It’s so easy to get caught up in the numbers game. How much money we make. How many vacation days we have. How many kids are coming to the party. How many friends Facebook Happy Birthday’d me. How many people say no.
I’m alway amazed at what is revealed to me through serving. From putting on the shoes of someone else that has been serving me. Man, those shoes alway seem a lot heavier than they looked. How many times have my sarcastic, funny comments cut someone to the bone but they just smiled? Conviction in this area is tough, because I don’t know. So, I can’t go “make it right”. I can’t always apologize because I am definitely a smart ashk a lot. I’m learning more and more that there is a time and a place, and it’s not nearly as often as I think it is.
A few of us planned a ladies retreat. I was pretty sure I had planned for one before, because, holy cow, I had helped grocery shop for it. I am quite certain now, that gigantic sacrifice on my part was not quite the full extent of planning for the ladies retreat (btw…I’m being a smart ashk). It takes prayer, meeting, changing plans, taking criticism, keeping a smile, encouraging, crying, laughing, praying more, cleaning, list making, more list making, cooking and oh yes, a 90 minute grocery shopping trip. This speaks nothing of the person who God has called to share, to teach, to speak. I won’t pretend to know what those shoes feel like….if I’m ever called, I will know then~and I am certain I will be stretched, transformed and exhausted.
I am human. I am consumed with pride sometimes and I hang onto it until it is either ripped away from me, or gracefully taken from my open hands. I started doing the numbers thing in planning this retreat. How many are going to come? How many aren’t going to come? Surely people know numbers are important, because I wouldn’t want to buy the wrong number of bananas, taco shells or waters! I need something to plug into this spreadsheet so I can calculate this grand weekend that I am planning….so that God can then come in and work. But, He can’t possibly work if I don’t have enough sour patch kids or licorice. I am human, so in order to not let my heart break at the “no’s”, I pretend to care about fruit, drinks, candy and coffee cups. Thankfully, this is one of those times that my pride was gently taken from my open hands. He brought 17.
He knew this weekend. He knew where it was going to be. He knew it wasn’t going to be in the mountains no matter how long it took us to figure it out, but in a future home of a family we love, and in a city that two families who we love are going to be moving to. He knew my beautiful friend Becky was going to be changed from the message she prepared to share with us, before she even shared it with us. He knew the hearts that were going to be breaking walking in the doors. He knew about the “yes’s” and He knew about the “no’s”. He knew that I would learn about serving, things that I thought I already knew. Becky, at one point this weekend, shared that months after moving from Texas to Washington, she cried out “Lord, if I am stretched anymore, there won’t be anymore of me left!” And he told her, “Becky, that’s the point”. He knew that I needed to hear exactly that.
From my journal this weekend~
“ Lord, so many times I offer up all of me, but every single time-I take myself back, piece by piece. I want to say WHY WHY?!?! But I know. Because my eyes focus back onto what the world wants, what I want. No what the world needs, what I NEED. What you are asking of me.
I wish I could know someday I won’t do this, but I know as long as I am on this earth, I will continue to take myself back from You, piece by piece. Lord, I just pray that really hard prayer~reveal it quickly each time, convict me straight to my heart and bring me back to the place of offering my whole self to You.
It’s so easy to get caught up in what others aren’t doing, and what I am doing. Instead give me eyes to see what others are doing and what I need to do. Not out of guilt, shame or empty obligation. But out of my love and devotion to you Lord. So many times I get caught up in the mistakes I’ve made and feel like I have nothing to offer. Satan tries to steal my joy and remind me of my sins, remind me of how much I’ve screwed up. Lord, let these sins/screwups be a weapon You have given me to use against Satan-because I am FORGIVEN!! Fear takes over but You have separated my sin as far as East is from the West!! Not of this state, this country, this world-but for unseen eternal distance!! It can’t find each other again. Put that on my heart Lord, every time Satan tries to convince me they aren’t separated! THEY ARE!!
Where you need me to be Lord, where I need to serve-Press it into my heart. Lord, let it just be part of me, that knowing. So that when doubt creeps in, anger takes over-I am quickly reminded that serving You is part of me, not just something I do. Give me joy in serving others, that isn’t explainable.
Lord, thank you for this weekend. For this sunshine. For these women. For the perfect way You messed up our perfect plans to create the perfect Ladies Retreat that you had planned for us.”
He knew when we were fretting over the weather report of rain, that it was actually going to be beautiful, glorious and sunny. There would be sunrises that would take our breath away. He knew that 16 ladies would each add to my life and show me His love. He knew that ladies would share of their hurt, feeling separated from Him, about losing hope. He also knew that we would pray for each other, and continue to pray for each other. He knew that some of us were hurting but couldn’t bear to share it with anyone else, couldn’t find the words to speak about what was breaking our hearts, but He knew, He sees and He grieves with us, and He tells us to pray for those unknown hurts.
He brought 17 and gracefully showed me it had nothing to do with having enough sour patch kids.