Thursday, September 22, 2011

What is in your hand?

On Tuesday night of this week, I went to Kairos, a weekly worship service held at a local church. The teacher this week spoke about the story of the call of Moses (in Exodus 4) when Moses is just trembling in fear and God says to him, "What is that in your hand?". M
oses says, "A staff." And God says, "Throw it on the ground." And when Moses throws his staff on the ground, it becomes a snake and Moses runs away from it in fear. But then God tells him to pick it back up, and when he does, it becomes a staff again. The teacher talked about how the staff represented Moses' work (a shepherd). The action of throwing it down was an act of obedience, but its becoming a snake also shows how our "work" has the ability to destroy us if we allow it. But God tells Moses to pick it up because God was about to use that staff for mighty purposes in the Kingdom. So the teacher asked us on Tuesday night, "What is that in your hand?" He told us to throw it down, and then reach over, and pick it back up. Because when we surrender our "jobs" into God's hand, He can use it for mighty purposes in the Kingdom. The staff looked the same after Moses picked it back up, but it wasn't the same. From then on, God used it even though Moses carried it.

When this teaching was over, I was stunned...because of what I had just experienced that day at my own workplace...

I have been employed for the past 7 years by a company in Franklin, TN that has treated me amazingly well. This company has continually been over-the-top understanding and flexible with me as I tried to balance it with my other job in youth ministry. However, it is no secret that the nature of this job is not my passion nor is it what I want to do for the rest of my life. And although I have been very thankful for this job and for how well I have been treated there, I cannot imagine how many times in the past 7 years I have said, "...but I really don't think I'm going to be there much longer...". And then a year later, I'm left saying, "oh my goodness, I'm still here".

I don't think I would have ever admitted it out loud, but there has always been something deep, deep down in my spirit telling me I wasn't done there. And I didn't even know what that meant. But for years, week in and week out, I have been talking to students about going into their schools and going into their jobs and bringing Jesus into those places, because that is their mission field. The problem was that I could never help but take a step back in my own life and look at my own workplace and ask what I was doing to bring Jesus into that place. I made up every excuse in the world. "Well, it's not a workplace that is conducive to relationship-building." "Well, even if I tried to get something together outside of office hours, no one would come." "Well, my real mission field is in youth ministry; I just have to go to this other place so that I can pay the bills." That last one was always the one that would randomly pop into my head and would produce immediate conviction. So what, I get to pick and choose when I want to shine for Christ? And if I do, I'm choosing to shine for Him when I'm working in my "ministry" job, but not in my "secular" job? Yeah...pretty lame...

This is why there has always been this tension in me, this thing in me saying that for seven years, I haven't really done anything for the Kingdom in that place. Sure I've encouraged people here and there, but I think I have always known that God had something more. And if I had left that job at any point in the past seven years, I think I would always have looked back and regretted not really ever making a mark for God in that place.

One of the things I've always dreamed about was having a women's devo or prayer time. Problem is, I never thought anyone would do it because it would require off-the-clock time...and it's like pulling teeth around there to get anyone to agree to that. So although for years, I've considered doing that, I have never once spoken it out loud to anyone.

So a couple of weeks ago, I am eating lunch with a couple of women from the office and they were just sharing about how hard life is and long-story-short, I end up asking them if they would come to a weekly womens' prayer time/devo if there was one happening at the office. Without hesitation, they said "yes!" (with much anticipation in their tone).

Fast forward a week, and there are five of us meeting about starting this thing. We decided to not make a big thing of it and just spread it via word-of-mouth. I'll be honest, I was worried that if any of the "higher-ups" found out about it, there could be some problems because of the distraction it could cause in the office. So we just told a few women and had no idea if anyone would show this week.

Fast forward to Tuesday of this week, our first "official" meeting, and 15 women show up. I was blown away. It was a really sweet time together and there were already tears flowing from some of their eyes...and we had barely gotten this thing started! Later that afternoon, I found out that one of the women had mentioned that we were doing this to the CEO and co-founder of our organization, and I immediately got nervous. But she said that he was so excited about it and told her that we would always have his support. Again...blown away. I e-mailed him that afternoon and just assured him that this would be completely off company time and also told him how thankful I was that we had his support (and threw in that I was praying God would put it on the hearts of some men to start the same thing...:).

I came in Wednesday morning with over 15 e-mails from other women in the office asking me to add them to the calendar invite for the weekly meeting and also had an e-mail reply back from the CEO:
"...it actually gave me chills when she told me. Absolutely have 100% support from me. It’s sad that the world forces us to be politically correct so that we would avoid any religious issues in the work place. I really don’t like that. You should also know that along with myself, you all will have the support from the rest of the Executive Team! We will be more intentional here b/c I truly feel that it is what He wants for us and for this company. "
I couldn't help but just stare at my computer screen in amazement. I was getting e-mails from women all day telling me that they have been wanting something like this at the office for a long time, how it was an answer to prayer, how desperate they were for something like this each week. And then at my daily team huddle that morning, one of the women in my team asked if we could start praying at the beginning of our huddles. So there we were, standing up in the middle of the office, praying as a team. It was almost surreal. God is on the move.

The reason I share this story is not, by any means, to give myself even the slightest pat on the back. If anything, this is somewhat of an embarrassing thing to admit, that for seven years, I had made up excuses about why I was spiritually "chained" there and couldn't really do anything for Jesus. And I truly don't one bit deserve to be part of what God is doing in that place right now. It is by His grace alone that I would have the chance to see and join Him as He moves on hearts and lives in that office.

No, the reason I say all of this is to just encourage you, no matter where you are or where you work, to not wait for seven years before you decide to make a mark for the Kingdom in your workplace, in your school, in your community. There are people who are desperate for it, hungry for it. Be bold and courageous. What is your staff? You have one. Throw it down, and then pick it back up, and see what God will do with it.

1 comment:

red12650 said...

One, its an honor to be one of those gals you were having lunch with that day. We most definitely will not have to tip toe around the office with this ministry. Whoohoo!
Two, thank you for being as Christlike as possible, consistently, to so many. Its not about us...yet it is about us...and you are sunshine. Consistent sunshine! Thank you for being sunshine in my life...when it was overcast for awhile! I know without a doubt God brought me to MRA because you were there, my Africa bud! Thank you for being you! And your countless hours of encouragement and leadership.
Three, I am STILL laughing about the rod and serpent illustration from Tues! I will NEVER forget that! More than the timing of Tuesday @ work and Exodus that night, was my personal conviction, of how much POWER I have. A serious amount of power. Right in my hands. I've been so convicted about this. There have been deep breaths breathed into scripture regarding fear and there is nothing like scripture becoming ALIVE in you!!! Wow, what a great day Tuesday was! Time for me to get busy :)
Love you, friend! -Red