Failure to Freedom

DSC_0486Last year I flew with my co-writer and friend, Dena Dyer, to Indiana for a television interview. The Harvest Show interviewed us about our newly released book Wounded Women of the Bible. This was my first television interview and I had no idea what to expect. The night before, Dena and I walked through thoughts and questions, so I felt ready and prepared.

Our host helped us feel comfortable in every way. Once I stepped onto the platform, beneath the lights and cameras, I sank like a marshmallow in the heat of the sun. Someone should have blindfolded me or thrown a towel over the monitors.  I didn’t like my appearance on camera and fidgeted too much. I had too many pillows behind my back and stuck out like a sore thumb. Dena sat proper and polished while I sat like a huge lump on the couch. I smacked my lips and swallowed hard. I even needed a trip to the bathroom.

Dena’s eyes and beautiful smile said, “Stop fidgeting.” Confession: My thoughts not hers. I looked around for a brown paper bag, feeling I might hyperventilate, but then came the questions. I knew these stories. I spent twelve months writing about these particular wounded women in the Bible. I could share in-depth thoughts and notes on each one. I was ready.

The host said, “Tell me about Ichabod.”  Ichabod who? I completely froze. Blank. Nothing. Empty. I grasped at something to say. I couldn’t gather my thoughts or remember that Eli was Ichabod’s father-in-law. As if an eternity, a long pause of silence fell. I had no idea what came out of my mouth after that moment. Before long it was over and I drooped off the stage. Needless to say, I wasn’t pleased with my first television interview, but so grateful to have had the experience.

After Dena left the hotel to fly home, something hit me – I felt despair, inadequacy, and insufficiency. I would be lying if I said tears weren’t involved in that moment of self-pity. While packing, I turned the television on and flipped through the channels to find something to cheer my mood. I stopped on a well-known female pastor. The first words out of her mouth were, “Listen! God uses people all the time who have no idea what they’re doing!”

My heart leaped and the words slapped me in the face – starting with “Listen!” Leave it to God to reach through our self-pity and grab hold of our collars. I was reminded that life is full of experiences and God uses “the least of these.” If I hadn’t heard those words that day, I may have carried my feelings of despair (among others) home, placed them on a shelf, and allowed them to identify my character and abilities. God recognized my “stinkin’ thinkin'” (as my friend says) and burst forward with one bold statement: “He uses people all the time who have no idea what they’re doing.”

Sometimes we have those frozen cloud crowding moments when our mind appears broken. God understands and desires to free us of anything the enemy may hold over our heads. All we have to do is be willing to step into Him and God will teach, grow, and strengthen us, even when we feel like we have no idea what we’re doing. God takes our offerings and uses them for His glory.

One other word of affirmation from God came when my husband, who is one of two men on Sheila Walsh’s launch team for her new book, shared a story she wrote. In her book, Sheila shares a story of one particular television interview. My mouth dropped as it mirrored mine! (But you’ll have to wait and read the story when her book comes out). As if what God shared through the television wasn’t enough, He said, “You see, Tina, even the big girls start out in similar places.”

Let me encourage you to never give up, push through those feelings of failure, and move forward with God at your side. God turns our failures into faith walks when we trust He can use every part of what we offer Him. May this year be the beginning of great things, especially allowing God to free you, and you freeing yourself, from any past failures.

A new dawn awaits.

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Reflections from a Songbird

Photo/KarenJordan

When you have seen one ant, one bird, one tree, you have not seen them all. (E. O. Wilson) 

“Silly bird! Why are you pecking on the window?”

“She’s defending her territory,” my husband Dan surmised.

We watched in amazement as the female cardinal, fooled by her own image, continued to swoop down—over and over again—attacking her reflection in the window.

Dan snickered. “I know you’ll find a story here.” Then, he closed his eyes and dozed off in front of the TV.

I turned my attention back to my laptop and whined, “I’ve got to get this blog post written.”

Dan mumbled from his recliner, “Why don’t you give yourself a break?”

I agreed under my breath. “I AM taking a break! I’m sitting here with you, watching a movie.”

I needed rest. But I stared at my never-ending “to do” list. I felt the pressure of some impending writing deadlines and speaking commitments, along with our holiday plans. The weight of my schedule and expectations pushed me beyond my comfort zone.

Dan interrupted my thoughts. “I’m just saying, you’ve had a lot on your plate lately.”

“Thanks for the reminder,” I grumbled. I took a deep breath, trying to focus on my project and forget about my failures and limitations.

My head ached. My heart fluttered. I felt short of breath. Oh, no—not another panic attack! Red flag!

I closed my eyes. Focus on breathing. Inhale. Exhale. REST. Remember, “ … The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything …” (Phil. 4:5-6 NIV).

How do I NOT be anxious? “ … in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (6-7).

Like the songbird, I continued to attack my own image, focusing on my worries instead of the truth revealed in the mirror of God’s Word.

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like (Jms 1:23 NIV).

I took another deep breath and exhaled. “That’s enough!”

“What … what did I do?” Dan muttered in his sleep.

Realizing that Dan thought I was fussing at him, I sighed. “I’m just talking to that crazy bird.”

I turned again to face the songbird, still flapping and responding to her reflection. “Silly bird!”

What experiences have you had in beating yourself up lately?

Photo/KarenJordan
YouTube/KarenJordan

Will It Ever be Enough?

worried head

I love the turn of the year; it’s one of my favorite times. There’s just something that happens when a fresh hope stirs the air. And, yes, in this season of countless commitments for less of this and more of that, I’ll admit I’ve shared more than a few words with myself about change. Not resolutions per se but rather affirmations, things I choose to think about in a positive manner in the hopes of moving in that direction.

Some of those have to do with folks finding my book. I shared recently how my publishing dream quickly turned to a real-life marketing responsibility after the book was released. My dream morphed into a product—a product that competed with many others for incredibly scarce bookshelf space and reader eyes. And while I was passionate about sharing the hope of God’s truths tucked between my words, I knew well that readers sense motive and I felt {more than} a little funny chasing numbers and progress.

Until my days of interviews and Facebook parties and twitter chats turned to nights of laryngitis and pneumonia and cancelled engagements and disillusionment because I could no longer directly engage my audience.

You see, as newly published authors there’s this window of opportunity to which we respond in launching our books, this newness that either ignites and spreads like wildfire or burns a quick blaze and dies out. And sometimes, in an effort to fan the flame, we new authors nurture this mind-numbing over-fixation to be everywhere at once so we can personally touch each one of our readers.

Will it ever be enough?

I imagine it’s not too far from how the disciples felt that day they walked alongside Jesus by the lake in the country, that day they found themselves responsible for a crowd of hungry mouths yet held only five small loaves of bread and two fish. {Remember the miraculous story in the gospels of Jesus feeding five thousand folks?}

“We have here only five loaves and two fish,” they said.

Will it ever be enough?

“Bring them here to me,” Jesus said.

That’s when we watch the miracle unfold, when we see Jesus take what they had, bless it, and return it to the disciples so that they could do what needed to be done.

I’m learning this the hard way, how God blesses what we bring to him, shares what we offer through him. I will never have enough, never be able to be everywhere I need to be {for countless reasons} but Jesus takes what we’re willing to bring him, blessing and multiplying it.

Walking this marketing journey, sometimes I forget that. After several weeks of an unexpected illness, I’m now back out there sharing the word about my book with my intended audience. As far as those weeks I missed that couldn’t be helped, I’m earnestly praying that God will multiply my loaves and fishes.

Deeper Still: How about you? Do you ever struggle with the need to be in control? What do you do when things don’t go as planned?

On Your Mark. . .

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BXP135660 (Photo credit: tableatny)

Something about the first week of the year makes me feel like I’m starting a race, lined up ready for the gun to sound. This week I flipped over my calendar to 2014 and suddenly deadlines loom closer. Email messages are flowing in reminding me of promises that I made. It’s time to begin working on the goals listed on the paper before me. It can be overwhelming.

On your mark…

English: Anxious Athlete Waiting at Starting Line
English: Anxious Athlete Waiting at Starting Line (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Where is our starting point for the New Year? It’s a good time to take inventory. What were my achievements in the past year?  What are my goals for this one? If we are rooted and grounded  before we start, the race will go better. We wouldn’t get far in the race if we didn’t know where we were headed.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.  Acts 20:24

Get set…

English: Athletic Feet of Runner Positioned at...
English: Athletic Feet of Runner Positioned at Starting Block Français : Pieds d’athlète positionnés sur les starting blocks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take a breath. Focus on one thing at a time. Life is lived one moment at a time. Writing requires perseverance, one word, one paragraph, one page, one chapter at a time. A slow persistence.  Persevere. God provides our daily bread – just enough for today.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24

Go…

English: Swift Form of a Runner about to Begin...
English: Swift Form of a Runner about to Begin Race (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay. Time to begin. The route is marked out ahead. Let’s run it. The New Year has already begun. Let’s live it well!

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

Happy New Year,

Betsy and Laurie

http://www.WritingSisters.com

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

  Hebrews 12:1

What Can We Offer This Christmas?

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On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. Matthew 2:11

Yesterday I read an article listing the ten best Christmas gifts for writers.  Pens and markers, Starbucks gift cards, back and neck massage — all good. This brought to mind the story of Harper Lee and an article that she wrote for McCall’s magazine in 1961 describing her best Christmas gift. She was staying with her friends in New York for the holidays. Christmas morning she was surprised by their gift to her. In a simple envelope on a slip of paper was written:

“You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.”

The family providing the gift was not wealthy; they were raising young children. With their gift they gave a young writer hope and encouragement. Who can measure the impact on hearts around the world of To Kill a Mockingbird?

Harper Lee reflects on the gift:

“Outside, snow was falling, an odd event for a New York Christmas. I went to the window, stunned by the day’s miracle. Christmas trees blurred softly across the street, and firelight made the children’s shadows dance on the wall beside me. A full, fair chance for a new life. Not given me by an act of generosity, but by an act of love.”

What can we offer this Christmas?

Our best gifts are given not as acts of generosity but as acts of love. Take time to reflect on your giving this season:

Look at each person on your Christmas list and ask yourself: What do they need that only I can give? Maybe it is not a new tie or a gift card. It might be the gift of an affirming note or your time.

Look at your community and ask yourself: What do they need that only I can give? It might not be a check. It might be your prayers or the time to touch one person well.

Look at the world and ask yourself: What do they need that only I can provide? Maybe the words you write today will change the hearts of the world like Harper Lee’s words did.

Finally, look up at God and ask yourself: What does He need that only I can provide? He doesn’t need what we have materially. It’s all His anyway. But what about our love? Our worship? And our sacrifice?

Our prayer for us all this Christmas is that our gifts be given “not by an act of generosity, but by an act of love.”

Merry Christmas, The Writing Sisters

And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest.

They are the magi.

– O. Henry, The Gift of the Magi

Finding Your Place

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 9.35.24 AMFrom an early age, we seek a purpose and earn an identity. No matter the person or age, there is a deep yearning in all of our hearts to matter, to do something with our lives, something bigger than us, something of eternal significance. It’s what we constantly strive for.

Recently, I was asked to speak to a group of young singles about finding their place. Initially, I balked at the idea. I definitely am not an expert, nor do I have all the answers. But I have a direction and I’m moving toward that end. I don’t control the outcomes, but I do control my commitment.

So I shared my story because it is the one area of my life where I am an expert (well…sometimes). If you desire to find your place/purpose in life, in writing, or in your career, here are a few pointers that have shaped my journey:

1) Start somewhere.

Realize that how God has wired you is perfect. Because you are an image-bearer, you are created uniquely with an ability to create, think, and impact. Don’t forfeit that! What do you need to do to reach your goal? Determine a course of action and take one step at a time.

I’ve heard an analogy of a person standing on a frozen lake with the thing they most desire waiting on the other side, but the person doesn’t realize that the ice is already cracking all around them. Their only option is to take one small, steady step at a time to reach their goal. You may have to avoid or change course because of cracks or weak spots, but forward movement will ALWAYS get you to the other side.

2) Allow experience to shape you.

Failure is inevitable. It’s how you weather it that counts. I received twelve grad school rejection letters before I identified the direction I needed to take. At first I cried with every closed-door. Before the last letter arrived, I began to ask the Lord, “What’s next?” Every moment of victory or defeat gives you an opportunity to speak into others’ struggles later on. Allow them to shape your character, your giftedness, and your calling.

3) Discover your giftings.

Every day when I wake up, I must choose to look at who I am in light of the great I AM. And He has gifted me uniquely, just like He has gifted you uniquely. Know who you are and how He’s wired you. Take personality tests, love language tests, StrengthsFinder, and a spiritual gifts test. Not only will they help you understand your tendencies, but these tests will help you shape well-rounded characters, as well. As you seek direction and dig into your talents and skills, ask yourself:

  • What breaks my heart and baffles my mind?
  • What stirs my affections for Christ?
  • What passions and gifts has the Lord instilled in me?
  • How and where can I use these for His glory?
  • What’s my purpose?

Where the answers intersect, take action and develop those skills and passions.

4) Be faithful where you are.

Don’t miss the opportunities you currently have around you as you pursue whatphoto copy God has called you to. William Arthur Ward said, “There are three keys to more abundant living: caring about others, daring for others, and sharing with others.” As a writer, your goal should be to care about people around you and allow that to shape how you care about your readers during the writing process. Budget time for writing and reading. And take time to live life in the company of those around you. It will improve your writing and help you make the most of every opportunity.

Finding our place in life has more to do with seeking His face than seeking our dreams. Start somewhere, allow experience to shape you, discover your giftings, and be faithful where you are until God moves you to the next step. Be faithful to steward your time, talents, and treasure, and expect big things to happen!

What steps have shaped your writing journey?

For Me, With Me, Instead of Me

Footprints in the sand on beach near San José del Cabo, Mexico at sunriseI’m sure most of us know the “Footprints in the Sand” poem, as well as its accompanying images. I think the piece strikes people for the same reason: It’s good to know we’re not alone.

However, that one-set-of-prints is not the full picture. At least not the way it plays out in my head. Sometimes, I imagine it’s multiple sets going in different directions within a dark and pot-holed parking lot. The kind where you worry someone is watching you, waiting to pounce. And even when it’s only one set, when God is carrying you through, it isn’t always on some idyllic beach. It’s on a scuffed batch of linoleum at the local Walmart, through the spilled Kool-Aid.

There are times when God is for us. I imagine this footprint scenario looking like one set of prints is a bit behind the other, trying to keep pace, but not really. I used to think God’s prints are the ones out front, and I’m the lollygagger behind. Yet, the longer I walk this walk, the more I side with the conclusion that it’s the opposite. For us means in support of. It means that He’s letting us go on ahead, cheering us on and holding back like that crazy mom who hides behind the oak tree on the first day of Kindergarten. We need these moments to build our faith. Having God carry us won’t build muscle, will it?

Then consider the times God is with us. This puts two sets of prints side by side. I like it when God is with me. I feel strong and sure and kept. Like a big girl who can legitimately say “Dad” instead of “Daddy,” and Pops couldn’t care less because even he knows it’s true. I believe these are the good times. The great times. The times when we’re almost not stupid and prone to create our own apocalyptic downfalls.

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And then, of course, when God goes instead of us. One set of prints, His, when it’s time to fall back onto something that never fails. I guess if you’re a wee bit on the nostalgic side, the footprints on that gently lapping coastline paint the perfect picture. It used to for me. But I’ve had some scuffs over the years, seen some things, been through some pits. So, when God has to pull me out, when He has to do the walking instead of me, I imagine Him fighting the fight that I cannot, busting up the joint, and no, there’s no beach. Not for some of the stuff God has to carry me away from. If an alley fight took place anywhere else than a stinking alley, then even West Side Story would have been filmed in Malibu.

Yet, however you want to picture it, the prints will always indicate He’s there. For you. With you. Instead of you.

I think this video explains it best. Take the time to give it a look.  http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=GD6PNNNX

The Trick to Becoming an Author

Pavillion_d'Armide_by_A._Benois_05The other day, a colleague asked me if I thought the burgeoning popularity of memoir-style books of the sort I had published had to do with the fact that the people who read them wanted to write such books themselves.

Reflecting on what he asked, it occurs to me now that—the underlying argument being that my writing’s appeal had nothing to do with my writing itself but only the envy of my readers and that the underlying argument of my readers’ envy being that anyone could write as well as I could—I should have gotten offended. But I didn’t. (Thanks, surely, to the Holy Spirit, who tries to protect me, usually in vain, from bouts of narcissism that make me think I’m a great writer and cause me to take offense at any reminder that I’m not.)

I didn’t get offended, too, because I knew, as anyone who’s ever published a book of any sort does, that what he said was true. We know it from the people who show up in our doorways wanting publishing advice. We know it from acquaintances who know about our good luck as writers and come up to us in the grocery store, or sitting at the vet’s office, or walking to our cars after church, and want to tell us their latest book idea. We know it from the mail we get when our books come out. Fast on the heels of a fan email, if not within the fan email itself, comes a question about how to get the fan’s own work published.

Everyone these days has not just a story in them, as they used to say, but a published book—even though it’s rarely written or even begun. All it takes to write a book, the would-be writer hopes or believes, is an idea and the need to tell it. What happens between that and getting something published is a trick they plan to learn from established writers.

But there is no trick. Just the arduous and time-consuming work of writing and rewriting and sending stuff out and waiting and trying to believe there’s a chance that someone who makes a difference in the world of publishing likes it and finding out there mostly isn’t (or, if you really are lucky, that there might be a chance with some major changes to what you’ve written) and then writing and rewriting again. That’s the part no one wants to hear or even know about. That to be a writer is to write. Period.

They’re like Simon the Magician, that guy in the book of Acts who—though Luke makes clear that he’s a genuine believer—tries to buy from the apostles the trick of touching people and thereby filling them with the Holy Spirit.

“Just teach me the trick of getting published!” EveryWriter begs. Often, as Simon does, they even offer to pay for the trick.

But there is no trick.

Sermons on Simon’s story often go on about how wrong-headed Simon was, thinking to buy the Holy Spirit, and sometimes they posit that Simon wasn’t really a believer at all, even if Luke says he was. But such sermons miss the point, I think—whether it’s the gift of writing we’re talking about or of imparting the Holy Spirit. Being a servant of the word, or the Word, is not a magic trick. You have to get out there and do it.

Hard Work--George Herriman 1907-11-24That said, I remember having had the same response to other writers’ writing—not just to their memoirs but to their novels and even textbooks. I’ve thought to myself, if they can do it, why then so can I. And so began this article and that book. So began my current writing project, a novel–my first. So began, indeed, my entire career as a writer.

If others can do it, so can you, but don’t sit around hoping to discover some trick to make it happen effortlessly. If you want to write, if you want to inspire others, if you want to fill them with good news, with the very spirit of God, you’ll just have to get out there and do it.

Choosing Thanksgiving

Photo/KarenJordanAs the autumn leaves began to fall this year, I had to admit to myself that I didn’t feel very thankful. So, I asked God to change my viewpoint as I focused on this Thanksgiving season.

In the past, I struggled with similar emotions, like love, forgiveness, and hope.

Love. After 40-plus years of marriage, I know that love must be a choice in every relationship. Our emotions and feelings ebb and flow with time. But as we invite God to intervene, He helps us navigate through the seasons of life.

Forgiveness. How can we release our anger and bitterness when we can’t forget the offenses? Impossible! That kind of forgiveness requires a divine source. But the Bible encourages us to offer ourselves and others the same forgiveness that Christ provides for us. And as we choose to remember what He’s done for us, He enables us to forgive ourselves and others.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13 NIV).

Hope. In the past, I’ve been guilt-ridden when shame covered me like a dark, heavy cloak. I lost hope and succumbed to despair and depression. But when I choose to seek God and embrace His Truth, I experience His hope and peace. Hebrews 10:23 says to embrace hope, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

Thanksgiving. Today, I choose to give thanks. Often holiday seasons bring painful memories and cloud my vision of God’s blessings. But as I confess my ingratitude and ask God to change my focus, He always offers His promises.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, notice four powerful strategies that can help us when our circumstances and emotions distract our focus on God’s blessings: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

  1. “Rejoice always …” (16). First, this passage reminds us to rejoice, even if that choice seems impossible. In Mark 10:27, we observe the disciples struggling with a seemingly impossible teaching. But “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God’” (NIV).This message is repeated in Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
  2. “… pray continually …” (17). The Bible also teaches us to pray all the time, in every situation. Philippians 4:5-6 reminds us, “The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
  3. “ … give thanks in all circumstances …” (18). Notice my emphasis of the words “with thanksgiving” in the previous passage. Again, the scripture tells us to give thanks in every situation.
  4. “ … for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (18). Why rejoice? Why pray? Why give thanks? This verse answers these questions for me. Philippians 4: 7 offers this promise, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Today, I choose to give thanks, even if my circumstances never change. And I plan to begin by focusing on my blessings.

YouTube/LoveOneAnother2011 (Laura Story “Blessings”)
Photo/KarenJordan

What strategies help you as you enter into this season of thanksgiving and celebration of God’s blessings?

A Season of Purpose

life1largewebDo you ever feel lost in the cracks of everyday routines or shuffle down roads that lead to no end? Sometimes life can feel burdened as we push to understand our purpose.

My nephew was born with a burden. His diagnoses of cystic fibrosis devastated the entire family. The disease clutched and tore at his body. He hated taking meds or enduring beatings to the chest. His only desire was to live life as a normal young man.

Whether from the illness or just being young, he struggled to understand his purpose in life.  His biggest questions became, “What did God call me to do?” and “How can I do it in my condition?”

Thomas had a knack for bringing joy into people’s lives. He loved fun. He tried attending college but never finished a semester due to hospitalizations. In between his hospital visits, he continued to find his way on campus to socialize. As time passed and his illness progressed, his friends came to him in the hospital. He encouraged them to step out of their comfort zones, even having one play her tuba in the hospital (something he laughed about for a while). When the hospital chaplain came to visit, Thomas got out of bed and walked the rest of the rounds with the chaplain. He encouraged others going through difficult times.

When friends became discouraged, Thomas quoted scripture, encouraged, and helped build their faith. He listened, ministered, and touched lives – still he struggled with finding his own purpose.

Perhaps you’re struggling to find purpose in your daily walk. Maybe your passion is to write, become a famous author, or work toward other goals that appear unreachable. Do you feel discouraged because your heart resounds, “This is it! This is my calling!” yet time and again nothing happens?

King David said to his son Solomon, “Acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought.”  ( 1 Chron.28:9 NIV) Serve God with a willing mind? What does that mean? It means “desiring, delighting in, having pleasure in” whatever God asks of us rather than focusing on our wants and desires. Something magical happens when our hearts line up with God’s heart. We find we really are finding purpose. God’s desires become ours.

Thomas died this past year at age twenty-three. Though Thomas walked in purpose that season of his life, he, at times, couldn’t see it. He never made it through college, received his music degree, or led worship in a church as his heart desired. But when he sang, his low bass voice echoed through every nook and corner. I believe the heavens rejoice at Thomas’s rendition of “Long Black Train.” His last year, he couldn’t do things most young men his age could do, but Thomas never gave up on seeking God and serving Him with wholehearted devotion. I have no doubt the moment Thomas stood before his Lord, he understood exactly what his purpose on earth was all about.

strong1     My friend, keep moving forward with your passions and desires, keeping God in the center of each one. King David didn’t get to build the temple because God chose Solomon for that purpose. However, God used David to achieve so much during his lifespan. Whatever you’re doing, know if God is walking with you, He is fulfilling your purpose. Hold on to hope, stay encouraged, and from the words David shared with his son, “Be strong and do the work.” ( v 10) In the end, you might find your greatest purpose is pleasing God – that in itself is more fulfilling than any other. And at just the right time – God delivers your greatest desire.

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