The Choice When Chosen

1 Kings 19: 19 So Elijah went and found Elisha son of Shaphat plowing a field. There were twelve teams of oxen in the field, and Elisha was plowing with the twelfth team. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak across his shoulders and then walked away. 20 Elisha left the oxen standing there, ran after Elijah, and said to him, “First let me go and kiss my father and mother good-bye, and then I will go with you!”

Elijah replied, “Go on back, but think about what I have done to you.”

21 So Elisha returned to his oxen and slaughtered them. He used the wood from the plow to build a fire to roast their flesh. He passed around the meat to the townspeople, and they all ate. Then he went with Elijah as his assistant.


This scene is one that captivates me and comes to mind often as I reflect about my journey as an assistant. I moved to Louisiana to teach math with the idea of eventually living overseas. Somewhere during this duration of certification and spiritual growth, God changed the narrative of my story. Instead of moving to the mission field, I was asked to assist the missions pastor at our church. Assisting was never my dream or plan; my degree is in mathematics and African studies.

Five years ago, my boss (our missions pastor) was asked to step into the role of lead pastor. I remember vividly the day he sat me down in his office and had a conversation with me about this transition. After a long drive around the city, intentional conversations with spiritual advisors, and much fasting and prayer, his wife and he felt the Lord's leading to accept this mantle of responsibility. He asked me if I would do the same: "We would be honored to have you continue as my assistant into this next season. Please make time to talk it over with your husband and mentors, pray and fast, and consider if you would be willing to accept this position." 

I have worked many places and held many positions, but this moment marked me. This was a "cloak over the shoulder" call. The future would look differently, and it was not to be entered into without thoughtful reflection. For me, this was not a year commitment kind of question, it was a reconsideration of my calling. It was choosing to make my roots here, plant my heart and feet in this place, behind a desk just outside a door -- it was laying down my dreams on the altar and trusting God with the future He had planned instead.  Even as I write this, I realize that many chapters of my story echo this same theme, so it should have come as no surprise to me that God would change things up just to keep me close to Christ rather than idolize my calling.

Obviously, I accepted and am still his assistant today. There are days that are more difficult and moments that I am not sure I am truly cut out for the job, but then I remember: I chose to say yes to this, and I left the fields and slaughtered the oxen of other options. In doing so, I am only able to look forward and believe that as I am faithful with what God has placed in my hands, He is faithful to bring to fulfillment all He has placed in my heart.

My pastor still encourages me every year to go to Africa, and I am grateful for the opportunity because overseas missions will always be in my veins, but also I recognize that over time new passions and desires have taken root in my heart. My husband and I live as missionaries in this city, and I jump with joy every time I get the chance to meet with or encourage assistants in the journey. 

So today I want to encourage you: God is doing a great work in you, and He who began this work will bring it to completionPress on toward Christ who has called you. Lean on Him, even when it doesn't make sense to you, look the way you expected, or turn out the way you planned. Let Him be the author and finisher of your faith, and I promise, by its ending, you will look more like Jesus, and this will be the best story you could have never written on your own.

 

A Messy Ministry Moment

Yesterday was one of those tough days of ministry. I had a conflict with a co-worker/friend in front of other coworkers/friends. It was a simple misunderstanding that I blew out of proportion. This emotionally driven moment could have been easily avoided if I had been willing to allow humility to elevate our relationship over my pride of needing to be proven “right”.

Thankfully we both are committed to our friendship and worked through it immediately, but, as there is in any group of humans, hurt remains, gossip lingers, and this conflict is added to the pile until it will either be forgotten or is able to be laughed about one day. 

Unfortunately, because everyone has different personalities, engage in disagreements in opposing ways (hello fight or flight), and ultimately since we are sinners in a fallen world, conflict will happen (even in a Christ-centered environment) at some point with someone. 

I am writing this as I still process and reflect on how I could have better responded to the situation, but two things I am grateful for are His promises that His mercies are new every morning and that the love of Christ covers a multitude of sin. I can’t control how others will engage with me from this point, but through repentance and reconciliation, I can do my part to restore the friendship and trust God to somehow (even if I can’t see it now) redeem the moment and use it to help me grow toward Christ and others. 

 

Your Turn: How do you handle conflict in your workplace? 

BUSY

I don't know what it is about the word "busy," but it has such a negative connotation to me. When someone calls me busy, it runs through my veins like nails on a chalkboard. I am married with three kids, work full time outside the home, like to cook and bake for fun, have a passion for strong friendships, and have recently started building our new home. I admit there is a lot going on in my life, but when someone says that they didn't want to bother me because they know I am so busy... oh man, don't get me started. My sister in law mentioned it over a text the other day, and (my poor sister didn't know what she was walking into...) I gave her an ear full. It hurts my heart and deflates my soul to be defined as busy

When I hear the word busy, it stirs up images of a strung out, burnt out, worn out, tired all the time, running ragged, packed schedule, face in the iPhone, no time for anyone kind of life. Busy days usually end when I lay my head on the pillow and find that I have been running nonstop, but still got nothing done.  

I have decided I prefer the word full. It feels much more intentional, like I packed the luggage so it is stuffed with all the things I chose. And even when it's full, there is always room for one more item that is valuable to me on the journey. I want to be someone who has a full life -- full of laughter and joy, family and friendships, working and playing, good food and great conversations, learning and growing. I love when I lay my head on the pillow and reflect that my day has been non-stop, but with all the things that God has called me to/placed in my path/laid on my heart. Because I want to make the most of the days that the Lord has given me, at first glance it may look busy, but I promise my life is really just full. There is always room for more ; ) 

Your Turn: When you reflect on your days, have they been busy or full?