I've come to the crazy conclusion that indeed I must lean into God's calling in my life. After much prayer, many tears, heart to hearts with the man love, I'm there. I've realized that I haven't given God the opportunity to show me what He can do. I've been too afraid to try. Too afraid to fail. To afraid to be disappointed.
As I sit on the edge of this crazy conclusion, I've been remembering His words spoken to my heart hours before this new life began. March 23, 2011. I had just sent out my weekly e-letter to my students, part of "Sami's Ramblings About Jesus". This is how it all started:
I went on to describe the hope Jesus brings, His resurrection always coming after the cross, always coming after our crosses. Before the night was over I received an email from my District Superintendent congratulating me on the great post and asking me to meet with him the following day. I knew then that my time as a campus minister had come to an end.Earlier in the semester my oldest son Noah and I had a little butting of the heads. He had been invited to a birthday party by one of his friends who wanted everyone to wear their favorite basketball jersey. Noah wanted to wear his upward uniform. Because his upward game was going to be that following Saturday morning, I told him he could wear the jersey, but the t-shirt and shorts he would have to save. Noah was crushed. He was so upset because the jersey was incomplete without the right shorts or shirt under it. He worked himself into such a fit I could barely talk to him. Finally I went to his bedroom and began pulling out other shorts he could wear under it. After a while, Noah began to realize that the clothes I was choosing for him worked just as well as what he wanted, and he would still be able to wear a fresh uniform the following day. He found an outfit he could be happy with and quickly regained his composure. After a little while had passed I knelt down to talk to him. As I pulled him close he began to go through an apology, because he thought he was getting scolded. Instead I said, “You don’t have to apologize. I just want you to know that you can trust me, that I love you, and that I am working things out for you in a way that will be good for you.”Even as I was saying those words I knew they were Holy Spirit inspired God words. I believe these are the words that God speaks to every person He loves. Yep that would be everyone. Sometimes it is so hard in the middle of disappointment and heartache to hear them, just like it was hard for Noah to see that my plan for him was good, even if it looked different from his.
I did not have the courage on that day to accept Words of Life spoken to me. It was always easier to speak them to someone else. Mostly because I didn't want to accept that some form of dying was headed my way. And truthfully, once the recognition had come that my work with campus ministry was over, I could not hear anything then or the many months following for the heart-sobs echoing through me. Loss and grief filled me up, even as I knew God's hand was in the middle of rearranging everything.
I've been drawn to that post, to those words, this week. And my guess is that God meant them not for that immediate wreckage, but to tuck away for this day, when I need to know that after the grief has subsided He still has Words to speak in me and through me, that He still has good plans for my future, ministry yet to be realized:
Oh silly me. I had no idea I was once again about to be broken. But I do love the last paragragh:The one thing I have learned about God more than any other is that He is really into redemption. What that means is that He chooses the broken and desperate (even dead) places of our lives to be the birthplaces for His new life revealed in us. It is the message of the cross that He reinvents over and over again through our ordinary lives. He loves to see His resurrection power displayed in the exact spot of our hopeless despair and grim resignation. Often times we are too hurt to see past our own pain to understand the beautiful new thing He is bringing forth. That’s okay. He gets that about us. I believe it is why He gives us to one another. While you are in your grief and can’t see out of it, I can hold your hand and see God’s grace and mercy for you. When my head and heart are weighed down with burdens I can’t carry, you believe in God’s goodness and strength for me.
Did you see that? Those words? Those were the Words the Holy Spirit was speaking to me and I was to hard-headed to realize that I was included in the message: "You can trust Me, I love you, I am working things out for you in a way that will be good for you." Really Lord? In this life? When I am so full of doubt? When I'm tempted to think my best moments are behind me? When this season is so full of the needs of others who depend on me? You still have plans for this life I'm living? The faith part of me is saying yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, YESSSSSSS!I share these things as an encouragement, especially during this season of Lent. While you may be in a season of looking toward the cross, the one that Jesus died on as well as the cross of disappointment and heartache in your own life, remember that the end of the story has nothing to do with death and everything to do with resurrection. Jesus didn’t just tell His disciples beforehand that He would be delivered into the hands of His enemies and killed, but He also said that on the third day He would rise again. I am as confident that this as is true for Jesus showing up in your life story as it is for the one He lived here on earth. You are His. He loves you. He delights in You. And He is waiting for that day when He can resurrect the broken places of your life and show forth His power and glory through you to all the earth. Hear His sweet words spoken to your waiting heart: “I just want you to know that you can trust Me, that I love you, and that I am working things out for you in a way that will be good for you.”
The pain of leaving behind a ministry so close to my heart has faded. Though there are moments when memories cause tears, I am looking up again, looking out for new ministry to be revealed. No longer looking back to what was, but looking forward to what yet may be. And I've learned there is power in being humbled, so that I can accept the Word God wants to plant in me. Somehow it makes it more believable for others, I think. Because we are all really on this road together aren't we?
P.S. To see the original post just go back through the archives to 3/23/2011, "Uncrushable Hope." Thank you for walking this journey with me--