If you build it, they will come…

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A friend of mine posted the above picture today on Facebook. I was going to send her a private note to tell her what it meant to me… however, I decided to post for all to see.

Lindsey included a message…

“Have an amazing week my friends. Whatever you are working on- don’t stop.” And today, I really needed to hear that. See, I can easily become discouraged. And more, I become overly distracted. I let busyness derail me from the one thing I know God called me to do. I let unnecessary tasks keep me from the one thing that would fulfill all my purpose.

“May he give you what your heart desires and fulfill your whole purpose.” Psalm 20:4 (CSB)

This morning’s post prompted me to remember something I’d written down in my journal. It was April 21. My handwriting was shaky and urgent, “You have all the materials… all the support your task will require. Now get started.”

Which brings me back to Lindsey’s post. “Whatever you are working on, don’t stop.” Noah didn’t. He fulfilled his whole purpose in making an ark. God said, “this is the way you are to make it.” So Noah did it, according to all that God commanded him. That’s what Noah did…

The word for “make” and “did” means to do or make, to produce or be busy. Which brings me to King David. He set his heart on building, too. His cause was a house for God. That’s what he wanted to be busy about doing however, God said no. It wasn’t David’s task. Instead, it was for his son, Solomon, to do.

So David ordered Solomon to build a house for the Lord. He exhorted him, “For the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary. Be courageous and strong and do it!”

Then David gave his son the plans… plans for the porch, the buildings, the upper chambers, etc. “All this,” said David, “The Lord made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, all the work and details (to be done) according to this plan.” 1 Chronicles 28:19

He then encouraged Solomon, “Be strong and courageous and take action; do not fear nor be dismayed for the LORD God, my God, is with you…”

So here’s what strikes me. There’s a million things we can each one do. A million ways we can take action, all being good. Worthwhile and noble. David chose one… He wanted to build a house for God but He was not allowed to.

This resonates. See, we all want to build. We all want do do something worthwhile. But we have to ask ourselves if it’s the thing God wants for us to do. Is it our plan or God’s? Is it for my purpose or His?

Different versions of 1 Chronicles 22:16 show building or making in several ways, “Arise and be doing,” or “Arise and do.” My favorite? “Now begin the work…”

The most important question we can consider is what work? What is the one thing God would have us to do specifically… what would fulfill our whole purpose?

I think deep down, we all know what it is. It’s the thing that brings us joy and passion and purpose. It’s the thing that keeps us up at night and rolls around in our brain. And when we actually “arise and be doing” it, we feel like we’re walking on air.

Oh, it’s the thing we may have started and stopped a million times but never finished. I know I sure have… a million starts and not one completion.

However, I am reminded today with perfect clarity. I know without a doubt what God has called me to do. Further, I am exhorted (no commanded) to not get distracted again. Not one more needless task, until I finish it. For He is the one who called me to build “it.”

I remembered thanks to an encouraging post from my friend. And I hope this inspires you to remember your purpose, too… So that what God commanded you to build, you’ll keep on building it. And more, that you won’t stop building until it’s done. Because in the end, it’s His plan, not yours.

May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. Psalm 20:4 (NLT)

Gifted and Talented

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You hear it a lot. Shine your light. Why? So men may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. This is what we hear in church and it’s what we read in the gospels (Matthew 5:13 – 16).

Because for true, we are to be salt. And light.

I dare say, though, it’s pretty easy to get off track. All to often, we may get caught up in busyness and extra curricular works. Even good works. Maybe especially good works. Because Scripture talks about that, too.

As the book of James warns, faith without works is dead, right? So we better darn well get busy doing a work. Any work will do. And the more visible the better. Because we have to shine the light of Jesus in a dark world. How? In the form of good deeds. Something that can be measured and valued and seen by all…

At least that’s where I went off the rails just over a year ago. My heart deceived me and I was led astray by busyness. I thought I wasn’t doing enough. That I had to be more showy in working for the Lord. So I did the wrong thing. I let go of the very thing God created me to do by taking hold of what I thought I should do.

It was a yoke I grabbed hold of. And I slipped it right over my neck and kept it there. It nearly strangled me. Yes, the yoke of empty works nearly snuffed the light right out of me…

But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dearly loved brothers. Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights. James 1:14-17

Sometimes God speaks in unexpected ways and through random sources. Yesterday, His message came through someone I just met. This guy came to our home to see my husband and on his way out, wisdom fell from his lips. He said, “Leave the door open. Let the sun shine in.” And it was just like the light switched on in my soul.

I had to ask my husband if he said what I thought he did. And so I told Jason… the darkness had come back. I’d been as black as night and his words seemed big. My husband’s response?

“Shine on.”

And so God reveals truth to me through a chance encounter with someone my husband had to see. Confirmed by my beloved. Yes. Open the door. Let there be light. And most importantly, shine.

But not through empty works or passionless deeds I think I should do. Instead, may I shine in the way my Father created me to shine. Because this is the best way I can bring Him glory… simply doing what He made me to do.

Using Your Light

He also said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket or under a bed? Isn’t it to be put on a lampstand? For nothing is concealed except to be revealed, and nothing hidden except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, he should listen!” Then He said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear. By the measure you use, it will be measured and added to you. For to the one who has, it will be given, and from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” Mark 421-25

I stopped blogging over a year ago. Why? Because I thought it was keeping me from doing more important things. Like ministry or mission work. And so I set out to do something grand. I tried one thing and it failed miserably. I limped away feeling injured and ashamed.

Then, I set out to do the next thing. Oh my gosh was I busy. And I just couldn’t understand why I had to do it all alone. No one really came alongside me to aide my cause. And there lies the truth… it was “my” cause. Not God’s. A work to bring me glory, not Him.

The fact is I simply accomplished an empty work hoping to prove myself. Look at me, everyone! I’m busy. I’m doing something for the kingdom. A miserable attempt at shining God’s light because it was really just a veiled attempt to shine my own.

The worst part? I put something God gave me to the side. He gifted me with a specific passion and I neglected it for well over a year. In a sense, I dug a hole and hid my talent. I hid me. And by doing so, I ended up hiding Him. Hiding God’s light by hiding my own.

How crazy is that?

And so the above passage from Mark resonates. Because it’s a warning, really. God’s telling me to use what He gave me. He’s telling me to unearth what I’d buried. And the scariest part? If I don’t start using what He dispensed, He’ll take it from me.

“Gifted and Talented”

When I was a little girl, I was part of the “Gifted and Talented” program at school. And quite rightly, they no longer call it that because we’re all gifted and talented in our own way. We all have the capacity to shine if we’re operating with the tools He provided us.

Me? I was selected because I liked to draw. That’s why I got to participate in the program and I liked it. Because it made me feel special. It brought me some attention. And dare I say a little bit of glory?

Anyway, God stitched an artistic bone into my being as He knit me together in my mama’s womb. Later in life, He awakened another passion. He gave me the desire to write and I did so with wild abandon.

In the Fall of 2011, I began to write and it consumed me for years. The problem was I got carried away by this new “gift” and a war began in my heart. Yes, my flesh began to crave the little bit of glory writing brought my way.

Just like that little girl I was when I participated in “gifted and talented.”

That’s when I decided I should put it away. I decided I couldn’t handle the compliments so I dug a hole and buried God’s gifts. I thought it better to pursue other other methods of light shining like busyness. Ministry, I called it. Because writing and painting just didn’t seem to be enough.

Fortunately, a lesson from Matthew 25:14-30 teaches me otherwise. Furthermore, it underscores the stern lesson of using your light (or losing it).

See, there were three servants and their master gave to each “talents.” It was money… the equivalent of 200 pounds of silver or 100 pounds of gold. One was given five talents, another given two, and the last received one talent – each given according to their ability.

The first two servants did well. The one who received five gained five more and the one who received two gained two. But the slave who received only one talent dug a hole and buried it. In his defense, he told his master he was afraid so he hid it. He said, “Look you have what is yours.”

His master’s words are terrifying. “You evil, lazy slave…” He took the talent away and gave it to the one who had ten. And his words reiterate the very ones from Mark 4 I find so scary…

“For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw this good for nothing slave into the outer darkness.”

And that’s where the servant ended up. Darkness. Which brings to mind what I said earlier. “The darkness came back.” My revelation being that this is where I’ll end up when I don’t use my talent, which really belongs to God anyway.

Yes, I believe my not doing what God made me to do brought on the darkness. Because when I’m not doing what I love, I feel lifeless. Purposeless. And so the hole I dug to hide me and my talent turns into a grave…

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“I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

I painted the above picture recently. It’s my dad and me. And I like that Daddy’s giving me his love. I also like that Daddy resembles Jesus here. Jesus with a headband.

Anyway, my dad gave me what he had to give. Like a hug every. And Jesus? Well, He gave what He had to give, too. Like light. And He still gives it.

As for the darkness that recently came my way, well, I don’t think I was following Him. And the promise of light is for those who follow Him. I just got side-tracked. And the further I went in my own direction, the darker it got.

But some random man woke me up yesterday. He said to leave the door open and let the sun shine in. And from here on out, I pray that I do.

I pray to uncover what was hidden. Like the words He places within… messages that burn so bright. I pray to put my “gifts and talents” on a lampstand because that’s the best way to shine His light. The purest way to bring Him glory.

And God help me if I don’t because I believe what He says. He warns that if I keep what He gives me hidden, He’ll give them to someone else. Someone who’ll use them and multiply them.

So I pray…

Yes, God, please give me the courage to shine your light in a dark place. Equip me to use what you gave. Because You made a promise… You said more will come my way.

More gifts and more talents and more light…

All for Your glory. 

Yes, this is how I can shine my light.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD shines over you. Isaiah 60:1

Wayward Daughter

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“All this,” said David, “the Lord made me understand in writing, by His hand upon me, all the works of these plans.”              1 Chronicles 28:19

We’re each one different and He speaks to us in individual ways that we can understand. For me, it’s writing. His hand upon me, opening my eyes to see His words etched out by my own hand. A placement of Scripture here in a notebook, and a timely word from someone there, blending together to produce an awakening in my mind. And then, the ah-ha moment. For I once was blind, but now I see. It’s not for them, it’s for me. I had to see all this. Three years to clarity. Beginning with a journal in the Spring of 2010. At first, sparsely made entries with a timid strokes graced the pages. But over time, blue and black ink markings became more deeply inscribed. Some passages underlined so vehemently, the markings can be felt through to the back of the page. Passion and emotion poured out onto paper.

Then came a blog. So much inside to be released lest I burst into flame! And thousands of words poured forth in such a short time. It’s been seven months now. And over the course of time, I began to ride high. Because God revealed Himself to me. To me. And I gained knowledge. And so, up I traversed. But then I’d fall. Only to get back up, and move onward and upward once again. I climbed higher and higher, and felt better and better about myself.

It was in August when a verse came to me. As I ascended the steps of my church, I thought, “A woman shall encompass a man.” It wasn’t even an hour later that we were directed to Jeremiah 31. The verse I had thought of just that morning stared right back at me from the pages of Scripture. And so, I chalked it up to a God moment. I reveled in the thought that God revealed Himself to me. To me. I felt elated and thought that perhaps He was sending me encouragement in that His eye was directly on me. He could see me. But, now, I don’t think it was encouragement. In fact, I think it was a bit of a chastening. Because had I taken the time to read the verse in its entirety, I would have seen what I should have…

“How long will you go here and there, O faithless daughter? For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth– A woman will encompass a man.” Jeremiah 31:22

A God moment, in deed, for He did see me. And He was, in fact, speaking to me. But in the Pharisaical manner I had adopted, I saw only the good. In my arrogant high, I thought God was encouraging me… not chastening me. Furthermore, I neglected to see that He was instructing me in the way I should go through the verse immediately preceding…

Set up road markers for yourself;
establish signposts!
Keep the highway in mind,
the way you have traveled. Jeremiah 31:21

No, Jeremiah 31:21 didn’t mean a thing to me then, for I thought I was going in the right direction. It wasn’t until everything came to a screeching halt that God’s word spoke to me. Because I had stalled out… I was stuck, so to speak and could not move forward despite my best efforts. And it was around this time that I heard in my mind, “Not another step.” But alas, I figured “not another step” simply meant that God was telling me to sit tight until He provided a way for me to move forward. But oddly, deliverance was delayed. And so, I eventually remembered what I was supposed to be doing. Months earlier I knew I was to go through all of my journals, using them to set up markers for myself. This was the way I had been traveling, but eager steps forward slowly halted to a standstill. No further progress had been made. Not until last week, that is. That’s when I finished what I had started so long ago.

And God tied it all together for me this weekend. His hand upon me, a verse on a piece of notebook paper, and a timely message provided for an ah-ha moment. Because as I read about King David’s great sin with Bathsheba, a light was switched on. See, David sinned… but then he seemed to have just carried on with his life. It was some time later that Nathan the prophet came for a visit and told David a vivid story. The story was about a rich man who took something from a poor man and it was the very picture of what David did with Bathsheba. However, David was blind to his part in the story. Instead, he was incensed. He burned with self-righteous anger as he proclaimed, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die!” David was indignant that a man would show no pity and do such a thing. And in the way of a Pharisee, David neglected to see himself in this story.

Do you think David was surprised when Nathan said, “You are the man!” I do. I think David was very surprised. I think that perhaps he had forgotten what he did. I believe that what took place with Bathsheba brought him low (his child died), and he was on his face before God while the child still lived. But then, his life carried on. I feel he may have traversed upward and onward, leaving the past behind. I think that perhaps his great sin diminished in his memory as days and weeks passed by. But, I wonder if David came to a stopping point. I wonder if he arrived at a point in which he could not seem to move forward with God… for how could he with all that lie deep within the recesses of his heart? And so, Nathan arrived with a timely message. Was it when he heard, “You are the man!” that his heart was pierced? Perhaps, this is when David penned Psalm 51… his heartfelt Psalm of confession. For when he saw a picture of himself, he was sorely grieved by his sin and had to confess.

You know, the last blog I typed up just before digging into my past was called “What Remains.” And I felt pretty good about it. I thought I was talking to other people about the divisiveness that stirs amongst God’s people. So high was I that I could not see myself in this piece. In the way of a Pharisee, I could not see that what was written was in itself divisive. Indignantly I sat, pointing a finger through every stroke of the key, judging another soul for a bumper sticker she chose to display. Smugly, I tapped out a message about remaining love, but failed to see that my message was not prompted by love. Instead, it was somewhat divisive and a bit self-righteous. I received a comment on that post, but didn’t approve if for a while. Frankly, I am just not as deep as the commenter, and for the life of me I didn’t know if I fully understood her meaning. I was troubled by it, though… was it an encouragement, or was it a chastening? Today, I lean more towards a kindly rebuke.

See… for me, it’s writing. He speaks to me, His wayward daughter, through His very words placed on notebook paper. A verse here, and a timely word from a person there. And then, the ah-ha moment. The blinders removed, I can see. And today, what I hear is, “You are the woman!” And so, not another step takes on a new meaning. Not another step means no moving forward till I get this one right. Because this one I’ve been carrying for way too long. My heavenly Father has spoken and He says not another step until I can leave this one behind. Once and for all. And with all my heart, I believe this time, I will.

For I believe I can hear Him calling. I think He’s telling me, “Carry on, My wayward daughter…”

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14

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