Where you need to be and where you are most needed

We won’t always feel the thrill of this is the thing I was made to do. When it no longer sparks joy, we will wish we could throw away our calling like the jeans we’ve been hanging onto for someday. Just because you are called to something doesn’t mean it will be easy. In fact, I can say with total confidence that it won’t be. If it was, we wouldn’t need a power greater than ourselves. 

We should go with our lives where we most need to go and where we are most needed.

Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark

Sometimes, we wonder what to do with the stuff of our past. The things we did, or we were, or experienced. Sometimes we bury it, sometimes we run from it, sometimes, we let it bury us.

If you are working toward freedom from the past, freedom from shame, freedom from fear, freedom from chains, you will in time come to a crossroads. Call it letting go, call it forgiveness, call it realization that you are no longer bound, but at some point, even if that point seems so far away now, it will become possible for you to forget what lies behind. 

I’ve heard that phrase a lot. Most of the time, the person saying seems to be forgetting that the speaker was speaking of his successes and the laurels he refused to rest on. Because he never forgot that he was the chief of sinners. Are we really ever allowed to forget who we once were? And such were some of you seems to be a cornerstone of grace. Forgetting where we came from tends to make us holier than thou.

So what do we do with it? With the thing we’ve been forgiven for, the thing we’ve been healed from, the thing we’ve gotten through?

Some of us are given rest, I believe that. Quiet healing. Peace at last.

But some of us are called to speak up, to light the path, and let our lives become a means of encouragement. Maybe we’re just a few steps ahead of someone who is desperate to know which way to go. Or maybe we’re in a place of peace someone is doubting even exists — just knowing you were once where they are now will give them hope that their life won’t always be as dark as it is at present.

But I believe this, too, we know when we are called. We don’t have to wonder.

In the stillness when the TV goes off, when the people are asleep, when the phone rests out of reach, you feel it. In the moment when the preacher is preaching and the burn radiates in your chest, it rises up in your mind and you see it. In the task when the Eric Liddell-like rush of When I run, I feel His pleasure overwhelms you, you hear it.

A calling doesn’t let go of you. Oh, you can suppress it for a while, and you will very likely doubt it — maybe even for a long time after you’ve stepped into it. But if you don’t answer it, calling hangs onto you like a blackberry bramble, pricking you every now and then with a spiked thorn. It’ll quit bothering you, of course, if you develop a callus. But if you feel the sharp sting, and you pay attention to it, the poke will lead you to where you are most needed.

How do you know where you are most needed?

Well, honestly, sometimes, you’re asked. But more often, especially if you are the gentle or reticent sort, you have to suck up your fears and raise your hand. And sometimes, the thing you are resisting the most is the very thing you are being called to do.

And for some of us, the stuff of our past is shaping our calling. People going through hardship need to know they aren’t alone. It helps to know there is someone out there who gets it.

That doesn’t mean we have to launch a ministry, though that might be what you are being called to. We don’t have to start a business, though that also could be it. But more than likely, we just need to notice the need around us: the hard place someone is going through that is a place we’ve known well; the thing that almost killed us, but here we are, still breathing; the darkness that consumed us for a time, and no one would know it if we didn’t say a word. Someone is in need of the hope you have to offer them just by your existence.

We’re stepping out into the unknown when we agree to open up the past and let it become hope for others. Sure, our discomfort might mean we don’t belong, but it could also mean we’re in the right place.

We won’t always feel the thrill of this is the thing I was made to do. When it no longer sparks joy, we will wish we could throw away our calling like the jeans we’ve been hanging onto for someday. Just because you are called to something doesn’t mean it will be easy. In fact, I can say with total confidence that it won’t be. If it was, we wouldn’t need a power greater than ourselves. 

But sometimes, when you look around you in that space you are compelled to fill, you notice how few are called to it and how much you are depended on in that way no longer makes you want to run away. You are there just exactly because of who you are and what you’ve been through and not in spite of it — you, with all your imperfections, fears, and doubts.

You are the one who is needed and you know beyond reason that you need to be there.

the reluctant hostess: guest post at (in)courage

Excited to be featured on the incourage.me blog today.

I love to have guests, but I’m not much of an inviter.

Even when my heart is willing, acute self-consciousness creeps in and overwhelms my good intentions.

My nearsighted housekeeping, worn out furniture, fear of saying the wrong thing, and decidedly awkward inability to carry on a casual conversation stops me if I even have a minute to think about being a hostess.

I want to invite, I really do. I know how loved I feel when I’m invited. I watch friends do it with ease and grace and admire them for their ability to fold people into their lives.

But I’m not wired that way . . .

Read the rest of my post today on (in)courage.

dear mom who feels the darkness

May Your unfailing love be with us Lord, even as we put our hope in You. Psalm 33:22

***originally posted October 31, 2014***

It has not been a quiet week in our town.

Poulsbo, Washington sits on Liberty Bay 18 miles across the Puget Sound from Seattle. Our “Little Norway”is full of Scandinavian charm and actual Scandinavians.

On a clear day from various hills around town you can see the Olympic Mountains to the west and Mt. Ranier to the southeast. Woods hide flaws here. And tides mark time.

But this week, our hearts are raw from shock, fear, alarm, and now grief over yet another young person in our little town overcome by darkness.

As parents, we are shaken, and moved to pray deeply, from broken hearts, for our kids. To love them more clearly, more vocally. To give them hope that darkness passes.

Honestly, sometimes, it feels like it never will. The world outside is war, and disease, and death. And school is fear. And tragedy hits home.

Sometimes, it feels foolish to hope. Every day the headlines are worse.

They see it, too. They know. They can count. One every year, my son said.

* * * * *

Dear mom who feels the darkness,

I feel it, too. So heavy. A darkness consuming days, raining sorrow.

Inescapable dread, eclipsing joy.

It’s so hard to see in the dark. My eyes are old. And tired of seeing pain. I bet yours are, too.

But night does not last forever.

This is a promise we can trust. We have evidence every day as night passes into dawn.

Tell your children you love them and pray they will hear and embrace the truth that God loves them and has a purpose for their lives.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord . . . Jeremiah 29:11-14

And tell stories of when you were nearly overcome by darkness, but you reached out to God for help and he helped you even when the situation looked impossible.

“Exactly at the instant when hope ceases to be reasonable it begins to be useful . . . . the only kind of hope that is of any use in a battle is a hope that denies arithmetic.” G.K. Chesterton

And pray always, dear mom who feels the darkness, because you are fighting a spiritual battle for your children’s lives.

* * * * *

The silver rectangle in my hand with the cut out flower was a gift from a teacher for working in my

youngest son’s kindergarten classroom. She gave it to me for Christmas just weeks after my husband lost his job and we lost our home. It was the darkest time of my life.

 

Hope was the thing I needed most desperately. I needed to believe God had a future for me, for Dave, and for our family.

And He did.

But I could not see any of it for a very long time. Not just days, but weeks and months.

The walk through darkness does not have to end in despair. Cling to hope and pray through til the light dawns again.

May Your unfailing love be with us Lord, even as we put our hope in You. Psalm 33:22

* * * * *

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