I just love this verse. God was going to save Israel. He would not break his covenant with His chosen people. The question posed to Esther was whether or not she would take a front row seat. Was Esther willing to lay down her fears, take a radical step of obedience, and partner with the Almighty God on His mission of redemption?
Sisters, on this side of the cross we are asked the same question. God is on a mission to bring the Gospel to the ends of the Earth, to see men and women set free from the power of sin and darkness, to expand His universal church. Are we partnering with Him on this mission or is fear and the idol of comfort keeping us from taking steps of faithful obedience? God has put us in our specific place with our unique people for His purposes. We have been blessed with specific gifts and talents that God will grow and shape and refine. We have been CALLED FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS. God has a story to tell of His redeeming love and only we can tell it in our own unique way to the specific people in our place of influence. Like Esther, we need to respond to the call. We have to bury our fears with faith. We have to take the hard steps of obedience.
Is fear causing you to sit on your story?
Is the hard work required to be faithful in the day-to-day too much?
Have you lost sight of your vision?
What is your vision? What are your unique gifts and talents? What is your sphere of influence? How are you actively pursuing living on mission with Jesus Christ?
In Romans 1:1-5, Paul makes our mission very clear:
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.
Like Paul, we have been set apart for the gospel of God for the sake of His name among all the nations. We have been called out of darkness and into the light of God that we might become children of God. We have been set apart to be a chosen people, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, a people for God’s possession. Why? So that we might declare His praises and point people to the excellence of God’s glorious and indescribable grace. We have been chosen before the foundation of the world, set apart for good works that God prepared in advance for us (Eph. 1:4 and 2:10).
Paul also identifies himself as a servant of Christ. Our primary calling in life is to be a servant of our King. Through God’s power and for God’s glory, we are called to know God and make Him known- To love God and love people. Recently I was at a women’s event meeting lots of new people and I was asked the familiar question, “What do you do?” I honestly didn’t know how to answer. I do so many different “part-time” things. I don’t have one set “occupation.” I wonder how the church would be different if we identified ourselves like Paul. “What do you do?” ……”Well, I’m a servant of the one true King, I have been chosen and set apart for the gospel of God that I may know God and make Him known.” Maybe I’ll try that next time:)…..or maybe I’ll just start reminding myself of my true identity and purpose!
We are servants of Christ, we have been called and set apart, and we have received grace. Our primary calling is to share that grace. Our roles and occupations may change with the seasons of life, but our purpose will never change. Our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
How we will live out our grace story depends largely on the uniqueness of each one of us. Our stories will all be unique. This means we need to stop competing and comparing with each other and start celebrating our differences within the body of Christ. We need to stop trying to fit who we are in the box of who we think we should be or what others’ expectations are. This requires us to take the time to reflect on our true selves. This will be a process of peeling off the layers of false messages and the self we created to cope with them.
“Living your God-given life involves remaining faithful to your true self. It entails distinguishing your true self from the demands and voices around you and discerning the unique vision, calling, and mission the Father has given to you. It requires listening to God from within yourself and understanding how he has uniquely made you. Knowing your personality, temperament, likes and dislikes, thoughts, and feelings all contribute to this discovery.”- Peter Scazzero
Part of owning your story is owning who you really are. Taking the time to know your thoughts and feelings. Learning about how God wired you!
A distinction needs to be made between man-centered dreams and God-sized kingdom dreams. Part of owning your unique self and growing in Christian maturity is allowing God to peel away the grip we have on our own dreams for our life and teaching us to live with our hands open in surrender to His plan. We need to get to a point where we can say,
“God I love you so much. I know your plan and will for my life is what is best for me and will bring YOU the most glory. I’m laying down my plans. I’m going to stay close to you and go where you lead.”
See I had this plan for my life. It went something like this: I would live happily ever after with a bunch of kids in a farm house and we would sit around all day and read Jane Eyre and write poetry and grow all our own food and no one would ever fight and life would be filled with constant beauty. I would be like Caroline Ingalls- all sweet and gentle and wise and my husband would be like Pa- a caring, loving, hard-working man who always knew how to solve every problem and by the end of the episode we all live happily ever after. Amen.
You can laugh because that’s ridiculous, right? But somewhere along the way, when life got hard and I was buried knee deep in diapers with 3 children 3 and under, I stopped dreaming. I rationalized that dreaming will only lead to disappointment. I became a slave to the winds of life. The tyranny of the urgent filled my days. I grew increasingly depressed and hopeless. It wasn’t until God brought a HUGE life change in my life (cuz He’s so awesomely loving) that I woke up and realized I wasn’t living my life, I was being lived BY life. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. If you would have asked me 3 years ago, what I like to do/what brings me happiness? I wouldn’t have been able to truly answer; I was so out of touch with myself. If you would have asked me if I dreamed God-sized dreams for His kingdom, I would have answered,” You are probably asking the wrong person. Maybe you should ask______ instead, because they are much more spiritual than me.”
I realized I had lost my vision. I had taken my focus off of God and put the focus on my selfish plans and comforts. God, in His lovingkindness, woke me back up to the mission- the beautiful story He wrote for my life. I started praying and seeking and dreaming again. My prayer was simple, “God, I want to live recklessly in love with you. I want to know you and make you known. How do you want me to do that?” At first, it was a really small dream and slowly God worked it in my heart to be something bigger. I didn’t want to take a leap of faith off the cliff into what God was leading me to, but when I did, I saw God show up and saw Him work in ways I never dreamed possible. And sisters, our God is INCREDIBLE. He wants to show us His power and goodness, but sometimes it requires taking steps of obedience for us to experience it.
So for a moment, I’d like to dream God-sized dreams with you. Here are few things to consider:
1. God calls us to surrender our lives and wait for Him to birth the dream. I’m a visionary and I love to plan. If I’m not careful, I can start running with my ideas even if they aren’t from the Lord. He will birth a desire, a longing in your soul. Our job is to run hard after Him, not chase a dream. The only thing that will satisfy the deep longings of our soul is to be filled with more of God. We shouldn’t be seeking a dream. We should be seeking our Savior.
2. The dream God calls you to will most likely stretch you. Dreaming God-sized dreams means we can’t accomplish them in our own strength. It’s in these moments we get to humbly surrender and see God’s mighty hand. One of the dreams God put on my heart was to start writing a blog to encourage women to follow hard after Jesus. I didn’t know what it would like and I didn’t want to do it. I even wrote down in my journal a list of 5 points to God about why writing a blog was a bad idea. As I wrestled through it, God told me to call my friend Carrie. So I picked up the phone right then and called her and shared this crazy dream and told her God wanted me to share this with her. I was expecting her to tell me I lost my mind. But after a few seconds, she responded that just that morning she had journaled that she felt that God was calling her to write a blog, but she wasn’t sure she had the computer skills to create one. It just so happened I know a little bit about computers and the dream started to take shape. God graciously brought Kerri, Leslie, and Lisa to start this journey with us. And as we kept living with our hands open and dreaming and praying, God has continued to shape the dream. Now we are looking at more writing projects and live events. The dream needed to come slowly. We still don’t know exactly what it will look like, we are just trying to live seeking the One who does.
3. People may not understand your dream. Look at Noah, God clearly gave him the vision to build the ark and he was mocked because people thought he was crazy. God gave Joseph actual dreams and his brothers laughed at him. People may laugh at you too. That’s why it is so important to have those safe people in your life that can speak truth into your life and confirm if this might be a direction God is leading you or not. And when the dream gets hard or you doubt yourself, they will be there to cheer you on and lift you up in prayer. Because the battle is real and hard, and when you are on the front lines for God’s kingdom, you need other believers to fight alongside of you.
4. Sometimes our dreams are deferred.
Joseph is the prime example of this. God gives him a dream and then he spent his time mopping floors in Potipher’s house or staring at a prison wall. God had to grow the man that would carry out His dream. God had to wait for the perfect time to fufill the dream when His glory would be most magnificently displayed. Just because your dream is deferred or it doesn’t feel like anything is happening with it right now, doesn’t mean God isn’t in it. Wait and trust, keep seeking God and keep the dream surrendered.
5. Your dreams will not come with maps.
You will NOT know everything that is going to happen. For those controlling, type-A personality types, this is downright terrifying. We like nice little road maps with detailed turn-by-turn directions. But often the future is very unclear and all we know is what step God is calling us to make RIGHT NOW. It reminds me of those motion-detector street lights. When you look down the street, it looks very intimidating. You don’t know what might be lurking behind that bush or what that strange shadow really is. But once you start walking, the path lights up as you near the street light. For a moment all is well, calm sets in. You are okay! It is tempting to stay under that light where everything is safe and comfortable. Then you keep going and just when that uneasy feeling sets in again, another light comes on. And so on it goes till you get to your destination. In His grace, God lights up just the next step on our path. It is when we step out in faith, taking risks along the way, that more of the path lights up. This process builds our faith as we see God working in ways we couldn’t imagine…. When we see Him show up in ways we can’t explain….When He uses the hard stuff for His glory.
It is also His grace to NOT show us the whole path right now. We might be too overwhelmed to put one foot on that path!!! There will be potholes and thorn bushes and other real dangers along the way, and if we knew them all right now, we would be paralyzed. Heck, I get paralyzed with enough imaginary “what-ifs”. Often we need to trust God enough to step out in faith on the path He is calling us to even if we don’t know where it’s going! Sometimes the hardest step is the first one. Sometimes the hardest step is to walk across the street and meet your neighbor. Sometimes the hardest step is engaging a mom on the playground. Sometimes the hardest step is making that phone call to the person you lost touch with. Sometimes the hardest step is offering forgiveness. It’s the hard steps in obedience that water our faith and create a soil where God can grow our dreams.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.- 1 Corinthians 4-9
God is faithful. Jesus Christ will sustain us to the end. We are not lacking any gift. We have the grace of God. How do these truths impact your vision for the future? How can you partner with God in mission in this season of your life?
A big part of owning your story, is living purposefully and intentionally, humbly surrendering your future to the One who is faithful and loves you with an everlasting love. God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong. We are but clay in our Potter’s faithful hands. We are safe in His grasp!
Here are some questions to think and pray about as you ponder owning the story God wrote for your life: Questions on Dreaming
I would love to hear how God is leading you in your dreams!