I could not have begun to learn how to quit fearing paper tigers without coming to the end of myself by tiring myself out. I was like that annoying toy in the bottom of the toy box that makes noise every time something gets jostled. I needed to run out of batteries. This didn’t happen overnight, but over a series of events over three years. Let me list them for you.
1st -- My first mission trip overseas. I came home with such a passion to change the circumstances that I saw children living in. I rallied friends and strangers to donate every cloth diaper I could get my hands on.
2nd -- My second mission trip overseas. I was so excited to take supplies to the orphanages we had visited. I began to realize that my efforts were such a drop in the bucket of meeting the children’s needs. I began to realize that my efforts were good, but they weren’t world changing because the problems were so vast.
3rd -- I said yes to almost anything that advanced the gospel, no matter how difficult it might be to accomplish. I was afraid I would miss something God had for me. I was afraid that if I didn’t say yes, that no one else would say yes.
4th -- I picked “ardent” as my word for the year because I was so gung ho excited to work hard changing the world.
5th -- I was standing in the living room crying because I was so tired. I felt like I was doing all the right things, and God was holding out on me. I was serving Him, and the burden was so far from light. It was the night before a women’s event, and I had worked so hard all week. I had missed some sleep, and I knew I wouldn’t get sleep until the event was over. There was a detail that had to be handled before I could go to bed, and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Why wasn’t God looking out for me? Why hadn’t He sent more help? Why was the response less than I had expected? Why are some things “successful” and other things just not? Was this a spiritual attack and I was just too immature to see it?
6th -- I attended a women’s conference where we were encouraged to ask God what He wanted us to do for His Kingdom. I had a dozen answers I could have written down, a dozen things I could lead, start, or volunteer to accomplish. I listened and wept as the Holy Spirit told me the answer I was suppose to write down, “Just be you. Just be the one person you are. Stop trying to do it all. Just be.”
7th -- I had a tough summer because of low vitamin d. I was running on empty, and I had been for months and months. I had to do some self care over the summer that resulted in a really great tan. God showed me a passage in Galatians, and as I read it in The Message version, my eyes were opened to how deeply I was people pleasing and God impressing. God began to shift my thinking and open my eyes to His truth.
8th -- My third mission trip overseas. The lesson that what I can do on my own is so insignificant really finally was sinking in. I could see that what we had done was only effective because Christ moved in spite of our efforts. I began trying to verbalize what God was teaching me, but it was coming out all wrong. The ideas I’m sharing in this blog series began to sprout on that trip.
That moment crying in my living room was just a piece of the story God was sewing in my life, teaching me this lesson, but I can so easily recall that feeling. I felt completely alone in my pursuit to live out a calling for Him. I felt like even God was not doing His part. I wanted God to be proud of me, impressed by all that I was doing, and He was holding out on me.
This feeling, these questions are the heart of why I’m writing this series. We’ve covered some ground on our topic; we are almost to the half way point of our 31 days. Over the next few weeks that we have left, I hope to answer at least a few of these questions that we maybe have not answered yet.
Tiring out and coming to the end of myself was just the beginning.