Growing Up, Part 5

Learning about my spiritual gifts helped a lot, but I wasn’t grown up yet. 1 Peter 4:10 tells us:

Each one of you has received a special grace, so like good stewards responsible for all these different graces from God, put yourselves at the service of others.”

I began to seek out ways to use the talents God had given me. This sometimes meant taking a risk, but as a Christian friend once told me, “if you’re going to try something new, do it at church. If you fail, they’ll still love you!” One of the first things I did after taking the spiritual gifts class was start to write Vacation Bible School programs for our church. That was a big risk, because in addition to the skills I had, it required some of the ones I didn’t — crafts and organization. But you know what? I found other people to help me with those. That’s one of the wonderful things I’ve learned about being part of a church family, there are many people who will encourage you and help you when you step out and try to do the things God calls you to do.

Growing up as a Christian has been one of the greatest adventures of my life. Who would have guessed 40+ years ago that a shy introvert like me could do things like … lead a retreat? start a Bible study group for women? Stand up in front of a group and give a talk?

 “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26b

For more about following God’s calling see:

What’s Your Vocation?

Your Calling

Your Dream. God’s Plan. by Tiffany Smiling — Book Review

Bulls Eye!

I’m part way through a book that I’ll be reviewing later, and I thought I would share one of the exercises with our readers.  The book is called Younique by Will Mancini and is subtitled “Designing the Life that God Dreamed for You.”

 

Part of that process is determining what your “one thing” is.  This “one thing” will give you clarity, focus and lead you to what the author terms your LifeCall –the personal, unique mission God has for you.  It will help you aim for the bulls eye!  The goal of this exercise is to come up with two words that will complete this sentence:

“I exist to honor God and help others by …..”

Now I’ll walk you through the process and give you my answers as an example.

First, what is your signature (or life) Scripture?  It doesn’t have to be one verse, it could be a chapter or story, a parable or Psalm.  What verse/verses would you want preached at your funeral to sum up all that you are?  You may know immediately what yours is, or you may have to pray and think about it for a while.  If you’ve already done some work on your spiritual gifts, passions, abilities etc.  you may want to compare the Scripture you think of to your awareness of yourself.  Here’s mine:

‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:1-2

Then list 4 one or two word answers to each of these statements:

“I am created to honor God and help others by leveraging my ability to:

  1. Learn
  2. Discern
  3. Mentor
  4.  Encourage

with a deep passion for:

  1. Spiritual growth
  2.  Communication
  3.  Teamwork
  4.  Harmony

in the context of

  1.  Small groups
  2.  Fellow pilgrims
  3.  Committed discipleship
  4.  Shared growth

Finally, think, pray and meditate about your answers until you come up with the two words that capture your “one thing.”  Mine is ENCOURAGING PERSEVERANCE.  You can then flesh that out a bit to come up with a brief, personal mission statement:  Encouraging spiritual growth in myself and others.

I found this exercise both interesting and helpful and I would love to hear from other readers or authors who are willing to give it a try.

What’s your one thing?  I’m waiting for answers!

For Such a Time As This

I teach our Women’s Ministry Bible Study at church. We are studying the book of Esther. It has been a great study for us to really dig into. I was surprised at the number of women who had not read it before or knew very little about the story of Esther. We have been going through it, one chapter each time we meet. Last night we were rooted in Chapter 4 and as I was preparing to teach this section, verse 14 stood out to me…

If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. What’s more, who can say but you have been elevated to the palace for such a time as this.

In this one verse it says the word time twice. When things are repeated in succession in the Bible, pay attention. Mordecai is pleading with Esther to make a choice…risk death by Haman’s plot to kill all Jews, or risk death by entering King Xerxes’ chamber, uninvited, to plead with him for deliverance from their annihilation.

No one knew yet that Esther was a Jew herself, except her cousin Mordecai. She had been orphaned, brought to live with him in Susa, a Persian providence, and brought to the King’s palace as a young virgin in the harem when he banished Queen Vashti. Xerxes was to choose a new queen from these virgins. Esther was elevated above them all, and won Xerxes heart and he made her Queen of Persia.

When Esther first learns about the edict to kill all the Jews, she is deeply distressed but I don’t think she quite got the seriousness of it. She sends out clothes for Mordecai to cover himself instead of his public display of mourning, wearing sackcloth (burlap) and ashes. Mordecai refuses and sends her back a message of the exact details of the plot and pleads with her to go King Xerxes and beg for the lives of her people. I believe he did this to explain to her the urgency of this situation. She feels stuck, not knowing what to do, and says “What do you want me to do, risk dying trying to talk to him when he hasn’t summoned me?”  Mordecai becomes irritated and points out to her “you will not escape the same fate, maybe this is why God has elevated you to the position of queen, for this very thing!”  Then comes Esther’s dilemma… die at the hands of the Persian army when they found out she was a Jew, or die trying to enter the King’s inner court, uninvited, to plead for the deliverance of her people. (Read the rest of Chapter 4 to find out what she chooses if you don’t already know!)

I couldn’t help but ponder, which offers the greater risk? On one hand, she dies like all the other Jews under the verdict carried out by the Persian army, and disappoints God by not defending His people. Or on the other hand, she goes before her husband’s throne, risking death because she was both uninvited and exposing that she had not revealed her true identity to him, but pleasing God in the process because she was willing to die for His chosen people.

We see God’s Provision in Esther’s life because of the importance of her position as queen. We are not queens, nor do most of us hold the high position that would pale in comparison to hers. Most of us can’t even fathom the immensity of the fulfillment of this significant destiny that God places on her life. So how can we apply her situation to our lives?

Take this to heart. We are royalty in the most literal sense possible because we are daughters of the King of the Kings, the Lord of Lords. We have royal blood in a way that even Esther did not because the crimson blood of Jesus Christ flows through our veins.

  1. Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (there is a time and place for all things!)
  2. Have you ever had a “for such a time as this” opportunity in your life? If so, how did you use the gifts and talents entrusted to you by God on the behalf of others?

Four Principles we can learn from Esther…

  1. God has a special plan for each of our lives.
  2. Sometimes you have to go against your own common sense, against what other people advise, even against what you want to do, in order to follow God’s plan.
  3. Don’t wait to follow God’s plan for your life. The time is now! At some point you have to gather up the courage to move forward, one step at a time. Otherwise you stay stuck and complacent.
  4. Trusting in God completely and wholeheartedly brings great rewards but it takes radical obedience! Be sold out for God, living to please Him above all else.

 

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

 

Photo courtesy of theadoptshoppe @ etsy.com