Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I receive

About four years ago my husband surprised me by registering me for a speaking and writing conference in Atlanta. To say I was excited would be an understatement.

I was in the middle of a season of intense questioning and seeking the Lord, particularly in terms of my calling and mission in life. I had been praying and claiming God's promise in Ps. 138:8, "The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me," as well as Ps. 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" and Jer. 29:11, "'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.'"

Hope and a future, that was what I was after. Purpose, significance, calling, ministry, these were the desires of my heart and I fully expected this conference to bring all this to me, and more. God was throwing open a door for me, and I was going to walk through it in eager expectation with my head held high.

As I prepared for the trip, I prayed with all sincerity, "Lord, whatever You have for me, I receive it." I secretly hoped that whatever He had for me included an offer from a publisher or maybe a national speaking platform, although I had done little speaking and no writing fit for submission for publication. A girl could hope, I suppose.

The night before I was to leave for the conference, my bags were packed and ready with three days' worth of business casual clothes, all borrowed from my sister, professional woman and fashionista of the trendiest sort. I had directions to the hotel, a full tank of gas, a Bible and notebook, as well as a healthy dose of anticipation mixed with fear and insecurity.

That same night we received news that my grandmother had departed this world for the next. Naturally I cancelled my trip to the conference and headed home.

I had told the Lord that whatever He had for me, I would receive it. And I did. There was no place I would have rather been than there with my family in our grief. I stood with my mother as we mourned together the loss of hers. I honored my grandmother's memory and I missed her. Terribly.

We never made plans for me to attend another conference. You might think I would have been bitter or at the very least disappointed. And I guess there was some small part of me that was, at least for a time, but whatever God asked, whatever came to me, I had pledged to receive; and "whatever" meant just that, happy or heartbreaking.

I can now say I'm glad I didn't go. Really. In that frustrating, consuming quest for identity and signficance, I had prayed for God to fulfill His purpose for me, but what I really wanted was ministry, big ministry, glamorous ministry, easy ministry.

Not only that, but in my desire to discover my destiny of doing Big Things for God, I began to despise and even resent the seemingly little things my life then (and now) comprised. As a stay at home mom, I was doing "ministry," no two ways about it. I knew being a wife and a mom was a high and holy calling, yet it seemed so insignificant and, well, unimportant.

My motives were for the most part pure; I honestly did (and do) want to encourage women to know God's Word. But the problem came when I began to serve my (perceived) calling over serving the God who had called.

In the years since my cancelled trip to fame and fortune, I've become comfortable in my own skin. I'm now grateful rather than resentful of my ordinary life. I've found a place here in the great world wide web where I can seek to encourage others with my words. I study the Word of God around a table with a group of women that I love and esteem and respect. I see the privilege and responsibility of the impossible task of being a mom to four sons.

And what bigger ministry could He give me than to raise a generation of Godly men!

My God has taught me the value of living this day for His glory and the folly of wasting today as I pine for tomorrow.

That is not to say I would not welcome opportunity to learn of the craft and business of writing. I would. I do. I still dream of writing, like for real, and would love to hone what few skills I have, to become more effective as a writer and teacher. I want to fan into flame the gift within me, but more than that, I want to offer it all to Him to use for His purposes, however He leads, seeking Him and His glory over and above any calling He may place on my life.

Wherever He leads, I'll go. Whether off to the wild blue yonder of the world of book proposals and magazine submissions--or not!--I say Yes. My God has a plan and a purpose for me and it is not found in my calling nor my profession. It is found in Him, seeking Him, knowing Him, obeying Him, following Him. Today.

Wherever He leads, whatever He asks, whatever He has for me, my answer is Yes. I receive it.

*******************

P.S. I wrote this post last week as an entry to Lysa's contest to win a scholarship to "She Speaks," a writing and speaking conference offered by Proverbs 31 Ministries (not the conference mentioned in this post). In the course of preparing my post, I realized we had a conflict with the dates of the conference. I was totally bummed, that is until I realized the conviction of the Spirit reminding me: if I say I receive, then receive it already!

So I do. No "She Speaks" conference for me.

And I'm totally okay with that. God's will is always--ALWAYS--far better than my own.

13 comments:

  1. Lisa, that is precious. I know God is smiling with your complete surrender to Him. Those are very true - and convicting - words: we must be committed to Him, not to our "calling."

    Please know that you are touching hearts and changing lives through the words you write on your blog.

    And I know there are 4 young fellas who are blessed with a mom that desires God's very best for them!!

    Love, Linda

    ReplyDelete
  2. As the mother of a young daughter, I thank you for raising up Godly men!

    Secondly...your story is so identical to mine that it's a little scary. How have you gotten into my brain & heart?! The whole ministry thing is something that's been a HUGE, GI-NORMOUS struggle for me. As soon as I think I've gotten my desires in check & am submitting to God, it rears its ugly head again.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love this post. So many women struggle this, I think. I have often heard from God that my mission field is here with my four sons, home schooling them, discipling them, and my husband- taking care of the house etc... I struggle with even the smaller lesser parts of service within the church as I am so strecthed right now with my family obligations. Your words echoed my heart and I am sure so many other women. Beautiful post. You are already serving in your writing! Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've been thinking and praying a lot lately about "the ministry of the mundane."

    Jesus said his kingdom is upside down. Even He, God-in-the-flesh, came to serve, not be be served. I long to shed my "Messiah complex" and faithfully serve my family in the little things, day-in and day-out, because this is where God has me now.

    Great post, Lisa. Thanks for spurring me on in this thought process. May God continue to give you a receiving spirit.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Kelly: "the ministry of the mundane"--yes! You said in five words what took me like three posts and much-more-than-five words to say!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Beautifuly written. I think something in all of us longs to be something "greater". It just takes us a while to finally see that we already are.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Girl, you're in my head again! I was most convicted in the real time that this bedrest state I'm in will cost me a retreat weekend that I've waited four years to attend. As I'm receiving in faith on an hourly basis that God's purpose has not been thwarted, I've been mercifully impressed with all the large and small ways He continues to bless me. Your post is just another of those today.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Lisa,
    God knows your desires intimately and I know His plans for you are far greater than you can ask or imagine.

    You are a beautiful Godly example to me and I am sure to so many others. You are humble, honest, and have an incredible gift to write.

    I too have asked the Lord similar questions but also know that every door that hasn't opened in my life is part of His plan.

    This was a beautiful heart-felt post. Your husband and sons are blessed to have such a beautiful Godly wife and mother.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sorry, I had some typos in my previous post that I deleted....

    Ok, this is too freaky! I was just going back and forth with respect to this very topic today with some friends. I think that I will write about it. Basically, I think that God has taken the desire for me to become a lawyer out of my heart (when I didn't get accepted into law school a couple of yrs ago, I pryaed to God that if this wasn't His path for me, then to take it out of my heart). Slowly, but surely, I think, He has replaced that desire in my heart with, perhaps, I think, a desire for ministry. What type of ministry, I don't know; who knows, even though I have a desire for ministry, maybe it isn't ministry He's calling me to.

    I am going to pray to God for guidance, assess whether I am qualified for ministry, and if so what type of ministry/what type of position and seek some Godly counsel. But it is ultimately, as you wrote, Him that He is calling us to, Him that He is requiring that we submit to and be obedient to. Thank you so much for this post, for sharing your perspective.
    You are truly a blessing!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. oh Lisa! I STRUGGLED with this for so long! I wrote about it in my post entitled "what's next" on my devotions blog!

    The way I see it now is this: whatever I may do for God's glory in the future - he is preparing me for it NOW. I just need to stay close to him, gain Biblical wisdom, pay attention to the lessons in the "mundane" and learn from my experiences (both good and bad). Someday, in His time, I will be AMAZED when he takes all of this seemingly unrelated "stuff" and creates something I could NEVER imagined for myself.

    p.s. I posted my answers to the meme you tagged me with. And TAG back! There's a short little book meme I posted immediately afterward. They're both on Compendium.

    ReplyDelete
  12. He so has hold of your heart! And because He does, you can rest assured that His plans for you will be greatly fulfilled!

    I don't have such a dramatic story to tell. But I to have traveled the see-saw of desire for the next. I am so interested in the now right now though, that it is easy (as it seems to be for you) to trust Him for the Next!

    Raising Godly men & being a help meet for a wonderful husband is a sweet ministry, and He teaches us so much through it!

    As I have explored relationships n the Blogs, I have found many of us, raising families, studying God's Word, and sharing our discoveries with on another. What a gift for the Now!

    Gotta run, I will be back!

    God bless!
    Maria

    ReplyDelete
  13. Lisa,
    God knows your desires intimately and I know His plans for you are far greater than you can ask or imagine.

    You are a beautiful Godly example to me and I am sure to so many others. You are humble, honest, and have an incredible gift to write.

    I too have asked the Lord similar questions but also know that every door that hasn't opened in my life is part of His plan.

    This was a beautiful heart-felt post. Your husband and sons are blessed to have such a beautiful Godly wife and mother.

    ReplyDelete