“I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure. ” -Eric Liddell
I have always loved this quote, for as long as I can remember. I loved what it represents, this possibility that when you are fully in your life, connected to the purposes for which God has created you, that you experience Him in a far greater and more tangible way this side of heaven. Maybe you have caught a glimpse of this in your own life, when you have tasted a nibble of something that sparks your passion or perhaps, for you more adventurous types, have dove in head-first into what you believed to be God’s calling on your life.
I used to describe this feeling, for lack of a better word, when I would talk about times I feel inspired to write. It was like I was experiencing a sweet, sweet intimacy with the Holy Spirit that I didn’t often experience in that same way anywhere else. It is personal. It is humbling. It is so fulfilling. And it makes me thirsty for more.
I haven’t really heard anyone else describe it this way before, outside of the above quote, until I ran across Ann Swindell’s post today, where she penned these words:
“And I found, the further I went into words and story and the grinding turn of revision, that I met God in the process of writing in deep, deep ways. I loved that when I wrote, I felt his nearness; I felt, more than anything, at home.“
At home. Yes. For my often wandering pilgrim’s heart, this perfectly describes my experience. A place where things just seem to settle into place and magnify a sense of clarity and focus for my life, even if for just a few fleeting moments. And joy! Abundant joy and a sense of fulfillment.
So what’s so exciting about this, you may say? Well, besides the fact that it’s always nice to feel like you run across someone that can paint your experience with words, this comes as a very swift and personal response to a prayer that my husband and I prayed together recently. The prayer was prompted from a place of dryness and stagnation, where I’ve found myself feeling weary and somewhat discouraged from the monotony of the day-to-day of being a Stay-At-Home-Mama.
“Lord, I’m struggling. I know You have me here, but I feel detached from vibrant life. I believe You have more for me than this. Help me to find something that will revive, rejuvinate, and be life-giving to me.”
Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful that God has so graciously chosen this place for me. And I wouldn’t choose anything else now. But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy, or that I wake up excited and ready to attack my day most days. My attention-to-detail approach to life makes it hard for me to maintain a vision of the overall, sweeping purposes and meaningfulness of the monotony, and so I have to continually draw myself away to Jesus’ feet for Him to renew my perspective and infuse once again the sense of purpose in the “wash, rinse, repeat” of my day.
So, back to the prayer. I didn’t really have an expectation (that I’m aware of) of how the Lord would respond, but I trusted that He would. Somehow, even in the middle of desertland, the Lord graced me with Hope. Maybe a new hobby? A new ministry to serve in? A good book? (joking…kind of. I was at a point where I would accept whatever.)
And in His grace, He has responded. And quickly, thank You, Jesus.
First, with this article. Please go read this. Like right now. It’s that good.
“The habit we practice without realizing it is one of denying our own personhood….And it’s keeping us from becoming most fully ourselves.”
When we are able to embrace fully how God has created us – interests, tendencies (good and bad), skills, giftings, experiences, limitations, struggles, – and live in that identify, we glorify Him to our fullest potential, because we are revealing His true design. The goal isn’t to just know myself better, but that this whole process of embracing who He has made me and pursuing His design allows me to know Him better, and better make Him known.
When I tell myself -whether consciously or subconsciously – that while I would enjoy doing ______, that is just really not for me, that I’m not enough (talented enough, popular enough, rich enough, fill in your own lack), then I am limiting the extent to which I can experience God and that I can reveal Him to others around me. And I will add, I’m probably not recognizing that one huge factor in all of this is the expectation or picture of how the above would look (and which automatically disqualifies me in my own mind). When I don’t recognize this and choose to not pursue whatever my _____ is, I’m trusting my own understanding instead of trusting God’s design and ultimate purpose.
For example, I feel called to write. (And I confess that I feel quite vulnerable admitting this publicly for the first time) And for a long time, this calling has intimated me and I have procrastinated and avoided the implications.
One of the reasons of that is because I thought I knew what the end goal would be and saw the cavernous gap between here and there (enter obstacle one: my expectation of what God had planned).
Some other obstacles have been the usual suspects – comparison, insecurity, fear, laziness, the fact that it looks a whole lot like work (just keeping it real).
And so I haven’t pursued what I felt God was calling me to, not wholeheartedly. And it’s not even until I type out these words that I realize the disobedience in that. Lord, please forgive me.
While deep down I know that I would enjoy writing and being a writer, I have allowed these obstacles to tell me that it wasn’t for me. It was for those more talented, more educated, more creative people out there, and so I better just leave it to them. They’ll do a good job.
All the while, denying the sadness and even jealousy and resentment that others got to do what I wanted to do. (What a tangled, complicated cycle.)
But like Emily Freeman says in the article, there is a space for me. And there is a space for you. And if we don’t step into our space, we’re missing out on a greater intimacy with God, on greater joy and fulfillment during this lifetime, and on ultimately bringing Him the most glory that we can through this short life.
The space I’m called to may look really different than most. And so part of my process in acknowledging my calling is also letting go of the expectation of what it will turn out to be (which sounds a whole lot like surrender).
And most importantly, acknowledging that it is His space that He has carved out for me.
His portion for my life.
It is His place for me, as His child, to sing and dance and live freely, learning more about Him as I function as He created me to, and ultimately allowing Him to use my life, my work, my writing, my whatever however He wants to.
Because it is His.
I’m not trying to create my own version of it, but it is surrendered to Him.
And because it’s His space for me, there is freedom!
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17
And free people can set other people free! The cost isn’t just what you will miss out on, but what others may miss out on because you’re not there. I SO need people living freely in front of me to show me that it’s possibility to be free, too.
So let’s be in our space, fully in our lives, grappling with it (as Martha Kilpatrick would say), and He will make Himself know to us and to others, for our good and His glory!
“The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” – Psalm 16:5-6
So what has God placed within your space? What is the composition of all of your personality and skill set and dreams look like for you? I’d love to hear! I’ve love for this to be a place where you can acknowledge God’s design, maybe even for the first time, and claim that you do have a space to step into, to fulfill, to reveal more of our Creator.
“He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.“ – Ephesians 2:10 (MSG)
“It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others.“ – Ephesians 2:10 (TLB)
“For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].“ – Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)
Some of the other really cool resources that I’ve been lead to recently are below. I could go on and on about those as well, but I want to get them out here sooner than it would take to wrap them in words.
Ann Swindell’s post on Pursuing Your Passion In The Margins (I’m currently taking her 6-week online writing course, which has been SO good. More to come on that later.)