I've had a favourite mug that by some miracle managed to stay in-tact for 10 years (trust me in our household that just doesn't happen!). I'd been given it at a conference and it had the word dream printed on it - there was something about drinking from it, that in all the highs and lows of my journey in the past decade, reminded me to keep dreaming; to hold tight to the things that God had put in my heart even when life seemed to oppose them.
Earlier this week, my daughter was helping me with the dishes and managed to drop my mug - it instantly shattered. I took a breath - I know it sounds silly, but something in me was disappointed. My mug was more than just a mug to me - using it each day had been an act of faith, a conscious decision that I would keep dreams, keep hope alive in the midst of some dark times. I joked to her that she'd shattered my dreams and we had a laugh as we cleaned it up.
God has had me on a journey this year, not of giving up on dreams, but of allowing Him to reshape and redefine them. As a little girl, I lined my toys up and invited the neighbourhood kids over to play 'church' - passion for this beautiful, messy, complicated family of people that we call 'Church' has always been a part of who I am. And having the opportunity to serve our local Church on staff has been a desire fulfilled. But this year, God has been challenging me, making me restless. He's been speaking to the dreams of my heart and asking me if I trust Him to let them take a different shape in this season.
God has been asking me to step back, to step off the path that I have been on and to let go of how I thought ministry would look for me - pastoring and building the local Church - and to be all in to minister to my family. To be present and available in my home and to write; to pursue expressions of ministry that release me to my family.
A few weeks back, a girlfriend and I sat around my table sharing what we thought God was asking of each of us in this season. For her, God was asking her to trust Him with her kids, with her family as she sows herself into her studies - studies that are incredibly demanding and time-consuming but have so clearly been God-ordained. For me, God was asking me to trust Him with my ministry dreams as I sow myself into my family. What God was saying to us both could not have been more radically different. And this is what I love about our God - we are not designed for cookie-cutter lives and our paths cannot be compared. We like to think in neat, predictable straight lines but God extends to us the exciting (and let's be honest, sometimes scary), invitation to follow where He leads. He asks us to allow Him to set the unique priorities for our life. To trust.
Jennie Allen puts it so beautifully in her book, Anything:
God's priorities are beautiful, and they trickle down into invisible spaces...into neighbourhoods and families and friends and strangers. He will call us to pour our lives into the cracks around us, and sometimes into cracks far from our doorsteps. But wherever He calls us, we pour, not wishing for a larger crack, or a more noticeable one, or even the one we were expecting.
Wherever He calls us, we pour. Wherever He leads us, we follow. No matter how ordinary our yes feels, it is extraordinary with God.
God's whispers to me have gained momentum as the year has gone on and as this month ends, I close one chapter to begin a new one. I have resigned from my role as Associate Pastor to be at home. The decision has not been marked by the grief that I thought it would be - instead I am filled with peace and expectation as to what God will do as I surrender myself to pour into the priorities that He has entrusted to me.
My mug story had a happy ending - when I popped into the office for the last time as a member of staff, there was a new one waiting for me. Our pastors had been at the same conference, and when they heard that mine had broken they went home and cleaned their one up until it shone and gave it to me - it looked SO much better than my old one! My dreams were restored, they joked. In this week of new beginnings, once again it was so much more than a mug - it was a reminder that when we allow God to break us, to reshape us; that when we will lay down our own agendas and surrender to be all in for His, that what He gives back to us is so much more.
What beautiful priorities is God asking you to be all in for at this time? What is He asking you to surrender, to allow Him to reshape in your life and heart? I hope you'll join me in being willing to let go of what you think should be, to be all in for what God says could be.
Live today with purpose,
Last week I shared how life can feel a lot like a jigsaw puzzle with all these pieces that we are trying to figure out where to position. And sometimes it's not just about discerning the where, it can also be about the when - because as Solomon reminds us in Ecclesiastes 3:1
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Now I don't know about you, but I need wisdom to discern my seasons and to know what part of the big 'picture' of my life God is asking me to focus on.
I have a strategy when it comes to jigsaw puzzles - I always start with the edge pieces, because then I have the framework, a reference point for where everything else needs to go. If we want to know where all the 'pieces' of our lives should go, then we need to start by framing our lives with His Word.
Immediately following His baptism, the gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted or tested by the devil. During these forty days of fasting, the devil came to Him with three specific temptations - and to each of them Jesus responded, "The Scriptures say..." Jesus valued the Scriptures. Even in His state of physical hunger (think about it for a moment - He'd just been fasting for 40 days!), He refused to use His power to turn stones into bread, responding:
People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Jesus hungered for and desired to know what God had and was saying. The full counsel of Scripture creates the boundaries for our lives; it is our source of truth and the reference point that our priorities and decisions need to be measured against. Like Jesus, we need to be able to respond, "The Scriptures say..." when life presents us with opportunities, challenges and temptations.
Because Jesus knew and relied on God's Word, it was able to come alive when He needed it to. The verses that He quoted to satan were God's truth, God's counsel and direction for that instance - and as we commit to frame our lives with God's Word, we too will experience the Holy Spirit illuminating and highlighting God's specific Word to us for particular times and seasons.
Can I encourage you, if you find yourself trying to discern where all the different pieces of your life fit, to go first to His Word. Make being in it part of the everyday rhythms of your life and commit to hold the decisions that you are making up against the light of Scripture to see how they measure up. Knowing what the Scriptures say will give you the insight that you need to recognise the various times and seasons of your life.
Live today with purpose,
One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from both myself and guest contributors encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
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