I have loved and believed in Jesus my whole life. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I actually started listening to him.
I got married, had 3 children in 5 years and Grandpa moved in. Life got loud and the whispering of Jesus’ calling on my life got quieter. It became clear for me to be a disciple, not just a believer, I was going to have to be very intentional in my choices. I didn’t just want to focus on the what-not-to-do’s but things I could do in my life to bring Glory to God. With this wreck of a heart I have, it sure wasn’t easy. It still isn’t. At times, it is difficult to hear God through the busyness of my life so I just started to study His life and the truth is, I found most of the answers right there in the Bible. I used that as an example. Do what He did. In the doing, it will become clear.
I started small and concentrated on the nudges I felt in my Spirit. When a memory of a long time friend came to mind and I’d actually follow through to let them know I was thinking of them. Often times it was at that exact moment that my friend needed encouragement. I would see the homeless guy on the corner and before I could hear the news story echo in my mind about the scam this can be, I’d allow myself to feel the tug on my heart from God to give. The new mom across the street seemed overwhelmed at times so I’d offer dinner and a few hours of babysitting. Those sweet little nudges are where I started. Taking the next big step with God’s lead changed my life.
In early 2009, I began to pray 3 specific prayers. 1.) Open my eyes to the needs of others around me. 2.) Break my heart for what breaks yours and give me the courage to act. 3.) What ever you ask, I will do.
Be careful what you ask for.
My husband and I after years of talking, gave God our yes in a mighty way. We began the process to adopt. It would take two years to complete so we had plenty of time to get our finances in order and prepare our home and family. Like most things, I gave him my qualifications. We would adopt from another country so we would not have the ‘messiness’ of dealing with a birth mother. We could adopt one child, a boy, because we had room with our son. And if He wanted this from us, He was going to have to fund it. We did not have a single dime in savings. It was already tight raising a family of 5 on one income. What would it be like with one more? We prayed for a much talked about promotion to happen for my husband. With our prerequisites in tow, we took the leap of faith.
God has a way of ensuring I depend on Him instead of my own accord so it should be no surprise to me that it didn’t take two years. An amazing couple donated the money for our home study. Within a month, through a series of events only God could arrange, our son arrived on our doorstep. And so did his sister. Yes, not one, but two toddlers. They were not from another country. They were from right here. I sat across from their momma and dove head first into the messiness of loving her, encouraging and empowering her to be their mother for a over a year. My husband didn’t get the promotion. He got a month’s lay off. It was the scariest, most difficult moments of our lives. It was filled with our new children’s grief and rough transitions and at times, downright ugliness. It was also filled with beauty, grace and the most wonderful outpouring of support and love from the body of Christ I’ve ever witnessed. I got to see my children welcome their new siblings with open arms and understanding and to share their life, their space and their parents. Watching my husband love our children, blessed me. Watching him love someone else’s child, blew me away. It grew us and stretched us. It still does, to be honest. But stepping out in faith, taking that risk in His name, gave me the most incredible view of God’s love for us. It was the Gospel in action.
Taking that next step in your faith is beyond scary. Following those little nudges, taking those big leaps…all scary. Giving God our yes? Tough stuff. He rarely calls us to easy. But what He calls us to, He equips us for. It’s important to trust His sovereignty and remember He can see the big picture. Getting to know and love my children’s birth mom was a gift. Being able to look in their faces and tell them how hard I fought for their family brings me a peace I didn’t know I’d need. That experience also brought me a career calling and planted the seeds for me to fight for other families. Our budget? It hasn’t made sense on paper in almost a decade but we have always had what we need. That lay off of my husband’s gave him this opportunity of intense bonding time with our two new babies. It gave our family of 7 the chance to spend a month of quality time together and eased our transition immensely. It allowed this new mom of 5, ages 2, 3, 3, 6 and 8 to keep her sanity.
What we experienced during that time, was a series of God opening doors and us walking through them. It was affirmed again and again through others generosity, miraculous moments and timing only God could orchestrate, that we were indeed smack in the middle of His will for our life. Allowing God to use you, is the greatest feeling you will ever know.
If I hadn’t become very intentional about listening to God in the little moment’s of my day, I’m not sure I would have gone for His big ask when He brought it to me. I want to encourage you. When you sit in church and the video about the next mission trip makes you cry, that isn’t a coincidence or because you’re emotional. That is the spirit of God whispering. When you read about the food pantry and feel that little nudge in your heart, don’t be so quick to dismiss it. God is speaking to you. When you are walking past that older lady in the grocery parking lot loading her full cart in to her trunk and your feet hesitate and your mind quickly tells you that you are in a hurry to pick up the kids, that hesitation is the whisper of your spirit; God’s spirit in you. God will take your actions, when they are aligned with His and He will knock your socks off with blessings and opportunities.
There are books by famous theologians and great Christian leaders written on taking that next step of faith. I am just me. However, I think we’ve been programmed to believe that God wants big grand gestures from us. He wants us to move to China and give away all of our belongings. He expects us to save all of the orphans, bring clean water to the entire world. I think we picture obvious signs and this audible voice telling us what His purpose is for us. I think, most of the time, it is simpler than that. It may seem too simple, but for me, it is about learning to attune our heart to His. It is about learning to listen for those internal whispers. It is about studying who God is so I can reflect His life in mine. As we learn more about Him and His love for us, our love for Him grows. The fruit follows. The spirit of God is in each of us. We have to practice listening to it. It’s like putting on noise canceling headphones, blocking out the world and tuning in to the Holy Spirit. It is about obeying that voice and exercising that obedience in the little moments of our day, and before we know it, those little moments have added up to a life that reflects His; a life of worship.