Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Called to Smallness

Last night at our ladies' Bible study we talked about (among other things) finding the true purpose in our lives. It seems to be a very popular subject. There are certainly a lot of books about it. Most of them are very well written, with a positive, uplifting message, obviously designed to make us excited about our lives, our devotion to God, etc. Don't get me wrong, I'm not putting these books down, I think they all have wonderful things to say, some even use scripture to help you to understand. But with the exception of a few, most of the books I've read have focused more on me finding my "true" potential, dreaming larger than life dreams, being called to do great things for God. In my opinion, this could be kind of dangerous. After all, we're not all called to be the next Billy Graham or Beth Moore...are we? I admit, it strokes my ego a bit when I read in a book that the author believes that I am so stinking wonderful that to be called to anything less than ultimate greatness would be an insult to God. And then my imagination takes flight....imagine me and my husband leading a world-famous megachurch, bringing thousands of millions of souls to Christ. And I'm sure that our other ministries, like our Sunday morning TV broadcasts and our bestselling Bible study books would have Satan shaking in fear and trepidation. But maybe, just maybe, I'm not called to anything quite as elaborate as that. Maybe I'm simply called to be a small light in my tiny sphere of influence. Maybe my personal mission field is to be the "neighborhood mom", making my house a center of activity for my kids and their friends. Maybe my main ministry is to run the church nursery so that tired moms can have a break and be refreshed by hearing the Word with the rest of  our church family. Maybe I'm called to homeschool so I can educate my children in Biblical values as well as their core school subjects. Maybe I'm called to be a housewife to help my husband with his responsibilities at work and at home, and to make myself open to ministry opportunities that wouldn't be available to me if I had a career outside of the home. Maybe I'm called to be a career woman that can bring the love and hope of Christ to my workplace. Maybe I'm called to smile at the old man in front of me in the checkout line at Weis because it might be the only human contact he gets that day. It is true, God does call some people to greatness. But isn't it possible that He calls some of us to smallness too? According to the Oxford Essential Dictionary, the definition of small (when it pertains to people) is this: "not great in importance, strength, or power."  That got me thinking. I don't consider myself to be great in importance, strength, or power. I'm a housewife, not a world famous theologian. But my God, the One who has called me to live the life that I do, is. Although my life may be considered to be small in the eyes of the world, it isn't in the eyes of my King and Creator. How could it be, this is the plan He made specifically for me. When I finally figured that out, it blew me away. Everytime I have tried to do my will rather than His, I have been plagued with doubt, fear, anger, anxiety, and all peace fled from me. Now I am content to rest in the Lord and operate within the gifts He has given me, to use for His purposes, not my own. What is that, you ask? :) Well, it seems to me that at this time in my life I am called to homeschool my children until graduation from high school. I am called to serve my family as a full time homemaker, making my family my primary focus and ministry before serving the outside body of Christ. I am called to teach and mentor the youth in my church. I am called to be an encouragement and to minister to all I can, in His name. I am called to do whatever He asks me to, whenever He asks me to do it, trusting Him to equip me with whatever I need to acheive the goals He sets for me. Whether we are called to greatness or smallness, we are called. All callings are important to the cause of Christ, none are unimportant, weak, or powerless. Our personal mission fields may differ, but the outcomes should be the same, bringing as many people to Christ as we can.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How God Used 7 Cows To Speak To Me

OK, you're probably wondering how in the world can God use a cow to speak to someone, much less 7 of them, but I swear to you, it happened just this morning. I have been struggling with my weight as long as I can remember but right now I'm at the heaviest (and unhealthiest) I've ever been in my life. At age 42, I realize that I don't have a lot of years left to get this under control so it's now or never. God has been speaking to me about my food addiction and how it's destroying me. I have used food as a crutch to comfort me and it's a habit I need to conquer. I have used every excuse there is to avoid exercising but the biggest one is the fact that I have a weak leg. Because of this I tend to fall down a lot and I have been afraid to fall, especially with no one else around, because I don't know how I'll get back up again and I'll inevitably be embarrassed. I decided last night to stop hiding and take some action to get this extra weight off of me. My daughter and I planned to go for a walk in our neighborhood early in the morning before breakfast. This is something I have wanted to do for awhile but was afraid to venture out for fear of the neighbors watching me, or falling on the road with no one but my daughter to help me....a thousand excuses, all of them seemed completely logical and understandable, but they were still excuses. As I attended our ladies' Bible study last night, I felt the Lord tugging on my heart, showing me that this was the main area of my life that I had not yet surrendered to Him, which was why it was so difficult for me  to handle. I was never meant to deal with this, or any other problem, on my own. I don't need to put myself through that for any reason. He will always walk through any situation with me, He will never leave my side. As I prayed last night, I gave my complete submission to the Lord, acknowledging that I haven't been following Him the way I had always thought I was. I have been holding back from pursuing Him the way I used to back when I was first saved over 20 years ago. I have felt unworthy and, to be completely honest, angry and resentful for the situations He has allowed in my life. I realize now what my "secret sin" is and I am finally ready to offer it to Him as a sacrifice. So, where do the 7 cows fit into this story? When I finished my prayer last night, I asked God to give me "a bit of fleece" to show me that He was really listening to me and that I was heading in the right direction. Everyone who knows me well knows that I am obsessed with cows. I don't know what it is about them, they just fascinate me and I find them completely adorable. A little bit up the road from my house is a cow pasture. Sometimes the cows are out, sometimes not. I asked God to help me stay motivated in my walk  this morning (both physically & spiritually) by allowing me to catch a glimpse of just one cow. It would be like a secret message from Him to me to let me know that He loved me and approved of the changes I am trying to make. This morning, as my daughter and I went on our walk, I noticed the birds singing, the coolness of the air on my face, and the quietness of the neighborhood at rest. I felt so at peace, feeling the Lord's presence as we walked down the road, and I told God it didn't even matter if there weren't any cows out, I knew He was with me and always would be. As we neared the end of the road, we walked to the pasture and there were 7 cows. There are not enough words to express what I felt in that moment and I know I will remember it for the rest of my life. It will always be a reminder to me that my Lord is a God of abundant love and mercy. He offers us much more than what we ask for and He always gives us exactly what we need exactly when we need it. I know that He will willingly walk with me through every situation in my life. He wants me. He pursues me. But He also desires to be pursued. He wants all of me, nothing held back, even the ugly, sinful parts of me, the broken pieces of my spirit, and He wants to recreate me into something beautiful to be used for His glory. I don't know what He has planned but I'm ready and willing to do whatever it is He asks of me. And the next time I see a cow or an image of a cow, I will always remember the new covenant He made with me this morning.