My latest podcast might be my favorite! It’s on God’s guarding presence of hope. Enjoy!
Lately I’ve been thinking about what it means to lead people, and the concept strikes me that leaders obviously know where they are going and wish to take others along with them. I think some of us shrink back from leadership because we think leaders are loud, bossy, controversial, clever, the most intelligent, the most heard on social media, and the ones able to tear down others with their ideas. They are the ones reacting. I find myself never wanting to enter the battle like this, and I think, “Well, I guess I’m not a leader.”
You might feel the same thing. You feel yourself shrinking back just at the moment you might step into the light and beckon others down the path you’re forging. What qualifies you? Maybe it’s just this simple: God has shown you where to take people next. And He’s opening doors for you to lead; perhaps others have identified you as a leader.
(It’s also OK to admit you aren’t a leader. Not everyone is or should be.)
But if you are, I pray you step into your role with confidence today.
This morning I reflected with a friend about the last few years. Because a milestone approaches in her life, it’s the perfect time to reflect.
Here are my top 10 questions to let you pause and reflect before embarking on the new adventure. Maybe it’s a graduation, a project completed, marriage, a baby coming, a new job, or a change of location.
- How has God worked in your life? What has He matured and healed? Who are you now?
- What disappointments and rejections can you see now as God’s protection?
- What were the highlights? What were the lowlights?
- What passions and convictions has God affirmed or built?
- Based on what you’ve learned the last five years, where can you help most of all in the world?
- What Bible verses came alive most these last few years?
- What do you feel most proud of?
- What wisdom would you share with someone just starting out on a similar path?
- Who aided you on your journey that you wish to thank?
- What expertise have you now built?
Enjoy your personal reflection or use these to help a friend reflect!
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the Spirit of adoption as described in Romans 8 below:
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
More and more, I’m praying that we understand the Spirit has brought about our adoption. We have a perfect Father and a place in the family of God. Everything we need, we have. Instead, we live in fear and slavery to everything someone might experience who never had a loving family. We might struggle with loneliness, shame, jealousy, despair, unworthiness, or a sense of emptiness. We might soothe our hurt with addiction or behaviors that never heal the need to belong and live under the blessing of our Abba, Father. Even as Christians, we forget. We fall victim to fear and slavery and must stand in the truth of our adoption.
I love time lapse videos. They reveal imperceptible changes. I love how, in my own environment, flowers open, grass grows, and children transform. Even I’m changing in imperceptible ways. We are growing. We are. I like to remember this when I think that nothing’s happening.
I look over at the water lily in a cup of water. Each night, she closes tightly (how? when?). I try to catch her in the act, but the imperceptible changes make it impossible. I look over, and she’s inched her way closed. In the morning, she opens so slowly I cannot ever see it happening. But it is happening. I know it when I see the final product of that open bloom.
As I catch up on some of my devotional reading today, I find myself once again so encouraged by Hannah Whitall Smith. She writes three things that strengthen my heart and I pray yours as well:
#1: God will manage everything concerning us. “Trusting, therefore, simply means that when we have yielded, or given, ourselves to the Lord, we then have perfect confidence that He will manage us and everything concerning us exactly right, and we consequently leave the whole care and managing in His hands.”
#2. If I knew what God knew, I would choose what He has chosen for me. “The deliverance may not always come in your own way, but it will surely come in God’s way; and God’s way is always the best way, the way we ourselves would choose if we knew all that He knows.”
#3. God can make even evil carry a blessing for us. “All things serve God. . . While the Lord does not inaugurate the evil, when that evil is directed against His children, He makes it His ‘servant’ to carry them a blessing. All things are yours not to trouble you and not you harm but to bless you and do you good.”
I’ve sprouted an apricot seed that’s now planted in a pot with soil.
I’m waiting, waiting, waiting for the first green shoot to emerge. I will then, after several months of growth, plant my apricot tree in the perfect spot in the backyard.
This whole journey began because a woman I met at the Boalsburg Memorial Day mentioned her amazing apricot jam filled Christmas cookies that she makes from the apricots from her backyard tree.
Apricots? In Pennsylvania? I smiled. I tented my fingers with a decision already made.
The seed had been planted.
A month passes and I find myself eating a delicious apricot whose dark, hard pit fell apart in my hands to reveal a tiny, fragile white seed. I wrapped the seed in a warm, damp paper towel and placed it in my sunny window. Days later, an inch long root emerged. Then, the top of the seed began to crack open to reveal the plant to come.
So I planted that seed!
Oh the joy of just watching it grow!
I think about the tiniest seeds planted in conversation. I think of the seeds of God’s word that fall into an open hand which, when carefully cultivated, sprout green in the heart. I think of the seeds of faith planted, too.
How I love seeds! How I love what they do and all they hold inside!
Maybe, in a decade, I’ll be the one with the apricot-filled Christmas cookies giving a hopeful project to a woman at a fair.
Last night my pastor friend, Josh, told me about an upcoming sermon in which he makes the wonderful and astonishing claim that obedience and joy are essentially the same. I stand there in my kitchen, overwhelmed with the truth of it. When I’m most joyful, I’m most surrendered. Josh says, “Yes! Because surrender and obedience are what we are made for. So that’s when we are most truly joyful.”
Surrender and obedience is what we are made for.
I look back on the most joyful times in my life. Yes: I was most surrendered and most obedient to all the Lord was asking of me. And the times of most despair? Could it be that something in my life wasn’t aligned and wasn’t surrendered?
I ask the Lord today: How might I surrender more? How might I obey more and more? What are you asking of me, Lord? And the answer is yes.
May our joy overflow today.
70 degrees, sunny with blue skies and patches of fluffy white clouds, light breeze, and low humidity: I’ve discovered my favorite weather day. What a day to treasure!