When God Whispers…

It started six years ago as a small whisper in the quietest spaces and most protected places of my heart. A call into a deeper ministry for Jesus and in service to others, to grow in love for, learn more about, and to be equipped to teach the Word of God by pursuing a seminary education. I thought over what I believed I had heard from God and considered what it would mean for my life, our life as a family already busy in ministry.

I wish I could say I was like Mary who answered the Lord’s call with “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled,” Yet, I was more like other less confident, less qualified, less-everything characters, and rattled back a lot of questions and concerns, “Me God? How God? When God? Really, God? I am not so sure, God.” And then I would silence the whisper with wonderful other things and noisy distractions. Yet, the whisper persisted.

Over the next four years, I was prodded by a continuous nudge and pondered the call that was growing louder. I wasn’t able to shake it off as easily as I had before. Everything I thought about and worked on led me back to this passion for Jesus, for women, for families, for the Word of God. Fear kept me from sharing things aloud, but God kept sharing with me in personal, quiet ways. He gave me many signs, opportunities and encouragement to be stretched and challenged. I received each of these things as individual, separate blessings, but now looking back I see them as a cumulation of stepping stones in a path of trust and faith.  

I cannot remember what happened first- the dream I had of jumping into unknown, murky waters- or blurting out what was on my heart at a MOPS Training event. But after that dream and sharing my deepest thoughts and now a true desire, I felt like the doors of my heart were flung opened and sunlight flooded in. Each time I shared with someone, I felt a fresh breeze of confidence and excitement fill my heart. I had no details or any idea how all of it was going to work, I was a bit apprehensive about stepping into this new thing, but I trusted that if it was from the Lord, He would provide the way and His will would be done. I sought wise counsel and asked others to pray for discernment as deciding what the next steps would be.

The next steps came in the forms of essays, recommendation letters, transcripts that translated into an application to Gordon-Conwell Seminary. Pressing the final send button on the application after so many years of praying, conversations and counsel, tears and “wrestling” with what exactly was I was being called to do, was both scary and exhilarating. I gave it all a rest, handed it over to the Lord confident in the fact that I had done everything I possibly could do. A few months later, ten days before my birthday, I found out I was accepted. God and my supportive family worked out all the details and I started classes this semester, six years (or more) since I first heard the whisper.

It’s only been a few months, and already seminary has been an incredible, humbling experience. Seminary is helping me develop better listening skills- listening to the Spirit and to others. I’ve been discovering treasures that have been right in front of me, but with new background and contextual information I’ve been able to find them. I’ve been working through preconceived thoughts and ideas that I’ve previously accepted as truth, only to find there are other thoughts and ideas that might line up better with God’s word and His ways. I am dwelling in the incredible redemption story of the Bible, soaking up grace to new levels, reveling in the steadfast love and patience of Creator God, and trying to take in as much as I can.  

So, if it’s quiet here in this space and on my blog, know I am still here. I’m just taking time to listen and study, feeling so incredibly grateful for the way God speaks and the way He waits. It’s often in the quiet places that He speaks the loudest. It’s often the least confident and least qualified that He calls. The wrestling, the suffering, the questions are often an invitation to trust and follow Him to places and things that are greater and far better than you might ever have imagined.


How Can This Be?

Last week, I was rereading Mary’s story in the Gospel of Luke. Mary, a young virgin, engaged to Joseph, a man of good lineage. Her engagement was part of socially acceptable plans, plans that would provide her security in life. She might have thought of her future often, preparing herself to be a wife, dreaming of what it might be like to be married. Every day that went by was one day closer to those plans coming to fruition. Then something happened that would change everything. God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary with an incredible message that would challenge her plans and replace them with a new calling from God.

I can only imagine the thoughts and questions racing through her mind as she tried to process the impossible things the angel was saying- “You will conceive. You will give birth. You will name him Jesus. He will be the Son of the Most High.” Although, the Gospel of Luke does not tell us her exact thoughts, it does records one of her questions. A question I think we can all relate to, “How can this be?”

Mary’s first response to this overwhelming information was a question. And her response is similar to many other people in the Bible who also had their days, their plans, their lives interrupted with what seemed like unimaginable missions and impossible callings from God. Callings that would be difficult, go against social standards, and change the trajectory of their lives in order to fulfill the plans of God. In many of their stories, their immediate response to overwhelming information was a “Who am I?” “How can I?” “I am only a….”  

I think many of us have similar first responses to when God calls us to Himself or to His work. While, our circumstances and our callings might be different, the heart of our responsive question is the same- doubt.

“How can this be, since I am a sinner?

“How can this be, since I am unqualified?”

“How can this be, since I do not have the resources?

God’s answer has been, is, and always will be the same. The answer is- “I am with you.” (Exo.3:12; Joshua 1:5, Luke 1:28) We can do the things God calls us to do because of Emmanuel, God is with us. Often, God’s callings come at times that interrupt our carefully crafted plans. They ask us to replace our doubts and fears with faith. He knows your past and your future. He knows where you are lacking and wants to equip and use you in those places for His glory. He knows you don’t have all the resources because He wants to be the One to provide them and He wants you to trust and obey in faith that He will. God fully knows, and has no doubt, that you are the right person for the mission, the job, the good work that He is calling you to do.

Mary didn’t have all the answers or all the details. She didn’t have a spreadsheet, a timeline or a budget. But she did have faith and was told the Holy Spirit would come over her to make this impossible, miraculous thing happen. And because Jesus, we also have the Holy Spirit to encourage us, empower us and remind us- God is with us. Nothing is impossible with God. Anchoring ourselves in those truths and answering God out of a place of faith, our second response can be one of trust and action. We can respond in the same as Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you said about me come true.”(Luke 1:38)