  It was humbling.  It was needed.  I learned to shut up and listen.  To learn and be quiet.  To search out and share HIS opinions and not just my own.  In fact, to learn that my opinions should actually be His and not  just my own.  And then, just when I thought I was getting a pretty good handle on that “being quiet” thing, God said to start a blog.  It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but there it is.

Sharing your opinions–even with people you know–isn’t baring your soul.  You can do that and still remain extremely private.  This sharing of life–of self–is way more difficult…way more personal.  I know that God wants to use this and I’m still trying to figure out exactly how He will when maybe I should just go with it.  I also know that since this got started that it seems I’ve had a lot more ‘opposition’ in life.  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.  Maybe it’s part of the plan.  Either way, I’m right back where I started.  Being obedient doesn’t mean I’ll always understand the “why”—it just means I have to try.  Pray for me? Better yet–pray with me.