If you gotta start somewhere why not here
If you gotta start sometime why not now
(TobyMac, City On Our Knees)
Start something…do something…be something. It’s a pressure I feel on a daily basis. One that I quite admittedly make much larger by my obsessing on questions like…Am I living up to my potential? Am I following God’s leading and teaching? What is God’s will for my life? Start something…do something…be something. My self-talk mantra.
In trying to answer those questions I continually fall short in the answer department. I have had this image in my mind, the way I have felt lately and I haven’t been able to reconcile what it, until just recently.
I find myself standing in the middle of the subway station platform during the early morning rush. Frenzied chaos with people swarming, rushing, getting on trains and headed out. Confident people who know where they are going and how to get there. But not me…I am standing, jostled, stuck, and confused, not sure which train to get on because I don’t know where I am supposed to be going, but I really feel like I should be moving, going somewhere, anywhere. I start towards one train and stop, second-guessing. I am feeling helpless, another face in the sea of people. This was me, inside…
If you know me at all you will know that I am a fan of big gestures. Go big or go home. So part of what I was looking for in my subway destination was influenced by this. I was ready to embrace Ephesians 3:20, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” To infinity and beyond…God definitely knows how to accomplish the “big gesture.” This is the pressure I was putting on myself…Start something (big)…do something (big)…be something (big.) Instead I have felt like I was languishing, particularly in regard to my book and this nebulous idea of a “ministry.” But recently the sand under my feet has begun to shift and I am seeing things in a different light.
Have you ever heard the phrase “grow where you are planted?” That is where this change began.
If standing in the middle of a subway is where I find myself then I will become a “subway preacher.” I say that in jest, however, the “ministry” that I am so desperately searching for has been right in front of me. It just doesn’t look like what I had pictured in my head so I overlooked it. I have also realized I need to release myself from the burden of “greatness” (that is founded in my own definition) and just be who God has created me to be at this moment, with these circumstances, in this place.
There is a Part B to that as well. Not one that is particularly pleasant to admit. That is releasing God of the expectations that I have for Him, the quiet undercurrent in the self-talk. You have big plans for me God, right? We are going places, right? Surely we haven’t come this far to just hang out here, right? It is putting my agenda on God’s plate and I know that isn’t how it works. Chalk it up to being a slow learner…
So I have begun pouring myself into the here and now instead of looking ahead to the future and waiting for it to happen. I need to throw out the idea of “ministry” by my definition and walk in faith. Maybe I will walk in place for a little while. Maybe I will feel like I am walking in circles but God is in control. He has me exactly where I am supposed to be right now. I can’t second guess that. Maybe someday we will jump on another train and head out, but for today I am going to grow where I am planted. And suddenly, I have found myself at peace in the subway.
Today, I challenge you. Are you growing or are you spending your time wishing you were being re-planted somewhere else? Are you giving God your best in the here and now, wherever that may be? Have you placed expectations on God that He isn’t meeting and you find yourself frustrated? A lot of questions that dig a little deeper than we are sometimes comfortable looking. I have one last one…do you believe the words of Jeremiah 29:11? “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God has plans for us, sometimes they line up with ours, sometimes they don’t. But He knows what is best, His plans are for our good, even when we can’t see it and we don’t understand it. I challenge you to trust God to do what is best for you and to use you for His purpose and for His glory. And if you do, look out. You may get to experience “more than you could ask or imagine” and never have seen it coming!
If you gotta start somewhere why not here. If you gotta start sometime why not now…even if it’s in the subway!