What I Learned from IF

Posted by Lauren Sparks on February 11, 2015 at 5:20 PMDelete 
Twice now I have written this same post and then it has disappeared into the black hole of technology. I started to wonder if I was supposed to publish this. I decided that putting words to what God is teaching me and doing through me is kind of like having an accountability partner. So here goes:

If you haven't heard of IF:Gathering, that's probably because it's a brand new movement. This women's event started last year in Austin, Texas and features some of the top speakers and authors in Christiandom. It is simulcast all over the world and for the last 2 years I've had the privilege to participate from close to home in Grapevine. Although I really enjoyed the preaching last year, I believe God used their messages this year to do a brand new work in my heart. But I need to back up a bit to have even a hope of explaining to you what I have been processing for the last 5 days. I have always tested very high in "faith" on Spiritual Gift inventories (you know, the tests you take when your church is soliciting volunteers for children's Bible class and you KNOW you don't want to do THAT). I never doubt God or my salvation. I know that He is good and that he loves me and all of humanity. I can trust Him with the BIG things. Cancer, death, taxes and politics - all those things you aren't supposed to talk about at dinner parties - they are so big that there is precious little I can do to impact them. Take death, for example. If you are alive, there is a 100% chance that you will die. It's in God's hands. So I'm not tempted to try to take it from Him. Shelby's seizures and development - big. I trust God with her, because He has a plan and He loves her more than I do. But I struggle to trust God in my day-to-day life. My mundane activities are so small, so I tend to tackle them in my own strength. And I'm doing a bang-up job of it. And I mean "bang-up" in the messed up, beat up and beat down sense of the word. Most days I spend some time reading God's word and writing down a few prayers, but then I push God out of the driver's seat and have a head-on collision with the rest of my day. I make decisions without consulting Him, talk to friends and family members without mentioning Him, and order my to-do list without a thought to His plans for me. Here's what God revealed to me that He is doing about it. He is taking away some of the "crutches" I've been using to bolster my own strength. 1. I am a fitness instructor who is now overweight. I used to take pride in my athletic build and muscle tone. Now I have injuries that keep me from doing a lot of the things I used to do and a layer of blubber covering my muscles. God wants to do the lifting for me. 2. I used to turn to a big group of friends for comfort and support. Now as our kids get older and busier, we are getting older and busier (I'm not sure why I threw "older" in. It's TRUE, but neither here nor there).  There is no longer enough time for many lunches and leisurely coffees. But God is whispering to me, "I have time. Sit with me." 3. I like to shop. A lot. I don't spend a lot of money, but I love a good deal and could nickel and dime our bank account into oblivion. Clearance racks are my kryptonite. Buying myself a little pretty feels so soothing to me when I'm tired or frustrated or stressed out. But last year Chuck and I made our family time a priority so he accepted a job with better hours and less pay. He still provides for us beyond what we need, but my shopping cushion is gone. And God is showing Himself to be the Comforter that I never looked for Him to be.  None of these changes in my life are earth shattering, because God knows how to get my attention.  Remember how I told you that it's pretty easy for me to trust God with the big things in life?  If my world came crashing down, I would run to HIm and fall flat on my face.  And although I know He wants that, He also wants to teach me to do it on a daily basis.  Not only on a catastrophy basis.

Well, I realized this weekend that without my normal pick-me-ups, I have been living a pretty safe existence.  I've had a need to see how things are going to work out before diving into something.  I've calculated costs and wondered if I was enough (ideas from Jennie Allen).  But I'm tired and bored with that life.  I'm ready to give my faith away instead of holding onto it for myself.  And as Jen Hatmaker says, "You don't have to have full confidence in yourself - just in God."  I don't have to be enough, because He is.  All I have to do is be obedient to Him, "results are God's responsibility" - Bianca Olthoff.  I am ready to live in the fullness that God has for me.  And that fullness is not guarded or complacent.  The fullness gives, and gives some more! (from Rebekah Lyons).  So I'm working to set aside fear AND my own paltry strength.  There is work to do that can only be accomplished through His perfect strength.  And "service, not performance prepares us for battle" - Chris Caine.  So, I'm starting out by contacting a couple of local ministries that God has laid on my heart.  As long as there are hurting, needy people in the world, I will volunteer.  And as long as there are people who don't know how much my Savior loves them, I will talk about Him.  So, friends, you are put on notice.  Our relationship my look a little different.  You may get tired of my message, but I can't apologize for the fire that He has put in heart.

"And blessed is she would believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord."  Luke 1:45