Maybe this has something to do with being artistic. Or perhaps it is because I’m an optimist. Yes these do have something to do with my attitude. But the real reason is because of my own history.
You see, over the years, I have made some pretty stupid, self-destructive choices. There are parts of my past that are pretty ugly. I spent many years pretending that the brokenness wasn’t there. I was very good at “fluffing the pillows” of my past so that no one saw it for what it really was–not even me.
I had an encounter that changed all of that. Not right away in my case, but little by little over time. I began to see that Jesus was not only able but willing to turn the broken, wobbly bits of me into something not only useful but beautiful.
Looking back over the last five years, my family has experienced some very traumatic events. Some of them I wondered whether we would make it through. But even in the midst of tragedy, I knew (and know) that God does not waste any opportunity for transformation. He will not leave something dark and dead and useless. He is the God of light and life and purpose.
“to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61: 3)
Be encouraged, my friends. He will not leave us in our brokenness, our ugliness, in the dark. He longs to take our sorrow and trade it for delight.
Open your eyes. Look around and see that everything has beauty once it has been transformed by Jesus. Once we have been transformed.
I am writing today in honor of my friend, Elizabeth Bumpas. She left for Uganda yesterday in response to a call to serve the Lord. She leaves behind family and friends, her home and her precious dogs, comfort and security.
Elizabeth is one of the bravest people I know. She really knows how to step out in faith.
We have been friends for over 30 years and this is not the first time that she has stepped out in faith. Time and time again she has listened for the Lord to speak to heart, prayed for discernment and guidance, invited others into her discernment process, and sought wisdom and counsel from spiritual mentors. And then she has taken the bold step to follow the plan that the Lord had prepared for her.
Now I am not saying that each and every time she has gone eagerly into the unknown. Elizabeth, like most of us, appreciates her home and family and friends. She “hunkers down” as good as anyone and resists change. No, she is not perfect but she is most definitely intent on knowing God’s will for her life and in being obedient–regardless of the price.
My friend Elizabeth is like an Olympic athlete in training. Her heart has been well-trained to listen for God’s call. She goes through the discipline of the discernment process rather than just jumping into one thing or another. Her years of obedience to the Lord has shown her that she can trust Him to care for her.
I am so excited for her and her new adventure. She started writing a blog as she began preparing to leave and will continue to add to it while she is in Uganda. Click here to read more about her mission. I will share some of her reflections here as well.
Please click here if you would like to partner with her in prayer or if you care to make a donation.
Please join me in praying for her as she follows God’s call.
Just fifteen minutes. That is all it will take. Fifteen minutes a day. A few thoughts on paper—just words.
Maybe this is what I should have been telling myself every morning. Maybe then I would have actually gotten past the nausea and the scrambled thoughts to just do this simple thing: write.
Instead I allow my mornings to evaporate, my afternoons become full of domestic chores or errands or other people, other things.
But in the back of my mind comes the voice I have learned to dread but also believe: “You have nothing to say. No one is interested in your words. You are irrelevant, middle aged, mediocre and plain dull. Why waste your time and energy on this project that no one—not even you—really cares about?” The voice of doubt.
This is not the first time I have heard this voice. The words may be different but the voice is undoubtedly the same.
There seems to always come a time for me when the boldness and bravado that comes with the beginning of a new venture wears thin. The flimsy skeletal structure emerges and the vast pockets of self-doubt, discouragement and fear show through.
My nature is to jump into things. Throw caution to the wind. My energy and passion blinds me (and others) to my own inexperience and ignorance. This is what I refer to as my “smoke and mirrors” phase. It takes a little while before I realize just how little I know and how over my head I am.
Ah. This is the critical juncture. What to do next?
Enter The Voice.
“You are a fraud. You have no business doing this. You will be found out and everyone will discover that you don’t know what you are doing.”
A few times I have somehow managed to push through and in doing so, I have silenced the voice.
But all too often I have given in, busied myself with other, safer things and allowed the voice of doubt win the battle.
It takes courage to learn a new thing, to try your hand at something you suspect you might fail at, to answer a call you feel completely ill-equipped to handle.
The battle is won when you simply take a step forward and say, “Here I am, Lord.”