Around 7 years ago I was doing some work in my parents’ backyard—weeding or something—when I had a vision for the future. I wasn’t sucked into a trance and shown a mind movie or anything, it was more a vague whisper of a calling. I suddenly knew that one of my life’s biggest callings was to minister to other women, especially moms. I only had 2 very young children at that point so I had just barely begun my motherhood journey, and I was only 25 so I wasn’t much of a woman either. Yet I sensed that there was something big and important out there for me to do.
As I did the yardwork I had tons of ideas downloaded into my brain—pretty much none of them relevant to the season of life I was in. Plus, it’s not like a vision comes with an instruction manual, so I was left inspired and yet completely directionless. What’s a girl to do?
I live my life but have always been plagued by this notion that there’s something bigger out there for me to be doing. Over the years it has even led to seasonal “funks” or ponderings of what am I actually doing with my life? I have felt, at times, like I’m just wasting opportunity and not living up to my potential. I have also felt, at times, like a fool that I’ve believed myself called to something bigger when I’m stuck soooo deeply in the mundanity (my favorite made up word J) of normal life.
However, over these same years I have learned a thing or three. I’ve journeyed deeper into womanhood and motherhood. And I’ve actually done quite a bit of ministering along the way, although I didn’t necessarily think of it like that at the time.
Let’s fast forward from 7 years ago to 1 year ago today. I had been in a bit of a life funk, another of those GIVE ME SOME DIRECTION, LORD! seasons where I was having trouble being satisfied by my daily life. That morning I woke up way too early—around 5. I tossed and turned a bit, trying to go back to sleep, but the damage was done. I was AWAKE awake. So I did something I hadn’t done in quite a while; I went to my bookcase, found My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, and opened it to the devotional of the day. Here is a lovely excerpt from the devotional:
“God gives us a vision, and then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of that vision. It is in the valley that so many of us give up and faint. Every God-given vision will become real if we will only have patience. Just think of the enormous amount of free time God has! He is never in a hurry. Yet we are always in such a frantic hurry. While still in the light of the glory of the vision, we go right out to do things, but the vision is not yet real in us. God has to take us into the valley and put us through fires and floods to batter us into shape, until we get to the point where He can trust us with the reality of the vision. Ever since God gave us the vision, He has been at work. He is getting us into the shape of the goal He has for us, and yet over and over again we try to escape from the Sculptor’s hand in an effort to batter ourselves into the shape of our own goal.
The vision that God gives is not some unattainable castle in the sky, but a vision of what God wants you to be down here. Allow the Potter to put you on His wheel and whirl you around as He desires. Then as surely as God is God, and you are you, you will turn out as an exact likeness of the vision. But don’t lose heart in the process. If you have ever had a vision from God, you may try as you will to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never allow it.”
Hmmm…so much I could dissect from that, but now is not the time. Let’s just summarize to say that I gained some wisdom from the reading, and especially liked the part where it says we are always in such a frantic hurry but God is never in a hurry. So true. Oh, and I also really like the part where Oswald talks about how we have to get to the point where God can trust us. Lots of lessons in obedience there! Oh, and I know I said I’d summarize but this is still short. I like where it says that “ever since God gave us the vision, He has been at work”. The times where we may feel directionless or tossed around by life’s storms—He is working on us to get us ready for what He has planned. And apparently giving us opportunities to show Him we are trustworthy.
I went through the day feeling more okay with not having an instruction manual for life. Even though I’d known for quite some time that life is more about the small daily obediences rather than acts of grandeur, reading Oswald’s words really helped to put things into better perspective. So it was a good day, and I felt like more revelations would be shortly forthcoming.
Driving home from work it was stormy—and I like a good storm. To me the lightning and thunder are reminders of God’s power and majesty. I was almost home and the storm was easing up when BAM! I was rear-ended by 2 big trucks (one hit the other and that other one hit me). Any clarity I’d received earlier in the day completely vanished with my concussion. Ummm…what the heck, Lord? I thought you were calling me to do stuff, but now I get to spend the next few months with a foggy brain and no energy?
It’s funny how the further we get from an event the more we see of the big picture. In those moments of pain, frustration, sorrow, guilt, etc. we don’t know how our story will be impacted. But with time we can look back with understanding. For me, looking back over this past year is almost like watching a comedy. Not a slap-stick, but one of those more intricately witty comedies where not one person catches all of the subtle little jokes. The kind where you appreciate the talent that went into making it even though the story is ridiculous and unpredictable.
So that’s been my life the past year: ridiculous and unpredictable. A chain reaction of plot details and comedic timing that has left me laughing on many occasions. I definitely haven’t laughed at everything—especially during the concussion recovery. However, that recovery period gave me opportunities to meet people and led me places I wouldn’t have otherwise gone. It also messed with my lady cycle which resulted in a pregnancy we discovered right before my husband left for pre-deployment training! The pregnancy hormones helped kick the rest of the concussion out of my brain (definitely not a scientific explanation), and I actually had a crazy amount of peace during the pregnancy. The peace of the pregnancy led me to be a better listener to God. And listening showed me ways I needed to minister to those around me.
Over this past year I have had so many “God moments”. So many little realizations or revelations or observations. So much understanding of how puzzle pieces are coming together in my life and have been over the past 7 years since I first had the notion that I was being called to women’s ministry. Yet for all I’ve seen and now know, there is so much I have yet to learn. I’m finally starting to be okay with that.
Back to visions. I was given a vision years ago. However, it was a vision that didn’t really come with an image but rather a series of impressions. Now and again I catch vague glimpses of where I could be led, but I’ve never known how to get there. What I’ve come to realize is that as much as I’d like to a list of specific directions, I don’t need them. I have the Bible and it tells me what I need to do to be obedient today. Like Oswald said, “Then as surely as God is God, and [I] am [me], [I] will turn out as an exact likeness of the vision.”
I do still feel like there is something bigger and better out there for me, but I no longer feel like it’s at the expense of what I’m doing today. Rather, “bigger and better” are relative terms, and in the future I’ll be able to look back on today and see how it is “bigger and better” than it feels in this moment. I will see how it has led me to that future. But the most freeing part is being able to let go of the details and planning. Surrendering my expectations gives me the capacity to appreciate the realities. I don’t want to be stuck on my “what I think should have beens” and miss the blessings of the moment.
Perhaps one day I will feel like I’ve accomplished this vision, but I think not. I think the vision will continue to evolve and grow just as I will. I will never arrive at the end of it until I die, for there will always be some sort of daily obedience test that will take me one day closer to who I was created to be.
So to anyone else out there who has been given a vision of some sort but feels directionless—congrats! You get the privilege of learning about patience and faith and surrender and obedience too! We can keep learning together while God batters us into the shapes of these visions.