What a concept!
I guess looking back, I grew up as a Christian in the worship ministry: I never put much thought into the fact that perhaps I wasn't praising Him enough when it was just He and I. I had become so used to being a worship leader: leading others into the presence of The Almighty and pouring my praises out to him in front of hundreds of people every week, that I missed a very crucial part of the equation. Before I can fully operate in that annointing and move into the plan that He has for me in full-time ministry, I have to make it solely about Him.
I know many of you are probably wondering how this has just become an epiphany to me now after four years of being in the ministry. Well, let me just say, that some people are just slow learners. Okay well, maybe that's just a little harsh: but I've always been one to have to learn the "hard way" so to speak. Not that I even do it on purpose because I just like getting my face rubbed in the gravel! No no! But it just seems to work out that way. However, as I get older, and the lessons get tougher, I find that it is wisdom to listen to those around you who know a thing or two about a thing or two: and that includes, if not exclusively personifies God in His entirety in terms of what His role should be in my life. But you know, sometimes we don't realize that we need to give Him that place in our lives until all we have is Him.
I'm not saying it's going to be easy. No sir! But I am looking forward to exploring a life of trying everyday to please Him and Him alone. So in addition to my quiet time and digging into the Word, it also means taking time each day to worship him: to offer up my heart, my voice, and even my mediocre guitar and piano playing abilities to Him. I know that He's desiring that I use this time to the absolute full by pursuing Him and His call on my life with everything I have in me. Truthfully though, He wants that of all of us at all times: however, sometimes He has to bring us to the very end of ourselves before we realize how badly we actually need Him.
A couple of weeks ago, I had had about all I could take in terms of everything I was going through. I was a flat-out mess, and I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel - this misery was far too much for me to take: and suddenly, the fight or flight response kicked into HIGH gear. Suffice it to say, I was struck down with a terrible case of the "get-up-and-go's", and I was determined to go anywhere but here.
So I began the tedious (yet slightly exhilarating process for those of us bit by the travel bug) of looking up airfare to literally - anywhere but here. I wanted to take a last minute trip to Jamaica to see the friends I've neglected for a year and a half - only to realize that my passport would be expiring in a week. Next, I moved onto the Dallas Fort Worth area, hoping to reach a couple of the people I knew down there. No dice. Then I moved on to Arizona, where I have some family whom I haven't seen in EONS. I settled on that destination, only to realize that airfare was skyrocketing every day the closer I got to my desired departure date. So what do I do? The same thing any rational adult would do: I stomped my feet! And I got frustrated. and I said to God, "Okay. I guess I have to leave even this in Your hands. So if it's Your will for me to get out of here (please! please! let it be Your will!), then You will make it happen..."
I know I ended my last post with this verse, but I think it bears repeating.
I've always had a hard time resting. No, I take that back. When I was younger, all I did was rest. I would be categorized as what some would affectionately call, a "lazy sluggard". I don't know where it came from, or why it was so ingrained deep down inside me, but I was the biggest procrastinator on the face of the planet: and I guess in some respects, I still am - a procrastinator, I mean. Not lazy. I'm anything BUT lazy these days. In fact, as an adult, I can barely sit still. I already feel sorry for the man who lands me, because I can't even sit still through one two hour movie without finding a reason to have to pause it, and get up to a.) make popcorn, b.) check my email c.) run to the bathroom and then check my email or d.), or e.)... etc. You get the point. I'm as "restless" as they come - which is why I almost laughed right out loud a number of different times over the last week or so: when God gave me the aforementioned scripture along with an entire sermon last week Sunday about "rest", and began speaking to me over and over and over about... you guessed it! Rest.
In the midst of my struggle, in the midst of my pain, in the midst of this "thing" that's still an enigma to me: this thing that has literally rocked my world and turned it upside down - God is speaking rest. Rest. It is here that I began to fear the worst. "He's going to make me rest, isn't He?" I've seen SO many people called right out of the very thing they've been undoubtedly called to, so that God can spend some time working on thier hearts: refining and even refueling them so as to make them rock-solid, stead-fast, and fully equipped for the ministry - for the very work that lies ahead of them.
I always prayed that it would never happen to me.
I love what I do so much, that I would sacrifice life and limb to keep doing it. (Figuratively speaking, of course: can't very much have a half-dead, limbless creature up on the platform attempting to lead worship every week - well, I suppose you could, but... well... okay... shut up Stephanie.) Anyway, my point is this: I. am. called. This much I know. My involvement in the fine arts ministry has been a time of pruning, shaping, restructuring, learning, training, etc... I could go on and on. God has shaped me and molded me into a new creature inside and out while I've been up there, so much so, you wouldn't recognize me now if you hadn't seen me in four years. Not even a little: and I'm not talking just the physical, but my very countenance has changed, the way I present myself, the way I speak... everything. It's all different. And I know that part of that just comes from growing up - but I give all the glory to God here: because I would have "grown up" to be a MUCH different woman if it weren't for Him.
So, that being said, I'm beginning to realize (not only due to my own circumstances, but also by sheer observation of those around me who are also called) that while God will and does "grow us up" in the ministry, He will also likely call us out for a time. I have seen it over and over again: He wants to use you, and He has! But now's the time for "spiritual boot camp". God means business, and if He's going to use you mightily to advance His Kingdom, and powerfully impact countless lives through you wherever He takes you, He's going to make for darn sure that you're ready: that you're spiritually, mentally, and emotionally ready and girded up to take on the call that He's placed on your life. Sounds like a pretty big deal when we put it that way, doesn't it? That's because it is a big deal!!! Think about it: you're in the ministry, you're rearin' to go, you're on FIRE, and then it happens: the enemy attacks in full force, and suddenly, you're face first in the concrete - road rash and all - picking gravel out of your teeth, wondering what the heck just happened. (And trust me: it really is just like that too.)
I guess what I'm trying to say is, it really should have come as no surprise to me then, that God recently called me right out of the only thing apart from Him that gives me abundant joy. You guessed it: no singing for me - for at least six months. OUCH. For those of you who know me even a little bit, you know the gravity of this call. I'm still trying to process this: it's just kind of not computing. But that's okay. I'm sure God doesn't expect me to understand it all right away. Just like everything else in life, this too will take time for me to adjust and adapt to. But I've seen with my own eyes God's swift and abundant blessings take place when a person is obedient to Him - God honors obedience (I'll be sharing with you a very cool story in my next posting about blessings in obedience): so I can either go out kicking and screaming, or I can step down gracefully in humility, and let God get busy with my heart.
I choose Him.
"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength" (Isaiah 30:15).
"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him..." (Psalm 37:7).
"Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).
"Satan has well-laid out plans to hinder/stop us from having the life that God has promised us. Unlike some of us, the devil is "well" organized. He operates with a strategy in mind. Don't think that this strategy is something new. As long as we have been on this earth the devil has been planning how he will get us to abort the things that God has ordained for us. The devil knows that he alone can not abort the plans for our lives. He realizes that we must be a partaker. This is where the plot thickens; he has to have our cooperation. The devil is patient. He has studied us and it's sad to say, but some times it appears that he knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows what we like, what we don't like, and what makes the hair stand up on the back of our necks. He is just waiting for the right time and it's on!"
It would seem that I have become THAT blogger. You know the one: they tempt you with empty promises of new and exciting posts once every 3 months or so, but never ACTUALLY deliver. I'm really not a fan of being THAT blogger: because quite honestly, I miss you all! I really do! And you were all SO supportive during my time in Jamaica - especially the time leading up to it, that I would never want you to think I have forgotten you: because you didn't forget me! I hope and pray that you all are well, and would be ecstatic if you drop me a line (as you trickle in over the next month lol) and let me know how you are. I'd LOVE to hear from you!