I sat restless, my certainties from just hours before upended. Surrounded by coffee house chatter, the smell of roasting beans, and a sense that life was about to shift in a dramatic way, I poured out my heart on paper. The years and my choices had taken me far from God. My dreams, ambitions, they had nothing to do with Him anymore. My world centered firmly on me. But my world was experiencing an axis-shift.
Just 19-years-old, my future before me, a longtime dream in my hands, I finally opened my ears to hear His opinion on my future, my identity, my purpose.
My dream: to become a recording artist and producer. My reasons: I loved music and I wanted the spotlight. Surely my career was supposed to be all about me. Right?
But as my world shifted and turned, poles realigning, and I heard His voice, suddenly what I wanted shifted too. In a matter of moments, I’d stepped out of the center of my own life and invited God in to be the new center. With fresh eyes, with a heart finally opened, I began to care more about what He wanted than what I’d had planned.
And He asked, “Will you give Me your dream?”
I paused…not quite resisting, just facing the depth of His question to me. Finally, my heart spoke, “Yes. Here’s my dream. Here are my plans, my hopes. I don’t know what You have in mind, but I’ll trust You.”
My hands unclenched, opening palms up.
He wanted to talk about who I was before He would let me in on what I was supposed to do. He wanted to focus on my being before my doing. We spent months chatting in journals and quiet moments, speaking of things like identity and being and His truth.
One day, sitting outside the student union building between classes, He was suddenly there, radiating light…sitting in the patio chair across the table from me.
And I asked, “Lord, since I’m a part of the Body of Christ, what part am I? What is my purpose?” I was ready to see a glimpse of what my being was designed to do.
“Be My hands. Be My voice.” Somehow, I knew this meant to write and speak, though both things were alien to me at that moment. “Be there, not to stand in the spotlight, but to reflect My light.” And He was gone. The patio chair empty once again.
Now, journals stacked two feet high show me more than a decade of conversation between us in the years to follow. A non-writer began writing. A blog began, space dedicated to continuing this conversation about Who He is and where He is to be found. A book written and published, all about identity. More writing projects stand on the horizon. A perspective shifted, a new dream discovered. Doors opened that I never could’ve imagined on my own.
It’s the most exciting journey of my life, following Him each step of the way, wondering what’s next, still dumbfounded that He would choose to work through me in any capacity. It began with a conversation. With unclenched hands, opened to new possibilities. With willingness to let go of what I thought was best. Given a new hope and a new future.
It’s 5am on a Saturday…nope that wasn’t a typo…it’s 5am on a Saturday and I’m the crazy lady sitting at Starbucks. You might be asking “why”…but more than likely, you’re asking, “why aren’t you in bed, crazy lady?” And even worse, I have less than four hours of sleep under my belt.
So why? Why am I NOT in bed? The very basic answer is that I’ve chosen to sacrifice those extra hours of sleep for something greater: a chance to have uninterrupted time to write and hang out with God for two-and-a-half hours before my family is even awake. For a mom with two young children, 5am on a Saturday is a haven to me!
This is Part 4 in the Right Priorities series. So far, we’ve looked at submitting to God’s direction in picking our priorities, choosing the great over the good and the need to focus rather than multi-task. All of these things require something: sacrifice. Sacrifice most often isn’t easy or convenient…it’s costly, it requires something from us. And saying “yes” to something requires that we must say “no” to something else.
How are you at saying “no”? How do you feel when you have to say “no” to something?
When I was nineteen years old, I recommitted my life to Jesus…oddly enough at a Starbucks! (No I’m not a paid endorser…just never doubt where God will move and change a life!) As I sat there chatting with God on paper, I felt the need to lay down my very real dream of pursuing a career as a professional musician. I knew the reason was, at least in part, because I had that dream for very selfish intentions…to make myself known. But God was asking me to lay down that prideful ambition and instead set my life on a new course, with a new purpose…to make Him known!
I genuinely thought I was totally giving up music forever, my one true passion in life at that time. I figured I would somehow have to be satisfied to just sing along in my car for the rest of my life. And as the next couple of years passed, that’s exactly what I did while God gave me crazy amounts of time to soak in His Word and His Presence. I fell in love with Him!
I felt led to attend seminary after receiving my bachelor’s degree. While in Denver for a visit to my soon-to-be school, the young man guiding myself and my sweet friend who was applying with me started asking questions about our personal interests and such. When I told him the story of handing up my musical dream, his mouth quirked slightly and he said, “Don’t be surprised if God gives music back to you someday.”
At the time, I totally disregarded his statement. I KNEW that wouldn’t happen (sigh…now I can smile at my naiveté.) A couple more years passed. In that time I got married to my unbelievably amazing husband, we moved a time or two and we found a new home church. God opened a door for me to join the worship team and one weekend, to have a solo which, I felt, began to break down those walls of doubt. He gave me music back, in His way, in His timing, for His purpose…not mine.
Time keeps ticking away and God keeps giving me music time and time again. We moved back to Texas after our son was born and our church was offering incredibly inexpensive group guitar lessons. That was a dream I’d nearly given up on…hauling around a guitar I’d had for twelve years. But four years ago, I took those lessons and saw God do a new thing with music in my life. I have the immense honor of leading the fabulous women in my regular Bible study in worship along with another wonderful friend of mine. And I LOVE it!!
When I handed God my dream, I thought that meant I would never see it again in a significant way. But instead, when I said “yes” to following God and “no” to following myself, God returned music to me in a way that both honors Him and which I completely love.
And…He gave me a NEW DREAM! That new dream is why I’m the crazy lady sitting at Starbucks at 5am on a Saturday: to touch the lives of others through the written word. And that is worth it to me to sacrifice a little sleep. God has shown me His faithfulness when I’ve handed Him my life’s dream. For His dream for me, I am happy to give Him something in return so that I can walk that journey with Him.
What is God asking you to set aside for His greater purpose? What’s it worth to you?