Perseverance: Tired of Waiting

Wait with PerseveranceSometimes when we finally figure out “what we want to be when we grow up”, we want to start that job immediately. Being disciplined through years of preparatory schooling or training can be frustrating. As soon as we know who we want to marry, we want to get married right away. The season of engagement is difficult. And sometimes when we figure out our calling or anointing from God, we want to start living out that calling NOW.

God, you’ve shown me what you want me to do with my life! I’m ready to jump in and start making an impact! I want to make a difference! You’ve already appointed me for these tasks that will enact positive change in the world; now set me free to make them happen!

But we can’t make things happen ahead of God’s schedule. No amount of maneuvering or manipulating situations will work if God hasn’t opened the door. Believe me, I know from experience! But when God wants something to happen – a career or a relationship or any number of other things – He will bring it around in His perfect timing.

During the Passion conference, Alisa spoke to the choir about how King David was anointed as Israel’s king when he was still a shepherd… and then he kept working as a shepherd for many years, even after being anointed for kingship. In fact, David was asked to minister to King Saul by playing music for him – King Saul, who sat on the throne David had already been anointed for! But God was allowing David to go through a time of preparation so that, once he ascended to the throne, he would be ready for all that was to come with the weight of that responsibility.

Think about your life’s dreams. If your dreams were handed to you today, would you be ready? So often, our calling becomes a craving, and we begin to despise our current circumstances. I know I do. But when our passion becomes greater than our purpose, we’re sunk. We are a generation that craves significance. But we are also a generation that despises the season of preparation.

The process of preparation most often occurs in a place of privacy. It purifies our hearts (i.e. building integrity when no one is watching), and it readies our hands for greater responsibility. Shepherd-to-be-King David drew his confidence against the giant Goliath from his experience of God’s past faithfulness in the sheep pasture where David protected his sheep from lions and bears.

Alisa reminded us that our calling remains consistent regardless of our context. David was a shepherd his whole life, first for sheep; then for the people of Israel. Even after David had been anointed as king, he did not despise the sheep fields. He remained faithful in the season he was in. We tend to measure our significance by the scale of our impact, but God measures it by our stewardship of what we’ve been given. If we are not faithful with the small responsibilities we’ve been given right now, why would God give us responsibility over greater things? We need to be faithful to live out our callings in our current context.

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 5.31.12 PMChristine Caine came and spoke at the Passion conference, and she absolutely wrecked me. I’d never heard of her before this year, but she has quickly become one of my favorite speakers. As an orphan who was sexually abused the first several years of her life, Christine now serves as a public speaker who motivates her audiences to live as Victors rather than Victims. She challenged us that we all want to run to the spotlight, but, “If the light that is ON you is greater than the Light that is IN you, the light that is ON you will destroy you!”

God wants to build our character. If we don’t let him build our foundation before giving us our dreams, our weaknesses and insecurities will destroy us. Whatever God has given us as our sheep field to steward is the most important place of our refinement. All God asks of us in the sheep field is to be faithful.

We want to do spectacular things for God, but – if we’re honest – many of us don’t really want to serve God. We have tendencies of a selfish, narcissistic generation. We say we want to serve God, but only if it’s doing something great for the Kingdom. That is not the model of service. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many. He who wants to be first must become last and a servant to all. We are only ready to serve God spectacularly when we have a humble heart and are ready to serve in anonymity, choosing to find delight in the mundane while our character is refined.

God, please work in me to purify my heart. Equip me with patience. May I persevere and find delight even in the mundane. May I ready myself for the good works I know You have called me to walk in. I pray that I would trust You and stop maneuvering, believing You for good things. God, free me from the fear of living an insignificant life. If I live humbly for You, I know: My. Life. Will. Be. Significant!

Authentically Aurora

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David’s Mighty Men – Part I

My last post was pretty raw, emotional and generally more touchy-feely than I normally write or am even comfortable with. But I’m leaving it (rather than deleting it) in the hopes that either:

  1. It will help some of my readers as they struggle with their own hurt, or
  2. Readers who get the impression that I am a cynical dragon lady can see that there really is a soft heart underneath the callouses!

If I had been in a more rational frame of mind last week, instead of posting lonely girl pics, I would have written about David’s Mighty Men. Yes, you read that right. While my mushy gushy right brain was being emo and melancholy, my left brain was thinking about David’s Mighty Men.

For those of you not familiar with David’s Mighty Men, get your popcorn ready, because it is a freaking awesome story.

Everybody ready? Julie, do you have your Icee? Okay, great. Here we go.

[Setting: Israel, 1030 BC]

Act I

David YouthOnce upon a time, there lived a boy named David. He was the youngest of eight brothers, and he worked in the fields of Israel as a shepherd while his three eldest brothers went off to fight under King Saul in his war against the Philistines. Occasionally, David’s father sent him to take food to his older brothers on the front lines, and on one such occasion, David unintentionally became the Champion of the Israeli army, single-handedly defeating the Philistines.

The Philistine giant, Goliath, had taunted the Israeli army and suggested a 1:1 battle to determine the victor between the two armies. David was young and untrained in sword fighting, but when he heard Goliath insulting the name of the God of Israel, David boldly stepped forward to fight Goliath, having full faith and confidence that God was behind him. All of the trained soldiers were afraid of Goliath, but David “triumphed over Goliath with only a sling and a stone.” Read more here.

What I love about David in this story is that he was just minding his own business, dropping off food for his big brothers. David wasn’t looking for fame or notoriety, but he was zealous for God’s honor and glory, and so he stepped up to defend God’s name when no one else would. He was humble and unassuming, but brave and fearless because of his faith, and that combination is what made him great.

Act II

King Saul was an insecure, angry, restless man in search of someone to soothe him by playing the harp. One of his servants had heard that David could play the harp, so David was contacted and requested to play for the King.

Harp HandsWhen David played, the tormented King would feel at peace, so King Saul grew to love David, until he realized that David succeeded at everything he did. David was an excellent musician, he was attractive, and he also began to get a reputation for being a strong warrior. The people of Israel began to sing, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his tens of thousands!”

This (understandably) made the very insecure King Saul jealous and angry, and he began to make attempts on David’s life. Read more here.

David didn’t ask to be called to play the harp for King Saul. He was simply serving the King and serving him well. By no fault of David’s, the jealousy of the King resulted in David having spears thrown at him (directly by the King’s hand!) and hunted down by King Saul’s army.

Act III

David's Mighty MenSoon David found himself alone and on the run, but people began flocking to him. Notably, Scripture describes the people who come to David as “everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented… and he became captain over them.” Eventually in 2 Samuel, we see this rag tag group of men transformed into a group renowned as “David’s Mighty Men.”

These distressed, indebted, discontented men rallied around David and, under his leadership, developed into epic heroes like Josheb-basshebeth who “wielded his spear against eight hundred whom he killed at one time” and Benaiah who “struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen.” Read more here.

Think “Guardians of the Galaxy” only better. A depressed group of misfits banded together and conquered evil as they joined under a united cause. Tell me that doesn’t get you pumped up!

Epilogue

Eventually, King Saul is killed in battle, and the shepherd boy David – youngest of eight brothers – goes on to become King. There is of course more to the story, but at its core, it is the classic story of the underdog triumphing against all odds.

Then again, I suppose odds don’t really come into play when you are God’s anointed.

Authentically Aurora

Gorgeous Goliath (the timid)

Gladiator - are you not entertained

A frozen yogurt shop just opened on the first floor of the office building where I work, so last week, two coworkers and I went down to stretch our legs and check it out. When I opened the door to the shop, my eyes immediately went to the man at the back of the line. He was about 6’4″ and broad-shouldered; built like a tank. This goliath of a man turned around when we walked in, and I estimated him to be about thirty years old. He had pleasant features, intelligent eyes and a kind face, so I mentally renamed him Gorgeous Goliath.

hopped into line behind GG, and when the server asked what I’d like, I thought, “I’ll have a scoop of that, please,” but of course what I said out loud was, “I’ll take vanilla with Reese’s” (clearly an excellent choice). Goliath was well-dressed, so I figured he worked for one of the oil companies in the area, and I caught him looking my way a few times, but every time I glanced over, he looked away.

I  decided to make life easy on him since he was clearly interested, so when we made it to the register, I gestured to his cup of froyo and asked, “Oooh, what’d you get?” He smiled and nodded at a cup of vanilla froyo topped with fresh fruit and granola. I laughed lightly and said, “Wow, that looks a lot healthier than mine!” He looked down at my peanut butter concoction and grinned at me. I could tell he wanted to say more and engage in conversation with me, but he stood awkwardly for a second and then fled the scene.

My married buddy Shawn (who is a former football player with a build like Goliath’s) missed the exchange, but as we walked out with our treats, he teased me, “Hey, somebody was getting checked out back there!” He wiggled his eyebrows at me.

“What do you mean?” I asked. I looked around for another young guy who may have been interested.

“That tall guy,” Shawn pointed to the back of my Gorgeous Goliath as he walked away.

“Oh, him,” I said. “Yeah, that’s why I tried to flirt with him. All he had to do was ask my name, and I would have handed him a business card.”

Shawn chuckled. “He seemed kind of skittish to me. I wondered why he looked away and left so fast. Pretty timid for such a big guy.”

I agreed. I’m not sure what’s so intimidating about a 5’3″ brunette. What has happened to all the manly men; the heroes; the gladiators; the warriors? Oh yeah. They’re all either dead or already married.

Authentically Aurora