Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My confession (don't judge me)

It's funny what the Lord does when others are praying for you.  In the last post, I asked for prayer for our family, for boldness and courage to follow the Lord in his leading.  I had one specific issue in mind that I was not sharing with the public.  The Lord indeed gave us boldness and courage, but he did not lead us down the path that I was mentally referring to when I asked for these things.  

"Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
    but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand."  - Provers 19:21

As many of you know, Jeff is a Church Planting Apprentice, which means he will hopefully be starting a new church body in our city.  We hope to have a women's ministry in that new church, as well as a children's ministry and of course I, being a mother and a woman, would love to serve in these ministries at our future church, and help my husband's ministry in this way.  However, the thought of it on top of being a stay-at-home mom, involved in small groups at church, being involved in MOPS, and being a nursing student is overwhelming to me.  I have never really been much a part of either type of ministry aside from helping out occasionally, and don't know the first thing about leading these types of teams.

Jeff and I began a conversation last night concerning these future church plant things, during which I became emotional and immediately bogged down in details and scheduling (that's just how my brain works, I am not a big picture type of person - I need to know when, how, who, and what am I gonna do with the kids?).  That conversation led to another about homeschooling, which I had already written off, for no particular reason other than a) I don't know how to do it and b) I am intimidated by it.  There's a lot of benefits to homeschooling though, but I am in nursing school so I won't have time to, and once I'm an RN I surely won't have time for it.  But I'll be making enough money to send my kids to a private school.  

I began to evaluate what I'm doing here.  As far as ministry, I really want to help but I have other things already going on. How am I supposed to do all these other things, too?  Maybe God will send a woman to join the church plant that is passionate and skilled at these ministries - problem solved, oh me of little faith.  As far as school, I have a wonderful, supportive family who keep my kids happy and safe while I study and attend class; we have enough money saved that we are not going into debt to pay for school; the material comes very easily to me, I make great grades and I really enjoy the subject content.  Once I graduate, I'll be making great money, have a flexible schedule, have a meaningful job, and finally be able to afford Christian school, a bigger house and cars that don't leak and creak.  All the stars align for me to do this now, and the future payoff will be totally worth it. 

But just because it is totally doable doesn't mean it should be done.  I started to look at the reasons why I was pursuing nursing school: money, recognition for being a hard worker and smart, the satisfaction of "doing it".  These things in and of themselves are not particularly bad, but they are bad for me.  I am drawing life from these things.  They make me feel worthy and important, like I am really doing something with my life.  What would my alternative be if I didn't do nursing school?  A thankless job of raising kids and making a home for my weary husband?  Staying home with my kids all day to play with and teach them?  Meeting my husband for lunch occasionally, or taking a vacation whenever we want?  Having a cleaner, more organized home that's always ready for visitors?  Nourishing my relationship with the Lord during nap time instead of scrambling to get chores done so I can do my school work?  Selflessly serving my family with no regard for tests or assignment due dates?  Being more available to learn from godly women how to serve the women and children in our church?  Reading for fun instead of grades?

Once I evaluated all of this I thought: this is crazy.  God is providing for me the things that bring true life, yet I am voluntarily bearing a burden and striving for things I don't need.  I heard the Lord's still small voice: 

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:19

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. - Matthew 6:33

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith 
- Hebrews 12:1-2

I am chasing worldly recognition and financial security by the work of my own hands (and I have a degree so technically I could go to work if ever I needed to without being an RN).  I have been on a hamster wheel of sinful self-reliance and seeking after the ooh's and ahh's from others (and let's be real, no one really gives two whoops what I'm doing!  How prideful and arrogant of me.)

The funny thing is as soon as this recognition comes, it is gone and I am striving after something else.  Yet I already have all the approval and adoration I could ever need because it comes from my heavenly Father in Jesus Christ.  I have the divine "Yes!", there is no other approval needed.  Seeking any other is sinful and self-exalting.  Jesus is calling me to step out of the boat of the security and values of the world, and onto the waves of faith and service where He is waiting; oh Lord, help my unbelief.  

So friends, thank you for the prayers, God has used them effectively and surely.   I won't serve patients on their death beds, but I will diligently teach my children and others about the One who overcame death for them.  I won't seek admiration from others for my work ethic, but long to hear acclaim from my Lord: "Well done, good and faithful servant."  In a moment of clarity, I surely have found my calling.  

From the Valley of Vision:

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou has brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold
Thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision."


Candace Sheffield said...

You are spot on! So proud of what you and Jeff are going to do in ministry!

Dawn R. Ewing said...

Good for you Marissa! His timing is always best!

Dawn R. Ewing said...

Good for you Marissa! His timing is always best!

Linda Bishop said...

You are truly blessed, I think you are making the best decision being with your kids while they are young cause when they are older you want see them as much, God bless the both of y'all .

Mom said...

Wonderful decision! Work outside the home will always be there... your chance to grow & nurture your babies is a one-shot, vitally important role.