Scripture: "With this in mind, we constantly pray that our God will empower you to live worthy of all that He has invited you to experience. " (2 Thessalonians 1:11)
Scripture: "I, therefore, urge you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God's service. Living as becomes you--with complete humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another." (Ephesians 4:1-2)
May the grace and peace of the Holy Spirit be with you always. I've been praying for you all and look so forward to being able to actually be in your presence at some point soon. I am sensing that people are tremendously antsy and really ready to MOVE into another space! I am also sensing that things are heating up in the spiritual realm. Before we, who say we're on the Lord's team, take one step...we need to know what our assignment is. We want to be sure that first and foremost we are listening to His leading so that we are taking the RIGHT steps, listening to the One who needs our full attention right now. I believe that the Lord still gives His people strategies for moving His purpose in us forward, but it is more essential than ever that we are listening for His leading. How's your prayer life? Are you using this time at home to lean into Him more? Are you growing in recognizing His voice and listening to Him?
This reminds me of a story I heard a while ago. The new recruits had just begun boot camp. Everyone was eager to please the sergeant in charge. As he went from one to the other, he barked a question at a young recruit: "Why did you join the Marine Corps?" Imagine the young recruit answering, "To find my purpose, sir!" With that, the sergeant screamed, "YOU HAVE NO PURPOSE! ONLY THE CORPS HAS A PURPOSE! WHAT YOU HAVE IS AN ASSIGNMENT!"
And there you have it. What we have is an assignment. Period. We do not create purpose for the Lord. He allows us to have an assignment within HIS purpose. The question is whether we will have the humility to be his foot soldiers, not running ahead of the grace provided, listening for and awaiting our assignments only from Him. In Acts 2, the people were astounded by Peter's explanation of Pentecost morning. They asked two very important questions: 1) What does this mean? And: 2) What must we do?
Jesus promises that His sheep will hear His voice. (John 10:27-28) But we don't HAVE to. We must CHOOSE to. If we are to be of use to Him, we must agree to His terms. This reminds me of a story about St. Francis. A man came to see him in hopes of joining his order. St Francis very causally walked with the man to the garden. He handed the man a cabbage and instructed him to bury it upside down. The man insisted that it wouldn't grow and began to show St Francis how it should be done. Once again, St Francis instructed the man to bury the cabbage upside down. And once again the man told St Francis that that would not work. After a third "go-round" of this lovely exercise, St Francis dismissed the young man and told him that he would not be joining the Franciscans. He was shocked and pointed out all of his merits and qualifications. St Francis looked at him kindly and said, "I simply needed your obedience." This, my friends, is what Jesus needs of us as well.
His purpose was to come to the earth and destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8) He wants so much to give each of us an assignment, specifically chosen for each of us, to join Him in defeating the works of the enemy. Perhaps our piece seems so small that we don't even recognize it as an assignment. Maybe we think we have so much more to offer than what we are currently doing. God is looking for humility and obedience in His people. He needs to be able to know that He can trust us with ANYTHING. Maybe it's a particular task...maybe it's a particular person. Always it will be perfectly designed for you or for me. The question is not whether or not God WANTS to use us. The question is whether or not we will be trustworthy with our assignment. Love your family. Do your simple, daily tasks with great love and care. Don't miss an opportunity to give an encouraging word. Look for the gold in someone, especially if it is difficult to see. Not everyone is called to do great things. Not everyone is called to be a great speaker or teacher. Not everyone will be asked to go and be public figures. Most of us have simple worlds and simple assignments. But if you haven't already noticed, LOVING is not simple and not easy! Not growing weary in doing good is NOT simple or easy! Continuing to praise God and do the next right thing when quarantine continues, and the month is longer than the money coming in is not simple or easy. What we do know is that God is FOR us. What we do not know, though, is how God intends to use even our smallest efforts. Because you see, no act of love or obedience is small in His eyes. And He promises to work ALL things for our good. (Romans 8:28)
As many of you know, we have a camp prayer that we recite together every day. The last part of it says, "Keep us ready to help others at some cost to ourselves. Send us chances to do a little good every day, and so to grow more like Christ." The good news is that 2 Thessalonians 1:11 says, "By His power, He will fulfill your every resolve for goodness and works of faith." Thank You, Jesus! For all that we can NOT do in our own strength, He promises to do in us if we choose to be WITH Him. He is always FOR us.
So "what does this mean?" and "what are we to do?" We are to rejoice in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) He promises that His grace is sufficient in our weakness. This shelter in place time, shelter in Him. Let Him rewire our brains from having to always be on top of our games and rejoice in our littleness, our weaknesses. Let St. Therese remind us how to let Jesus lift us in His arms and hold us close because we are just little. Rest in the great joy of being small. This certainly turns the world's view on its ear. Then and only then can God empower us to live worthy of what He's called us to experience. (2 Thessalonians 1:11)
And what He's invited us to experience is being part of overthrowing the kingdom of darkness, right beside our King. His little ones, humble, close to His Heart, ready to be obedient to His every wish...these are the ones who will, " lead many to righteousness and shine like the stars forever." (Daniel 12:3) And these are the ones who will help destroy the works of the devil. I want to be in that number. And so, I continue to ask the questions: what does it mean and what must I do? It means that if I am serious that I want to be worthy of being trusted with an assignment from my Lord, I must continue to allow Him to chip away at my pride, my selfishness, and all that keeps me from the humility it takes to give Him my full obedience, trust and love. And I must continually learn to rejoice in my weakness, (or at least be ok with being a chocolate mess!) because His strength is made perfect in my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) So here I am, Lord. Make me whatever You want me to be. I give you my heart, my mind, my soul, and my body. Let my every move, and everything I say or do lead me deeper into You. Keep me ready to help others at some cost to myself. Send me chances to do a little good, every day, and so to grow more like Christ. Centuries ago, the people grew tired of the Apostle John always and only talking to them about loving each other. They begged for another lesson. He said to them, "When you get this one, we'll move on." Let me get this one, Jesus. Let us all get it! Give us Your eyes to see and Your heart to love. And do the same for all who seek You with their lives. Amen.
Declaration: We want to glorify You, Lord, to make You easy to see. Thank You that You are infusing more and more of Yourself into us every day as we trust in you. Thank You that You are moving in us to chip away our hearts of stone and make us more and more like You. We cannot thank You enough, Lord, for shining Your strength through our weakness. We give You our lives, Lord, and thank You for giving us Yours.
I am grateful for each of you!