Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about God’s will and what it means for me. In my Jesus year, am I serving God to my fullest capacity? I have spend time in prayer, in conversation with my Christian friends, listening to God speak through my pastor and small group leader, and in the scripture looking for answers and guidance, trying to discern His will.
For years, I have been a teacher. That is my calling, my vocation, my gift, whatever you want to call it. I love it. I love the relationships I develop with my students. I love watching them as they make connections. I love seeing them rise to a challenge and leave my class stronger than when they entered it. But it’s not all about being the teacher, it’s also about learning from your students, adapting to new technologies and methodologies, and the learning that teaching requires. Being a teacher is a blessing and a challenge, one that I desperately love.
Since relocating in a down economy, it has not been. I work in an office now. It’s different and there is no summer vacation with my family and I’m still adjusting, trying to discern if this is where I’m supposed to do “for life.” To be honest, I struggle with it. I took a spiritual gifts quiz the other day and my primary gift is still teaching. I really didn’t expect it to change, but I wanted to reassure myself that it was still there even though I don’t feel like I’m using it to its fullest potential. I have searched for other venues to teach. This blog is one of them. The Church is another. My small group is another. But, it’s not the same as when my job and my gift were synonymous.
With all of this floating in my head and my joy at my Little Monkey’s recovery, we went to church today. As usual, we were fashionably late. As soon as we were in our typical, you-came-late-and-ended-up-in-the-front seats, the band began playing “I Exalt Thee.” This is a song I love:
I very quickly found myself in the midst of a Jesus-moment with eyes closed and voice raised to heaven, so grateful for what Jesus has done for me and my family, grateful for the faith we have, the faith that allowed us to journey through our son’s illness and surgery to health, and grateful for a merciful God who loves His children and teaches us in the midst of our struggles. Needless to say, I began crying with joy. It was a beautiful moment and I have a beautiful saviour!
The sermon was one of your typical mid-year, have-to-make the budget sermons, but done very beautifully with an emphasis on knowing the difference between your treasures and your possessions. And some of the items listed on treasures were family, friends, home, health, and time. How true! In small group we talked about Romans 12 and faith, testing God’s will, and discerning it. And as I sat there listening to the discussion, reflecting on my conversations with Christian friends, the scripture I’d been reading, and the sermon, and letting God work in me, things were clarified. The events of the past few months and the questions I’ve placed before God were answered.
I am still a teacher. I will always be a teacher, but right now God doesn’t need me in a traditional classroom. Over the past several years, since I took a spiritual gifts assessment, He has been growing me. (I attribute it to motherhood.) My highest secondary gift is now exhortation, or encouragement. (Kind of ironic now when you look at the name of my blog.) This gift works brilliantly in a classroom, but also in churches and that’s where I feel called to focus it. How many people want to be involved, to contribute, but don’t feel capable or able? They feel that they need to learn more, read more, be more, before they can serve. I have felt that way. I have a Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard, for crying out loud, and I still feel intimidated at the thought of leading people spiritually. God has put me in an office with an 8-5 schedule, so that I can use the treasure of my time for His greater purpose, so that I can be a constant in our home with my husband’s crazy schedule, so that I can attend meetings at church and write studies in the evenings, so that I have time to be a loving mother. He has also grown this gift of encouragement within me to help other people feel confident to step forward and lead for Christ. God has planted a few little projects in my heart, including the vision for a new and needed ministry at our church, that will need encouragement to bring to fruition. He has been using the events in my life to grow me and create good things just as he promised. It often takes times of confusion to birth clarity. Today was just one of those days where God put things together for me. It was indeed a blessed day!