Written by Janet Kibler
Edited by Susie Kumah
Getting older is such an interesting process. When you are young, life seems to be made up of all sorts of small disconnected experiences strung together. What does it all mean? Where is it all leading? You have no idea. You have the whole rest of your life stretching before you. Anything is possible and it’s almost as though you are looking down a bleached desert highway squinting into the blinding sunlight. The future is an indistinct outline against the harsh rays. You can’t see how the difficulties and traumas of growing up are forming you for the future; what those experiences may be fitting you for. It’s only with time that you begin to see how all the pieces are coming together to prepare you for the work God has for you to do.
I’ve been there. In fact, I’m there right now. At least these past weeks have been ones of delving deep into God’s heart to see what it is he wants our family to do. It doesn’t scare me in the paralyzing way it once did. Oh sure, I’m still plenty scared-but I’ve come to think of that as a good thing. It means that I’m about to be challenged and I think it’s good for the soul. The thought that I could do something that could possibly fail, but on the other hand, could succeed in a big way is intriguing. I’m old enough to have failed enough to see that I will, in fact, survive. As long as I don’t take risks like base jumping or sky diving, I should be in pretty good shape! And when I have made a mistake, it’s typically not as horrible as I imagine it will be. So it’s become a prickly, back of the neck sensation, like when you are about to crest that first huge incline of a really insane roller coaster. Adventure!
How did I get from that place of fear to this place? How did I come from curling up in the fetal position to that tickle of excitement?
At this point, I’m beginning to see how my past experiences have come together to prepare me for bigger responsibilities. Those painful high school years have taught me what it means to forgive and give grace. Then, as a young adult, filling the needs of a small church’s youth ministry instilled patience in me, especially in dealing with the rough family backgrounds of many of the kids under my supervision. I am who I am today because of the lessons I learned during those early years of ministry.
Right now, God is speaking to me and my husband about being involved in ministry to support families of special needs children. Having a child of our own with different abilities, not to mention, the countless events leading up to now, have prepared us for what is about to be. We can speak into the lives of others in the same situation, having walked a few miles in their shoes! We can see that so clearly. It’s such a peaceful feeling to know that nothing in your life has been wasted when it has been entrusted to the Lord’s capable hands.
But what does this ministry look like? Are we educating local churches through public speaking? Are we spear-heading a children’s program in our home church? Are we staying or moving on? The light is so bright, we have no idea what’s more than one or two short steps ahead. But our feet are on the path and we are saying, “Yes!”
What is it that burns in your heart? Or what is that dream that you can see vaguely taking shape on the horizon? How do you get there from here?
I have a few suggestions and I hope that they will encourage you to take that next step or two!
Start with prayer and the Word! I don’t know how God is tugging at your heart. It can happen in so many ways. But being in prayer and in the Word helps you to be sensitive to His leading. When the Lord spoke to me several years ago about starting a MOPS group in our church, it simply started at the intersection of two separate needs. The group I belonged to had ballooned to over eighty moms with over a hundred children. We were out of room! Many of the ladies expressed concern over our ability to intimately connect with so many moms. At the same time, I was just sorting through the diagnosis of our young son with autism spectrum disorder. He was evaluated through the county and placed in a preschool autism class in the public school nearby. In the course of conversation with his teacher, MOPS came up. The next thing I knew, teachers were contacting me, asking me to invite mothers of children in their class. Over and over, they expressed a desire to see lonely, overwhelmed moms receive support and friendship. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it happened, but the Lord presented me with these two needs and gave me a burden. I remember sitting in one of our meetings when God suddenly spoke to me saying, “These women need a place to go. If they can’t find a place where they will hear about my love for them, they will find some place, any place, where they will grasp at anything that seems like the truth.” My honest-to-goodness response was, “Oh no! But I am so comfortable here! Isn’t there someone else?” His response: “I am doing something here. You can be a part of it or not. The choice is yours.” I realized I didn’t want to miss the chance to be a part of what He was going to do. I’m so glad I said yes!
Seek the counsel of trusted spiritual mentors! It can be a close friend who sharpens you in the Lord, a family member, or pastoral leadership. I have a business associate who has an amazing walk with God. I learn so much from him, especially from his role as both a business leader and a witness for Christ, but honestly, I can call on him for any sort of advice. He is a second “spiritual dad” to me. This was our next step after prayer. I personally spoke with three trusted friends prior to a meeting we had with the leadership of our church to discuss how a ministry like this could look.
Take it one step at a time! The Lord has confirmed the direction you are to take. Now what? Starting any kind of ministry or venture is huge and can be daunting. When those tribal drums start beating in the deep dark jungles of your brain, and you start heading to that crazy place where you KNOW you must be absolutely insane to think you can ever start chipping away at this mountain with a toothpick, and the ideas are swirling around like a tornado, throwing your entire life into chaos--------just take a deep breath! If God has called you to do something, He is not going to abandon you now! All you really need to do is take that first step. What is one small thing you can do today to move this forward? For me, that first step is to put together an intake form for parents to fill out, so that we can determine how best to serve each child. (They are all so different!) And that’s it...that is all I am going to worry about today.
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes! Try out some ideas. If they fall flat, scrap ‘em. It’s fine…really! This is how you learn. Accept that mistakes will be made and that this is part of the process God WANTS to take you through. Any calling, any ministry that you are involved in, is not solely for the benefit of those you will serve. It is also for the purpose of drawing you into a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Lord. When I knew without a doubt that I would be starting the MOPS group, I looked up to Heaven and said, “You are going to teach me a lot about loving people, aren’t you?” And boy, did He ever! I made so many mistakes, but it was so worth it. What an adventure!
Now, here I am with those same prickles of fearful excitement, ready to begin a new adventure. I can’t wait to see what God has in store. Dear reader, wherever you are, I hope you will say yes. You will never regret it!
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