There's Got to be More to Life Than This!
The past three years have been life transforming for me. Three years ago, having been a Christian for 20 years, faithfully serving God in every way I knew how, I would still find myself thinking..There has got to be more to the Christian life than this. The more I did, the more I was becoming physically and spiritually tired. As I looked around me, I noticed so many of us were faithfully and tirelessly serving the Lord but we were remaining, for the most part, the same in our Christian walk. Normal Christians doing normal things Christians do. Maybe we would think about doing something radical for God or talk about stepping out in faith in an unexpected way, but..mostly, I got busier and busier, building my religious resume to show God how much I loved Him.
Then..God began to get my attention in a big way. I began to read the Word of God with new eyes. He began to show me that He is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine and when the Holy Spirit of God dwells within us, nothing is too small for Him. What I began to see is very few people who were willing to be moved to action for God. Christians like to discuss the greatness of God and our potential through Him and drink coffee and discuss some more. But where was that love so deep that we couldn't wait for Him to reveal our next step through Him? I wanted it and I began to pursue Him more.
In the past six months, we have done some very specific things in situations where we felt God's leading. Specifically, one of the first things we did was we started financially giving sacrificially. Above our tithe, when God led us to fill a financial need, we started giving beyond what was comfortable. Instead of purchasing the next "new" thing, sometimes it meant filling a need. That wasn't so hard. But.. the next big thing was much more difficult. He led us out of the church we love dearly and have called home for the past 14 years. We did not know where God wanted to use us or in what way, but we knew He was asking us to make this move. By far, one of the most difficult things I have ever done was to say goodbye to the people, the pastor and the ministries I had grown to love. We took this step of faith and prayed for God to guide our steps as we visited churches. Another thing He had led us to do was to start The Dream Center of Pickens County. A place where we can share the love of Jesus and offer practical support and resources to help people climb out of poverty and live a restored life. In May 2012, we received the Articles of Incorporation and soon realized this endeavor takes a lot of time and money. Here came the next thing. We strongly felt God was leading us to place our million dollar dream home on the market. There is so much to be done with our time and resources that maintaining this beautiful place didn't seem to be at the top of the list. I would be lying if I said it was an easy thing to do. It is beautiful and we love it. But, compared to the sacrifices so many people make, listing a dream home for sale was hardly a sacrifice. It is currently on the market and needs a family to buy it! Our next big thing is we are asking God to give us a building for The Dream Center.
We have also seen God at work in the lives of our children with a specific situation with Caroline that got our attention. Caroline has danced on a competition dance team for UCDC for 10 years. It is something she loves and works hard at. One of her goals for many years has been to audition and make the highest level clogging team and finally, this year, she met that goal. Dance did not start back up until September but she had the good news of what team she made in July and she would have practice every Tuesday night. Soon after receiving the news, she went for one week to The Gauntlet, which is the summer youth trip of Newspring Church. A friend of hers invited her and since we were visiting churches, she really wanted to go. When she returned, the first thing she said was "I want to take my next step for God and be sold out to Him. I also want to go to Fuse, the youth group at Newspring Church and it meets on Tuesday evenings". She immediately sent a text to the director of the dance studio whom she loves dearly. It said, "Miss Heather, I am so sorry to do this to you and I understand completely if it cannot be worked out, but I want to be ALL IN for the Lord and I want to go to Fuse on Tuesdays. If the team practice cannot be changed, I quit." I was stunned and excited. If you know Caroline and how much she loves clogging, you would understand the shock. Heather was also shocked but said she couldnt make any promises but would see what she could do. Caroline assured me that it did not make any difference because she knew however it worked out would be the right thing. To say this summer trip experience for Caroline got our attention is an understatement. She began to be excited about what God was showing her and leading her to do. By the way, several days passed and Heather gave Caroline the good news that after a lot of work, she was able to change the schedule.
I think many times we get caught up with our hard work for Him and wear ourselves out spiritually. We will always fall short. It was God that set us free-not based on our merits but simply because he loves us. Recently, I read a book called Unleash! by Perry Noble. The Biblical truths in this book resonated with me and a quote from this book got my attention. He said, "We can live a life that is unleashed because of whose we are not who we are". My initial reason for getting my hands on this book was because my family, most recently became "owners" (members) of Newspring Church where Perry Noble is pastor. I was interested in what this pastor would write in a book.
In the meantime, I received a call from Newspring Church regarding the area of service I had signed up to help in. I explained to the nice girl that I had not really prayed about that area of service because I was willing to help wherever the greatest need is. After all, I thought, I have done it all. Taught preschool, children and youth, directed VBS, led Bible studies, started a prayer ministry, outreach projects. I was going down my religious resume in my head. I said, "Just tell me where the greatest need is and I will be happy to do it." Her response still rings in my head. She said, "Newspring Church is not looking for you to fill a need. We want you to pray and ask God to show you where He can most effectively use you for His glory. We want you to feel so led in that area, that you cannot wait to come serve Him. Then, God will fill the needs." After a moment, I said, 'Take my name off and let me pray about it." I thought I had it all together, but, I was still finding myself being pulled into the performance trap. God doesn't NEED my expertise. He WANTS my heart, my life, my love. He and only He will then use my abilities for His glory because it isn't about ME.
If you are a Christian and are tired and "stuck", I recommend the book, "Unleash!" by Perry Noble. It offers practical wisdom and Biblical truth that can be applied to your life right now. It will push you to unleash your spiritual potential and go ALL IN with Christ regardless of where you are right now and whatever church you serve in. If you do not know Christ, it will inspire you to take the steps to enter into a personal relationship with Him. The very first chapter is titled, "There's Got to Be More to Life Than This." Yes, there is.
The last six months have been a breath of fresh air, a lot of hard work, an emotional roller coaster and filled with much, much excitement and anticipation of what God has in store for the future. To God be the Glory.