It was National Haircut Day yesterday. Well not really, but that’s what it felt like. The first 3 women I spoke to at the school and kindy drop off, were all sporting new haircuts and had that I’ve just been to the salon sleek coiffured look. I apparently missed the memo reminding me to go to the hairdressers yesterday. It made me think I was part of a TV advert or something….come to think of it there is a TV advert of a person who missed the text message notifying him of the new haircut style!
It’s not unusual though in life to miss a notification of an event although fortunately this haircut popularity was just a coincidence and not something missed. In the plethora of notices that are coming home from school at the moment advertising gala days, raffles and school assembly costumes, it’s a wonder I haven’t missed something.
What it does remind me, is how often in life we can think that we have missed the moment, that we have missed what God has planned and purposed for us. Through distraction or confusion, disobedience, fear or events outside our control, we can sometimes be left with the feeling that we’ve missed our opportunity to be used by Him.
Mess ups and missed opportunities happen in life, but one thing is for sure, if your heart is after God, you will not miss your calling. God is the God of the second chance, the third chance and all the ones after that. And if that doesn’t convince you take a look at some of the people in the Bible. Moses killed, Jonah ran away, Peter denied. They messed up but they didn’t miss out on fulfilling the purpose that God had called them for.
“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
As we turned into our driveway, it seemed that my son and I noticed the length of the lawn at the same time. We had two very different reactions though. Mine was the obvious one – make mental note to talk to hubby about mowing the lawns! My 6 year old’s was to shout gleefully at the length of the grass and all the gorgeous flowers that seem to have appeared overnight – weeds really. He leapt out of the car and headed for the garden, appearing sometime later with a fistful of flowers for me.
In the vase on my window sill is now a bunch of yes, essentially weeds, but I’m going to go with saying wild flowers! Official garden sites though do list the clovers, dandelions, lawn daisies and hawksbeard that cover my lawn as weeds. Through my son’s eyes, these are of course flowers and couldn’t be anything else. And looking at these weeds through my son’s eyes I also see a pretty picture of purple, green and yellow flowers gathered and given in love.
How we are conditioned to see things affects our perspective on life. And it doesn’t just stop at weeds or flowers. The same can be said for us. Things that people have said about us or to us, knocks from life all colour how we see ourselves. We can find ourselves like Gideon, hiding scared in the wine press and wondering why God is calling him, the least of the least, a mighty warrior. We can see ourselves as a weed, while God looks at each of us as an exotic flower, a precious rose, a glorious sunflower.
It’s another occasion for me to learn from my children. My boys see endless possibilities as to what they can be when they grow up. From an architect designing the world’s tallest building, to a Doctor, a pilot, to yes a superhero. They have not yet heard the cry of the crowd saying no, it’s impossible, you don’t have what it takes. They just hear the beat of their hearts and dream unlimited dreams.
The way God sees us matters more than any thought that we’ve had or comparison that we have made about ourselves. It matters more than what others have called us or what they have said to us. Often we don’t hear what God has to say about us because the voices inside our heads, which derives value from the reward system of the world, clamors so insistently in our brains – Voices that say “They didn’t notice you”, “You weren’t good enough to be chosen”, “You will never make it.” We need to push those voices away and listen to God who finds us in the winepress and says Mighty Warrior, I need you to do something.
From now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new is here (2 Corinthians 5:16-17).
Nothing disqualifies us from who we are except the way we perceive ourselves apart from God. Instead of looking at our limitations or constraints, let’s focus on what we do have! We have Jesus’ approval, and that’s all we need.
According to a mum at the swimming pools today, the best decision she has ever made was signing her children up to swimming lessons. All of us other parents concurred. Living in Auckland surrounded by beaches, ensuring our children can swim is an important life skill. Although I think she was somewhat regretting the decision by the end of the lesson as sitting poolside was rather hot.
Every day we make decisions – from the best, great, wise and good to the worst, bad, silly and even the inconsequential. Some decisions we deliberate on for ages – especially the big ones – is this the right house, is he the right husband (actually that didn’t much deliberation on my behalf!) . Smaller decisions sometimes also take a lot of deliberation – whether to buy that handbag. Ok, maybe not! Others we make almost subconsciously – the route we drive to work, what to watch on TV, certainly ordering a coffee falls into this camp for me.
The important thing to remember though is that our decisions set us on a path and in a certain direction. It is not by chance that my wardrobe has err a few handbags stuffed into it! It’s not by accident that we are living in the suburb we are living in or that there are a lot of Parisian features in my house. All of these stemmed from decisions I have made.
Lysa TerKeurst wrote this “Your decisions will determine direction. Your direction will determine destination.” If you don’t like the direction your life is heading, check the decisions you are making. It’s those decisions that are impacting your future. The only way to change the direction you’re heading in, is to change the decisions you are making.
“The decisions we make today determine the destination of our tomorrow” (Lysa Terkeurst). Makes our decisions weighty stuff! The great thing is, God is there to help with the big and the little decisions. Bear Grylls had some sage advice on this. He said in his letter to Scouts the world over:
“You see, if I am going to enter a difficult jungle or unchartered mountain range, I always make sure I have a good guide. Life is the same. Go it alone by all means but you make the journey that much harder. Trust me.. For me, my simple faith has so often brought light to a dark path, joy to a cold mountain and strength to a failing body. And who better to have as a guide than the person who made the path or the mountain in the first place. Psalm 121 says
“I lift my eyes up to the mountain; where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of Heaven creator of the Earth.”
Good person to have on side I always figure”
As it stands, I think next week at the kids’ swimming lessons us parents might come armed with iced water!
“Destiny is not an instant click and upload” (Christine Caine)
Back in the day (and I might add, days I was a part of!), before photos could be taken and instantly circulated around the world, developing photos was a careful and detailed process. Photos were treasured and even shot with care as each film was restricted to the number of photos that could be taken. In Dark Rooms under a special red light, the development process was undertaken. No natural light was allowed in, which would destroy the fragile film. The film was transferred onto photography paper, immersed in various solutions and left to develop. Time and darkness were key, paramount to the successful development of a photo.
The times of obscurity, the times of seemingly little progress towards our dreams, are like this. Our own darkroom. It is our preparation time. Just like in Winter when the bareness of the branches suggest little growth and life, yet beneath the earth, the tree is using the time for its roots to go deeper. To grow stronger.
Joseph experienced this. He had the promise but he underwent time in his darkroom – in the pit and then the prison, before he emerged ready to lead Egypt. King David had to learn it. He was anointed King, but then went back to tending the sheep, serving his brothers lunch and later serving King Saul. He spent 20 years in obscurity, of being a King-in-waiting as God prepared him for kingship.
It’s hard not to want to burst out of the dark room prematurely. But rushing the process or trying to pre-empt the finish diminishes the quality of the photo. Abraham and Sarah did this and ended up with Ishmael. In these hidden times, where it seems to be just you and God, our character is developed, our spirit is strengthened. It is in these times, God prepares us for our destiny.
The quality of a developed photo is attributable to the time and care taken in the dark room. Those hidden times with God are valuable. Don’t despise your time in the dark room – God is preparing and perfecting you for what is ahead. Hang in there – soon enough the door will open.
And Remember – what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly.
(Inspiration for this blog from Christine Caine’s book “Unstoppable” where she talks about the Dark Room and how God uses it to burn the light of Christ onto our lives. The book is an inspirational and challenging read!)
Last night on the way to a work function, I travelled across several suburbs to reach the main motorway that would take me to the venue. I opted for a route of side roads and back roads. I kept off the main roads to miss peak hour traffic and get to my destination by the quickest (although not the most direct route). And soon enough I turned a corner and there was the onramp to the 4 lane motorway. Then all of sudden along with the cars ahead of me and beside me, we were all accelerating as we picked up speed to join the motorway. And then there I was, no longer on a restricted 50km p/hr drive through suburban streets, but doing 100km p/hr on the highway. Narrow streets with traffic lights, and pedestrian crossings, roundabouts had given way to a wide open lane with increased speed and fewer restrictions.
My travel through the side roads had led me perfectly to the motorway. My side road had just become my highway. In the detours you can find your destiny. The side road can become the highway. They say that the Corporate Ladder is a thing of the past, and it is more like a jungle – swinging from vine to vine – sometimes across, down or up. Kevin Forlong said this “Within your passion lies your purpose and within your purpose you will find your provision.“ And sometimes our passion is discovered in the side roads and detours. In the hobby, or the thing that you do while procrastinating doing what you should. In the things that keep you up at night talking and dreaming of.
In my travels, I have stumbled upon many treasures in the side roads. A cosy restaurant in Venice, the Chapel – Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, a delightful gift shop in Florence. Don’t be disheartened by side roads, they have their own discoveries to offer. They could become the highlight – they might just become the highway.
(Thanks to Paul Saunders for inspiring this blog post through his preach at church with how side roads can become highways)
PURPOSE:- The reason for which something exists or is done, made, used
We move from Esther’s preparation and jump past her being made Queen, to Esther summoning the courage to appear unsummoned before the King. She has one question in mind – how to save her people. Purpose is what drives you. Purpose is what gave Esther the courage to appear before the King. Purpose is what gave Esther the courage to risk her life.
Zaccheus was a man of action. He heard that Jesus was coming to Jericho (Luke 19:1-10) and went to great effort to be sure he could see him. He climbed up a sycamore tree. He didn’t care what others thought – he moved toward the goal to see Jesus. He postioned himself to be found. The rest is history – Jesus saw him, Zaccheaes was blessed and hten the entire town benefited from the encounter.
Fulfilling your destiny requires commission – cooperation with God’s mission for you. A commission must be acted upon. It will affect not only you, but the world around you.
Action requires risk. Taking a risk takes courage. Esther took a risk to go see the King. Zacchaes had to climb a tree so he could see. Mary risked ridicule by pouring oil on Jesus feet. The men who broke open a roof to let their friend down in front of Jesus all took a risk.
God chose where you would be placed but we have a choice as to what we should do.
Keep your eyes on the goal and not the obstacles.
Risk born out of great determination is courage.
Push past fear
Push past doubt
Push past anxiety
We must take advantage of the opportunities He has made available to us in the here and now. Our responsibility is to let Him use us where we are.
The message of Esther is that God might engineer the circumstances, but what happens after that is ultimately up to us. God might prod us, but we might refuse. And if we refuse, people might die.
Say yes to opportunities. Opportunities exist that you need to catch
POSITION:- condition with reference to place; location; situation. Status or standing
God has placed you here in this time – in your country, community, in your family and in your workplace. It is no accident that you are where you are. God has a plan for you! He has appointed the very places you shall live – “From one man He made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” (Acts 17:26)
Esther was in place as Queen before the threat to her people was apparent. God placed Esther on the throne even before the Jews faced the possibility of destruction, so that when trouble came, a person was already in a position to help. Where you are positioned expect favour from both God and man. “The girl pleased him and won his favour” (Esther 2:9)
Also – how many women had already been presented to the King? Don’t worry about where everyone else is and what they are doing – your gifts will make way for you! God will make way for you. Dare to be you and walk in the fullness of the position that God has called you to.