Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Days of Encouragement

In my earlier note, I mentioned beginning to feel the stress of packing for my move. I woke up this morning extremely overtired, feeling stressed about packing and pressed for time, and doubting some of the decisions I've made about my time between now and moving.

It took a lot of coffee to get me thinking clearly this morning. As I began getting ready for my Bible study with the girls I've been nannying the last couple summers, I managed to sneak in a brief prayer in the midst of my morning mental fog. I simply prayed for God to show up and use me to do something, and maybe encourage me along the way.

I'd planned to do one of the lessons straight from the book, entitled "Can I be secure in my relationship with God?" As I began, though, I realized that the idea of a personal relationship with God was a foreign concept to the girl. So I decided to take a teachable moment and run with the GOSPEL (dare2share, anyone?) message instead. It turned out to be a good decision, because at the end of our talk, I had the opportunity to pray with her to receive Christ for the first time.

I have been a friend of this family for almost two years at this point as both a tutor and a nanny. I've made no secret about my commitments to church, and openly answered faith questions when asked. I have tried to be a Godly influence for this family, but I also understand that many times we never see the crop yield outcome of our seed planting. I feel really blessed today to have had the chance, in my second-to-last week here, to see the outcome of my relationship with this family. It was humbling, and definitely encouraging.

While I took the girl to tennis lessons, I took the time to listen to a sermon entitled "Living Dangerously." The funny thing about this sermon is that it was given by Jon's dad, at my new church, the day before my interview with Two Rivers, about "getting out of the boat" and taking a risk to follow God's calling for your life. As I'm leaving to take a job in a new field, in a city I've never visited, with a staff I've never met, this message was exactly the encouragement and confirmation I needed to be reminded that I'm doing the *right* thing, even if it's not the easy for logical thing.

I was beginning to feel better as I returned home, and so I tried to get a little bit done in the short time I was home between meetings and errands. I came across a spiritual gifts survey that my youth pastor had me take the summer before my junior year of high school. My two dominant gifts on this survery were Administration (to most of you, this probably isn't much of a surprise) and Pastoring/Shepherding. I has forgotten about the latter, and it probably hadn't meant much to me at the time. A friend asked me, "When you took this, did you have any inclination at the time that you would be going into that profession?" No... no I had no idea. In fact, I probably would have laughed to even think about it.

Since it was an online survey, I looked up the same url and decided to try the survey again. While I'm sure the results are somewhat skewed (I tend to analyze my answers a little too much, despite my best efforts to stick to gut insticts), but I also have a better understanding of some of the questions than I would've in high school. Seven years later, the whole list came out in the same order... with one exception. My two dominant gifts were switched - with Pastoring/Shepherding the strongest and Administration next.

I had to email my youth pastor to thank him for picking up on that - even when I wouldn't have considered it an option for me (I didn't grow up in a family that bent toward full-time ministry themselves). It's due in large part to him and his wife that I'm in the position I am now. Seeing these statistics also helped to remind me today that I'm heading the right way.

Finally, I ended the day with a two mile walk with Jon. He has such a calming influence on me, and he still makes me giddy inside to see him and be near him. I'm so in love with him, and he is definitely a recurring gift of encouragement in my life. It was a lovely way to end my day.

So, now I'm sitting back and laughing along with God. He probably laughed at my hurried, half-hearted prayer this morning. I have to imagine that he had a blast blowing my expectations out of the water and wrapping me in love, encouragement, and affirmation throughout the day. I'm sure he's watchingme and laughing right now!

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