So, friends, confirm God’s invitation to you, his choice of you. Don’t put it off; do it now. Do this, and you’ll have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ. —2 Peter 1:10-11 (The Message)
So it’s been over a year since I’ve written a piece for you lovely ladies to read. Being completely honest, over this past year, I’ve felt a little stuck. I didn’t feel like the Lord had called me out of ministry, but I was really struggling. I had no motivation to get out of bed most days, let alone drag my carcass to work and proclaim the Gospel, all while serving others with a joyful heart. Everything felt hard and I felt like I was down in the very pit I had barely escaped a few years ago. It was a dry season between me and God. I never doubted He was there, but I was definitely beginning to doubt His motives. If I was being obedient in going to Africa and returning home to take a job at the church I love to do His work a year ago, why did every day seem harder than the next? I had been obedient when asked to use my gift of music to lead worship and glorify Him, yet I was still on the struggle bus. Obedience is supposed to bring blessing, right?!?
We are called to be obedient because it will bring God glory, not because it will make our lives easier.
After traveling to Africa this year, I came back knowing the Lord had told me to shake up my life a wee bit. I have been struggling with what these next few “pre-family” years would hold and I’ve been letting life “just happen” and not really taking action or acting on anything. After what felt like years of silence, the Lord spoke very clearly to me in Africa. God told me in Swaziland that I am going back to school. And I’m not going back to earn my Masters degree in Public Administration or teaching as I had considered in the past; I am going back for nursing. Let me say that again- I, Laura Renee Starnes, am going back to school for an additional undergraduate degree…I, Laura Renee Starnes, am running head-on into student debt after avoiding it all these years and recently purchasing a car. This is the kind of thing that DOES NOT make sense to the world, and barely makes sense to me—but here’s what I do know—the Lord will use all things to sanctify me and bring glory to Himself. And He doesn’t choose to make me walk through things that will only bring Him a little bit of glory and make me a little bit more like Jesus—He calls me to walk through the hard things so I will learn to lean into Him and give Him all the glory, realizing I could’ve never done it on my own.
And y’all, this is hard! I’d be a complete liar if I said I had no problem trusting in the Lord’s plan for my life. I have a huge problem! I don’t like not knowing what’s going to happen next. And so far in my walk, God hasn’t been big on laying it all out for me. He only gives me a few pieces at a time and it drives me nuts.
My friend, Jeanna, recently told me something and it has really stuck out in my mind, “You don’t have to be able to see the top of the mountain, just focus on the next 200 yards.” She was talking about something not even related to my current situation, but as I have pondered this phrase the Lord has convicted me to apply it to my own walk with Him.
So I took action with the next 200 yards of my life and it hasn’t gone at all as I expected. I applied to Augusta University, got accepted, and had to drop out all in one month. I have had to get over my fears of rejection and failure to pursue what the Lord has in store for me. I have struggled with Satan telling me that if this is really what I’m supposed to be doing, then everything would have worked out at Augusta University, but I am confident that the Lord is changing my plan so I will follow His plan and bring Him more glory.
I can look on the list of qualities we have studied over the past few weeks in 2 Peter 1 and see how the Lord has grown me in these areas, particularly over the last year. Good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, generous love—when I strive for these things, I can be the woman God created me to be, not having to worry about being unfruitful or ineffective for the Kingdom, regardless of where I am.
I want to encourage you to pursue the Lord with everything you have. Live every day and every moment with the hope that even if He doesn’t work things according to your plan, He is still good. I challenge you to find a friend or two that will help hold you accountable to what the Lord has called you to. Fear of failure has no place in the Kingdom, dear friends. We must daily choose to allow Christ to grow us, even if that means He must break up the rocky places in our hearts. This makes a place for Him to sow new seeds of righteousness, love, and Christ-like character. Speaking from personal experience, I know this process is sometimes painful, stressful, and at times almost unbearable but in the end God grows us in His grace.