When I (Ginny) was in college, I dreamed that I would someday be a writer and speaker. Of course, at that time (I thought), in order to do something like that, I would need certain things to happen first. For one, I needed to figure out how to love writing again because my college essays detroyed any warm and fuzzy feeling I had about it. Come on, who really enjoys writing a 25 page paper about existentialism? (If that brings giddy feelings to your heart, don't answer that!) Above all, I held onto the belief that I needed to be old, like at least in my 30's (ha!), when I had more life experience and wisdom. I believed that I didn't have anything to bring to the table that would help others unless I lived life a little.
I kept my dreams to myself back then because sharing them with someone meant I might have to actually do something about them.
My life since then has been a series of dreams about what I might do "someday." But each time I thought about my dreams or made new ones, I always had a "But first, I need to -----" thought that followed. God was clearly laying a call on my life, but there was never a good time to follow that call. I had a checklist of things that would need to be in place first. I had to get married and build my teaching career. After those stepping stones were accomplished, I had to fulfill my dream of being a mom. How could I have anything to blog about unless I walked through those phases of life first?
Now I sit here, an "old" woman in my 30's, married to the man of my dreams, and a mother of two beautiful young children ages 2 and 4. Checklist complete! Or...maybe not. My latest excuse is that I can't possibly do anything new right now. I am too busy and lack any energy at the end of the day to write. How could I be a part of a writing and speaking ministry when I don't even have time or energy to clean my house? For goodness sakes, the spiders are building a city across my ceilings complete with skyscrapers and apartment buildings! Certainly, I can do the writing and speaking stuff when my kids are older.
Recently, however, I began to read Radical by David Platt. I have only finished the first chapter (those of you with toddlers know how hard it is to get alone time to read a chapter, let alone an entire book), but it is already changing my whole way of thinking about service for God. He gave examples of three men who wanted to follow Jesus but had something they held onto or wanted to accomplish before taking that first step.
The account of these men is found in Luke 9. The first man told Jesus that he would follow him wherever he went. Jesus told him that if he followed him, his basic needs being met was not a guarantee. The second man's father had just died, and he told Jesus that he needed to bury his father, and THEN he would go and follow him. Jesus' response? He told him to skip the burial and follow him instead! Finally, the third man told Jesus that he wanted to say goodbye to his family first, and THEN he would follow Jesus. Jesus told him to skip the goodbyes and just follow him.
Wow! Jesus was not fooling around. These men were full of excuses which many of us would consider very valid, but Jesus was asking them to lay down these excuses and follow him.
At this point, I was floored because I had never thought about things that way. All my life, I have been filled with excuses like these men. I always say, "FIRST I need to __________, and THEN I will follow God's call." Some of these reasons have seemed very valid and made sense in my humanity. But Jesus is calling us to put down all of those excuses and whole-heartedly follow after him.
When Mandy asked me to join the blogging team for Deliberate Women, I immediately did the FIRST/THEN game. FIRST, my life needs to settle down, and I need to figure out this mom thing. THEN I can join the team. FIRST, I need to figure out what I could possibly write about. THEN I could be an interesting blogger. I let my fears and insecurities dictate my thinking instead of trusting that God would give me the words to write.
Of course, when God wants you to do something, He doesn't give up easily. Following Mandy's request, everything I read or heard at church in the next week seemed to be about letting go of fear. God couldn't be speaking to me more clearly. Finally, I gave up. "OK, God! Fine! I’ll do it!" I cried. "But you better give me a little help because I'm stepping out of my comfort zone big time doing this."
With that, help came. My notepad is full of blogging ideas, and I have so many exciting things to share with you ladies over the coming months. You will get to meet my incredible and zany family through my writing, and you will get to know me on a personal level. I intend to bare my soul and be REAL with you girls about my struggles and triumphs in my world of being a wife and an adoptive mom of two lovely young girls.
But before those blog posts come, I have a challenge for you: Are you playing the FIRST/THEN game with God right now? Is He calling you to do something that might be out of your comfort zone and you are spouting off a long list of excuses back at Him? Perhaps you don't think you have enough skill or experience. Perhaps He is calling you to give up some of those life comforts that you are so desperate to hold on to. Perhaps you don’t think it is the right time. My friend, please stop playing that game. God wants to be first in your life. When you put those worries, comforts, and experiences ahead of Him, you are not living 100% for Him. He wants radical faith from us. He wants us to trust Him COMPLETELY despite our worries and thoughts of not being good enough or that it isn’t the right time.
Are you willing to stop playing the FIRST/THEN game and just say YES? It is a scary thing to do, but as I am discovering, it is really exciting and comforting to give things up completely to God and give Him control.