**this is part 5 of my testimony that i began posting on 5/17/10**
I have been pondering on a metaphor recently: A fire that is only the size of a small candle wick will be blown out the minute it comes in contact with the smallest gust of wind; but a brush fire an acre wide will only get bigger as the wind hits it.
This compels me to think about the fire that is kindled within us as we lay our lives down to follow the Lord. I think of the times when I was a barely flickering light and the Lord shielded me, knowing I couldn't last on my own. Or the times when I was being grown, tested, and tried that I would glow…
These are the times that define us and make us who we are today. These are the moments that drive us to become something more. And it is in these times of trials and hardships that we are allowing the Lord to trim back our wicks, stoke our fires, and let His light shine so brightly in us that He gains all the glory.
And that kind of fire cannot be tamed easily.
I have been writing my testimony with this in mind. Those things I have shared have been the most defining moments of the past 7 years of my life. Yes, they have been tough but they have each, in their own way, been completely necessary.
Each moment carried in it heaviness and brought me to greater freedom to trust the Lord with more of my life. “Bittersweet” would be a good way of explaining it...especially the times when I have been asked to give up something that I have loved so dearly not knowing when the pain would go away.
After I began walking forward from the nanny position, my path led me into serving in the youth ministry at my church. I had started helping the youth group out while I was a nanny but once I left that job, I decided that I needed a job that wouldn't involve giving my heart away.
So I got a job at a bank. Which really was "heartless" and boring. It was the first job I ever took for security and not because it was a good fit. And at the same time I knew that I wouldn't be staying at that job forever, I realized that a heart is meant to be poured out. If it is hindered in one way, it will find another way to be spent. This time around, I began pouring it into the youth group.
I enjoyed serving in the high school youth ministry so much. I was blessed to help co-lead a girls bible study for three years, plan weekend trips, random outreach events, not to mention they let me become an integral part of each of their lives. I loved being there.
More than once I would say "I could never leave this ministry. It means so much to me. These kids are so much a part of my life. I could NEVER walk away from this..."
It was hard, too, though. I learned the truth of ministry from the front lines. I dealt with insecurities--my own and others. I handled situations beyond my own years and my own experiences. I learned how to let someone lean on you by turning them over to the Lord and how to turn someone over to the Lord by not giving them something to lean on.
Pouring my heart out in this ministry is something that I will never regret. Pastor Brian, the youth director, always warned us leaders that our actions will be seen and copied ten times worse. We, as examples, have to be willing to let ourselves be the example and have to recognize that they will always go one step (or ten) more to the extreme than we do.
Everything we, as leaders, did was watched and picked apart and used to gauge what was OK in the life of a high schooler.
I didn't always measure up to par on this one. I was still learning with them what the youth group motto says: 1 Tim 4:12 "Let no one despise your youth but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity."
Did I try my hardest to be the best example in all aspects of my life?
Did I encourage each student to make good choices that honored the Lord?
Did I try to point them in the right direction?
Did I choose to use my platform of leader and friend for positive influence?
Of course I did.
But I also allowed my prideful flesh to come in and think that it was me making the change in their lives.
I took credit when the credit was due to the Lord.
I stepped into roles that shouldn't have been mine to step into.
I stepped on toes and feet that I should have been washing.
And you can bet that every one of my actions was mimicked in one way or another.
Eventually, I whittled my way into a place where I thought that my presence in the youth ministry was necessary. Where I thought that, without me there, things would fall apart. I made myself a defining factor in my eyes when, in reality, the only defining factor in any ministry should be the Lord.
It was at this point that I had to let go. I was holding on too tightly. Trying too hard to make things the way I wanted them to be. I woke up one morning and realized, in all my fleshly glory, that I was embittered and lacked the joy to keep going in this ministry.
And, because I had told the Lord that I could "NEVER" leave, it took me exactly way too long to finally bring myself to a place humble enough to admit that I needed to leave.
To say "I needed a break" would be a downplay. I had someone tell me that I needed to be filled up again, or that I needed to just step away from the kind of ministry that drains you. ...but I was more than drained. I was rung out, squeezed dry, and left out in the sun.
I needed to learn how to retain Living Water again. I needed to not walk AWAY from this ministry, these kids, this place that I poured my heart into...I needed to walk TOWARDS the Lord's ministry, the Lord's love, the Lord's heart being poured out for me. I needed to come back to Him, for I was weary and weak and needed rest.
Another chapter of my testimony ended in tears and confusion...and a renewed sense of trust, knowing that I wasn't just walking away because I wanted to, but because I was called to. I was again just a daughter of God with no titles, no layers, no other way of recognizing myself other than who He wanted me to be. Just His.
I clung to the verses of the prophet Habakkuk 3:17-18: "Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls--Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation."
(If you have been through a dry season…a winter season…a season of pain, heartache, or weariness…know that you are first not alone and second have been given a way out. The bible says that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. If you want to know more about what true LIFE is in the Lord Jesus Christ, I want to tell you. He died and rose again three days later that, those who believe on Him and His resurrection, would be saved from death and given eternal life. It is as simple as saying “yes, Lord, I want that” and you, too, can rejoice in the God of your salvation as Habakkuk says. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to know more.)