I’m always amazed when God teaches me more than anything while writing a sermon! One might think that the message is for the congregation that will hear it and not for the person preaching it! But, alas, God does something that my measly human mind didn’t think of…go figure!
If you have been following along either by physically being at THG onSunday over the last few weeks or if you stay tunedvia our podcasts, you’ve heard me say that this #Selfies sermon series isn’t for anyone BUT ourselfies! We can easily get caught up in hearing something and think, “oh, I wish Aunt Suzie was here to hear this!” but that’s not what this series has been about. It’s been for ourselfies, to take a true look at how “well it is with our souls!”
I’ve personally enjoyed learning and teaching through this series and I’ve just simply been amazed at who it’s touched as well! I even got a text with a screen shot of the Facebook pump up we posted yesterday with a message that said, “Really!? This is what you’re teaching on tomorrow?!” I said, “girl, take it up with Jesus!” I seriously thought of this series while I was on a cruise and I just saw so many people taking selfies with their phones and thought, how often do we really take a deep look at ourselfies!? When was the last time you looked at your soul and the areas of life that are just hard?! I know I forget to do that most days…who wants to know where they’re hurting or struggling?! Not me! So God has totally laid the path on this series and I would encourage you to go take a listen on our podcast for any that you may have missed!
This last week was a bit unusual for how recent weeks have went…most have been great lessons on letting God meet our needs, and allowing Him to be our safe haven, but this week I fel a nudge, a nudge that said to tell a bit of my own personal story!
16 As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”18 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 19 Going on a little farther, He saw [a]James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away [b]to follow Him.
Eli is, together with Rex and I, our oldest son. And I remember even before he was born thinking of all the things I was going to be and not going to be as a mother. Once he was born and I saw his sweet chubby face I knew who I wanted and needed to be as a mom to this little boy, and I began to think of his future and how it would all play out, how he would play baseball like his daddy and play basketball like his mama, and he would finish school and maybe join the army and follow in his daddy’s footsteps and all these things go on in your mind of all you have PLANNED for that little human being sleeping so sweetly, wrapped in the blanket and a blue cap covering his head.
Of course that has happened with each of our children, even my two God-given children, each of them running through my mind how I imagine life will be for them and how I plan their lives to play out! Of course when they make certain decisions that plan changes a little bit each time.
“OK, Wyatt, you are a bit lazy and don’t want to play football…that’s ok, let’s go to plan b!” right?! Maybe with your children you’re on plan D, E, or Z!
The same way we look at our children with all of those dreams and plans for them is how God views us and all His plans and dreams He has for us! He has things all lined out and calls us to walk a certain path and lean on Him for our needs and trust in Him for safety and not care about what anyone else thinks and we will have a straight path! Right?! And then we make decisions without God and so He lines out plan b, or plan c, or plan z.
As a pastor, my job is sometimes to really lift those around that need it…to be the one that they call when their marriage is falling apart and I’ll need to sit in the middle of the fighting. To be the one they call when their child is sick and needs answers as to why. To be the one they call when they are grieving the loss of their mother and the rest of the world is telling them to just get over it. To be the one to lead a church, to be asked a million questions at meeting at the conference, to be strong, to be happy, to always have it put together! Many of you, especially if you’re new to THG, don’t fully know my story and if you did you would quickly understand that that last statement is anything but the truth for me!
The weird thing that happened as I was writing my message for last Sunday was how many times, 3 to be exact, I had someone tell me I was “living into His calling and His will” in my life! The third time happened to be on my Facebook memories! One year ago yesterday was when I started my exiting process from my professional accounting job and started to prepare for full time ministry!
So I took this as a sign to tell you briefly about my personal journey over this last few years!
I was not raised in the church, there was always a belief in God in the house, but we weren’t regular church goers. I was baptized at 13 but quickly left the church when my father got divorced. I went here and there through my adult years but wasn’t woken by the Spirit until about 6 years ago. You’ve probably heard me say this before: I believe there are two pivotal points in every believer’s walk: When you accept Jesus into your hearts and when He becomes Lord of your life! And for you, if one has happened but not the other yet then maybe that’s a selfie you need to take. Abundant life doesn’t happen until Jesus is Lord of your life! Just being baptized isn’t enough! He has to wreck your life, take total control over you, your thinking, your daily living! It’s a beautiful thing!
My number one prayer when we moved to KY was to find a church that we loved like we did in SC. Within one week of being here we met the founding pastor of THG and we knew we wanted to be a part of this. Ironically, we met in the elementary school where we would have church services for nearly 3 years. About two years ago I felt the call to ministry, through a lot of guidance and information on how the UMC worked I felt this was the path, this was my PLAN Z – maybe more like plan G at that point…but it definitely wasn’t my first plan! At this point I had already finished my accounting degree, and was working towards my bachelor’s degree, and was right on track for my CPA. We knew I need to finish school so that Rex could retire and not have to work again and I would need to compensate for the amount we were losing with his retirement with my further education.
We had a plan!
But when I felt the call to ministry a couple years ago, all of those plans started to change. I got this gut wrenching feeling that what I had planned, was no longer what GOD had planned. And eventually I spoke to Rex and made the decision to take the path to local pastoring. I went to Local licensing school last spring and I immediately knew that I was meant for this path, this WAS God’s plan!
But, you know what…God’s plan was the scariest thing I had ever even allowed to go through my mind! I felt so clueless! I thought, God I wasn’t raised in church, I don’t know enough, I’m not smart enough, I have failed you so many times, this just can’t be what you want from me!
But, God had a plan!
So I made the unthinkable decision…I jumped out of the boat! I decided that full time ministry is what that plan was and I quit my job so that I could dedicate my time to THG and eventually would have a church of my own. One year ago yesterday, that memory on Facebook I told you about read like this:
“Today is my last day in the accounting department…this is my final exit to make my way into ministry! I’m scared to freaking death! But this is God’s plan! I know this is His plan! And who is He but greater than I!”
God had a plan!
I didn’t fully understand the depth of that plan, but I knew where I needed to move and every time I did I received peace and affirmations through His word and through people around me that I felt were little gifts from God himself that I was following HIS plan and not my own!
The more I served the more I saw this was what I was made for so I even switched my majors so that I could quickly get done with my Bachelor degree and make my way to Seminary. Everything was fun and games until I found out I would be taking over a church…this church! I had HUGE shoes to fill and I was going to have to fill them FAST! Following a founding pastor is extremely difficult and I say this with complete humility, I don’t know if it would have been a smooth transition if it had been anyone else to take over at The High Ground! Because I believe it was a part of God’s plan! Within three weeks I went from kind of pastoring to fully pastoring!
But, this was God’s plan….it most certainly was NOT MY PLAN!!!!
But it was His…
So I took over this ministry in October and it’s been quite the adventure – every turn of the way more difficult than the last, but you know the thing about difficulty is that although our brains think that harder is worse – when it comes to God’s plans, He’s already affirmed it for us, so why do we digress when HE has already laid the foundation!? Harder isn’t worse, harder is more rewarding!
It’s the little things that continues to show me and through words of all of you that as soon as I start to doubt myself, I receive a message that says “you are truly living out God’s will!” And then I know, yep, there He is!
This is God’s plan!
I’ve visited the seminary I will be attending and I started to doubt that was His plan. It’s expensive, is this the right school, is this right for my family. Just questions surrounded my heart! And then I received the email that received a scholarship and my whole schooling will be paid for!
I’m not saying that this is always going to be perfect! There will be nay-sayers! There will be people will be others that think you’re crazy! I’m not saying you feel something is God’s plan and everything will fall right on your plate, it will be hard, it will feel like you’re falling, you’ll struggle, there will be roadblocks…but if it’s part of God’s plan…if God is for us, who can be against us! How history would be different if David didn’t listen to that gut feeling that God would be with him to defeat Goliath! How history would be different if Moses though he was crazy seeing a burning bush! How history would be different if Sarah didn’t think she would have children! How different would my own life would be if I didn’t ask my husband to go inside and make out 14 years ago…how different our history would be if you hadn’t supported me through my journey, how different would your lives be if you weren’t a part of His Kingdom.
You fill in the blanks for you, how different my life would be if I didn’t ________________.
And I’m not talking just with your spouse or having kids or anything little like that, I mean “if I didn’t quit my job and listen to my call to ministry” type stuff! I mean, “if I didn’t start my own business and trust in God for provision” – I’m talking, “I am going to become a foster parent” – I’m talking, “I’m going to start tithing and serving and start living like it’s all His and not my own!”
What is YOUR way that you need to PART WAYS with in order to fulfill His will?
What is your fill in the blank???
There was a bishop of a century ago pronounced from his pulpit and in the periodical he edited that heavier-than-air flight was both impossible and contrary to the will of God. Oh, the irony that Bishop Wright had two sons, Orville and Wilbur! Wright was wrong. Sure of himself, but wrong.
I think we all can be sure of ourselves but until we are sure of our God, we aren’t seeing the whole picture, we aren’t submitting to His plan! So I have a little acrostic to help us make good PLANS so we can follow God’s will for us:
P – Process is progress! Trust the process! These things are not going to happen overnight! It took Jesus 30 years to start living into his calling AND he only did it for about three years! SO even if you’re 80 and live to be 83, you’ve nailed those 3 years that God gives you that calling for!!!
If your on plan z, don’t worry, God’s not done with you and you can still seek His will for you! But trust His process!
L – Listen to His Word! I understand it’s hard to hear where He is calling you to be! I totally understand! And I’m not super big on “it was a sign from the Lord…” but I do believe we have these affirmations along the way that strike us!
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
A – ACT! If you’re waiting on God, have you ever thought that just maybe HE is waiting on YOU!? What did the word say? Did it say they talked it out, did they go back and forth? Did they talk to their girls, post on Facebook, write a blog? IMMEDIATELY!! TWO OF THEM EVEN STRAIGHT THEIR FATHER AND IMMEDIATELY! Act!!! Jump!!!
N – Name it and claim it! We learned a few weeks ago, I believe it was on the message about our needs and allowing God to meet our needs that the passages were stated as a matter of fact! Jesus said that you can tell that mountain to move and it will move! But it’s not about that actual movement of the mountain that was the miraculous thing, it was the amount of FAITH that the person would have that WITHOUT A SHADOW OF DOUBT THAT IF YOU TELL THAT MOUNTAIN TO MOVE THAT IT WILL HAPPEN! And yet we just aren’t sure, maybe God doesn’t have a plan for me…maybe I should just stick at my job a few more years. Maybe I should just wait until the kids are out of school before I go back to school! Maybe, maybe, maybe…NO! Name it! Claim it! Because, guess what, He already has!
S – Surrender your will to God’s! Many times when we say we are seeking God’s will, what we are really wanting to say to God is this: “OK, God, here’s what I’m planning to do. Now I need you to rubber stamp this, all right?” I must tell you that this is not really effective in finding His true will. Before God will begin to reveal His will to you, you must be committed to doing whatever it is that He desires for you to do. God will likely be slow to show you His plan if He knows you will likely not do that plan anyway.
If there is one thing I’ve found through my own journey is to just let Him have it all. Let him have you, let him have that journey you’re afraid to go on, let Him take hold of your fears! As soon as you feel that tug, that pull on your heart to do something, and you ACT – it has always been then that I feel the closest presence of the Holy Spirit. No He doesn’t audibly talk to me (it would be freaking cool if He did!), BUT He does give me peace. He gives me a sense of accomplishment. He gives me direction. And the best is when He gives me gifts through people like you…whoever you may be reading this! I see the Spirit of God moving through my obedience in those in my ministry…for those in my path through His plan!
But I had to part ways with my plan in order to be blessed with His! One day at a time, trusting His process, listening to His word, acting when that tug happens, naming it and claiming it, and surrendering my will for His!
I hope my little grace story moves you to seek His plan for you! I want to hear about it!!! Even if you’re only trusting the process and haven’t done anything else! I want to know! Give praise for the little things and have faith for the big that are to come!
With blessings and praise,