Last March I went to a conference in San Diego called High Performance Academy. It was basically a weekend of learning how to create your best life, your best self, and how to take control of your life, dreams, and goals. I specifically remember on the first day I wrote down in my journal (and I am convinced it was the Hand of God writing not mine) “I will share my story with many people and change lives.” That was the first time I ever felt God calling me to ministry.
You see, my dad is a pastor. I grew up in the church. I lived, breathed, ate meals, met all my friends at the church. Every Sunday I had 150 elderly women pinch my cheeks saying, “Your father is such a wonderful man, you should be so proud.” I also had 500+ people consistently asking me about my life as I got into the young adult years. “McKenzie aren’t you going to go to college?” “McKenzie, what do you have planned for your future. Surely you must want to be a pastor like your father?!” “McKenzie, when are you going to find a nice man and settle down?”
Because of my upbringing in the church I knew one thing for sure.
I WOULD NOT WORK IN A CHURCH.
Fast-forward about 8 years… Here I am 24 years old wondering, “How can I get more involved in church?! I want to lead women in ministry so bad!” I swear God is so funny like that. He WILL give you exactly what you think you don’t need.
At my church I am in a women’s Bible study called “Discerning the Voice of God.” Last night was one of those moving nights where I SWEAR the sermon was written EXACTLY for me and me only. Do you guys ever feel that way in church? like, “YAS GOD I HEAR YOU LAWD JESUS!!!” That was me last night.
The focus of last night’s sermon was how we all endure “dry times in the desert” But what we don’t know is that those dry periods of pain and frustration are actually times when God is doing His best work in us. He is preparing us for something SO unbelievably wonderful.
I know you all have been there with me, the stage of “WHAT ARE YOU DOING GOD!?” Where you just genuinely feel like God isn’t even there. Where you are thinking, “Sure God, You’ve already thrown about 10 million obstacles at my head what’s one more going to hurt?” You know what’s crazy about those times of frustration? He is actually speaking to us the loudest during those times. But we are so caught up in our own thoughts and our own head that we completely miss what He is saying.
C.S Lewis says, “ God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but He SHOUTS in our pain.”
Our society has such a hard time listening. My biggest pet peeve is when I am talking to a friend and then their gaze slowly goes to their phone and I feel this invisible wall just rise up between us (I am guilty of this at times too). Why is it that listening is the hardest thing to do? It shouldn’t be so hard because EVERYBODY on this planet wants to be listened to and heard by others. So why can’t we do it ourselves? When we can LISTEN in our pain instead of flailing around whining about how God “isn’t there” don’t you think we would be much better off? “But McKenzie, I feel like I have been going to God for so long and He just isn’t listening to me.” Well let’s look at some examples from the Bible. Ruth, Esther, Moses, Joseph, Job, EVEN JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF went through such painful times where they felt they had been struggling for so long. YEARS LONG for some of them, and do you know what each one of them had in common? THEY REMAINED FIRM IN CHRIST! They listened to Him, they remained in Him and He remained in them. They did not put all their trust in themselves. They didn’t try to do everything on their own. At the end of it He blessed them all immensely.
I have had the verse, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all His righteousness and HE will give you the desires of your heart.” In my bathroom and I read it each morning because that’s the area I need to focus on most. Seeking Him First. Not seeking my own goals and my own ambitions first, seeking HIM first. I think we forget that Satan is just as active as Jesus is at times. Satan actually knows us pretty well. He knows EXACTLY what it is going to take to distract us from listening to God. He’ll give us a little bit of victory so that we can say, “Oh thanks God! I’m good now you can go.” Satan doesn’t only distract us with temptation and sinful things. He can distract us with things that might seem good at the time. Maybe he is distracting you with a girl or a guy? You’re thinking, “Oh, but this person loves God and they are so great!” But is this person helping you grow closer to Christ? Is this person’s ‘goodness’ distracting you from God’s goodness? Just because they are a good person doesn’t mean they are good for YOU.
Or maybe you think you are being a good friend by going out with a group of people who do things you don’t always feel comfortable with. You justify it by saying, “Well I am being a good friend so surely this is honoring to God.” But these friends aren’t helping you grow in Christ and you always feel like you took 4 steps back in your faith after hanging out with them.
This is where DISCERNING GODS VOICE comes into play.
When you remain in Him He gifts you with discernment. You’ll have a much more clear idea of what you should and shouldn’t be doing with your life. It will be as clear as day for you. And you will actually feel yourself not wanting the things you once wanted because your heart and mind are filled with the Holy Ghost. When you are listening to Him wholeheartedly and letting Him decide your plan instead of you taking charge you can hear Him more clearly. Praying is great. But saying a quick prayer every now and then doesn’t make you a follower. You have to walk the walk and talk the talk. You wouldn’t trust a hairstylist that only says “Yeah I mean, I dyed my sisters hair once at home.” Or a personal trainer who says, “I played a sport in high school and that’s about it.” NO!!!! You want both of these people to have education, practice, and hours spent doing these things. You want a hair stylist with great hair and a personal trainer with muscles. Because it’s not enough to just say you ARE something you have to BE DOING something!
I encourage you all today to ask yourself these questions:
1. Am I genuinely listening to God?
- Am I trying to do life MY way without God? Or am I listening to His plan asking Him what He wants for me?
- What am I doing to prove that I am an actual Follower of Christ?
If you have to second-guess any of these questions then maybe you need to refocus your priorities. Walking with Christ isn’t easy. (trust me I know) If it were than we would all be millionaires doing our dream job with a wonderful family and no sin. It takes time and effort. But we are capable!!! Just like the people in the Bible mentioned earlier we can overcome ANY dry period in the desert. We just need to seek Him first.
Today I chose to find joy in…
- The fact that Jesus never stops pursuing me. Even when I am going through a rebelious period in my life He still fights after my heart.
- God’s plan is better than anything I could even imagine.
- For a community of women at my church who are doing life along side me that I can confide in and pray with.
For any of you women searching for community I truly encourage you to get involved in a women’s ministry at church. It might be scary at first but I can guarantee you that there are other women there who are just as scared as you.