Have you ever had new, exciting opportunities staring you in the face but your “list” of concerns about the possible changes gets between your vision and the opportunity? I mean, you want to open the new door and see what will happen, but then again, you really like the way things are and weren’t necessarily looking for anything new? If you’re a Christian, you know God is leading the way but…? This happened to me and it turned into a nerve-wracking ordeal!
I was asked to consider an educational ministry position; one in which I would direct, oversee, plan, teach, and coordinate all the Christian education at a church. It was intriguing and I knew the Lord had prepared me for such a time. Yet, I wasn’t looking for more work, responsibility, or time crunches. So, there I was with a new, exciting opportunity staring me in the face, but my list of concerns about how my life would change kept getting in the way of me seeing the new.
I thought about the new opportunity constantly, coming up with every reason why I didn’t want to pursue it. I prayed about the new opportunity constantly and God seemed silent! I now know He wasn’t speaking because He had already spoken and I just didn’t want to hear His answer. I had come up with many reasons not to pursue the ministry position, most of them selfish, but at the top of the list was, “What about my quiet morning times with You? What about the hours I spend writing what You speak and show me in Your Word?” I simply couldn’t get past the thought of possibly losing those hours every day with the Lord, thus I couldn’t see the new and possible opportunities right in front of me.
I know… God speaks all the time and any time… but… my time with Him has always been in the mornings where I am accustomed to spending hours alone with Him. To tell the truth, without it, I have a hard time functioning in this world. So to lose that time to “go to work” wouldn’t “work” for me! My other big concern was the possibility my writing would only be about getting “work” done instead of writing God thoughts.
One day while I was concerning myself with myself, frustrated, feeling like I needed to pursue the position but equally frustrated because I didn’t want to pursue it, I heard the Lord speak. He asked me a simple question, “Why do you write?” Without hesitation my answer to Him was “I write because I delight in You and Your Word!”
He didn’t respond to my answer but I couldn’t stop thinking about His question and my answer all day, in fact making it my laptop screen saver. That way, when I sit down to write every day I remember why I write; because I delight in the Lord, not out of some sense of accomplishment or because I “have to” work! As soon as I finished making it my screen saver, it hit me! While everything in my life would change if I went through this open door of opportunity, nothing about what really mattered in my life would change. (a bit of a riddle I know) I write because I delight in the Lord and THAT never needed to change!
So I pursued the new opportunity, not knowing if I would actually get hired, but I did, and found myself busier than I could have ever imagined. Only a week into it, I was failing miserably at “living” in the reality of change without changing the things that mattered! After another week into it, I was feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and completely unqualified to do what I was hired to do.
Life was so different! Maybe TOO different! Not only did I get up in the morning thinking of all the things I needed to learn, plan, develop, and write for the job, so started working immediately, but my whole personal life changed as well. I didn’t have time for the people and things I did just two weeks earlier…I didn’t have time just to “be” by myself…to exercise…to cook…even to clean the new home we had just moved into. I have felt depleted and defeated.
I KNEW I could do it all but I was NOT doing it! Did I make a mistake? Should I have paid more attention to my concerns? Should I have slammed the door of opportunity shut instead of walking through it? Now, if you’ve ever tried anything new in life and found yourself floundering, you know second guessing is NEVER a good idea. It just leads to more doubt and confusion! In exasperation, I cried out to God, “I CAN’T DO THIS! I MISS YOU and if I don’t just sit and write, I’m going to explode!”
God was still silent! I even knew why He was silent…it was because I knew why I was in this predicament… I was all work and no play! In my world, play time means time spent studying God’s Word and writing! I was now only writing to get work done because there was SO much to do and I was basically spinning my wheels, the wheels of my brain that is! I was not writing because I delighted in the Lord!
It was no one’s fault but my own. I didn’t need to be at the point I was. It was me choosing to work and not play! It is true there was definitely too much work for me to do (and still is) but fudging on my time with Jesus wasn’t the answer to getting the work done. Do you know the easiest area to steal time from is our relationship with the Lord? That’s because He isn’t in our face demanding time with us like people, programs, and problems are. He waits patiently for us; He woos, nudges, and has His own unique ways of reminding us He misses both us and our time together! In a very few short days, I had forgotten why I write, why I spend hours each day with the Lord; it’s because I delight in Him! Thus, I was depleted of time and energy and ready to explode because of hopelessness.
When I faced my own error in time management, God quietly reminded me He would NEVER have put this opportunity before me if He thought I would give up my time with Him. He told me again that as much as I needed to be with Him in the mornings, He needed to be with me. So, while I was concerned about my quiet times with Him, He was confident I would take time with Him. While I was concerned I would only write for work, He was convinced I would continue to write His thoughts for Him. I needed to get confident and convinced like Him, not concerned like I had been.
Honestly, it’s no different for anyone who is reading this…God loves to spend time with you! The time we spend with Jesus through His Holy Spirit keeps us energized, youthful, full of life and zeal! When we take on new or different tasks in life, when we walk through doors of new opportunity, when big “events” are coming up, when we are presented with challenges demanding our time, attention, and energy; everything changes while at the same time nothing needs to change!
The answer lies in knowing changes happen in life, but we need not be changed by them! Instead, when we follow and fall in love with Jesus we are transformed and renewed by His power in us, from the inside out! Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
2 Corinthians 3:18 “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
If we let the changes of life change us instead of God transforming us, we will soon be saying how hard everything in life is instead of how much grace God gives us to DO everything in life. As children of God, we get to spend quality AND quantity time with the Lord! The more time we spend in the secret place with Him, the more we have in us to pour out to those around us. The less time we spend with Him, the more we pour out of our own strength, and we are quickly depleted! Jesus is the bread of life! He is the living water! When we are filled by Him, we pour Him out to others!
John 6:35 “And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” 7:37-38 “…If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
This isn’t a one-time gorging or deluge! It isn’t about going to Jesus one time and we’re done! It isn’t about going to Jesus once a week, once a day, or when we need Him! We’ll be hungry and thirsty all the time if that’s what we do! Just like our bodies need a constant supply of food and water, our souls and spirits need to be saturated and nourished to replenish them all day, every day! When Jesus says “come” to Me, He is speaking in “present tense”. He is the bread of life and living water so we come to Him to eat and drink in the present, now, and every moment that is present!
The truth is…I don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything my ministry position demands. Maybe you feel the same way sometimes! You just can’t get caught up or ahead! Let me assure you… Jesus has enough hours in His days to nourish, nurture, replenish, and renew us! He keeps walking us through new doors of opportunity. He promises to transform and renew us even as the world only offers change. He promises never to leave or forsake us! All we need to do is stay IN Him, never leave or forsake Him, knowing we will certainly fail but He never fails us; knowing we will certainly fall but He will pick us up; knowing when we fall before Him we cannot fail Him!
If your “list” of concerns is keeping you from walking through a new door of opportunity, be convinced and confident as you walk in His grace! Delight yourself in Him, and when life gets too busy, don’t fudge your time with God; instead sweeten up your day by eating from the Bread of Life and fulfill your thirst by drinking deeply from the Living Water of Life!