This past weekend I attended a conference called the IF:Gathering. It’s a movement that seeks to unleash this generation of women to realize their full potential for the glory of God and His coming Kingdom. It has unlocked a beautiful mess of possibilities for women all over the US and across the globe, simply by reminding us that God is real, His Word is living and active, and we are His.
I left the conference with about a thousand beautiful exhortations and blood-pumping prayers ringing in my ears. The amount of information and insight I encountered left me feeling, admittedly, exhausted. I didn’t cry while at the conference but when I was sitting with my husband in the car and munching on a Sonic burger hours after it had ended, a few slipped down my cheeks as he prayed for me. Those tears represented my frightened realization that God wanted to use me. That the gifts He has given me are not ornamental, they are essential. He wants me to use them, not talk about them.
And He’s waiting for me, still waiting for me to take Him seriously.
There’s one particular talk given on Saturday morning that keeps hanging onto my conscience. It’s the one about calling. The one that had me simultaneously glued to the speaker and fighting the urge to run out of the room. “Your calling is where your talents and burdens collide. Calling comes from facing your greatest fear.” I squirmed in my chair as the speaker continued to articulate what my pounding heart had been trying to say for months: God isn’t letting this go. This whole, “Stop sitting, start risking” mantra. He stuck me in a chair, listening to a woman who could have been looking right at me when she said, “You are free. Now go be who you really are.”
In that moment I realized that being free is not only monumentally important for me to understand about my identity in Christ, it was crucial to understanding how I was to live. My calling can only be lived out in freedom. My faith gains me access to that freedom.
Yet faith takes a lot, you guys. Can we just admit that? I used to treat it like it was a lovely addendum to my happy personality. “Yes, I’m a Christian! Yes I can’t WAIT to sing Kum-ba-yah with you! Yes I have a spare WWJD bracelet and of COURSE you can have it!”
But then life happens and I have to figure out how faith works in the midst of all of it. When the crap hits the fan. Yes, I believe that God remains perfect and good when my friend loses her dad in a blink of an eye? When I wake up to no job? When my marriage buckles under stress and anxiety? When I can’t stop being bitter? When my world is caving in? Yes. I believe in that same God. Yes, He is good and perfect, kind and just, real and returning.
And He loves me. In fact, He actually fashioned me to be just the way I am. He gave me the gift of humor and joy, teaching and exhortation, dancing and writing. But I’m a work in progress only when I choose to progress. To move. To act. When I came to John with my burdened heart and my shaking resolve to be obedient, he met me with this short exhortation, “You need to plow, Rachel.” I love that word. When a farmer plows a field he’s making a way for seeds, and that makes a way for new things to grow. New things are risky and some new things fail, but our God is fearless and nothing is impossible for Him. He is in the business of making new things. And I don’t want to miss that.
So even though my life isn’t on the trajectory I had anticipated, even though I’m raising my eyebrows at the nudging of my God, I can be faithful to plow my field and leave the new things to Him.