I don’t really know what this “blog” thing is. And now some people are doing “vlogs.” Maybe I am old. (Okay, 36 isn’t that old) Maybe I am behind the times and technologically impaired, but when a friend encouraged me to share my writing by “blogging” I found myself lost in a whole new world. In talking with a different friend, her suggestion was “Just share your thoughts for the day.” So here goes.
My life verse, the one I adopted when I was in college searching for direction, comes from Psalm 37:4. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Does this mean that if I follow the Lord’s directives, I will be happy? Or does this mean that if I follow him, he will grant me my own desires? I have come to discover that it is a little (or a lot) of both.
Just out of college with a BA in English and no real purpose for my life, I found myself on a mission trip to Mexico…literally and figuratively. After ministering to high school kids on a fútbol field and passing out Bibles along with a healthy dose of the gospel, I returned to my tent to pray.
I hoisted my flimsy lawn chair over my arm and slowly made my way out to the middle of the dusty and dry baseball field next to our camping area. I needed answers. I had been speaking all day long about God and teaching about His love and guidance, His sovereignty and promises, but I couldn’t even share what His promise was for me because I didn’t know. So I did the only thing I knew to do: I opened my Bible to Psalm 37 and I read. I rolled the words over and over again in my head “Delight yourself in the Lord.” Delight. Be happy. Find contentment. Be full in the Lord.
I closed my Bible thoughtfully and laid my hands out on my lap, my mind swirling with unanswered questions. What do you want from me? I want to write. I want to be creative. I want to be happy. I want…this had to stop. Telling God what I wanted was NOT what HE wanted. What do you want from me? Where do you want me to go?
A whisper fluttered through my mind: You are a leader. I need you in Ministry.
You have got to be kidding, God. I can’t be a minister. I can’t lead a church.
The whisper settled in my thoughts and my mind calmed: Daughter, I didn’t say minister. I said ministry.
That night, before a crowd of 200 high school and college students on missions for God, I committed myself to full-time ministry and I began my journey to “Delight myself in the Lord.”
In making that promise, I didn’t truly know what God would ask of me. But we walk by faith, not by sight. I stepped out in faith, and God directed me. Within just a few weeks, I acquired a job working in a private school. At first I only helped with before and after school care, but as I my employer learned more about my education and abilities, she began to urge me to teach.
God opened a door. I began teaching Spanish to first graders through 8th graders. I added teaching computer skills to kindergarten through 8th graders. I enrolled in a teacher credential program, working full-time during the day and taking classes at night. Some people ask how I did it. I didn’t. God did. He made it work; I was along for the ride.
I have now been teaching for 13 years, and I step out onto the mission field everyday. I open my doors to 130 13-year-old and 14-year-old scholars every day. These kids need love. They need guidance. They need patience. They need self-control. To battle for them and to lead them, I try to live the Fruit of the Spirit everyday. I delight myself in what the Lord has for me, encouraging or challenging. For that reason, I say that “delighting” myself in the Lord allows His desires for me to become my own desires, as well.
Let’s be honest, though. I am burned out. Teaching middle school drains my spirit. It taints my view of the world. It’s seems very righteous to put all others ahead of ourselves, but there comes a time when we say to God,”What about me?” His dreams for me became my dreams, but the other dreams I held for so long didn’t just disappear; they still sat in a dark corner of my heart, unfulfilled.
No, child, they didn’t.
Oh. There’s that whisper again. You know, God, it would help a ton if You yelled.
Sometimes when we pray, the Lord doesn’t say no. He doesn’t say yes. He says “not yet.” To let us know we are on the right track and within His timing, He winks at us through circumstances, experiences, and interactions.
With the opening of the new school year, I was overwhelmed and over it all. Within just a few short days, anxiety and frustration weighed on my soul. The only way I knew to lift the burden was to find my delight in the Lord. I decided to tackle a Bible study each week, working my way through Priscilla Shirer’s study The Armor of God.
As I worked each week to “take up my sword”, “gird my loins,” and “put on the breastplate,” I prayed. I asked God to restore my dreams. I asked God to show Himself and to reveal a new plan for me. I poured out my own desires onto Him.
About two months after those bold and strategic prayers, I submitted a piece of fan-fiction I wrote about my favorite television show, When Calls the Heart, to a contest. I won. The prize is a coffee mug that sports the “Fans of Believe Pictures” logo. A tiny triumph, but I delighted in this God-wink. Somebody out there liked what I had to say.
In December, I traveled to Vancouver, BC to meet the cast of that same television show. When God opened the door yet again, I chose to step through by speaking with one of the executive producers of the show, who is also a screenwriter. He shared encouraging words and suggested a book on the creative writing process. God winked again. This book has inspired me and opened my mind to the idea that my cherished dream of writing is God-breathed.
As I write, I am awaiting another prize to be delivered to my mailbox. At the last minute, I entered a hand-drawn poster into a contest hosted by the When Calls the Heart writing team. The poster included a sketch and an acrostic poem using the title of the show:
“When hope is elusive and night creeps in around us, love and laughter set fire to our hearts, encouraging us to hold onto each other and reminding us to…have faith, forgive others, and hope in the future.”
My poster was one of three winners. Again, someone out there likes what I have to say. God-wink number three. I am sure more will come, but I delight in knowing that God hears my heart.
While many would call these experiences and interactions coincidences, I know that God designs my path. I delight in Him, placing myself under His care on a daily basis, stepping forth in faith to try to do His work in my own personal mission field, and He rewards my faithfulness by giving my work meaning. In turn, as I struggle each day to submit to His will, He loves me so much that He is slowly turning my path in a new direction, one that will again yield the desires of my heart.
Trusting that gentle whisper of His, I share my first blog post. And I await the next God-wink that confirms my path is of His making.