It's been almost three years since I read a book which has completely transformed my thinking and made my creative gift just a little more daring.
When I read "Dreaming with God," by Bill Johnson, I wasn't in a place where I felt I had much influence. In fact, everyday, it seemed as though life was being squeezed out of me and the real me, who I was truly created to be, was being snuffed out little by little with each passing day. Yet something in me was stirring as I read this book, methodically pouring over it's pages and taking time to stop and reflect on much of its contents.
Just a month or two after finishing "Dreaming with God," I began a very intense journey of personal transformation (Faithwalking) that mirrored a great deal of what I'd read in the book. SOMEONE had set me up! Not too long into the process, things began changing in my world that I did not foresee - good things and things that began to make room for the gifts of God within me (Proverbs 18:16). This journey was all starting to make sense.
So why am I telling you this? Well mainly because I just came from a two day leadership conference that has me really inspired and thinking about what started it all for me, or at the very least what re-ignited my vision for what I was called to do which is to help others realize their full potential and to enable them to fulfill the purpose for which they were created. I'm pretty clear about that and very humbled by that calling.
What I have discovered through this journey is this... We all have a role to play in the lives around us, but we are also individually responsible for the what we do with the life we've been given. We get one chance at this thing called life. So the role we choose to play is significant, whether it seems so to us or not.
I can sit back and watch others who are in the game and be critical of how they play it, the choices they make while doing it and who they choose to be on their team. Or, I can choose to suit up and get in the game myself. I may not be as good an athlete as those around me. I may not have their skill or ability, but I bet they can't manage like I can. That takes someone who sees every angle and who knows what to anticipate that the team might need. I can do that! I can handle the details. Every team needs a manager! (Please forgive the sports analogy, but I think you get it.)
We are given just this one life and we each have a significant role to play. So why do we sometimes belittle our abilities or stop short, making excuses for why we can't do something? Who told us we couldn't? Why do we believe that lie? Who said we have to do this like so and so, or be like so and so in order to be significant; not anybody I choose to listen to and maybe that's the problem. We often choose to listen to the wrong voices.
I used to listen to the voice that said, "You will never be as good as blah, blah blah..., or you could never do this as well as blah, blah, blah..." Then one day I stopped comparing myself to others because I finally realized, I'm not like other people! When God made me he really did break the mold. I do not have a clone who thinks like me, acts like me and lives like me. I truly move to the beat of a different drum and most of the time it's my own. So when my creative juices start flowing there is no telling what will come out, and that's okay! I am honoring the gift of God within me.
So here's how that looks for me. I tend to not listen to what other people say about my ideas or the things I envision - in other words, criticism. Why, because God gave me the vision or the idea. He now has an obligation to bring it to pass if I am willing to put effort behind it. If I'm not, he's off the hook. This God-given idea won't die, he'll just find another willing soul and pass it onto them. I will simply miss out on an opportunity to be used by God and will never know the impact I could've had. There's no shame in that, just a lesson.
Every opportunity which comes our way to do something for God, is just like throwing a pebble into a lake. A tiny pebble will loose momentum pretty quickly and you can see the ripples die off after just a few seconds. But if you take each opportunity which comes your way, each pebble you receive, tossing them in one right after the other, they will create ripples that extend farther than you can see. Now add to that, those around you who are in the same boat with you (church, small group, ministry, business, work, etc.) and their pebbles; each one dropping them in one right after the other, doing whatever it is they're called to do. Now you have an unstoppable wake that over time, can reshape a landscape.
So let's go back to where we started. There are moments in our lives where God gives us opportunities to be challenged and/or transformed. We hear a message, read a book, see a life that's been utilized in a powerful way and something within us gets stirred. That's what happened to me, and a significant shift occurred in my thinking. I went from dismissing ideas to thinking, "What if that worked? This could be really cool!"
I could've just read the book or gone through the Faithwalking process and remained much the same as I was before I did either of those things, but something in me was hungry for a more authentic way to live. I knew I wasn't fully expressing who God made me to be. The real Cheryl was masked behind years of disappointments, fears and critical words, many from my own lips. I was ready to that woman because I thought she might be really cool. I was right!
My question to you is, are you being fully you? What are you doing with the opportunities life places before you? Fear and uncertainty can grip our hearts like nobody's business, but we can't let them stop us from being who we were created to be.
Let me encourage you today. Don't give up on the dreams in your heart. Don't decide to not do something because you think you won't be good at it or you think you might fail. Don't step aside to allow another to fill a void meant for you, simply because YOU think they'd be better at it. Don't sell yourself that short.
Surround yourself with people who motivate, inspire and challenge you to be a better you. Place yourself in situations, where you are being stretched. You will not grow if you're not being fed the right stuff.
This world needs what you have to offer or else you would not have been created. God put in you an expression of himself which he wanted to have released in the earth. Your life has meaning and purpose. Fulfill it. Our God is worthy of a life fully lived. We can give him that.