The past few mornings, I’ve been going out for walks. I’m a huge morning person and with the hot weather, mornings are just so lovely. I also have the privilege of living in a lake-front city so it’s a 10 minute drive to beautiful parks and walkways along the lake’s edge. Typically I get up early and head for my chair, my bible and my journal. I love studying God’s word but lately, I’ve felt an invitation to experience God in a different way. More with my heart and less with my head. So, I plug in praise music, walk for a little bit and then sit on a dock and just bask in God’s glory. I pray. I praise. I cry. I allow the Holy Spirit to reach into dark places where I’ve held myself underground for too long.
Since hearing God ask me to let Him hold my dream of moving to New York for a little bit longer, I’ve been feeling a little lost. When you let go of one dream, you either scramble to fill your hands with something else or you stand there, hands at your side feeling a little dumbfounded. I was the latter, feeling a bit like a failure. Actually, feeling ALOT like a failure. Why would God ask for this dream back unless He knew I wasn’t ready and what’s wrong with me that I’m not ready. I follow God as well as I am able, is this a punishment?
As I’ve been processing my life and journey with God over the past several days, searching for my failure. Where did I go wrong so that God felt like I wasn’t able to handle the dream He’s given me? Where was my mistake? I must have done, or not done, something really important and I have some type of penance to pay. It’s amazing how the negative words spoken over us in our past plant little seeds that sprout up when we least expect them to and we get a bit sucked into lies. Or at least that happens to me. I can recite all of the good things said about me and discount each and every one because I give more power to the negative. Even when the negative is a flat out lie, I still weight it too heavily. I know I’m not alone in this dilemma of self worth.
This morning, I was praying and asking God for just a glimpse of His plan so that I could know I wasn’t to blame for the present situation. My God…My God…boy did He show up!! Within seconds as I stared out over the water, I could see the timeline of the past several years and how God has commissioned me to love people who are hurting and neglected and I didn’t see it at the time. This present situation isn’t punishment, it’s calling. It’s holy. It’s sacred. Most of all, it’s His plan for me! So let me show you what God showed me.
* 2014 God invited me to take a huge leap of faith and leave a very successful and well payed corporate job for nothing. No new job, just life and ministry. If I hadn’t followed this invitation, I wouldn’t have found my call as a pastor and shepherd of people who feel marginalized by society.
* 2015 God invited me deeper into ministry with and for the homeless community around my home. From sitting on the Board of a tent city to handing out thousands of cans of tuna fish on the streets of Seattle, I fell completely in love with people who are “the least of these”. If hadn’t done this ministry, I wouldn’t have fully accepted my calling to love people.
*2016 God invited me to set the homeless ministry aside for a little bit and go back to a corporate job. Much less pay and much less influence. More dependence on God and more focus on building relationships. Through my time in that job, a little over 2 years, I got to walk with people who lost parents and spouses and needed permission to grieve; people who struggled to feel valued in life and needed someone to say “I see you, tell me your dreams; people who struggled with anxiety and addiction and needed to know they are not alone. It wasn’t just a job, it was a daily ministry and I fell in love with the people who worked for me. If I hadn’t taken this job, I wouldn’t have gotten hands on practice pastoring people.
*2017 God invited me to apply for a ministry training program in New York City. Through this application process, God broke chains of fear. Fear of my past. Fear of elevators. Fear of flying. Fear of not being good enough. He also spoke a promise over me that there is a day coming when all of the decades of loving NYC will mean I live there and love those people. If I hadn’t applied for this training, I wouldn’t have known how much I love NYC and I would still live in fear. God broke more chains during this process than I can type out.
And now, now God is inviting me to go back to the people I love and minister to them with greater strength in Christ. Greater faith in my Redeemer. Greater love for all people. Greater desire to lead and love. At this point, I have a contract job that pays less than we need and affords me the ability to work from home. It’s only for a few more weeks and I don’t know what comes next. And, based on all that God is showing me, all I need to know is that God will make a way when I choose to accept His invitation to life and freedom.
My life’s call is Isaiah 61:1-3: brining good news to the poor, binding up the broken-hearted, proclaiming freedom to all who feel captive, comfort the mourning and declare through all of it that the Lord is good and lovely. All I want to do is follow God well, just follow Jesus. It’s a glorious adventure and I have people to love for heaven.
If you feel off track, pray. You may find you are exactly ON track and you just couldn’t see it.