And Then She Learned the Glory In Finishing

giphy(Despite my to-do list this is probably a more accurate picture of how I’ll spend my Christmas break.)

 

I decided almost two years ago to stop making excuses and finally go to seminary. It was absolutely the right decision, as I love learning generally and particularly learning more about God. Despite being convinced it was and remains the right choice, this has been a horrible semester. Seriously, from missing assignments to almost missing a final, it has been a comedy of errors. I still might pull out of this disaster with decent grades and at least one A (hopefully two), I don’t say this to brag on myself, but to brag on God.

Here’s the thing, I never got my footing this semester. I never found the balance between school, a full-time job, spending time with my friends, freelance writing for a couple of publications, serving my local church, leading two bible studies, and a book club. As anyone who has read the blog post that kicked off my whole writing journey knows, I have no problem quitting things. Unfortunately, in this season, I never felt released by the Lord to say no to or quit any of these things. In fact, I said yes to another pretty huge thing after the semester started because I felt God called me to serve with this group, despite my desire to beg off due to my already crazy schedule. Yet, amid this absolute chaos, God has been right here with me. He’s given more time, grace from professors, cancelled meetings, encouraging words from strangers when I just felt like I could not do anymore, and the wisdom to manage all the things on my plate.

Every time I’ve been tempted to freak out, He’s sent a reminder of His sovereignty and provision. It has not been done perfectly, but I don’t think God ever asked for perfection. He asked for obedience and I am a living testimony that God blesses messy yeses. God is not looking for us to do the things He’s called us to perfectly, He’s called us to be faithful and in some seasons that just looks like showing up for book club with only one of the assigned chapters read or writing the paper in a hotel room between meetings.

I am a recovering control freak and people pleaser, so when I cannot properly obsess over every sentence and re-write every paragraph till it is perfect before turning it in it brings a certain level of anxiety. But, I am learning to let it go, I want to do my work to the best of my ability for God’s glory, but sometimes the glory is just in completing the task or in showing up long past the point when you wanted to give in.

Just completing the task is an act of obedience, its easier to think we are the sole actors in the narratives of our lives, that we are the heroes and nothing happens without our making it happen, including God’s plan for our lives. But the truth is the responsibility for making God’s plans succeed is not on us. It’s on Him.

For a control freak, these are words bring freedom. They are not an excuse to slack off, but a recognition of the reality that where God calls He equips, He opens doors no man can shut, and grace will take you farther than hustling ever could.  If I am really called to a PhD (which sometimes feels like a pipe dream), God knows the grades I need to get in and I can trust Him to make His plans come to fruition. I get to participate in God’s work in my life and in the lives of those around me, but it is not an independent study, for better or worse it is a group project, for which I suspect God carries more than a little of the weight.

The semester is finally over. There are some things I know I can do better, not out of a sense of striving but from a heart of stewardship. But, I am grateful for all the ways He has carried me to the finish line.

God wants our obedience, not perfection, where He calls He provides more than enough to complete the task, and our failings cannot stop God from accomplishing His purposes.

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And then She Found Her Place

 

parks-and-rec-leslie-work

 

They say hindsight is 20/20. And in hindsight it is clear to me how God wove all of the threads of my passions, talent and education into my dream job, but the process was super messy, uncomfortable and frustrating.

No one tells you that everyone finds their calling in life differently some us take 4 jobs in 7 years and others land just in the right spot straight after college.

I think rather than pursuing careers or agonizing over our callings we should just pursue Jesus. Let’s just run hard in His direction and the other things just have a way of falling into place.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. ~Matthew 6:33

From my own experience the more I chased Him and the clearer my path became. Things were fuzzy and out of focus when my gaze was on building my resume.

I once heard a story as part of a sermon on calling about three masons. The first man was approached by a bystander and asked what he was doing. The mason with a hint of annoyance in his voice replied, ” I am hammering away at this dumb rock, and I can’t wait until I go home.”

The bystander then asked the second mason what he was doing as he was hammering diligently large blocks of granite. The second mason replied” “Well, I’m molding this block of rock so that it can be used with others to construct a wall. It’s not bad work, but I don’t think this is what I really want to do the rest of my life.”

The bystander then asked the third mason who was hammering his block fervently, while taking the time to stand back and admire his work. He looked at the bystander and smiled before proudly proclaiming, “Me? Well, I am building a cathedral!”

God wants us to want Him more than anything because when we are totally focused on Him, not because of what He can give us, but because of who He is, we can be trusted with the master plan.

The master plan is His glory and the building of His church.

God uses humble and surrendered people because He knows that when things pile up at work or we are exhausted or unsure or when we get the promotion or the big stage, we will just point ourselves, our successes right back to Him.

I feel so honored that God has given me a vocation that allows me to use my gifts for His glory and kingdom in my 9-5 sphere of influence, but this job is not the ultimate end, it’s just my part in building the cathedral.

I was featured in the Baptist News Global Magazine in November, to read a copy of the article visit www.baptistnews.com