"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect."
1 Corinthians 15:10
I wish I could introduce you to my teenage self. The girl who struggled to keep up with the Joneses, the girl who used to wear nothing but high-end designer clothes and buy $20 lip gloss, the girl who choked in the bathroom to rid herself of a few extra calories... I wish so many could see the old me. And not to glamorize where I came from, but to show you the distance God's brought me. I love that verse for his grace truly has had such great effect!
Recently our church has been making some big changes, and as the wife to someone on staff there, there has been this feeling that it must be easy for me. That going out and serving, tithing, feeding the homeless, that these things must be natural for me. Oh, sweet friends, that couldn't be further from the truth. I must admit that before I whole-heartedly told Jesus that he could have all of me, I held on with tight fists. I was terrified of speaking with strangers and about sharing what's in my heart. This new, Jesus-in-me stuff, is my adapted personality, but definitely not my natural one. And there are days when the old me, the easier to be me, comes right back to the front line.
But God has not called us to be our natural selves (and thank goodness, because my natural self is pretty ugly!). We are not called to be comfortable but rather to stir in our seats until we can sit no longer and must jump up in action. Hebrews 12:1 calls us to 'throw off everything that hinders', and in Ephesians Paul says 'to put off your old self... and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness'. Do you hear those words? It's an action! It is something that we have to do. Every. Single. Day. It isn't some magic trick, but instead it's us making a conscious decision to throw away the things we used to be!!
And herein lies the miracle~ God can use you, whoever you are, wherever you're at. I just got the feeling this morning that someone reading this, one of you sweet girlies, needs to know that it's not at all just for the crazy hippie missionaries. You in the trenches, up to your elbows in dish water, play-doh, and dirty diapers~ your ministry is here. You who are still wondering what it is that God has in store for you, you are in the midst of His great mission! We are in this together and up to our necks!!
I firmly believe that often it's simply our willingness that he requires. Obedience sometimes means just letting go, saying yes, and waiting to see what you're obeying. God can take a girl who never wanted any of this 'ministry stuff' and turn my world so upside down that I can't not be completely in love with the amazing God who just knocked me off my feet. The day I said 'I'm all in' was a day that I think Jesus sighed a bit and said 'finally. Now I can begin.' I have days that I'm at home, sweeping floors and putting away toys, and in the midst of that seemingly mundane moment, God reveals some bit of his grace. And ministry isn't some grand thing but rather in that moment it's my palms simply facing up to catch that beauty he's handing me. It's there amongst the Polly Pockets.
I truly didn't mean for this to become a sermon, but I'm sure you've gathered that I'm definitely preaching to myself here. Some days I want to wear my old self like a comfy pair of yoga pants. But I'm learning to again lift up my eyes and hands to the One who fills me up and again say 'I'm all in. I want it all.' And he is gracious to give without holding back.