by Heather Bock
Last week, I had the privilege of attending Declare Conference in Grapevine, Texas, a conference for female Christian communicators. The tickets were a combined early birthday present from my husband, his parents, my mom, and ultimately God, and they were definitely a gift. Although the leaders of this conference did provide practical information, such as how to optimize social media to spread the message God has given you or practical ideas for blog success, the focus was on the heart. God used this to point out some areas in my own heart that needed changing.
Before anything, though, He started with love and identity.
He cupped my face in His powerful hands, looked into my eyes, and invited me to gaze back unashamed. He reminded me that I am His daughter, that no matter how badly I perform or how little I accomplish in a day, He still loves me. My actions might please or not please Him, but my worth and His love for me stays the same: neither is based on what I do.
Isn’t He so good to start there? That’s just who He is.
Second, surrender. It’s not nearly as hard to surrender when you’re doing it for a God who loves like He does.
It looks like I’ll be enrolled in the course of surrender the rest of my life. Just when I think I’ve passed it, I find the credits didn’t transfer, and I need to start all over again. I will say that at least retaking it is easier each time.
I’ve prayed “anything” before–after reading the game-changing book Anything by Jennie Allen, a book that moved us to Texas. It was time to pray it again. He helped me get a glimpse of my too-tightened grip.
He did this first by appointing a meeting for me with a wise woman named Kidada in the prayer room.
Originally, I was sitting in a session about podcasting. Why? Am I planning to podcast anytime soon? No, and in fact, I’ve never even listened to a podcast in my life. I was there because I’m the kind of person who doesn’t want to miss anything–just in case. I only recently gave myself permission to skip the newborn articles in Parents magazine (my youngest is five). God knows this about me, and I wonder if that’s why the podcast speaker decided to announce that if we weren’t podcasters, we could probably skip the session. I was immediately let off the hook and headed where I knew I needed to be: the prayer room.
I met Kidada there when we both felt the pull to pray for each other. After I explained my prayer requests, a lot about the need to make decisions about my very full life, she counseled me by asking questions, causing me to see more clearly. She had me clarify my priorities–God first, my husband next, my kids third, and my ministry last. She helped me see that I could work on cutting back my homeschool day. She spoke into a prayer I’ve been praying: “God, is there anything you want me to give up?” by saying that I might not have to give up anything permanently, but I might have to wait for some for a while.
Later, God led me to write down everything I am doing–homeschooling, teaching, blogging, etc.–each item on a different small piece of paper. Next, He had me lay them all at the foot of the cross–literally. The thoughtful Declare leadership had set up a cross in the prayer room where we could nail our burdens. It was a place for surrender, and I had a lot to surrender. I probably used up more than my share of little papers.
Some of these areas in my life I held so tightly, it was as if my fingers ached as I opened them, and yet the ache of liberation is so good.
As the conference progressed, He didn’t release me from much, if any, but He gave me peace about not engaging in some of them as fully as I had been. He reiterated to me through many different people at the conference that I need to be patient about some of them and trust Him in HIS timing. It feels so good to lean on His understanding, not my own, in this! I should have seen this coming, as in January, when I asked Him for a word for this year, I felt He gave me this: patience. He also confirmed some of my areas with a resounding (and deeply moving) Keep On! He even encouraged me to start one new: Facebook Live (ack!). I’m still listening for further guidance in all my areas.
Third, when I arrived home, I felt strongly He was calling me to make a schedule out of all those words I placed before the cross, to put them in order so I don’t end up with essentials pushed back to midnight (as I am doing tonight), eating away at the sleep I desperately need. It felt like a battle to complete, but I finally did–you should see the colorful filling of my minutes. My prayer now is to be able to follow it; I know that will take a daily leaning on God.
Switchfoot’s new cd, Where the Light Shines Through (I think their best yet) has a song that keeps running through my head as I think of my busy life: “Life is short; I want to live it well. One life, one story to tell. Life is short; I want to live it well. And You’re the one I’m living for.”
What about you? Are you ready to pray “anything” to God? Have you surrendered your everything before Him? Do you really believe He’s trustworthy?
Let me tell you, and please believe me: He knows better, and He. Is. Worth. It.