Tag Archives: purpose

Just Keep Going

just keep going

Sometimes I read stories of and/or watch those a few years younger than me, those just out of college, who seem to know exactly what they want next, are sure of their calling in this life, or are passionate about one particular cause. And instead of taking time to consider how to best execute their dreams, or getting caught up in a cost-benefit analysis for their proposed plans, or worrying about how finances will fall into place, they just get to work and do something or go somewhere.

They seem so young, and sometimes their actions seem a bit impulsive and carefree, but they’re already doing what they love and living out their passions and dreams.

When I consider their path versus my own, it’s easy for me to fall into the ugly comparison trap of thinking I’ve somehow missed something, or in the very least that I’m behind.

That because I didn’t have the focus or the dream 5 years ago, I didn’t get it right.

That because I don’t have the life now that I envisioned then, something didn’t go right.

That because I still don’t have a clear vision of what this life should be about, I’m still not getting it right.

But if my one passion and drive is living for the Lord and glorifying Him through loving Him and loving His people, so what?

As I spent the entire month of October over a year ago fleshing out through a 31 Days series, this life isn’t about knowing exactly what comes next.

Yes, God calls some people to very specific tasks that last a lifetime.

But for the rest of us … we just keep risking. trusting. following. loving. going.

By faith. Eyes fixed on the perfect Author of this story. One step at a time.

Of course I’m not going to have it all figured out yet … or likely ever this side of heaven.

This life isn’t over and that’s not my job.

My job?

It’s to just keep going.

I will likely make hundreds of more wrong turns and try hundreds of more things … some of which may succeed, others of which will almost be guaranteed to fail.

But this God, this Jesus, whose way is perfect stays the same and never fails.

He’s got this world from beginning to end.

This day … this life … is His.

He’s got this.

So just keep going.

“…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…”
Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)

Photo of the Week: Thirty Four

“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors,

remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me,

declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.”

Isaiah 46:8-11 (ESV)

{Day 27} Ministry is My Dance

…at least I thought so.

I had just returned from serving in Maryland as a summer missionary, my senior year of college was about to begin, I was actively leading small group Bible Studies and loving it, I had some sweet and developing friendships that I still enjoy today, and I had just gone to see “Step Up” in the theater.

During a climactic scene in the middle of the movie, all of the main characters are gathered at a water-front club in Baltimore. Each one connecting with his or her artistic ability in music or dance. And at one point the whole club joins in…dancing with energy and enthusiasm.

As I watched that scene that appeared so full of emotion and passion, I felt an instant parallel and connection to the atmosphere. Except the connection wasn’t to dancing, specifically…

Ministry was my dance.

It was the one thing that filled me with so much passion and excitement that I could burst. And I found myself longing for that. Longing to pursue the passion. Longing to pursue the dance.

But I think I misunderstood.

Over the course of my senior year, as I continued to grow, serve, lead, and mature, in part through a study on the life of David (Beth Moore’s “A Heart Like His”) I felt certain that God was leading me to apply to seminary. But leading me to vocational ministry? Although I had identified ministry as my dance, I wasn’t so sure. And it felt backwards to be called to seminary without first being called to ministry.

After all, seminary wasn’t ever supposed to be the goal. It was more of a means to an end. For people who already knew the goal.

But fervently praying and trusting that the Lord would stop me should seminary not be the direction He was leading, I began researching different options and found a multi-denominational seminary close to home that would allow me to take classes part-time while working full-time and had a solid reputation for its firm foundation in Scripture.

So I applied, secured a recommendation from my favorite professor, who although committed to his atheistic beliefs, was genuinely supportive and encouraging, was accepted, had an interview, and recounted confidently that I was certain this was where God had led … even though I wasn’t at all certain of where He would lead post-seminary.

But there was one thing that I could never really do. I could never fully write my {required} call to ministry paper.

I felt called to seminary. to study. to love Scripture. to love people. to help others love Scripture. to be an active part of the local church, the body of Christ. to love the atheists and unbelievers around me. to live like Christ. to shine for Him in dark places. even to pursue missions (though always in the short-term).

But ministry? That one passion I had previously referred to as my dance?

I longed for the clarity that I had heard in so many testimonies. I longed for that moment of insight when my path would be drastically and radically altered to follow the Lord to full time missions or ministry. I longed for the writing in the clouds answer.

But it didn’t come.

I left seminary this summer … midway through my Biblical Studies degree program.

Was seminary a mistake? I don’t think so.

I may not have completed the degree, but the learning, the growing, the trusting, the being challenged in heart, soul, mind and strength … I needed that.

When I identified ministry as my dance, I think I misunderstood. I wanted ministry because I thought ministry was the highest expression of loving God. I thought ministry was the way to reach people. But somewhere along the way of pursuing ministry, though not by a conscious decision, it became my goal, my drive, my desire … pursuing ministry had taken the place of pursuing Christ.

And when my passion was rightly restored to loving God and loving people, the place to which He was calling really hadn’t changed.

I know that I am called to imitate Christ and to love His people. At least for now, that means through a job in the secular workplace, through shining for the Gospel in the dark places, through serving in the local church, through being faithful in the small, through taking the next step by faith.

But knowing Christ … and knowing Christ well … must always come first.

I thought seminary would prepare me for future ministry. And in a way, it did. But not in the way I had expected. My time in seminary did prepare me with a readiness to step out and experience faith and trust … while boldly imitating and proclaiming Christ … in a whole new way.

I suppose in a way, ministry is still my dance.

But only when ministry simply means humbly seeking to know and love Christ, faithfully living for Him in the ordinary and everyday, and boldly proclaiming Him to those in need.

Yes, God calls some to pursue vocational ministry. But God calls others to simply pursue Him and to boldly proclaim His gospel from the field where we currently work. Forcing a call to ministry – forcing a direction that may appear to be good – isn’t necessary. The Lord’s purpose will prevail. Not when we are surrendered to ministry, but rather when we are fully surrendered to Him.

**all photos in this post were most graciously made available by my absolute favorite photographer, Kendra Martin Photography** 

{Day 4} God Knows the Call

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

– Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I loved and quoted Jeremiah 29:11 for years before I took the time to read the surrounding passage. And while certainly encouraging on its own, it wasn’t until I read and understood the context in which this verse appears that I began to appreciate the full weight of its message.

The Israelites were living in exile in Babylon. They had been taken from their land – from their homes – and forced to live as slaves under leaders that they didn’t particularly care for and probably wouldn’t have chosen for themselves. Taking the liberty of reading between the lines, they didn’t know which way was up! They didn’t know their purpose and they couldn’t see how God was working or where God was leading.

In short, they didn’t understand their calling.

But “the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel” spoke to them through a letter written by the prophet Jeremiah. Listen to some of what He told them prior to the well-known verse 11 (to read the entire letter see Jeremiah 29:4-23):

“‘Build houses and settle down…marry and have sons and daughters…seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile…pray to the Lord…I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise.'” – Jeremiah 29:5, 6, 7 ,10 (NIV)

Even though their surroundings may have been less than ideal, the Lord told them to continue living and to remain faithful. Even though their future may have seemed uncertain, the Lord told them to trust.

Just as the Israelites, we often find ourselves in a place of not knowing or fully understanding the specifics of our {God given} callings.

But according to verse 11, God never lost sight of the Israelites’ calling. He knew the plans He had for them all along. . .plans of hope and a future.

God knows the plans – the call – He has for each of us, too.

Trust that. Remain faithful.

Prevailing Purpose

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man,

but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”

Proverbs 19:21 (ESV – emphasis added)

 

 

I wanted it to be a good fit.  But I don’t know if it ever really was.

I wanted to love it.  But I don’t know if I ever really did.

I wanted it to work out.  But I don’t know if it ever really could have.

I wanted it to be a success.  But in this moment, failure somehow seems strangely sweeter.

 

It was a good thing…but that didn’t necessarily make it the right thing…and it is finished…and I am done.

 

Yet even through the lingering daze and numbness, even through the ache of a dream unrealized, even through the late evening hour doubts that threaten to creep in, I know a peace, a calm, a freedom from a burden that I didn’t even realize I had been carrying.

 

It took many road blocks – many small steps in a slightly different direction along the way – to reach a place where it became apparent that a completely different direction was being asked of me.

It required sacrifice – of the one thing that I thought I wanted the most – to see a different plan begin to emerge.

 

HIS plan, perhaps?

 

“The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;

your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. 

Do not forsake the work of your hands.”

Psalm 138:8 (ESV – emphasis added)