Monday, December 3, 2012
ON A SHELF
Yup, that's how I feel lately.
Like a book that God enjoyed reading, but when He was done with me, He put me on the shelf.
Before I moved, I had a nice little corner of ministry going. A few speaking engagements. A consistent blog voice. An active leadership role in my Bible Study.
I had hopes of God opening the door into the Christian *big-time* at any moment. It seemed imminent, around the corner – just waiting for me.
Then I moved.
And everything came to a screeching halt.
No one's ringing my doorbell to have me come and share my pearls of wisdom with their group. My blog muse – let's call her Verbosia – has left the building. And though I am in a new Bible Study group full of wonderful women, I am still the "new kid on the block."
I feel dismayed about this.
Yes, I know all about the *seasons* that God calls us to walk through – but when did He decide that this was a good time for winter?
I do want you to know – that I do see the irony of ME saying that I don't have MY ministry. I do see the self-interest in that statement.
But there's still a part of me – a part of every believer, I think – that really does want to be used by the Lord for HIS purposes.
So why am I sitting on a couch bemoaning my sitting?
I decided to visit some of my friends.
I texted Joseph, whose brothers had abandoned him, then he was rescued, only to be thrown into jail for a false accusation.
"Hey Jo, Y am I doing nothing here?"
"Know what u mean," he answered. "I had some ?'s myself in that jail cell. ☹"
"Did u think that God had forgotten u?"
"There were moments, 4 sure. But God saw the end. BTW, what others meant 4 evil, He meant 4 good. ☺"
I emailed Moses, who was treated as the son of Pharaoh, only to kill a man and run away to spend 40 years (count 'em, 40) in the wilderness with a bunch of sheep.
"Hey Moses, I'm kinda struggling here on my mountain top. I can't stand the feeling that I've been sidelined. Know what I mean?"
"Why of course! Can you imagine what it felt like to be a shepherd for 40 years? Why was I wasting my time with sheep, I often wondered. Of course, God knew the plan He had for me – to shepherd a nation out of slavery into their Promised Land."
"But Moses, I'm no spring chicken here. Time is ticking."
"Hey, I really started making a difference when I was 80. Hang in there!"
I finally decided to call David, a man whom Samuel anointed as the future king of Israel, only to spend a great deal of time running for his life.
"David? This is Sharon."
"Oh hi, Sharon. What's up?"
"I'm just wondering if you ever felt like God had forgotten you. As if He had called you to this big old purpose, only to send you off on a wild goose chase. Did you ever feel shelved?"
There was a pause on the other end…
"David, you still there?"
"Yes," he said quietly. "Actually, I felt like that quite often. I think you can tell by the words I said in my poems. So often I felt lost, neglected, forgotten,…so very far from the God I loved."
"Yeah, I have always found your honesty to be quite comforting."
"Thank you for that. But here's the thing I learned. That even when I cried out to God in despair, even when it felt like He wasn't there and didn't care – He still called me a man after His own heart. I find that incredible, don't you?"
"Somehow in my deep discouragement, I still sought His presence. Are you doing that?"
"As best as I can, I am."
"Then don't look back. I found that it was very difficult to think about my Goliath triumph when I was sitting in a dark cave running away from Saul. Was this the behavior or the position of a king? I thought God was making some pretty big mistakes."
"Yeah, I wonder sometimes too. A lot lately."
"It's OK. He has a plan. Don't give up the Story just because you don't know the ending. He's a good Author – trust Him."
I spent a lot of time thinking about my conversations with these men. Men who had been called for an important spiritual destiny. And yet, they had each spent a lot of time in seemingly wasted inactivity.
But God was working…all the time.
I turn the page in my Bible and Joseph is out of prison – but he was there for 2 years. I turn the page in my Bible and Moses returns from the wilderness – but he was there for 40 years. I turn the page in my Bible and David is king of the entire nation of Israel – but he ran for many years before he wore that crown.
I turn the page in my Bible and Jesus begins His ministry. But He spent 30 years waiting for the moment when God would tell Him, "NOW!"
I guess I'm in good company here.
On a shelf doesn't mean forgotten. It doesn't mean unimportant. It certainly doesn't mean useless.
Those are enemy lies – propaganda from the parrot constantly squawking on my shoulder – meant to deter me from becoming more like Jesus.
Lord, give me patience for this time in my life. Please relieve the discouragement that I feel right now. Make Your presence more real to me so I don't feel forgotten. Grant me comfort when I am sad. Give me peace when I feel turmoil. Fill me with strength to withstand the onslaught of pity. Let me understand that inside work is just as important to You as outside service.
Maybe more important.
Teach me that all that matters is that I am a woman after Your own heart.
And if You wouldn’t mind, please show me a sign of Your favor.
God is working his purpose out
as year succeeds to year:
God is working his purpose out,
and the time is drawing near;
nearer and nearer draws the time,
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.
- From a hymn, words written by Arthur Campbell Aigner
"Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother's womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things." (Ecclesiastes 11:5)
"You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed."
Has God ever *placed you on the sidelines* for a time in your life? What did you do?
BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"