VESSELS OF GOD’S LOVE

pexels-photo-633813.jpeg“It’s going to be a great day! Blessings all around!”

On April 24, 2018, I sent the above message to Connect, which is part of the Weight Watcher’s App. It’s a wonderful place to give and receive support. The crowd is diverse and each person has their own set of goals. There is much emotion shared and we become family because we experience many of the same challenges.

I was feeling good upon waking and it carried on through till the afternoon. I spent the morning with my mother-in-law. We took a walk in the beautiful sunshine. All was well until the phone chimed later in the day. It was a representative from a large ministry. I had high hopes of volunteering with them. I had prayed about it for several days and as I was waiting on the Lord’s direction, I lined up my references–I needed three. I felt most certain that I would qualify and I couldn’t wait to get going.

On April 21, 2018, I spoke to a close friend about serving in this ministry. I actually told her that I didn’t think that it was the right fit for me because it’s within my comfort zone. Most of the serving that I do is on the Internet. I went on to say that I firmly believed that there is a powerful gift of speech within me but oppression has kept it hidden away. I have always been terrified of public speaking and this includes social gatherings of more than one. I don’t know what happens? I just can’t find my words. I want to talk and join in but I’m self-conscious and my lack of self-confidence just holds me back. I’m blank and desperate!

I’m trying to think of when it all started. In the second grade, my teacher informed my parents that I was a “social butterfly!” I remember being quite loud and obnoxious all throughout elementary school and on into the seventh grade. I was actually a wee bit too social and often got reprimanded for it. My English teacher called me out one day and said that if you want to continue talking you can come to the front of the class and give the lesson. Not afraid one bit, I stood up and proceeded to the front of the class and spoke without hesitation.

It was after that (not due to the teaching incident, I’m sure) that my personality began to change. I was more aware of myself and I don’t believe I liked who I was. As each grade passed, the social anxiety grew. I admit, I used alcohol to liven myself up and I abused it up until I was married and pregnant with my daughter. I immediately stopped as soon as I found out that I was going to be a mother.

Without the use of alcohol, I became mute! Yes, I could carry on as if all was normal but underneath the facade there was a tremendous amount of fear and anxiety bubbling up within me. By the time I arrived home, I was a stressed out mess and my only source of comfort and peace were in sweets. 

With all of this being said, I just know that God has work for me to do and this will include using my voice which scares the heck out of me. God doesn’t tell us to do something without us being prepped and prepared. If this is the case, I need to seek out opportunities to get social and use my God-given voice.

On April 23, 2018, I was meditating on this and listening for ways that i could start using my voice in that very moment. The thought came that instead of posting on Connect, do a video instead. Each evening I post so I’m accountable for my actions during that day. It keeps me honest, I guess! Anyway, my heart suddenly begins to race at just the thought of putting of a video. Nobody was home, it was just God and I. I picked up my phone and put it to record and there I was in the screen. I started to critique my appearance, my facial expressions, my eyebrows, and my slouch.

“Just push record and talk about something random”

I could not do it and as I type this and think of that very same thing, the nerves start in. My daughter is a whiz on her phone. She does all sorts of video type stuff and it doesn’t bother her one bit. Why such a block on me?

I remember when video cameras came out when I was a kid. My dad bought one and he used to go around filming family stuff. I can’t think of anything off the top of my head but it was just every day events. I remember seeing myself on the television and hating what I saw. The extra weight, the wonky colored teeth due to the dental work I had received in the fourth grade, stringy hair, bad choice of clothes–you name it, I came up with it.

I guess I don’t really like what I do see on video nor in the mirror. I don’t like to look in the mirror and avoid it at all costs. I stand before it in the morning to apply make-up but after that, I’m finished. I would rather not know because the more I see myself, the more I can’t tolerate what’s looking back at me. Selfies, forget it. I try to take them periodically but my goodness, scary!

Has all of this negative self-talk stifled my ability to speak? I don’t know? How wonderful it would be to share God’s Word, vocally. Sharing it written is great but to speak it would be a completely different level. To engage in conversation that is of God, encouraging and sharing the Gospel, to hear and see the lifting of one’s spirit would be sensational. To actually bring someone before God due to what I’ve said, through the direction of the Holy Spirit, would be the ultimate gift.

In saying all of this, the big ministry that broke my heart, was not the way to go. Yes, I was denied because I did not belong to a local church. I did not have a six month pastoral reference. I don’t believe that Pastor Stanley nor Pastor Furtick would be available to speak on my behalf. The representative said that I would not be able to point people to church because I didn’t attend one. I don’t believe this for one second. Yes, I was upset and I cried. I felt rejected and singled out. I felt pitied. I was mad but after I sat and talked and sometimes raised my voice to God, I realized that when God closes a door, He opens a better one.

I prayed, before receiving the phone call, that the Lord would close the door if this is not in His Will. I felt that I was rationalizing this position. Deep down I knew that this wasn’t for me but I just wanted to keep going. My upset turned to praise because the Lord had answered my prayer. The praise wasn’t as joyful as I would have liked but I did praise and thank Him for showing up. I certainly didn’t deserve His answered prayer nor His presence! Decision made, no big ministry for me! I would keep going as I was and wait patiently for God’s movement.

I also realized in that moment that God showed up in a huge way that I would have missed if I hadn’t been looking at Him. He showed me the freedom that He so graciously gave me in regards to the bondage that has enslaved for years. I am thankful to say that the entire three days of upset and discouragement, I had not one desire to reach for the Hershey’s Kisses. There is a Costco sized bag in the pantry and on any other given day, I would have raced in there and fed my emotions. Not the case this time. The Lord showed up and gave me evidence that I was indeed free of slavery.  Last night he showed me this interpretation of John 8:32:

“Sin has a way of enslaving us, controlling us, dominating us, and dictating our actions. Jesus can free you from this slavery that keeps you from becoming the person God created you to be. If sin is restraining, mastering, or enslaving you, Jesus can break its power over your life.”

And He did just that! The only way I can explain this mighty miracle is that He has lifted me above my sadness by continuing to show me His light. Sadness is not unusual for me. I suffer with it every couple of months. From out of nowhere, it hits me and I’m left with little or no energy. I can’t seem to find joy anywhere even when spending time with God. My perspective is my circumstances whatever they may be in that given moment. I don’t allow God to fully come in because I am distracted by my own depression. Struggling with why it happened, how can I fight it, what will pull me out, and then I resort to sweets which is defeating in itself. On April 25, 2018, I wrote this on Connect:

“Day 11 of 45 days without cookies, cake or chocolate. Doing well thus far! I managed a bike ride today and a lengthy walk with the dog. The past several days have been tough emotionally. I find it quite strange and foreign to sit in a sad state and not eat out of comfort. What did I do instead? I went outside for exercise, read Scripture, finished some volunteer responsibilities and took a nap. It was refreshing to just be sad without feeling guilt, shame, bloat, and fatigue which is what usually happens when I hit a low because I gorge on sugar! Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but there it is!! I hope all of you were blessed today!! Sweet dreams!!”

And that is my feeling in a nutshell! Sitting in sadness, which I’ve done since childhood, and not feeling the mental and physical anguish of too much sugar.

Yes, I was discouraged for three days. I was upset not only with the ministry decision but I felt pointless and aimless in my current serving opportunities. I wasn’t making the difference that I wanted to be making. There was no pay back in what I was doing. I wasn’t looking for money but instead for praise and encouragement. This is no way to serve as the Lord told me this morning.

April 26, 2018

I woke this morning, wondering if today would be a better day. My husband asked me how I felt and I couldn’t honestly tell him. I was waiting on some sort of nod from God. I spoke to Him silently and proceeded to get up. I grabbed a Bible that I don’t often read anymore. It’s the “Life Principles Daily Bible,” from Charles Stanley. I decided to flip through the Life Principles and see if any of them hit me:

“God Blesses So That We Might Bless Others!”

Here we go, this is just what I’ve been struggling with. Before digging in, I reached out to God because without Him nothing would make sense!

“Lord, thank you for being my Almighty Father and thank you that you are my Source of Strength. Thank you that I was able to get out of bed this morning and walk without assistance and without pain. Thank you for my health. Lord, open my ears, mind, body, heart, soul and spirit. I need understanding and direction. I need to hear from You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen”

The entire devotion spoke to me and this is what I took away from it.

“Life Principles Daily Bible:”

“Jesus preached, taught, healed and performed miracles in order to help others, never to call attention to Himself. He poured out His very life so that others might be saved, never thinking for a moment to save Himself.”

Journal entry:

“What is my motivation in serving? I do it because I enjoy reaching out to people but there is also the element of praise. I like to receive praise and recognition after I’ve done something “good” and maybe there is a bit of that in my motivation. Yes, I know there is. Do I seek out service where I know recognition will be the reward? Recognition keeps me going. When I don’t receive it or the result isn’t what I would like, do I step away? Do I continue on–striving to receive it? When I feel justified and validated, I’m able to carry on. Is this how Jesus served?

“Life Principles Daily Bible:”

“When we allow His Holy Spirit to work in us and through us to others, we become vessels of His love in action. We reflect His compassion, love, and mercy to others. And in so doing, we are His witnesses, we bring credit, honor, and glory to Him.”

I have the Holy Spirit living in me. I have the capabilities to share and show the love of Jesus. It’s only because of the Holy Spirit that I’m able to do this. I need to reach out because I can show God’s love in action. I can be the vessel of God’s love to all people and feel good that I’m acting according to God’s Will and leave it at that.

My encouragement and praise comes from knowing that I’m sharing and showing the love of Jesus. I will never know all of the people I reach or what it has done in their life and it isn’t for me to know. I am acting in the power and the strength of the Holy Spirit. I’m here on this earth to glorify God not myself. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it weren’t for God. I am eternally saved because of what Jesus did on the cross. I would just die and go nowhere but the ground.

It is all about God! I am just a servant placed here because God put me here. I’m here to represent and reflect His love and nothing else.

My journal continues further with this:

“Look to the people not yourself. Don’t withhold God’s love because it doesn’t fit your schedule or you are fearful and anxious of the situation. Don’t look for recognition! It doesn’t matter if you get nothing in return. If you see or feel the need or God tells you to go–do it! This life is not about you–Glorify God!

“Life Principles Daily Bible:”

“God has called you to serve others just as Jesus served others. He didn’t save you or call you to service so that you might be exalted, praised, glorified or put on a pedestal. He saved you so that you might serve others, and in so doing bring praise and honor to God’s holy name. He blesses you so that you might bless others.”

I have to shift into God’s gear instead of my own. How do I put God’s love in action or better yet, I need to go right to the Source! Ask Him to help and show you how to put His love in action. The decisions that I make in life–do I make them to glorify me or Jesus? Think about it before jumping full-speed ahead.

“Life Principles Daily Bible:”

“The nature of the ministry task or calling is not the important thing; what is important is the motivation behind our service. God loved us so that we might love others. That’s what the Christian life is all about.”

Lord, show me where the need is and through your strength and direction, let me carry out that need to your specifications and in your will so I can bring glory to you; so that I can point people to you. I want to put your love and compassion into action.

It is truly an honor and a privilege to be used by God. We have the opportunity to show up on His behalf. We can show and act in love and compassion because that is who our Father in heaven is. What a wonderful gift!

***

Thank you to the “Life Principles Daily Bible,” by Charles Stanley
Biblical Principles for Each Day of the Year

 

 

 

 

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