“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”
1 Thessalonians 2: 8
My eyelids were heavy on this Monday that came around a bit too quickly, with it’s dimly lit sky and it’s drizzly rain that says “Stay under the covers.” Sweet ones were unready for the hurry of the morning, drowsy bodies in slow motion. But the clock doesn’t wait, and time just keeps ticking on tempo with deadlines of school bells and appointments and naps and To Do lists.
On the days when I’m just muscling through to get to the end of it, I’m a smidge desperate for my life to mean something. I think we all are. We’re made with a longing for the things that endure. We yearn to do something that will be remembered. We long to be exceptional, to make someone’s day, week, life a little better, to grow God’s kingdom, to offer the world a unique idea or message or mission, to run a family, a non-profit, a school, a company, a church, a country, a home…in a way that’s never been done before.
I want to make an impact on the world, but some days I can barely get my weary body out of bed. You too, mama?
I was squarely in the Monday grind, and thinking about what it looks like to be a disciple and make disciples when you are so dang tired, and your hands are so dang full. It is the privilege of my life to be called “Mama” by my little ones, but I wonder how to bring an energy to it that bears fruit? How do we live a life of purpose, and not just survive our days?
I write today (and most always) about things of which I claim no particular expertise. I’m humbled and often hesitant, as I have little in regards to earthly credentials. I am simply compelled to share a thing that God has granted me the great privilege to do, and a work he is doing in my heart.
There is this one thing that I believe is making my life and love bigger than the walls of my skin, and it has nothing to do with expertise or high capacity or doing it all right. There is one thing that is encouraging my heart to believe that I have a God-given unique and valuable role to play in the body of Christ and on planet Earth. And you do, too.
A key that God is giving me to unlock purpose in my life is letting go of perfection, control, striving…and stepping into the light, to let the light of the Lord in me be seen. I’m letting go of trying to make my life look put-together and pretty enough to be worthy of making a difference and I’m giving away the sloppy, messy, sleepy, and redeemed life I’m living. I’m giving it to my children. I’m giving it to those who might want to enter in. And I’m giving it to you in the ashes of a mess of words, in faith that God just might make them into something mysteriously beautiful in you, as he is in me. What if we don’t hide in shame over all that we cannot do, but give away what we have…a broken and sanctified life, hidden in Christ.
About six years ago, at the very time logic said I was too busy and too exhausted to have anything to offer — with a fitness business to run, a ministry in Young Life, a husband running for public office, and a toddler and a newborn at home (seriously)— God offered me an opportunity to invite someone in.
A recent college grad was looking for a family to live with. In the middle of our crazy, we simply said “Yes.” We gave a whole pile of qualifications about how we were in a wild season, and it’ll be messy, and I have nothing to offer, and I’m not sure how it will go, but she could come in and be a part of it, if she wanted to, and we could just see what God would do.
And you know what? He did a miracle. He changed a life. Several, actually: ours and hers. And I began to catch a vision for how God could use my brokenness to pour out his strength. When I give my empty, He gives his fullness. When I give my weak, He gives his strength. When I give my story, He gives his healing and redemption. When I die to my comfort, he gives true, abundant life. When I give my mustard seed of faith that I truly am an ambassador of Christ, He moves mountains.
I spent too much of my life trying to make the tree of my life look prettier, and more worthy of bearing fruit. I wanted my impact to come from the tidy and beautiful corners of life. We can decorate the tree of our lives with twinkling lights and ornaments, trying to impress each other, or volunteering for things we don’t want to do. We can live ashamed of the behind-closed-doors truth of our lives while we offer a tidy and beautiful corner to the rest of the world, but we’ll end up feeling like a fraud and we’ll mostly leave others feeling jealous and insecure.
I’m beginning to see that true enduring fruit only comes if we are willing to live authentically, planted and rooted where God puts us, when our roots lie deep in the secret places of intimacy with our King, who gently prunes our branches and refreshes us with the rains of his daily mercy and provision. His delight shines down like the sun to revive our spirits, and we surrender to being used by him, given away just as we are, believing that Christ’s work on the cross was enough to cover all our splintered places.
Purpose is unfolding in the middle of overfull days when I swing my doors open and let a few come in and watch God at work in my mess – let them watch me apologize to my loves, watch me sweep the same floor and fold the same clothes again and again, watch me fail and be washed anew in God’s grace, watch me hope only in the Lord and soar on wings as God renews my strength, watch me need Jesus every hour.
Friends, though we struggle, God calls us pure and blameless and white as snow, in Christ. We are free to claim that, as we follow Jesus, we are worth following.
If the Spirit of God resides in us, than we ought to confidently proclaim, as Paul did, “Watch me and do what I do!” (paraphrase). When we know we’re the worst of sinners, and we boast only in Christ, we have nothing to fear in giving our lives away. We have nothing to fear in opening our doors. We have nothing to fear in letting someone walk alongside, and believing we will have something to offer. We have nothing to fear in letting our light shine.
If we believe the light is in us, as the Bible says it is, then we ought not hide in the shadows.
When your life is messy and your hands are full, you serve as a perfect backdrop for the vibrant and striking life of Christ to be made known. When you feel emptied out with nothing to offer, you might just have made room for the Spirit of God to pour through you and do something groundbreaking.
I’m beginning to see that as I come out of the shadows, and invite a young professional to spend the day with us or another mama to come and do the real life bedraggled and beautiful mom thing side-by-side or a 20-something to come live with us, we create space to encounter a God who left heaven and put skin on. Humbly…I’m watching God change lives when I give away my mess of brokenness, and trust in a Jesus who made us his hands and feet.
Friends, I have sat to write this post a dozen times, and stopped short the last eleven because I’m on my face over the thought that you would feel for one minute like there is one more thing you need to do. Mama, if you are in over your head and dragging your weary, unshowered body to the coffee pot in the morning, I am right. there. with. you.
But even more, I can’t bear the thought that you would miss out on this miracle that I believe happens when we shake off the shame, and share our lives with whoever might want to come along. It’s a precious treasure, burning a hole in my pocket, and I don’t want even one of you to miss it.
My encouragement is not for you to take on commitments that you don’t have time for. My encouragement is that you open your door and let someone come in to see exactly what you are already doing, to believe that God could do something miraculous. And if this is already your habit, then carry on sister! And never let shame tell you that you’re not enough.
When Jesus invited men to be his disciples, he never stopped his what he had set out to do , he simply said Come along. Be with me. Walk with me. Watch what I do, then do it. Our example for making disciples is one that says “Come along.”
If you’re like me, it’s hard to imagine that anyone on earth would be interested in spending time with you and watching you change diapers and fold shirts and send small people to Time Out. This is a step of faith. It’s a choice to believe that there is something going on in the heavenlies as we serve our families unto the Lord. It’s a step of faith to believe that, as we trust God with our muck and invite God’s grace into our homes, it is a precious sight to behold. It’s a step of faith to believe that we are chosen, redeemed, ambassadors of Christ, royal daughters of the King of Heaven.
Maybe there is another mama for whom you’ve been mopping your floor and saying you are loving every minute of being a mom….stop doing that. Just let her in. Maybe it’s a colleague, a neighbor, your kids’ friends, a high school or college student (try connecting through your local church or ministries). Step out of shame, and consider sharing the life you are already living before the throne of grace, not leading from your strength but from Christ’s strength in your weakness.
If you follow Christ, you are worth following. You’re a world changer.