I've been rereading Debbie Macomber's book "Knit Together" this week while house-sitting for my mother. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone who is even remotely fed up with their life's direction and want to follow their God-given passion and purpose. I'm going through it slowly this time, drinking in her pearls of wisdom and writing them down so that they will better stick to my well-oiled brain.
The book is peppered with quotes and scripture passages that go along with the particular point she is making in certain sections. While finishing up chapter one this morning, the scripture reference on the last past jumped out at me and jolted me away better than the coffee I forgot to brew. I'm not usually a fan of The Message translation. Call me old fashioned but I lean to the NIV or *gasp* the KJ versions. However, this verse is so insightful in modern translation that I wanted to share it with you. Consider this a little tea-time food for thought. Pinkies out everyone! Sip your Earl Grey and read the wisdom of Paul:
"Live creatively, friends...Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life." (Galatians 6: 1, 4-5)
What an awesome admonition! "Live creatively." When we live creatively we are searching for ways to express the dreams and desires God has placed within us. God is a creator. He's the ultimate Creator. Madeleine L'Engle once referred to writers as being co-creators with God. Not only writers, but everyone co-creates with God, be it through clay, stone, paint, wood, cake batter or their children. The thought that God put desires in me to create beautiful and meaningful things is enough to make me dance. (I won't however, seeing that I'm at work right now and that might cause quite a commotion in the office...)
"Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given." Who are you? What has God given you to do? No, no, I don't want to know your name. Who are you, deep down inside? What are those hidden desires you are passionate about? The things you have always wanted to do but were, perhaps, too afraid to do them? God has planted desires and dreams in all of us and He fully expects us to follow through with them. Discover your passions. Dig deep and find out what it is that makes you tick, what makes you want to get out of bed every morning. The things that bring you joy. These are the things that hold the answers to your purpose in life.
"sink yourself into that." Ah, now for the action part. We must DO what we're called to do. Simply coming to terms with what we're on earth for isn't enough. With knowledge comes responsibility and knowing what we are called to do requires us to take a step of faith and begin doing all we can in order to make that dream a reality. Sure it's scary and it will probably be hard. You may have to take classes or ask questions of strangers. But know that if you are being obedient to follow the plan you believe God has given you, He will be on your side and He has already made a way. He will never leave you nor will He ever forsake you. No matter how scary or impossible things may seem, God is with you and you can do anything with Him!
"Don't be impressed with yourself." Ah, yes. The issue of pride. Many times we fall to the opposite extreme and don't see anything good worth saving. I have found myself uttering countless times "I'm not good enough" "No one will like what I do" "What if I fail?". This is just as unhealthy a mind-set as thinking you're too good for anyone else. Sometimes it can be tempting to put others down because we see ourselves and what we do as superior. We may look at our dreams and compare them to the dreams of others and find theirs to be "lacking" in the light of our own. This is dangerous ground, friend. Not only will this push us away from friends and potential relationships, but it can have an effect we never anticipated. We may come to the point that we think so highly of ourselves that we decide not to share our gifts at all because the "lowly" and the "weak" who surround us would never understand. Either by self-deprecation or pride, Satan is wanting to keep us from achieving our God-given dreams. Keep yourself close to God, bathe every action, every step in prayer and refuse to give in to self-loathing or unhealthy praise.
"Don't compare yourself with others." I touched on this in the paragraph above. It's far too easy to see someone else who's ideas or talents are more flashy or more "important" than our own. I have been guilty of seeing a new book on the best seller list and thinking, "Gee...must be nice to have a book published." It's easy to fall prey to comparison, especially to those who do similar things that we do. Remember, however, that we all have our place, we all have our own outlet and realm of reaching. We may do something that someone else already has done, but we may be the only ones who can reach those who are around us. You have experiences and visions that are unique to you and there may be those who will never be reached until they hear or see the message through your eyes. Don't get discouraged if others are doing better than you. Learn from them. Ask them what they did to get to where they are now. More often than not, I find successful people to be more than willing to share their "secrets". Successful people aren't afraid of competition. If nothing else, it makes them work harder. Plus, they haven't forgotten what it's like to be in your shoes. Seek out a mentor instead of hiding behind grumbling and complaining. That person who ruffles your feathers just may be the push you need to see the beginnings of your own success!
"Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life." There it is. The "R" word again. Responsibility. We don't like that word, do we? I cringe at it sometimes, knowing that it means I'm in charge and people are going to come to be if there's a problem or a question. It means I'm going to have to interact with others. As mentioned earlier, with knowledge comes responsibility. When we know what we're called to do, we are now responsible for what we do with that knowledge. No one can make us do what we need to do. Sure, we have those who encourage us, who cheer us on. But no one is going to hold your hand and do everything for you. If they did, you wouldn't be the one doing it, now, would you? Only we can achieve our creative best. Only we can get the most out of our time on earth. Don't shy away from responsibility; embrace it. Take charge of your life, of your goals, seek out and discover all you have the potential to do and become. Step back and watch the amazing things that God has in store for you unfold!