During Bible Study a couple of weeks ago a very good friend of mine asked a question, "When will we give ourselves permission to light ourselves on fire?" It's a shocking premise, no? The thought of being consumed in fire and actually doing it oneself... Frightening, to say the least. And then she explained...
Jeff Goins, a writer and blogger and all around inspirational guy, wrote a post about Three Things we know to be true. It got her to thinking. She revisited her life Mission Statement created years ago (which I found incredibly admirable to have one in the first place) and wrote about it. Like many of us, she found it lacking, without much direction or clarity. I think your 40's do that to you... Make you boil things down and get less scared by specifics. Afterall, you start to realize, if you can't be honest with yourself, what's the point? My friend took a look at herself, her life and her dreams and she turned up the heat. It was time for her to start her fire before she allowed herself to be consumed by the safety of her current status. She then challenged me to write down my Three Things and I admit, it has been a bit of a struggle.
I found lots of other things to do, and amidst the holiday crush I felt very pressed to do them and not this. Now, however, God is smacking me upside my head and insisting that I get this down... Not very polite of Him, is it?
My first truth, as it were, is a telling piece of my personality. I procrastinate... Yes, I know - Hard to believe, isn't it? So it is very fitting for me to say The First Step is the Hardest. I am a fairly innovative person, not one to necessarily take no as the final answer, especially if I really want something. Anyone questioning this aspect of me can interview my husband. On second thought, better not allow that... There could be some rather
revealing biased things said in that kind of interview! I am a planner, and while that can be a good thing in many instances, it can also be a very handy excuse for hemming and hawing around actually getting things done. Because I am a planner I like to think about all aspects of what might happen, good and unsavory. To put it rather plainly, I think too much and do too little. I tend to hold my innermost desires close to the vest, and it is super scary to me to think about revealing them to the light of day and the scrutiny of others. This would be the reason my writing was put on the back burner for about 30 years. The downside to that kind of approach is that you never get to be the person God created you to be when you hide your talents under a basket, which is what I think Mathew 5:15 is talking directly to. I have to be reminded that the fear that surrounds that first step is a distraction and an attempt to subvert God's will in my life and keep me from His fulfillment of plans for me. I am my own worst enemy here. I guess that is why I have always loved Jerimiah 29:11 and have taken it on as my life motto.
So, after taking that first step, making my desire to please God well known to Him, things should sail very smoothly along, right? Ahem... Yes, time for truth #2, which is Right Choices Aren't Always Easy Choices. Not exactly what you want to hear after having telling yourself to take that leap of faith and just do it anyway. Believe me, there have been many times I have come to wonder, if I made this right choice and I know it is the choice God put before me, why on earth does it look like it is being met with such incredible resistance and sometimes downright painful results? Well, the fact of the matter is, His ways are not our ways, and God doesn't owe us any explainations. He simply asks for our obedience and our trust in the form of faith. "Do it because I said so," is the oldest parenting retort known to man... Just ask Eve. Wait... um... ok - bad role model, but I think you know what I am saying here. God is the ultimate parent, and while He could take the time to make it perfectly clear why we should and/or shouldn't do things He's asked of us, often times He simply chooses not to. We don't get to argue our points, He isn't interested. We don't get to add to the plan, He doesn't need our help. Obey, or don't, but don't doubt God is in control and He will see His plan through - With or without you. That said, don't you want to see it first hand? I mean, watching a Bronco game on television is great, but watching the underdogs hand defeat to teams with a QB that isn't afraid to proclaim his faith and give God the glory... well, that is just awesome in person! Pictures of sunsets are beautiful, witnessing the majesty of it on a warm beach with the surf bubbling around your ankles is stunning and absolutely breathtaking. Making the right choices isn't supposed to always be easy, ask Christ about that someday - After you thank Him for "doing it anyway," that is.
Now, past the hard part of making those choices, you think the worst of it is over. Now would be the time for a good dose of accolade, a little pat on the back, as it were... ahem... nothing? (crickets chirping in the distant back ground) Or worse yet, failure? Rrriiiiiiggghht.... Perfect culmination to a bitter start. Success or failure isn't determined by the world around you, would be my final truth I have discovered during my brief time on this third rock from the sun. Most of you who know me personally, know that I have written a book. It's small, a 64 page wonder from cover to cover, but it was a labor that God insisted I get out there. I paid to self publish it and with less than stellar support from the publishing company, I have sold and given away about 50-some copies. It has not come close to being a "best seller" by any stretch and hasnt even scratched the surface of what it cost to get it into print. By the world's standard, it was a failure. A loser. A big punch in the gut... Or so I would be led to believe if it was up to only the sales numbers to boost my view. Luckily, that isn't how I see it. There have been a handful of folks that have written me or stopped me after having read my little tome to tell me it was exactly what they needed at just the right time to turn a corner in their lives. My story, my little God-pushed story, made a difference in a handful of lives. God had a plan with that part of my painful process. He knew of the reader list before I ever knew I would write it, and He planned it all out. That isn't the end of the book's life, I am sure. I may never know how it touches lives from here on. I only need to realize that if the world looks at my little 64 pages and calls it a failure, I don't have to listen. God called it success when I sat down to be obedient. I try not to measure this little corner of my world by its standard of success. If I touch but one heart and make a difference in a positive manner with that one person, I vow to call it successful.
So today, just before the 2011 closing and the rise of a new year, I will allow myself to be set on fire! I will allow myself to pursue my innermost dreams and hopes. I will take the first step, keep going when it gets tough and determine my success not by monetary means or manly accolades, but by the measure of which I was faithfully obedient to my Lord. Burn baby, BURN!