When Your Full Name is Used

In our neighborhood, every kid that lived there, all six of us, could tell you what the full name of the only other girl was. This was because she was four years younger than the rest of us, and often getting into trouble with us older kids when she shouldn’t be. Inevitably her mom would yell her full name from the front porch, and we all knew she was in for it. We’d turn to her and say, “Your mom wants you!” Not her brother, not any of us, but her. Still to this day, I can hear her mom clear as a bell yelling her name, and us all laughing out of relief because it wasn’t us getting called back home.

When I look through Isaiah 43-45 I cannot help but think of God calling His people, by their full known name back to Him. Back to Him that loves but disciplines, back to Him because they have turned and gone their own way. He’s calling their name because they alone are known by that name, He has given it to them. They ran from Him though, to be called by something else-servant. They went to be called idol worshiper and rebel. They went after their own things, making their own plans and way, only to realize that the people they’d sought to be a part of were not who they should have believed in, who they should have followed after.

Sound familiar?

Ever hear your name called out by God?

Oh, just me? Okay good. He calls our names, our full known names by Him alone to remind us of whose we are. Who we belong to ultimately and where it is we belong-in Him. Not in idol worship, not as a part of another culture or context. I am His. So clearly in Isaiah we are reminded, just as the Israelites were of this.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.”

He not only tells us at the start of Isaiah 43 that we are His, and He is calling us back by our names, but that we shouldn’t fear Him. We shouldn’t fear in a false and cowering way because He’s redeemed us. He’s gone before us and given Himself for us, but not for the junk we have run after but so that we could be in relationship with Him, living for Him and obediently living out His will.

We are known and we belong to Him. We often forget that until we find Him calling us back home, our full names being used across the heavens. Then we remember Whose we are, what we are made for and how we are to fully live.

Worshiping Today

“I worship at the altar of today’s circumstances, thinking they’re the most important and most pressing of all.”

-Lore Wilbert

I just came upon that quote this week and the magnitude of it struck me pretty deep. You see I think that’s become the norm for our lives, myself included. I cast aside the reminders of faithfulness, obedience and truth for today’s stuff. It may be a home renovation, encounter with a coworker (or your boss) or the lack of evening plans.

Whatever it may be, today’s calendar and the circumstances those don’t often capture become our intent focus. We lay every bit of it at the altar to those, all of ourselves, our emotions, our thoughts and our focus right there in front of today. We have slowly but very easily given up the long-run for the short-sighted of now, right this minute and immediacy.

As believers, we know a different time frame. One that looks at the long run, the marathon, the eternal. Our hearts yearn for it but our culture, our lives rush to be at the feet of today. It leads to doubting God, not taking Him into every circumstance and instead asking Him to rubber stamp our plans, actions and words. We rush to judgement, to pickup lines and to dinner. Instead we are called to be in presence with Him, to fully engage in relationship and conversation, to consultation and discernment, to the holy of each moment.

Y’all, I cannot tell you how I long for the holy of each morning, of time spent breathing in Him, His goodness and truth so that I can then breathe out His love, mercy and grace. The holy of time spent seeking His direction and will rather than my own, time engaging with people rather than ticking them off my to-do/to-meet list, to seeing the heart of the eternal in each and every person I interact with daily, from coworkers to strangers to my roommate.

Just for today. Maybe this weekend or even through the remainder of Lent can we lay down the idol worship of today for the invitation of the eternal into the present? Can we choose to give up the immediacy of our lives for the ever-guiding will of God in each circumstance?

Just for today, y’all.

Calling in the Unknown

What does vision and calling look like? What about the mission of your life?

For years I have wrestled with these questions, thinking about predetermined paths and expectations that were just never voiced. Once you are on a path, you have a logically laid out means of pursuing that path and you STAY.ON.IT.

A couple of years ago that mindset changed for me, first with Jon Acuff’s Do Over, where he said you can have a different path, one where you lived into what you felt drawn to rather than the one you had prepared for. But you gotta do the work, you gotta put in the hustle. (There’s alot more to that book, and I highly encourage you to grab it if this is resonating in the least with you).

The calling I had at 25 has changed, pursuits and interests have pushed me to consider options I had not seen before…and now a decade later I wrestle with letting that calling go and accepting the heart cry of obedience.

But what does that look like? 

Exactly the question I have spent months wrestling with. I need the template, the design and the future all mapped out to what that looks like for me. What it means to live fully into obedience in calling.

The scary thing is that there’s not a template, there’s no simple or easy map to lay out before me. My limited knowledge self wants that, but the obedient child of God knows that I don’t get that. Yes I get resources and tips, I research and prepare, but also know that stepping into an unknown is incredibly scary and racked with doubt. I have given excuses and ultimatums to God about what He’s been pressing in on me about…because I wanted the map all to myself. I want easy and comfortable, immediate affirmation and success.

One would think after 10 years of life lived I would know better than that. None of that comes immediately, or even before you step out into the unknown…and it may never come. So the human self makes the excuse, stays in the comfortable and keeps in line.

So living out a mission, a calling, a vision simply reflects who you are trusting, who you are obedient to, and how you prepare yourself each step of the way. It doesn’t look like the person next to you who is pursuing their dream, nor the person who has the platform you respect and admire. It looks like you…stepping out and pursuing what you feel is your calling now, in the hard and the ugly. In the days you simply just don’t want to and the days you really need to. It means pushing aside excuses and sometimes living in the doubt of it all for a time. It means both no schedule and freedom, and boundaries with a regimented plan.

This newness and shininess has long since worn-off, but the calling? Yep, still there. It’s still burning deep and leaving me hopeful and buoyant in expectation. But not the expectation of anything beyond simple rejoicing of obedience.

There are days ahead where counts and assessments will come, where the need will wane and I will wonder once again if this truly a calling and wonder what it all looks like lived out. Answers may come, but if they don’t I know that fully and completely that it’s not about what I get out of it, but what I give away.

All of it.

Every single bit.

The goodness of a calling, a mission of life is that it’s not to benefit me. and that’s the absolute beauty of it all. It’s never about me, ever.

 

 

Do The Thing.

Tap.

Scroll, Scroll, Scroll.

Tap.

Scroll, Like, (Ugh, why would you put that out there?), Scroll, Scroll. LOVE.

Tap.

I think the majority of you can ascertain what that is describing, as we all seem to tap and scroll, like and judge on our phones these days.

We see people doing amazing things, putting themselves out there and jumping at opportunities. We see people out having fun, pursuing dreams, and everyone seems to be in a happier place than us. Am I right?

Lately for me, I have used social media as a means of procrastination. I have read posts, looked through photos, found streams of hashtags all in the name of research for my writing. But not much writing has been going on. Instead it’s a whole lot of scrolling and a whole lot of unproductivity. It’s lost time and momentum, and instead supplanted a whole lot of self-doubt and questions.

I wouldn’t say I have become jealous or envious of others’ pursuits as several years ago I prayed through that as I saw others advancing and decided to celebrate them over feeling left out or rejected in any way. (I’m mature, I know)

No for me, it’s getting bogged down in the distraction of it all. In the taking a break to clear the mind and finding myself flipping through four forms of social media I have at the ready of my finger tips. Trust me when I say I do love it, it has connected me with people and broadened my perspective on certain things, discovering new ideas and thoughts that I wouldn’t have been challenged to see.

But y’all, it’s my excuse these days. I use it when I should be fighting through writer’s block, when I should be digging into His Word, when I should be sitting in the quiet stillness of life. This isn’t a proclamation of social media fast (you all can stop that at any time because it’s okay to just do it). It’s a call to accountability, that I need to do the thing I am called to do instead of choosing distraction.

you-must-do-the-thing-resized

Distractions are so good, they feed our selves in such ways that bring us delight in the moment, a reprieve from the hard/difficult/uncomfortable/quiet. I am chief of these in pursuing y’all. I even said last night to my friend that I watch entirely too much television, and then commenced to starting the next show on my DVR. Instead of writing. Instead of taking time to dig into Scripture that God has put on my heart. Instead of praying for that friend who came to mind earlier in the day. Instead of cultivating relationships in and around my life.

Maybe you’re like me and seeking out distractions from dealing with life, a call that has gotten to be difficult, loneliness in the midst of a season of quiet, expectations unmet or unrealized…a place where God isn’t providing how you expected or how you defined. It’s gotten hard or quiet and you just want to be distracted by the noise of the world-good intentioned, but still distracting.

For me, I have to do the thing. Not what my flesh desires but what I know deep within, obedience. Obedience to the thing that is greater than what I desire in social media, television, inherently good things…to the Lord in this moment, just now…for today. It’s not easy, nor will I get it right 100% of the time, but for just this moment when I’d rather reach for my phone or remote, I go empty-handed to Him. To His call. To His Word. To time spent with Him.

My Extreme and His Opportunity

Earlier this week I shared a bit on the reality of a single. Most of what I shared was from a vulnerable place, but a real place nonetheless. It is one that I find I am not alone in feeling, as conversations have sparked with numerous friends after that post (and even before).

Over lunch yesterday I was talking with someone that I didn’t know a year ago. I had never met her, nor heard her story, and there we sat in the cafe at work discussing her family and mine. Our work life and our home life. I couldn’t help but put our lives down on paper in my mind at how different they are, with our commonality of pursuing God’s purpose for us and our lives.

The reality of both of our lives and the stories we are living out is that God meets us in them, in the hard and painful and in the joyful and contented. While my pain of singleness can often be hard to bear out, so can marriage and raising children. I can honor that and know that perfection and 100% satisfaction will not be seen this side of heaven. But it also shot through to me that in my extremes of life-job loss, singleness, illness, anxiety-God’s very present.

“My extremity may be God’s opportunity.”

-A.B. Simpson, Seeing the Invisible

When I am in extreme times of life, what if I considered those opportunities for God? In my agitation of extremity am I harming myself? others? my relationship with God? It’s difficult to see the opportunity when you have just lost your job, when that relationship has just ended. You can’t quite slap on the “glass half full” mentality.

But I want to see it as His opportunity in my life. I want to believe and hold fast that His miracle is at hand in my life. I desire that He shows up big and loud, and that it doesn’t have anything to do with me. I want that.

But I don’t ask for it. I don’t seek it out. I don’t allow Him the space in me, in my extremity to work. I get my hands and I mash up the clay He’s been forming, trying to make it into a jar to contain my life when He’s crafting a bowl to receive His goodness in. I don’t stop to see the opportunity for His work, but my chance at control.

I don’t live in the silence of opportunity, of His work, of the wait.

But I will. I must. I have to choose the cost of His opportunity in my life over the return of self, investing in His economy and not my own. Seeing the maturation of promises He gives rather than the immediacy of my will.

So I stand in an extreme, not wanting to be in the throws of my own will but in looking on it as God’s opportunity. Believing He is rather than what I think I am. Choosing His opportunity over my extreme self.

Fear, Webs and Moses

Never let fear keep you from pursuing hard after a God promise, a calling to your heart by God.

Y’all I say those words. I roll them over in my head and my heart. And then I find any excuse not to pursue a calling.

I meddle in distractions, search out ways to run, and call it “good for me in the moment.” I wonder out and climb down, I hide behind a camera lens and even a blank screen just to not live out what God is pushing me wholeheartedly into, simply out of fear.

IMG_4702.JPG

It’s the whispers of a failed friendship after seven years, the residue of single life, the doubt of comparison and screams of “it’s already been done, better.” Fear can grip us in the dead of night or the middle of the day. It can creep in or shout at us. It catches us in a web that sprung up overnight, unawares. It cocoons us, as we lay silent, dormant, giving over who we are to fear.

I let it. I choose it. I camp out in pajamas, full of stubbornness and turn to someone else’s writing to say “I’m not enough,” in a vapid attempt to shirk off this responsibility. I point to my voice, my experiences, my history and my present to say “Someone else please” to God. Just like with Moses, He says “No, it’s you I am seeking for this.”

Funny how I have been here before, but I don’t mark this place. I don’t set out a memoriam to the war I have with fear and with God. I don’t want to remember the removal of shoes because the holy ground He meets me at, finding me in the fear and pulling it all away. Instead I point to past stories, of my inadequacies…all excuses. He listens with such patience, only to say once more “You are who I have called for such a time as this, for such a journey.” It wells up inside of me, until fear is no longer present. It’s not marked by my story, but His. It’s not reminding me of who I am, but Who He is. It’s not about where I find myself now, but where He has already been.

So fear greets me, but God envelops me. He says no more to the excuses, no more to the disobedient heart, and no more to the distraction of life. He says “You are designed for this” and in my weakness, He is my strength. To open my heart, to speak words He gives and to be what He has called me to be.

Obedient.

For Such a Time as This

There’s something to be said for Nike’s slogan of “Just Do It.”

The last few days I have pondered career path and steps. It’s been almost a year since I changed job streams and I have to consider what that has taught me, brought me, and fought within me. If someone tells you it’s easy changing your entire path of career, they are lying to you. It is hard. Change is difficult and we all know that, but when you’ve pursued something and poured your life into something for a decade and then leave it? Yeah, it’s like a marriage ending (or what I would think is a marriage, I’m single after all).

Through it, as I have referenced through many posts over this last year, I have found what I do does not define who I am. I let it for ten years of my life. Actually probably more like ten and 10 months. 🙂 (Work in progress y’all). I discovered through the course of that decade a calling to ministry far beyond what I could have ever dreamt up back in college on my own. It has to be a God thing, and it has to be His work and not mine.

But y’all, I have a confession here. It’s my safe space among a supportive and nurturing community (and a couple of friends who call me on my junk). I have been running from the call. I have been excusing, distracted, and down-right defiant about it. I do well at stubborn, ask my momma about that. Instead of allowing growth in me, choosing to hustle on this call of obedience I slid into comfort and coveting. I’d look at what others were doing and wonder why I wasn’t there, or getting that opportunity.

Jealousy and coveting are not good looks on anyone, and especially on my heart. Yuck.

As I was talking with a friend recently about some major shifts in his ministry, I kept spurring him on, wishing he’d see from this side of the view that God has given him this for such a time as this in his life. I poured words of affirmation and encouragement into him, seeing first hand the work God is doing through him in the ministry He’s placed him in now. The heaviness I saw in my friend just under a year ago has changed, and maybe that’s all a show, but it’s difficult in our friendship to hide that kind of weight.

I thought more and more on the conversations we had exchanged the last few months, and the recent revelation of a potential new shift in his ministry and I rejoiced. He was made for this, after years of work and toil this is where God had brought him. That’s when I turned that perspective on myself. Reminding myself that I too had a call to ministry. One that gets rough, hard and doesn’t look like much to those around me. But it’s there.

Actually it’s here. Now. It’s for such a time as this. So instead of allowing the beaten down attitude, the comfort of stagnation and the excuses of distraction to continue, we push on. We take hold of the promise of the prize before us, and we continue to run. We run not in our power but His, knowing this calling isn’t one of our strength but of His might.

So we just do it. For such a time as this.