“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them,” Ephesians 2:10.
As I sit down to write this blog I am looking out at a rainy morning on the Gulf of Mexico where my husband and I are taking a much-needed time of rest in Florida. I’m okay with the rain, though, as it provides the perfect opportunity to write after an 11-week absence from the blogging world.
While few may have noticed the absence of Chosen and Called coming to their inbox these past few months, I had to chuckle when Facebook recently sent me a message informing me that my readers hadn’t heard from me in awhile.
What Facebook (and many others) didn’t know was that the last few months brought a series of circumstances that made unusual demands on my time and energy, and which also required me to re-examine my expectations and priorities. As a part-time Women’s Ministry Director, wife, mother of three married children, grandmother of seven grandchildren, and three elderly parents still living; more than ever, I recognize my need for God to help me discern my work for each day. But, while I have had busy seasons before, I have always found time to write. Until recently.
For me, writing has served as a way to process and share truths that God is teaching or reminding me of. I have filled countless journals pondering how the gospel empowers me to live for God’s glory. But suddenly, with my time and energy stretched beyond capacity, I needed fresh clarity from God regarding what I should do.
Jesus prayed to His Father; “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave me to do” John 17.
I have often marveled at the relationship that the Father and Son had, which enabled Jesus to discern His work day by day. We know from the gospels that Jesus had only three years to accomplish the work He came to do. We also know that He turned away from many seemingly good opportunities for ministry which often left his disciples perplexed. But above all, we learn that Jesus’ most important work was dying on the cross.
This serves as a helpful example to us as we seek to discern the work God has prepared for us to do. And it reminds us of some humbling truths:
- We are not guaranteed a number of days on earth.
- Just because we have the ability or the desire to do something, doesn’t always mean it’s our work to do.
- As believers who follow a crucified Savior, God often calls us to lay our lives down to accomplish His purposes.
While God periodically reminds me of these things, He gave some fresh lessons at the start of this year when He presented me with an opportunity to do a work that He’d clearly prepared for me. Yet, accepting my assignment would mean that other good things would need to be laid aside, in this case, my writing. Yet, as I surrendered my time, desires, and even the gift God had given to me; I experienced freedom and joy, knowing I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
While the intensity of my life has been somewhat relieved (for the moment); I am now reflecting on lessons I’ve gleaned about holding loosely to God’s gifts. I’m not sure yet whether God will lead me to pick my writing up again on a regular basis, but in this moment given, I’d like to share five ways I believe God is glorified when we lay down things we love to do out of obedience to Him.
God is glorified when we loosen our grip on things that could tempt us to make a name for ourselves.
God gives us occasional tests that reveal whose glory we are seeking when we use the gifts He has given us. As Paul reminded the Corinthians, and also us; What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? 1 Corinthians 4:7.
Sadly, our hearts are naturally inclined to erect our own tower of Babel (Genesis 11). Unless we remember that, apart from God’s grace, nothing good comes from us, we will be tempted to become proud when praise comes our way.
For this reason, God sometimes directs us to lay down the “bricks and mortar” that might tempt us to make a name for ourselves. And while we may experience some (or even great) sadness at the loss, we must gladly relinquish the gift for the glory of the Giver.
Are you holding onto something that God may be asking you to surrender for a time, or for good? Has a gift God given you become more important to you than the Giver Himself? Let us hold loosely to all things that we would worship Christ alone.
God is glorified when we remember that we have been saved by grace, not by works.
With hearts naturally bent towards doing good works to earn God’s favor, or finding identity in what we do, the gospel helps us reorient our minds to the truth that we can do nothing to merit God’s favor. He chose us when everything we did was motivated purely by selfish ambition in pursuit of our own glory.
“…we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved….not a result of works, so that no one may boast” Ephesians 2:3-10.
This stunning truth anchors our identity firmly in the One who purchased us at the cost of His own blood. The reality is that God is far more interested in our relationship and love for Him than in any works we do to impress Him. At the same time, we please Him by submitting to His authority and obeying Him with cheerful obedience.
If God asks us to let go of a dream, an expectation, a work we enjoy, or a person we love; we can trust His purposes as He works out our salvation. “All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,” (Psalm 25:10) each one meant to lead us to a deeper appreciation for the gospel.
God is glorified when we take time to prayerfully examine our hearts and priorities against His Word.
Because many things in the world and our own hearts appeal to our flesh, we are wise to periodically evaluate the use of our time, finances, gifts, and energy.
Along with that, life is constantly changing, which means that what we did easily in one season may need to be eliminated or done differently in another season. Becoming a parent is a good example: Where we were once primarily responsible just for ourselves, the birth of a baby shifts our priorities dramatically.
As we seek God’s wisdom in reordering or realigning priorities from season to season, it’s also important to consider His unique design for us as women and men. My priorities, for example, will vary from my husband’s, because God has created each of us to glorify Him in unique ways. As we pray and look to God’s Word, the Holy Spirit faithfully orders our lives.
Yet in whatever season we’re in; God calls us to trust Him, wait patiently, live faithfully, and do all things for HIs glory.
What season of life are you in right now? What work has God given you to do for His glory? While we may feel frustrated by our own limitations at times, we will be strengthened by remembering we serve an infinite limitless God.
God is glorified when we seek Him for our work each day.
I find that it’s easier to re-evaluate my time and priorities in the midst of significant life change than it can be day to day. It’s tempting to wake up each morning simply responding to the day’s urgent demands. But God wants us to come to Him throughout our day for wisdom and guidance, with the promise that He will equip and empower us for our given assignment.
So then, what happens when we neglect prayer and simply charge into our day? This is what we might experience when we operate independently from God:
- We commit ourselves to work that is not ours to do, while denying others the opportunity.
- We fail to see (and miss), divinely appointed opportunities to serve, share the gospel, offer encouragement, or speak the truth in love.
- We believe that if we can do it, we should do it.
- We become stressed and overwhelmed by all we’re convinced we need to do to be “good Christians”.
- We attempt to rescue others from their circumstances, sometimes getting in the way of the work God is doing in their lives.
Do any of these sound familiar? I am sad to say that I have experienced each of these at one time or another yet, by God’s grace, I am learning to go to Him more often and more quickly.
Asking God’s Spirit to open our eyes to the true needs around us can simplify life considerably.
- As we let go of less important things, we find we have time for that which is eternal.
- When we depend on prayer to discern our work, we can be confident that no work is too small.
- And, as we let go of good things out of obedience to Him, ever so slowly, we’ll become more like Jesus.
God is glorified when we remember that sometimes our greatest work is trusting Him and walking by faith.
Finally, God sometimes calls us to follow Him to places that seem to require all of our strength simply to trust His goodness and love.
Perhaps life-altering sickness has sidelined you from the life you expected and the good works you long to do for God’s glory.
Maybe serving small children and their limitless demands makes you feel like you are wasting your gifts in the midst of teething babies and temper tantrums. Or perhaps you feel fearful about raising children in this darkening culture. Some may even question God’s love for them as they grieve the loss of a spouse, their health, or your longing to be married.
Your story is far from over! Even this very day, God is working out HIs purposes for you in your darkest night and trusts His broken child to trust Him. Tears and sorrow will not last forever. Jesus died to purchase your eternal joy (Hebrews 12) and every day ordained for you is part of that journey to joy, which begins even now as you yield fully to Him.
Is there anything you are clinging to that might be keeping you from an opportunity to display Christ to others?
What is holding you back from fully embracing the assignment God has given with confidence in His steadfast love and goodness?
In what way is your life demonstrating faith in God’s character and promises? Are others being pointed to the gospel through your joyful and quiet heart?
Psalm 37:3 encourages us to “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.”
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him, Colossians 3:17.
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you,