Last weekend was the third annual IF:Gathering. For the third year, I participated in an IF:Local. I helped lead IF:Amarillo, inviting women from all over the panhandle to come together in unity.
Since I was leading, I was privy to information. I knew about the domino ending. I could guess what was coming. I had already begun brainstorming about what my response could be. (Why not be prepared. I didn’t want to get caught off guard and not have anything to offer. How “try hard” of me.) We had dominos and sharpies. I knew we would be expected to write a response on that domino. I had a list of 3 or 4 things I could have written.
When it came to that moment in the program, I decided I really should try to approach it fresh, forget my preconceived ideas. I bowed my head and prayed, and I asked God what He wanted me to write on that domino.
I was surprised by the Holy Spirit’s response: “Quit trying to be a whole bag of dominos. Just be one domino. I love you. Just be you. Just be one domino.”
It was true. I’m a busy, doer. God knows that about me. Absolutely He knows that. He made me. I don’t think He is worried about whether or not I am going to do anything for His Kingdom.
What God knows is that I will run my wheels off, work myself to exhaustion for His Kingdom. I had done it in preparation for IF:Amarillo. I would do it again at the drop of a hat.
I believe God wasn’t telling me to slow down, but He was reminding me that He loved me, not the work I was doing for Him. He loved me, every ugly part and every good part. His Kingdom will come without me lifting a finger. That has been finished. I won’t stop working wherever He gives me a chance, but I know I’m important to Him. He loves me.
I will be my domino. I will fall for His Kingdom, and other dominos will fall for His Kingdom. It’s a beautiful thing. We can make disciples and change the world. We can do it, not because we are something special, but because we Love the Lord and we are willing to abide in Him and bear fruit.
What did this domino response mean for me going forward? I didn’t want to presume anything about what the Holy Spirit had just told me: Just be one domino.
In the next days, I decided to make a list of everything I am doing for the church and for Him, everything I’m doing in the ministry, big and small.
I took that list and prayed over each item. Something Jennie Allen had pointed out during IF had sunk in: I don’t want to be working for God, I want to be working with God.
As I prayed about each one, I heard a still small “yes” to each item. Well, there was one that was unclear in my spirit. I texted my husband, and I asked him to pray about that one.
He did, and he said he knew it was something I was suppose to be doing.
It all felt good. I felt energized and ready to keep working for His Kingdom, alongside Him, knowing how much God loved me.
And then it felt like the dominos all fell down, in a bad way.
I got a series of emails that jumbled it all again.
I got an email from our adoption agency. Ethiopian adoptions were in danger of big changes, changes that might make it impossible for our family to continue our adoption.
I got an email from the writing conference I had plans to attend, they are taking a year off this year. No conference.
I got a letter in the mail letting me know my paperwork sent to the US government for our adoption was denied and would need to be resubmitted. That probably meant $900 would need to paid again.
I was angry. I was distraught. I went through a roller coaster of emotions.
The devil did something tricky. He’s good at that. He twisted the Holy Spirit’s words to me. That isn’t a new trick. It is exactly what he did with Eve.
The devil stated telling me that “Just Be One Domino” really meant, “No thank you, Jennifer. I don’t need your gifts. I don’t need you to work alongside me.”
Two big things on my list were our adoption and writing. Other things on my list were related to those two things.
I believed the lie. Not for a long time, but long enough. Long enough to bawl my eyes out, want to quit everything including church, ministry, and anything spiritual.
I don’t know why I realized it was a lie, but I did. I began to think of Job. He lost everything. He didn’t just get an email threatening to take a few things away, but he actually lost everything. I would be a horrible Job. I would be a pretty good Job’s wife. I would be right there with her, “Let’s just curse God and die.”
I don’t want that to be true about me. I want to be a good Job. The ugly truth is that I’m weak. Emotionally, I’m ready to give up easily when things look uncertain.
Thankfully I have an amazing husband that talks sense into me. Thankfully I have an amazing church family that is praying with me and for me about our adoption.
And writing? I’m writing this, aren’t I?
Things are uncertain right now, but what the Holy Spirit told me in the quiet response time at IF is not uncertain. He loves me. He loves me, not what I can do for Him. He loves the ugly, stubborn, “work until I hit a wall,” doer, independent, try-hard me.
Now I also know that He loves the me that wants to give up and listens to the devil’s lies. He loves me anyway.
He loves you too.