Monday, January 30, 2012

The Need to be Real

Serving in Children’s Ministry is one of the greatest joys of my life, but sometimes, I find myself grumbling about it. You see, many years ago, the Lord called me into Children’s Ministry- I didn’t want to serve in that ministry; in fact, I wanted nothing to do with it. But when the Lord puts a call on your life and chooses you, He will also give you the ability to do it. This is exactly what He has done for me.
To fully understand what I am talking about and the lessons that the Lord has taught me through this, I need to explain something to you all. I pray that my heart comes across to you without any harbored hard feelings, but I want to be as open and honest with you as I can. My heart is His and whatever He desires for my life, I am willing to go, do and be for Him.
You see, about three years ago now, I was leading the Children’s Ministry. A group of us had planted a church in Clayton, NC- a sister church to the one in Cary that we all loved so dearly, but we also knew and believed that the Lord was calling us to Clayton. Being in Children’s Ministry for all the years previous, the Lord asked me to lead this Children’s Ministry- and I accepted with excitement and my usual passion and zeal for things! (Which can be a little overbearing at times, I admit) But life began to happen. I took a promotion, my work began to consume my every waking moment, and the time that I needed to spend in prayer and supplication for the ministry became third or fourth on my list of “to do’s”.
There was a tugging at my heart to let something go, either my job or the ministry, I wasn’t sure which. I chose to let go of the ministry, to get my heart right again, and to get my walk with the Lord right again. I stepped down from the ministry with a heavy heart. My husband can attest to the hours and days I spent in deep depression and flowing tears at leaving the children that I had come to love so much. In fact, the hurt became so deep that I started to pour myself more into my work so that I would be so exhausted that I would not think about the kids. I started to dread going to church, because the kids would see me and run up and hug me- and my heart would break again. I couldn’t take it; in fact it became so difficult for me to even look at their faces that I couldn’t go to church without leaving in a flow of tears. Sitting in the sanctuary listening to our pastor teach the word, there would always be this pang, this thorn that would prick my heart. The desire to be with the kids, to teach them the Word of God, to point them to Jesus and to encourage and lead the other teachers was so great in me, that I had to do something. So I did, but it wasn’t the right thing to do. I became bitter and angry, a critical spirit.
I started thinking that I must have done such a poor job as the leader of that ministry that my pastor and the lady who took my place were happy to see me go. I became angry, knowing that the choice I had made to step away was not the one the Lord was asking me to make, in fact the choice was to leave my job and step out in faith (but I was too hard headed to see the path He was asking me to take). Instead, I became more depressed, started turning away from Him and pouring myself more and more into this job that was taking me away from who I was in Him. I did try to come back, thinking that when I suggested taking a break- I would have the opportunity to come back, however, that was not the case. To me at that point my whole world collapsed. The thought of not leading and loving those kids was too much for me to take- I had to be with them. The call that the Lord put on my life eight years ago was still there and was as strong as ever.
A serious of events and the Lord’s loving discipline brought me back to where I was able to serve the kids every week. I can’t even put into words the wonderful excitement that was in my heart when I walked into that classroom and the kids were so excited to have me again. I thought they would have forgotten me- but they hugged me and welcomed me back with open arms. Some of that bitterness that I had let grow up in my heart was melting away. I kept telling myself that the only thing that mattered was being with the kids- I didn’t have to lead. That’s what I told myself- but that is not what was truly in my heart.
The days and weeks went by, my pride would rear its ugly head from time to time, and I would “overstep” my bounds with other teachers and the woman now leading the ministry. My heart was still bitter and holding resentment. I began to “pick” at things (in my head and to my husband) about things that “I” would be doing differently. I would have done this; we need to be doing that- that is not the way that we do things at Calvary Chapel- I would tell my husband on my way back from church. I began to get angry again, and bitter again- beating myself up for the choice that I had made. But then, something happened- the Lord changed my heart. My job began changing, my heart began to change, and the Lord showed me His will for my life. And yes, it has everything to do with His Children and His Word. I began to write again, to study and spend time with Him again. I began to fall in love with Him again- not the ministry.
Thankfully, I began to let the Lord chip away at my heart all the bitterness and resentment that I was feeling and opened my eyes to something I never would have imagined for myself- ever! My husband and I were on our way home from church; I had just served with the kids, and was complaining a little bit when he said to me, “I don’t think the Lord is only calling you to the children at our church.” That hit me right in the heart. I had no clue what he actually meant by that but it resonated with my spirit and in my heart. I thought about what he had spoken, I thought about what it meant, and then began to pray to the Lord God for direction and understanding. That is when the Lord started leading me to a place where I could walk out in faith, quit my job and begin a new ministry- one that was His, designed for me.
What is that ministry you ask? It is writing- whether it be a puppet skit, teaching children of all ages about the love of Jesus Christ; a Christmas Play to proclaim the gospel, or a blog which is read by women and men. I am to be His keyboard, and He will do the work through me. Wherever that leads me- wherever He says go- I will go. If He says lead the ministry again, I will lead. If He says I need you to go and teach my children in Thailand, then I will go. You see, what I realize is this- it is not about the ministry, it is about the One whom we serve. The One whom we bow our hearts and our knees to, the One whom we call Lord.
I love all the kids at our church, and I will admit that it makes me feel good knowing that they love me in return. I have parents come to me and say, my son is so excited when you’re his teacher! He loves you so much- I always have to remind myself and the parents, and the kids that it is not me- it is Jesus in me that they love. What they love and what they desire is Jesus, not me. I guess what I am trying to say is this- it is not about “what” we do for Jesus, it is about what we let Him do through us. It is becoming that empty vessel, that willing heart, that bowed will and loving Him with all our minds, our hearts, our souls and our strength. He is whom I serve; not the children, not the parents, not my pastor- but I serve Jesus Christ, God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. If the Lord chooses to restore me one day to the ministry- then let it be His will and not mine. If the Lord desires to send my husband and I to Thailand and to plant and lead a children’s ministry there- then let it be His will and not mine. In the words of Mother Teresa, “I am but a pencil in the hand of God.” And that is what He has called me to be. I am His vessel, His child, and His writing utensil- may He use me as He sees fit, not as I desire.
If you have a calling on your life, and you are wondering how and when the Lord is going to use it- wait. Just continue to empty yourself at the foot of His cross and let Him fill you with His desires. You will find the peace, the comfort and the joy that comes from waiting upon the Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen.