crocodile tears.

i need for you to know what god did in my heart last week. i need for you to know the impact of how he used you in my life.

*i hesitate to post this for worry it could be considered ‘false humility’. it’s worth the risk, though. i know what’s in my own heart and i hope i can communicate my gratitude in such a way that you hear & receive it into yours, unfiltered.*

i grew up thinking i would never be used by god. because i couldn’t be. i have told you this before - i grew up believing that i would have been content to eat scraps from the table, if i could just eat from the table at all. i knew i could never be first, second, or third best – i was fine to be tenth, eleventh or twelfth best. or twentieth. or one hundred and twentieth.

it took years and years and years of gut-wrenching, mind-changing, heart-healing, soul-freeing LABOR so that i no longer lived that way.

but i remember that girl.

and when i think about the sheer magnitude -the absolute, all-consuming weight- of what GOD has done in my life

y’all. there are just no words. i tell my stories so that you can know…but i don’t know if you truly can know

to go from being the girl who thought god only tolerated her and certainly could never use her, no matter how much she wanted to be used…

to actually being used

i am on. my. face.

several weeks ago, when i went to the worship center, the same woman who prayed about and against the relationship-trauma in my life also spoke into me that i would be used to bring truth. to speak truth. that, when truth started bubbling up, to just speak it and don’t shirk back from it and god would use it because it was his truth for his people.

i never want to draw people to myself. that’s how cults get started. i am confident in the lord, cautious in myself. it is with holy fear that i ever say bold, hard things because i don’t want to preach from the gospel of mary kathryn. we’ve all seen what happens to preachers who get cocky.

my heart -my true heart- is to minister grace and mercy and love to women’s hearts that need to be set free. (i love when what i say speaks to a man, but since i know women well and men NOT AT ALL, my heart is mainly toward my girfriends.) all of my messages, all of my posts til now, have been based from this grace place. it is still the truest message of my heart. i normally shy away from hard truth because i’d rather let someone else do that. i am perfectly content to be the comfy couch where all are welcome to come and sit. also because i know i can sometimes get on a soapbox and hammer truth, forgetting grace. i don’t want to do that. {i also have this fear that i’m going to say something just completely theologically unfounded, as i am not a bible scholar, or that i’ll simply be misunderstood.}

i am still the same comfy couch, which i think is more of a testament to the family in which i was raised. i can still hear the screen door of our red barn house slamming from all the coming and going of friends, family & stray dogs. all are welcome at my door. {um…but call first? please? i don’t really like surprises. :)}

but then last week happened.

can i be honest with you? last monday’s post had been brewing for several months, but it came to a head through an email conversation i had had with a friend the week prior (she knows this). i was annoyed when i started writing - not necessarily with my friend but with the enemy who is so divisive and robs us of so much if we allow. i wasn’t even sure i was going to post it, i thought it might have been a rant. but once i got started, i couldn’t stop - you can hear it when i said that there was a series coming forth. and it did.

and truth was spoken. and you heard it. and not only did you hear it but your comments and your emails to me…i have not once in 7 months of blogging, or really in my life that i can remember…had the type of responses that last week’s impromptu series generated.

and i’m not even talking about the encouragement and support i personally received from my cheerleaders -i can’t even talk about that, i’m so overwhelmed. {catherine? just forget about it. i have no words for you, you beautiful child of god. what an honor it is to be your friend for so many years now.} i’m talking about what god was doing in you through the message he placed in me – that it wasn’t an affront to your pride, but that you would open your hearts to allowing the holy spirit to change you, to heal you, to set you free.

which set me free.

i received more hits last week than any other, which i certainly didn’t anticipate. i’m not telling you this to boost myself but because that’s how important truth is. truth matters. we need it. desperately. don’t we? truth bundled in love comes from a familiar place within the messenger and we, the recipient, know when it is pure just as we know when it is insincere.

i don’t know what direction to head in now, to be honest. i will continue to speak on grace, love and mercy but i will keep listening for the other. and if i never have another truth-message to share, i will always be blown away by how god used you to speak truth into me.

for all these things, from the bottom of my heart…i don’t know if you can ever really know…thank you.

and thank You.

if you’ll allow, i’d like to challenge you - to say the hard things, wrapped up in genuine love and undergirded in unconditional grace. you never know whose heart needs changing based on the message that god has given you to speak aloud. there may be no monetary gain or tangible reward but, as sojourners of faith, our reward is in honoring our father.

didn’t you know? we’re on the backside of this story, friends. the end’s already been written, the battle already fought and won. the price has already been paid.

we have nothing to lose, nothing to prove. speak truth.

{to the jews who had believed him, jesus said, “if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” -john 8:31-32, niv (emphasis mine)}

{then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, christ. from him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. -eph 8:14-16, niv (emphasis mine)}

digging holes.

do you remember the parable of the talents? the master gave each of his three servants different sized bags of ‘talents’ and when he returned, two of the three had been resourceful and had invested their talents and the talents reproduced themselves. the servants multiplied their talents because they were wise with those they had been issued.

and the master was pleased, calling them ‘good and faithful’.

and then there was guy #3. the guy who buried his talents because he was, basically, afraid to use them. he couldn’t afford to trust the master and so he didn’t use his talents at all.

and the master called him wicked, lazy,  and worthless.

(and then threw him in what sounds like dungeon from which he is not going to return.)

p.s. my friend dar prays that god will give her the talents others have buried.

huh.

the end.

* * * * * * * * * *

our deepest fear.

our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

it is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
we ask ourselves, who am i to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

actually, who are you not to be?
you are a child of god.

your playing small does not serve the world.
there is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
we are all meant to shine, as children do.

we were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
it is not just in some; it is in everyone.

and, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
as we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

-marianne williamson in A Return to Love, emphasis mine

* * * * * * * * * *

do whatever you have to do in order to get free so you can be used most effectively.

use your own voice. don’t be covetous. work with what you have. be faithful with the little.

give up your excuses. do whatever it is you have to do in order to do the thing(s) you have. to. do.

trust the master. invest your talents. quit playing small. let your light shine.

no {more} excuses.

let’s face it: sometimes the things we are most passionate about are not what’s going to pay the bills. we have to be responsible members of society and, those of us who have more mouths than just our very own to feed probably need to serve more than cheerios for dinner.

i would have loved to have been a star on broadway. in college, i was encouraged in this direction. later, i moved to new york to pursue that dream. in between college and the time i actually went, i believed it was a selfish desire i had to just lay down (of course, i was also in the crazy church at that time, which probably had something do with it). and do you know what i learned through that experience? a year before i left, when i started making plans to go, that is when the lord made very REAL to me the message of psalm 37:4: 

Take delight in the LORD,
   and he will give you the desires of your heart.  

in a moment, i had a different understanding of this verse and it changed my life. not only does he give us our heart’s desires, but he gives us -he places in our hearts- these desires. he places in our hearts his desires for us and makes them our own. this is perhaps why i’m so passionate about doing the thing that makes your sky blue. because these things which give you life are the very things that the lord himself has placed in you to do.

jesus didn’t come to die so we would have a half-assed life.

(there. i said it.)

as soon as this message became clear in my spirit, i heard, ‘mary kathryn, who do you think gave you the desire to go to new york in the first place!? GO!’ {does anyone else hear Sarcastic Jesus?} the next summer, i did what i felt in my heart god wanted me to do. i believe he blesses us when we do things that require us to trust him more in order to build our faith. also? god is sovereign and, at the very least, if i was completely wrong i knew he would bring me back home or send me elsewhere. he wasn’t going to leave me there alone or punish me for being wrong because i made that move trusting him and believing i was following him, which i believe still.

we have to reign in our passions and measure them to the life we are called to live. {oo. i don’t like the way that sounds. do you?} are some people meant to be superstars and also christians? of course. (did you know, for example, that natasha bedingfield is a big-time believer? so is elisabeth hasselbeck. and daryl strawberry.) but, as much as i myself want to be a big, black gospel singer, it’s just probably not going to happen.

okay, it’s not going to happen.

at all.

ever.

like, there’s a negative chance of -1,000,000%.

i can accept this.

i…can…

forget it.

the fact-of-the-matter is, and i’m sorry to burst your bubble, most of us are just normies.

do i think god would have blessed me had i stayed in new york? absolutely. but he had other plans for my life in which that wasn’t the best option for me in the long-term. i met with some wonderful friends who are phenomenal stage actors in raleigh who said to me, ‘mary  kathryn, if you want to live in new york and have that experience, then of course do that. but if you want to act? then there are more opportunities in this area where you would actually get to be on stage.’ i could have gone back to new york but as it turns out, my short-lived experience had very little to do with actually performing on the great white way and everything to do with the stretch of my wingspan. learning to trust the lord more was the greater gift i was given through that experience.

and now i have the option of auditioning for local community theatre if i really want to get back into it. or take pottery classes, even if it means my pieces will {never} end up in a gallery. or play rec softball because i’ll never be jenny whats-her-name (also a believer).

my point is: are these kind of dreams valid? of course they are. but is it likely i’ll ever become known for any of these passions? probably not. and so, i do what i need to do to fulfill these things in me, even if it’s just on a small, local level.

on a deeper level -perhaps the deepest level- the kind of dreams and desires and passions we have been discussing require more than a quick fix to satisfy, don’t they? the things that make us almost cry for want of them…

the nagging in the soul that says we must write, even if no one reads. the aching in our hearts to sing…all the time. the tingle a surgeon’s healing hands must feel upon picking up his tools. the empowerment a carpentar can only get from handling his hammer.

or the anxious surge of energy i’ve only ever felt backstage before my first cue before every performance.

or the voice in the back of my head that says there’s a book in me to write.

meanwhile, we’re stuck in a concrete box with no windows. or behind a counter covered in fingerprints. or driving a rickety bus. or picking up other people’s trash. it doesn’t seem fair or right, does it? god, if you’ve given us the aching, burning desires, why wouldn’t you make it possible for us to do these things?

my ‘trade’ (or plain ol’ job experience) is administration, so i work in an office to pay my bills. as a creative, i travel part-time as a make-up artist fulfilling my need to create and blessing women who don’t know they’re beautiful. but my passion is communicating the love & grace of jesus that others would become free. at this time in my life, god has seen fit to align me with someone i can serve administratively while i also learn how to become a more effective speaker. i’m doing what i have to do -rather, all that i can do- in order to proactively pursue my calling while still doing the thing i have to do to be a responsible and contributing member of society.

friends, even paul was a tentmaker. he did what he had to do to get by and even viewed it as a ministry. (who among us can say -truly- we treat our job as a ministry? convicting, no?) performing his trade enabled him to do the thing that drove him, which was to preach the gospel. it sucks but, the truth is, times are tough for everyone right now. few of us are afforded the luxury of not having to work. {ugh, what i wouldn’t do to get paid to be me.} don’t you know that’s by design?

but please don’t be discouraged. and definitely don’t let that stop you.

woh. this has suddenly hit me like a TON OF BRICKS.

oh, the weight of this…

y’all. even jesus was a carpentar by trade. even JESUS had to perform a trade - as an entry point into people’s lives, as a means to live. and it was a ministry, too.

but the thing that drove him…

the thing in which he was most passionate…

was doing the WILL OF THE FATHER

for

us.

we have no excuses, do we?

if his passion carries him to the cross…then shouldn’t our passions also? didn’t he already die for those, too?

the passions & desires he placed in us that were his for us before they became our own?

the will of the father for…us?

if he was so willing to die for the thing he loved the most, shouldn’t we at least chase after that thing in us with no less motivation?

not because we have to.

because we get to.

{my granddad used to say, ‘we don’t have to do anything for the kingdom! we get to!’}

seriously, this is just. now. coming to me.

{please, please let the weight of this sit on you, too.}

is there anything in your life, any passion you’ve been given, worth dying for?

friends, we have no excuses.

do the thing you have to do in order to do the thing you have. to. do.

schedule certain hours every night to write. audition for community theatre. enroll in night classes at your local community college so you can qualify for grad school. if you’re called to speak or teach, contact your women’s pastor, or someone else you admire, and learn from her. read books on leadership or business management.

DO WHATEVER IT IS YOU HAVE TO DO IN ORDER TO DO THE THING YOU HAVE. TO. DO.

i have a feeling…you know, just sort of a hunch, if you will…that he will make it worth it.

as i was doing final edits to this post, you should know that ginny owens was singing ‘all i want to do’ on pandora.

you don’t know who she is? see for yourself.

no more excuses. it’s time.

 

get out of the way.

if you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know that i attended the she speaks conference last summer, which is a conference hosted by proverbs 31 ministries (ha-i just wrote 32 which, in my case, is probably more accurate…)- where there were SIX HUNDRED AND EIGHT other women who feel called to do the same thing i feel called to do, which is to teach and speak and write in jesus’ name.

do you hear me?

SIX HUNDRED AND EIGHT.

all with similar callings and desires.

one might imagine this could have been a breeding ground for the green-eyed monster for anyone who hadn’t checked their ego or motive at the door.

if there was any impure thing or true insecurity in me, it would have been very easy to have walked away from there feeling threatened, lost or jealous. (fortunately, that is not the atmosphere that is at all fostered there; it truly is supportive of everyone who attends.) as a true novice, it would have been very easy to have come away doubting my calling, giving up on what, i believe, is my purpose for living.

i don’t take for granted how i grew up, but i sometimes forget how unique of an upbringing i was afforded that i could travel some with my granddad and be immersed in retreat ministry. for our guests, it was a weekend away. for me, it was our every day life. so i wasn’t surprised much by the conference and i had a feeling about what i was getting myself into. my prayer before i left home was that i could get out of my own way and i would seek not to be blessed but to be a blessing and that i wouldn’t be in pursuit of fame or selfish gain.

really and truly -and i promise i’m not trying to toot my own horn here or puff myself up in any way, i really have always been this way- my heart is to encourage and support others in whatever it is they want to do -even if it means i don’t get to do it, or that i don’t get to do it right now. if i have ever felt any twinge of jealousy, i hurl it to the cross because i don’t want to be the friend that gets in her own way of celebrating someone else. i’ve never been competitive (because i was pretty confident i wasn’t the best or fastest at much), i always just played for the fun of the game. because the bigger picture is that…well, there’s a bigger picture. while on one hand it might seem like i’m missing out on something, i know it’s for a reason, even if it’s one i can’t see right now.

so i can say in earnest that i didn’t come away from the conference feeling threatened and i wasn’t sent into a tailspin about my calling or wondering what i’m supposed to do with my life since there are obviously so many other taller, more beautiful women with pretty smiles and kind hearts that god can use better than me. but i would understand if this was anyone else’s experience.

does that mean i don’t experience jealousy? um, no. i’m a woman. hello, i think it’s part of our dna. but i recognize it quickly enough not to let it stand in my way of experiencing true happiness for someone who deserves recognition.

meet me here, friends: i don’t mean to suggest that neither you nor i are worthy of a great big life in christ. all i mean is, there’s enough room at the table for both the taller, more beautiful women with pretty smiles and kind hearts AND the shorter, curvier, cute girls with a lot of spunk who sometimes cuss.

ahem.

and, while being at she speaks did solidify and make clearer to me the direction of my life, i also realized how much more work i have to do. that is, while i’ve postured myself to be used by god by dealing with the hard stuff of my life and getting out of my own way so that he can receive honor, i have little experience by way of actually speaking. i’ve never been published. i should probably join toastmasters or something of the like because i didn’t realize how many fillers i use until my speaker evaluation group told me so. i talk too fast sometimes. plus, i was really challenged when i came home to make sure i’m not living in such a way that there would be any cobwebs in my closet. to make sure all areas of my life are kept clean, which has more to do with wanting to live with godly integrity than it does serving him.

just like i have said i would rather be single the rest of my life than to marry the wrong person, i would rather spend the next twenty years devoted to knowing the heart of christ if it means i can minister publicly for two. that is to say, i don’t want to minister -i can’t minister- to anyone at all if i don’t know him deeply, personally, intimately. we have to get out of our own way, and i don’t know another way to say that. and so i am committed to the preparation taking as long as it needs to take and, in the meantime, ministering to the hearts of those within my reach now because that is just as important to the heart of god.

i heard someone say once ‘i want to be like beth moore.’

as in, ‘i want to have a ministry like beth moore.’

uh…really?

because i know SIX HUNDRED AND EIGHT other women who would also appreciate having a ministry like hers. {and, by the way? that’s 608 women just  from ONE conference.}

do you have any idea what you’re saying?

do you even know what kind of life of discipline she has in the holy spirit that she can afford to be on the front lines of today’s christianity?

my question(s) for this person, no holds barred, is: okay, so, what are you doing now to prepare your heart for this? oh, and you have these insecurities? huh. because i think beth probably addressed those areas of her journey before she achieved any level of recognition. could you imagine an insecure beth? me neither. because we haven’t seen that side of her. because jesus gently, lovingly went in and they did that type of work together before he promoted her. {because that’s what god does, you know. he promotes us, and he can promote whomever he wants with or without our jealousy or permission but it would be an easier pill to swallow if we didn’t view it as a pill at all.}

do you remember an angry joyce meyer? no? oh. ME NEITHER. and yet she talks about a time in her life when she was full of bitterness -not a day, but a season, which could have been years. but god will not be mocked. he did not allow her to represent himself in the way she does now if it would bring shame to his name. or her own, for that matter - he loves her that much to protect her dignity, and her heart was bent to him enough to respect his.

same goes for you and me. he’s not going to let either of us get away with trying to perform heart surgery, or reign in the supreme court or effectively preach the gospel to nations without putting in the work that goes into it. he’s not going to let us get away with it because there’s no depth in that. there’s no reward in taking shortcuts. and he wants more than that for us. freedom and life. careless, reckless people with selfish intent take the easy way out and that is not the person i want to be, nor is it the person i want to follow anywhere.

i don’t know beth or joyce, so i can’t pretend to know what seasons of their lives they went through in order to become who they are now other than what i’ve heard them say. {and, by the way? i’m pretty sure they are still just ‘mom’ to the people who grew up in their homes.} but i think i can say with some confidence that they finally reached a place where they knew they had to get out of their own way, let god break and then repair those broken places, before he could really use them. the way a surgeon has to sometimes break a bone in order to reset it before it can be healed in the best way. i’m fairly certain the capacity in which they serve god now came at a high cost for themselves and their families. there were probably a few broken and reset bones along the way.

i really doubt either beth or joyce woke up one day and said, ‘i’m going to write books & bible studies and become a famous christian today’ and that was that.

and this probably can go without saying, but…i also have to question the motive of someone whose goal is to be like someone else -anyone else.

if god wanted you to be anyone else, with someone else’s calling or platform, don’t you think he would have made those type of arrangements? do you really think he made a mistake when doling out life callings? he skipped over you? don’t you know that if god wanted me to be a big, black gospel singer like i have always wanted to be, he could have done that?

plus, do you know how much attack either of these women probably suffer? are you praying for those whom you say you want to become? do you have any idea their struggles off their platform? {might i suggest you pray especially for their children and grandchildren? because that’s where a minister’s attack hits the hardest, having watched it in my own and other families in ministry.}

you and i have different stories to tell. we have each blazed our own trail, sojourned our own journey. i can’t speak about physical or child abuse or infertility or an addiction to cocaine (or to anything other than alcohol, for that matter). i can’t pretend to know what it’s like to be homeless. but you might be able to talk about all of these things. and you should. you must.

listen. i know some of what i’m saying is far-fetched. but…is it? i mean, if we were to really get honest -to dig into those deep places- aren’t things like this true of all of us? that we secretly desire to become the next katie couric or derek jeter or donald miller? to be known -to be famous- for something? anything?

don’t you know that the women you lead in your small group or the kids you foster or the elderly you visit every sunday afternoon already think that you are? can that be enough for you?

don’t you know that the one who shows up in silence to meet you at your kitchen table every morning doesn’t love you any less than he does the ones he has put on an international stage?

how can we ever be offered the more that is promised if we are not faithful with the little that is in front of us?

a life hidden in christ isn’t one in pursuit of recognition or fame. it is not one who seeks divine glory or personal gain. it can’t be. that’s just not what this is about. god promotes. let’s just allow him to do his job & agree to be faithful (and not falsely humble) if we receive that honor and celebrate if it’s someone else’s to have.

friend, don’t you know that you have been divinely gifted for the purposes and people who are surrounding you right now? there are people within your reach who are not within mine. you have your own story to tell -and you are responsible for telling it. it is not your job to tell mine or anyone else’s story.

to that end, you have your own unique-sounding voice. i write the way that i speak. you don’t speak the way that i/he/she writes. in fact, please don’t try. it’s fake and it doesn’t honor you or god or the person you are imitating. and who wants to be around a phony? besides that, you’re missing out on the richness that is your own voice which needs to be heard by someone. you don’t -can’t- sound like her. or him. or her. your job is to sound like -to be wholly- you. not me. not him.

you.

is this enough for you?

{dig deep.}

{now dig deeper.}

{i’m serious about this, and i think the lord is, too.}

can it be enough for you to get set free just so you can love god and others better?

because isn’t that all he tells us to do?

love god. love others.

jesus does not count you as one of six hundred and eight. he doesn’t even consider you one in sixty-eight. this is all about one. just one. he sees you. and he loves you. and he knows the plans he has for you. and since he already knows them, can you give up your vain desires and get over yourself so that you can just be used?

ouch. did that hurt? it hurt me. i think i’m bleeding. for real.

{by the way, i don’t think the ‘just one’ is who you might think it is. as in, i think it’s him, not us.}

i’m in this with you, friends. yes, this is the message in my heart but my hope is that it’s doing something in you, too.

let’s do this together.

let’s get over our petty jealousy, our dumb competition, our vain self-pity. let god heal us of bitterness and let’s just do the work that needs to be done already so that we can live for and on behalf of christ.

because there’s just not room in the kingdom for that type of mess.

would you even believe that there’s still more to come tomorrow? and probably the next day. and maybe the day after that.

are you even here anymore? gosh, i hope so.

{don’t really expect to make new friends this week, but i sure do appreciate all the encouragement i received yesterday. thanks, y’all.}

love you. xo

desperate times.

this post has been rolling around in my head for a while now. like, weeks. perhaps months, if i’m so self-aware. over the weekend, it pressed heavy and i realized it was time to put the proverbial pen to paper. (or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be.) i’ve tarried on writing this, i think, because it’s hit me in such a personal way that i didn’t want to write out of emotion lest i hurt feelings. that would never be my intent.

however.

sometimes our feelings need to get hurt a little bit. because, in my experience, my hurt feelings usually mean i have some work to do on myself. if something (or someone) rubs me the wrong way -if i feel jealous or angry or insecure- then i need to go to the cross. and only in going to the cross can i ever be set free. and isn’t that why jesus came? so that we can be free?

nevertheless, i have resisted writing this for so long because i don’t like to personally be the one to send people to the cross. let someone else do that and i’ll just hug & love, okay? please, god? no? okay.

i also don’t want to compromise truth and integrity; more importantly, i don’t want to misrepresent christ in any way.

my first inclination is obviously to go to scripture, which i can do easily in this case and will incorporate as i go on with this message.

it makes me sick to my gut, though, to hear in my spirit, ‘no, mary kathryn. be obedient to the message. it’s time.’

{and, no, i do not think god was superceding his own inspired word with what might otherwise be my own indigestion. but what’s on my heart to share didn’t start in scripture, so i think part of maintaining the ‘truth & integrity’ of what i believe god is speaking to my heart also means to speak the hard, raw, unedited, un-pretty version of the message.}

and so, as much as i believe this message is for you, it is also very much for me…

friend, do you know what you’re called to do with your life? i mean, really? specifically? what is the thing that you feel god’s delight over you when you do?

is it dancing? performing surgery? running the field?

i remember my granddad saying he would die as soon as he stopped doing ministry. it was the thing that he was gifted for, the thing that infused life into him. the breath of life was his reason for breath and life. not because he was great doing it -even though he was- but because god was great in him. god made him an effective communicator and he affected lives for christ.

but this would have been just as true of him had his passion been for business or for farming. or collecting trash. or teaching in the public schools.

in doing ministry, he did the thing he knew he was meant to do. he didn’t do it just because he wanted to do it or because he needed the attention or craved the accolades he received. he did it because it was what he was gifted to do, and he had the grace on his life to do it. and he didn’t just get up and preach – his ministry to others was an overflow of his ministry to jesus. his passion for bringing the truth of god to others came from a personal relationship and discipline learned from daily fellowship with christ.

what i’m saying is, he didn’t just read a little bit when there was something coming up on his calendar, put together a message and then preach as he traveled and then was a different person at home. he was only able to minister from a lifestyle of devotion to jesus. i mean, to be honest, i never even saw him preach from any notes, he was that grounded in the truth & knowledge of christ through his relationship with the holy spirit.

my point is: he couldn’t not preach.

friend, do you understand my question? what is it that you are so sold out to, so gifted for, so completely and utterly passionate about, that you can’t not do it?

is it playing guitar? climbing rocks? sailing?

that is the thing you are meant to do.

i tease often and say that, by virtue of being a member of my family, we all get called to ministry (some later than sooner). we can’t help it. there’s no point in apologizing for it. we all have an individual story of how god brought us each into the ‘family business’. so it is with me. i know i am meant to speak and teach and love people in the name of jesus. i’ve always known this but for many, many years -because i was so bound up in myself and not free in a life with christ- i was the one who said, ‘me, lord!? are you KIDDING!? i wish you could use me, but there’s nothing to use here.’

eeyore. woh is me. BOO. selfishness. vanity.

and this was even before i entered into a lifestyle of craziness, so it’s not like i was just feeling guilty from the night before. my very real feelings of worthlessness and unworthiness were from a sincere place of simple insecurities at that point in my life. it generated from my feeling of only being tolerated, not really being liked by anyone. i couldn’t even recognize that the devil had taken my simple insecurities to allow me to believe i could never be used by god.

but can i tell you something else?

i had to go through the rest of my crap in order to become free so that god could use me. i really do believe that god can use us exactly where we are, even in the midst of our mess.

however.

now being on the other side {other than this little ‘trauma’ glitch i’m working through now} of my mess -and having worked through it all and becoming free from it- i see now what it was all for. god had to utterly wreck my life in order for me to know just how utterly and completely dependent i am on him. he allowed me to walk through the junk of my past in order for me to truly know so that he could really and truly and finally use me in a complete and authentic and real way – with no personal agenda, no need for the attention or for craving any accolades. he did this so that i would know it had nothing to do with me and absolutely everything to do with him. so that he could receive the glory. and what’s funny and great and oh, how i love him for this is that he’s put in my heart a desire to see women set free from the life i also lived. we can’t minister very well from a place we haven’t traveled, can we?

at different points in my therapy, i knew when i was wading through the jordan and when i was in the deepest parts. i knew when the tide had swept me back over to the other side from where i wanted to be, and i knew when i was close to the other shore. i knew when i was drowning and when i was floating along.

and then i knew -in no eventful way, i just knew- when i had reached the other side.

i. knew.

and i was free.

i have done -and continue to do- the work in my life so that i can be free. put another way, i have done the work so that i could accept my freedom that was there for the taking. i wanted freedom so that i could enjoy my life in christ and be used by him, no matter what that means. i was desperate to be a prisoner set free.

d e s p e r a t e.

my service to christ -my ability to be used by him most effectively- has come at a cost. a HIGH PRICE.

and so has yours.

i’m not more deserving of opportunity to walk with others who are further along than i am in life and in ministry than you are.

and i’m not less deserving, either.

but i am responsible. i have a responsibility to live out the life

to

which

i

am

called

without apology.

and so do you.

and so, how dare we not be willing to do the work on ourselves -to look inward at the dirty and nasty and insecure places- in order to serve him better? he who took all of that in the first place -before we even existed- with him to the cross. how dare we withhold our true excitement for other’s successes or covet it for ourselves when he went to the cross for that person, too? who are we to be jealous or angry on our own behalf when a friend -another child of god- is reaping the benefit of a life devoted to jesus?

how can we not rejoice over someone’s life turned around when we knew them when?

{y’all, i’m the pot and the kettle here. the preacher and the choir. the four fingers pointing back at myself and all. hello there, plank in my eye.}

my prayer now is that we would each have the courage to dig deep and look within our own hearts and be willing for him to expose those areas of our hearts.

there is room enough for all of our talents and giftings in the kingdom of god.

and we are responsible to use them effectively and wisely.

but to get free so that the devil doesn’t pervert what the lord has intended to be used for good so that we can use our gifts and talents effectively and wisely.

oh, law. y’all, i feel a series coming on. honestly…and i say this with no small amount of trepidation because i am not one to carelessly throw out ‘in the name of jesus’ without a tremendous amount of caution…but i believe this is so passionately on the heart of christ that i need to stop myself lest i run ahead of him. i want to be careful with my words and thoughts that i don’t recklessly project my own mess onto you.

i can see where this is heading and it is good, i promise. hard, but good. 

can you hang with me this week, even if it makes us a little uncomfortable, while this all comes out?

i think there’s something in this we both might need to hear.

and before tomorrow’s post, will you dare to ask god -specifically- what he wants to do with your life?

and then…will you be brave enough to accept it?

also…will you trust him enough to ask him to show you those places in your heart, those areas that need addressing?

{don’t make me repeat them, you know the ones.}

i’m praying for you. truly, truly, i am praying over you.

{and i would really covet your prayers over the rest of this ‘message’ as i pray and listen.}

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