The next post in this series takes a shot at answering this question:
Passion – how important is it to find yours?
If you missed the previous posts in this series, you can catch up here and here.
Passion is a fascinating concept to me. I love thinking about the various ways God has uniquely built our personalities, interests, histories, abilities, talents, and bestowed spiritual gifts – all for his glory. It’s a fun subject to me. During college and in my early twenties, I took more than a few assessments (related to both temperament and spiritual gifts) and participated in trainings and classes all designed to help me discern where I’m most fitted for ministry. In some ways, I found them helpful, but mostly I’ve since developed a caution in my approach to these discussions. Through experience, I learned that it is easy to place too much emphasis on the discovery process and find myself tripped up and missing Christ.
In my last post about learning to serve others out of pure love instead of a legalistic drive or need to impress, I mentioned some questions from a panel discussion called “Stepping into God’s Game Plan” and today I’ll address the first one –
Choice Overload – with so many great opportunities to be involved, how does a woman choose where to invest herself?
My desire is to grow in celebrating what Christ has done for me. I hope that over time, I will find my heart increasingly captivated by the gospel – learning more of God’s amazing love for unworthy me – and that I would so long to show others that same grace. I want to be driven by nothing more than genuine love for others stemming from his gracious love to me, yet I admit, I struggle to set my mind on grace. I know it will be a lifelong journey. Before I think about any “steps” that may be involved in deciding where to invest, I need to remember the big picture and ask myself: Am I growing in gospel-celebration? If not, what’s the point of my ministry investments?? Continue reading
Scriptures like these have begun to change the way I think about serving:
…Because I have heard of your faith in The Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you…(Ephesians 1:15-16)
We always thank God….since we heard of your faith in Christ and of the love that you have for all the saints. (Colossians 1:3-4)
I added the emphasis on “and” in both passages because that’s what stands out to me now, and these are the Scriptures that help explain to me part of what James meant by his teaching on faith and works:
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2)
James and Paul both made clear distinctions between God’s salvation of my soul through faith in Christ (something vertical) and my response of love for others (something horizontal). They are absolutely connected, but they do have aspects that are separate from each other. One has everything to do with my relationship with God made possible by Jesus’ work on the cross – a total grace gift, received through faith; the other has to do with an urge to share that love and grace with others and is NOT about me trying to repay him or earn the grace I’ve been given. The first is about what Jesus has done; the second is what I do for others in light of what Jesus has done for me.
The problem is that for most of my life, I’ve viewed service to others more as a statement I’m making to God. Almost like I’m making payments toward what he already purchased for me. Continue reading
There was a very special grace needed when we took the first steps to be foster parents. Nearly two and a half years later, knowing what we know now about the system, we’re in great need of grace again as we take a step back from that role and consider other ways we can help the families connected to foster care. This redirection of our plans has come as a surprise to us, but we are trusting that God has interrupted the plans for a good reason. We trust, but our feelings are peppered with sadness too. I had no idea it would be as hard and require as much faith to leave this role as it was to first step into it.
It’s hard to be a foster parent, but it’s a hard we wanted.
I think of my friend Heather who adopted a sibling group of three this summer. Being in that courtroom when the judge officially placed these children into their forever family brought such a deep joy. Adoptions are my favorite kind of worship service. This one was particularly meaningful to me. Continue reading
Last spring as I was working my way through Habakkuk for the first time, something a pastor said about grief really caught my attention and made me think about it in a whole new light.
It was Tullian Tchividjian whose words spoke powerfully, “Grief is an expression of worship.”
What he meant and went on to describe was that every feeling we have when we grieve is a declaration that this world is not our home, that something more exists and our hearts recognize and long for that. The mere feeling of grief is a way to worship God, testifying to his great plan for more, for true life. I hadn’t thought of that. I always thought of worship, if it came, as something that happens in spite of grief. But there’s an element of worship right there in my grief.
So what are we to do with that?
A little over a year ago, I experienced something that devastated my sense of God’s love for a little while. At ten weeks into a joyful surprise pregnancy, I lost the baby my heart (still) aches for. It was my second miscarriage, but this one was different. From both losses surged grief deeper than I ever thought possible for this type of death, but the more recent one messed with my heart in ways I’d never experienced before. Maybe it was because I hadn’t planned the pregnancy in the first place – God just made it happen, not at all in accordance with our plans, and planted a new joy of expectation in our family; maybe it had to do with the roller coaster experience earlier in the pregnancy of believing I had lost the baby to discovering the miraculous reality that I had not and then having that happiness torn away two weeks later when the miscarriage abruptly happened. All of those things led me to one thought toward God: “How could you be so mean to me?” Continue reading
I spent four weeks this summer with a group of wonderful women studying the book of Habakkuk, and leading this study was a huge joy. Habakkuk is one of those books that no one studies ever. At least not most people I know! If you’ve ever glanced at this short, three-chapter book of prophecy found in the Old Testament, your first assessment might be that it reads completely depressing. I don’t think you’d be wrong in assuming that it is a difficult text to work through, full of topics heavy to the heart and issues that aren’t the most fun to explore. (It’s all about suffering, in case you didn’t know.) But, I LOVE this book. Absolutely love it! My Bible study friends who journeyed to the end all agreed – when deeply dug into, this book mines treasures of hope and is filled with good news. Ploughing through the difficult, dark, and depressing was worth it because we saw God sow seeds of joy in our hearts that we didn’t expect. Continue reading