I have been gnawing on this bit from the previous post since I read it on Sunday night:
If you seek great things for yourself – God has called me for this and that; you are putting a barrier to God’s use of you. As long as you have a personal interest in your own character, or any set ambition, you cannot get through into identification with God’s interests.
And this bit has gotten some chewing as well:
I have to learn that the aim in life is God’s, not mine. God is using me from His great personal standpoint, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him, and never say – Lord, this gives me such heart-ache.
I have a habit of thinking “THIS is what God wants me to do” and then trying to focus exclusively in that area ignoring everything else. I want to be like other people I see, with a clear focus for their ministry, and every time I try to go in a direction God says a very clear “No.” No explanation, nothing, just suddenly I start getting pulled in the very direction I had thought was over and done for.
I am not differentiating here between my life work and my ministry because I have learned that whatever I am doing IS my ministry. I am to do whatever the next thing is without having a business plan, without focusing on one thing, without going about things the way the world does things. In fact, in chewing over and praying I have realized how much we, as Christians, miss out on when we treat ministry like a business. We box ourselves in, we take God out of the equation, and isn’t this the very problem we are seeing in so many of our churches?
James 4:13-16 says:
13 Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” 14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. 15 What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” 16 Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.
I long for a clear ministry. I long for a non-eclectic website where I know what I should be writing about and where my audience can show up and know what I will be writing about. I long to know what direction I should go with my art, with my computer work, in my life. Or do I? I long for those things when I look around and see other Christians who seem to have it all together and yet that is not what God has for me. If I were in the same business with no changes for 10 years I would get bored out of my mind. I LOVE change, I LOVE adapting, I LOVE standing on God’s promises in faith, jumping out and doing the next thing without worrying about tomorrow. (Ask my poor, long suffering, change hating husband.) I live for that. I hate plans. I hate KNOWING what I have to do on this date and that date and where I have to be at this time and that time. Why on earth would I want to live like that when God has formed me in such a way that I LOVE putting my foot in the water and seeing what God tells me to do next.
And yet, sometimes I forget. Sometimes I see everyone else with their awesome one focus sites or their wonderful ministries or their incredible creative businesses and think, “Me too? Can I do that too?” And the answer thus far is always no. And would I really want to stick myself in that box so that God can’t use me in other ways? I love being able to help others with whatever God has given me, not just the talents I deem worthy. I love how God uses my experiences in a multitude of areas to allow me to help people in many different situations in many different ways. At another point Oswald Chambers said this:
If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so that you will never be surprised at what you come across. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, November 5
Make me useful and plan my days, God.
Yes, that is what I want. I don’t really want to plan out my own days. I love leaning on God and as Elisabeth Elliot says, Do the Next Thing. It is just my longing to be like others, to not stand out and be different, to look like other Christians, that tempts me to plan and choose one thing instead of all the things God has given me to do. So what if my ministry isn’t organized, so what if I have no clear direction, if you think about it, neither did Jesus. He meandered, went from here to there with no obvoius plan, helping whomever God put in His way. Who am I to do things any different.
*Isn’t it interesting how God drives a point home even when He has already explained it to us? As I write my kids have interrupted me at least 30 times for things they really needed my help with, I have had 3 family phone calls,and almost lost the post once. My plans for the day have been changed twice and my daughter has lamented with tears of frustration the changes in her own plans which had nothing to do with mine. ANd now I have to run because my dad is here to fix a leaky pipe. 🙂
Enjoyed reading this. I am like your husband I don’t care for change, it makes me all twitchy. I to have longed for a “clear” ministry and I know whenever I have prayed for that, the Lord has reminded me that my three boys are my first ministry right now. Being jealous of others “spiritual gifts” or talents is something we all struggle with (or as I call “spiritual gift envy.”)
One thing I am reminded is that I should never “box” God in, for what his will is for my life. He thoughts are not my thoughts, nor His ways, may ways sometimes. But I strive to live His way.
Heather, we are two peas in a pod. lol Variety is the spice of life … at least my life. I MUST have variety in all that I do or huge boredom sets in and I will shut down in some form or another. I think one of the best gifts we can give ourselves is to embrace who we are just as God made us. It is there we will find freedom, peace, and great joy. And it is the very place where God can use us the most. Psalm 139:13-16
Hi Heather…wow this was GREAT! I’m VERY much like you!! When I got pregnant later in life–on the eve of what I thought would be my years of “undistracted ministry”–I didn’t understand what God was doing. But after MUCH prayer and questioning (and just a bit of sputtering and stomping of feet), I realized that he was making His will VERY plain. He WANTS me to continue to do the kind of ministry that he made me for….the “do the next thing” kind that I am so well suited for. What grace. He freed me up to be me…to engage in ministry outside my home (because home is always first!) as he leads without feeling guilt that I’m not doing something else! Wow. Such freedom!
It is frustrating not to be able to say this is it – I know. At Bible study there was a question “What do you feel God is calling you to do at this time in your life?”
I answered ” I don’t know.”
Not because I don’t sense His direction daily but because I haven’t a clue where it is going and I’ve learned that trying to direct it myself doesn’t work (imagine that).
You do make it sound a little chaotic, but it could also ‘just’ be busy. Perhaps a busy fulfilling life is just where you’re supposed to be right now.
It is my looking out at everyone else, at everything, that always makes me stumble.
It is amazing I can even walk.
Wonderful, thoughtful post, thank you! I’ll be chewing on this for a while, too.
Oh, I SO understand. Just last week I was going to (on my own) figure out what my readers want and do it. The Lord put out His hand to hold me back. That’s not my purpose. It’s hard not to have this single focus, this single purpose. Oh, wait a minute–I do have one: To love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.” I think I do that. I think you do, too.
i can identify with what you are saying. i have always longed to excell at one thing…something…anything….and yet, God is calling me to himself.
thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.
I always kinda feel that way too, my husband has know what he wanted to be when he grew up since he was 4 years old. Me? I’m still looking. I do believe that for now I’m called to homeschool so I try to focus mostly on that and be happy about it. Anyway, someone pointed this Bible verse out to me a few days ago in the same context as the post you wrote. Hope it helps.
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
Heather I understand completely how you feel! I go through the same thing all the time it seems. I think righ tnow my primary ministry is raisig my children, beings a good example for my husband and keeping my home. Whenever I put anything else above them, even temporarily, that other thing always goes right down the toilet.
By the way, I think your blog, sharing your experiences IS a ministry and a valuable one. I know there have been many time when your writing has uplifted, inspired and even convicted me.
Stop by Shore’s End when you can to see my new winter layout and learn about a new holiday meme I’ll be hosting Turesday!