Thursday, June 17, 2010

Submitting to His Plan & Holding Our Plans Loosly

The last time I wrote, I was done packing up my room and full of anticipation for all that the summer would hold.... spending sunny days at the pool, experimenting with foods in the kitchen, and spending more time with friends. Sitting there waiting, I also was quite anxious.

Anxious, because I had an interview that afternoon with our head pastor for a position that I was really excited about. An interview? Wait! You just got done with your first year of teaching! Yes... an interview!

A couple of weeks earlier my dear friend, Jill Paullus, made known to me that the position of Salt Company Coordinator (the college ministry of our home church, Cornerstone) was now open and as a long shot she suggested that I at least think about the job. And I emphasize that in our minds it was A LONG SHOT! Questions like the followng began to arise...Well, we're most likely going overseas in a year, would that work? Would it work since my husband works in the same building but with 180 (junior highers)? Would I be able to keep my teaching license? Would our head pastor even consider it? All of these questions flooded through my mind.

On the other side of all of the questions was pure excitement! When I was a junior in college and only dating Joel, Jill approached me about working for Salt Company when I was done with college. I was immensely excited about this idea! I really wanted to. I honestly wasn't going to college to be a teacher anyways, I wanted to go to grad school for counseling. But upon getting engaged and married to Joel, we didn't think that us working in two different realms of ministry would work and so the idea slid off the table. I thought I would just let the dream die, even though the desire remained. I love my husband and in all honesty, his growth in his job and ministry was and is always going to be my main priority. I, most likely, will not always work if the Lord blesses us with children.

That to say, I went home and talked to Joel about the idea to see what he thought. He said it might be a long shot because of all of the questions I had already raised, but we could go forward with the idea. We talked on and off with Troy and set up an interview. During this time of waiting I really struggled with not REALLY wanting this job v. my current job. My heart was already there... I wanted it. I saw how wrong I was by thinking these thoughts. I could not let my heart get connected to and be deceived by something that may not be God's will. It took a few tears, but I got there.

Joel and I prayed through our desires and that most of all we would abide in him and that we would submit to His will no matter what it was. We are currently reading a book titled Radical, by David Platt. This helped remind me that we are in God's hand and to trust his sovereignty... and that ultimately he knows what is best and that I should trust in Him.

We finally came to a place where within 48 hours our lives where God would make very clear His plan for us. At the beginning of the 48 hours our friends that were thinking about going overseas with us told us that because of recent trials and just different desires/leadings by God they were putting off the idea. Since we see the benefit of going with people we've been in community with here, we decided this might delay us or else we'd go alone.

Twenty-four hours later we got to have our "interview" with the head pastor. In short, he told me that I would be awesome at the job, but that we should go overseas and consider doing so by ourselves if need be. Why? Because we couldn't give a 2 year commitment to the job (that was a requirement and we thought we'd be going overseas before that) and that going overseas was our main desire. He also told us that we are gifted to do really well in an overseas context and that this coordinator job should not thwart our passion to go. We agreed. We came home and had a huge talk about life. Though my mind agreed, it was still hard. We made a pros and cons list (the geek in me comes out) of going overseas in the next year and staying for two years. Even so, there was not a clear picture, so we got on our knees and prayed for His help and discernment.

The next morning Joel met with two other awesome pastors from our church. They reminded Joel that we were not the kind of people just to "lose" our passion for the nations and that 2 more years of full time ministry training for the both of us would be very beneficial to going overseas. Joel called me and told me this. He agreed with them. What? Was I really hearing this? I was ready to not say anything else and submit because I love Jesus and I want to follow my husband.

I was really excited.... like REALLY, REALLY excited! So, with that, he went and told our head pastor our new thoughts. At 4pm that afternoon we had an interview with the IMB (International Mission Board, organization that we'd apply through to go overseas), which we actually thought about canceling because of all of the chaos. We went through with it and were very encouraged! They told us that with the process as it is now and selling a house we most likely wouldn't get overseas in less that two years. Wow God... Wow! What are you trying to tell us? Please give us wisdom!

We left a couple of days later for my brothers graduation party. I had little time to think about any of this as we helped serve our family. We had a lot of peace because I knew that God knew our desires and that ultimately He would do what was best for us, which could mean anything. We decided that no matter what happened we would hold life with an open hand and not a clenched fist (oh, so hard)!

We celebrated my birthday on June 8th and had a great time enjoying God's provision. The next day I was getting the oil in our car changed and our head pastor called. He asked me if I'd like to put fewer miles on my car next year (I drove 50 miles both ways last year) by being a part of the Salt Company staff as the Coordinator?! I was elated!

The next day I resigned from my teaching job and picked up my belongings a few days later. It was really hard telling some students and staff that I wouldn't be returning. They had made such an impression on me and I had learned so much.

Joel and I are REALLY excited to see what God has in store. We want to be more giving of our lives, time, and possessions to His kingdom very directly! We do desire to live an uncomfortable life for the gospel. We do want Jesus to be made known! We want to be radical... even if it is hard! We praise the Lord for his faithfulness not just because we happened to seemingly "get what we wanted" but that His hand is and was so evident in our lives. Praise be to Him!

I will start my position officially on July 1st! =) Summer will no longer hold what I had imagined, but I am excited for what He has in store!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spiritual Gifts & Love

The bible talks about spiritual gifts. Sometimes people ask me, "Well, what are your spiritual gifts?" and I honestly reply with... "Well, I haven't honestly looked into it a ton. I've always been bent on the fact that God has the power and he will do with and through me what He wishes whether that is helping the poor, doing something administrative, or speaking truth and sharing the gospel with someone. I never want to have the thought... Oh well, I can't do that because it is not my spiritual gift or it is not in my personality to do ____________."

Jesus also says in John 14:12 that he will use us to do even greater things than He did for his glory and most likely this will be through the giftings He's specifically given us to work together. I don't say this with a "Look at me, I'm better than Jesus" attitude (talk about ugly) by any means, but I want to believe it and obey it. So where does the proverbial line fall between knowing your gifts and not being partial to using only them and not being willing to be led outside of your comfort zone?

I think that 1 Cor. 13 says it best: that without love we cannot really use the gifts God's given us for His glory... we are nothing without love.

1 Cor. 13:1-8 "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

With all of that said, I've looked into resources for figuring out what God has really gifted me with. I would say this has been a process of learning about how God has created me, not a one time test. This is one of the best resources I have found about spiritual gifts: