Pastor Charlie's message in church this morning was very powerful. He taught on Mark 6:7-30 (Southside Fellowship is going verse by verse through the book of Mark). One of the comparisons he made was between the life of Herod and the life of John the Baptist. While John the Baptist remained faithful to the Lord, even unto death, Herod ignored multiple opportunities to lay down his own life and follow God. Pastor Charlie challenged us this morning. He asked us if God had been calling us to do something that we were passing up continually. He also cautioned us that the window of opportunity won't stay open forever.
I began to reflect on my own life. Many of you have known me for the bulk of my life. For those of you who were in my life during my teen years, you likely will recall that the Lord called me into ministry one summer while I was with my Acteens group at Camp LaVida. You were there with me and encouraged me in my walk over the next several years.
I followed God's call and spent my first summer after high school working at Camp LaVida. I then started college at Charleston Southern. I spent the following summer at Camp LaVida and then transferred to North Greenville. The following summer, I travelled to Canada to do summer missions. The summer after graduating from North Greenville, I followed the Lord's call and spent the summer in Ireland doing summer missions. Those four or so years were incredible. While there were definitely some vallies, I remained fairly consistent in my walk. God provided me with countless opportunities to serve Him.
My life gets a little fuzzy after college. I travelled to Kentucky for a school year to begin seminary. At the end of the school year, I think I let some of my own personal hangups get the best of me, and I returned to SC. I had pretty good intentions of continuing my education through online courses and taking classes at the extension center in Greenville. That lasted for two semesters, and then I decided I was burnt out from school, so I "took a break." It's been a LONG break, because I'm still taking it.
God gave me the opportunity to serve in a small church plant. I worked with the women and children, and I told myself I was fulfilling God's call in my life, because I was in fact involved in ministry. But there was always something nagging in the back of my mind, something in my heart telling me I was compromising.
Through several different events, I chose to leave that church. Rather than plugging in immediately to a new church, I found myself spiralling downhill quickly. I visited churches here and there, but I became rather skilled at creating excuses not to go.
By God's grace, I realized I was in a very bad place. It scared me how easily I had pushed aside the faith I had always held so dear. Rather than dying to myself daily, I was growing more and more self-centered. I became a recluse of sorts and rarely even wanted to be around people. In fact, I would well up with anxiety at the mere thought of being around new people. For those of you who know me very well, that was a big change in my personality!
Around October, I began attending Southside Fellowship on a regular basis. My heart still wasn't really into it, but I knew I at least had to get back into the motions, trusting that God would work on my heart. The teaching has been really good, and I've been challenged by the Word.
That brings me to today's message, to Pastor Charlie's questions. Has God been calling me to something that I've essentially been ignoring? Am I focused on being a part of God's story so that His name will be magnified, or am I focused on writing my own story?
Yes, I've been ignoring God's call in my life ... so that I could write my own story.
It's time for me to put down the pen/pencil/laptop and stop writing. It's time for me to surrender and be a part of the greatest story ever written.
I don't know what that might entail. I have a few ideas - ideas that are both scary and thrilling. I would really appreciate your prayers. First, please pray that God would make clear to me what He would have me do with my life. Second, please pray that God would help me in the areas of my life that I know would be stumbling blocks in the ministry.
I love you all, and I thank you for the role you've played in my life.