When you were knit together in your mother’s womb, each part of you was meant to come alive. Certainly not all at once. But in steps and curves. Over mountains and through valleys. With one foot in front of the other (sort of), each part was made to come alive in its season.
You may have a very old longing in which time hasn’t offered an open door yet. You may have a new longing that you are trying out in bits and pieces. In other areas, well, you are an expert.
Being a beginner isn’t always encouraging. Being an expert may hold a lot of pressure. Having something dormant in you may be a surprise.
Think about your life. What is your soul speaking to you that you haven’t heard in a while or maybe ever? Does being an expert feel stale? Is being a beginner causing you to want to quit?
What’s in your crate?
A few years ago, I read the book Imperfect Courage by Jessica Honegger, Founder and CEO of Noonday Collection. In the first few pages of her book, Jessica shares that her friends in Uganda asked if she was interested in selling a crate of bags, scarves and jewelry – – all crafted by Ugandan artists who sought to provide for their families through their art.
Jessica can tell you the full story in her book. The long and short of it is that the party she hosted in her home to sell the goods in the crate was actually the launch of the “largest fair-trade jewelry company in the world” in only five years. It is a miraculous story mixed with hope, risk and grit. You will love it if you decide to read the book.
I became laser focused on page four where God offered Jessica a crate to sell to benefit others. I wrote in the margins in turquoise ink all over pages four and five.
The gist of what I wrote is that the Lord has a crate for me, for you. The crate is full of really good things to bless others with. At that time, I pondered what may be in my God given crate. I think I may be closer than I was a few years ago to knowing the contents of the crate. But still, it’s not crystal clear.
- What is inside your crate?
- What is keeping you from seeing the contents of the crate?
- Do you feel like quitting because you can’t figure out what to do with the contents of the crate?
- Are you terrified that the crate may put your destiny into motion?
These are hard questions.
Let’s first answer the easier question.
What do you NOT do with gifts God offers to you?
- You don’t put light under a bowl. Matthew 5:15
- You don’t dig a hole and bury your gift. Matthew 25:26
- You don’t walk away in exchange for the path of least resistance. Ruth 1:14
Moses began his journey as a baby in a floating crate. With desperate faith, his mom released him to the current of the River Nile so he could live. Moses was rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter. He grew up as a privileged insider while the rest of his family, his people, remained outsiders. Despite his regal upbringing, Moses had a conviction. He saw the pain and suffering of his people as slaves in Egypt.
Moses recognized that he had something within him. Moses realized his convictions. Conviction remains in your mind’s eye. It’s a discovery that travels with you. No matter how close or far you are from discovering the mystery of the contents of the crate, convictions remain.
Convictions remain and remain and remain until they have an outlet.
As a young man, Moses saw an Egyptian kill an Israelite and he in turn killed the Egyptian.
Conviction and opportunity collided for Moses. But it was very much unlike Jessica Honegger’s offer from her missionary friend in Uganda. Jessica’s offer came at a time when she was confident that work was a way out of poverty. She also was in the middle of seeking to adopt a child from Rwanda and needed money to continue the process. That’s a good collision of conviction and action. It’s so important to know, to discern, when the crate has come from the Father or when the crate is just a crate.
Moses missed the red flag that day. He acted on his convictions prematurely. God hadn’t called him yet. Moses hadn’t received any direction or plan from God and I doubt God would have called him to revenge any way. Moses had the right conviction but he lacked the character he needed to follow his calling.
For Moses, it wasn’t time to move from conviction to action. God put a holy burden in Moses but he didn’t release him to his calling yet. Moses’ character hadn’t been formed in the way God planned as of yet. Sometimes your conviction and calling do not have the open door you are yearning for.
There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth.Ecc 3:1
My friend Connie was ready to shift careers. The Lord lovingly pressed her to acknowledge the change he was awakening her to. She slowly moved out of her comfort zone. The new position didn’t work out in the timing she anticipated. She stays put in less desirable circumstances. She waits with a soft heart, with conviction.
I have another friend whose role at her job keeps shifting. Job security doesn’t always feel present. She ponders what the Lord may be calling her to with her skill set. There is a spark of mystery and excitement. In the meantime, she does life where she is at. She does it well and also keeps the spark alive.
There are a few things I think I want to do. I see better now than I did before the picture God is framing. I have some growing to do. I have my people to serve. There is more pruning to be done within me.
Sometimes your conviction and calling do not have the open door you are yearning for. But God doesn’t remove the conviction. He wants to cultivate the light in you. He wants you to take joy in the talents and gifts he placed within you. He wants you walk alongside him in hard places so that your character can be pruned and molded.
In some seasons, the look and feel of how you are living out your conviction and calling aren’t what you hoped for. You are allowed to be disappointed. God’s timing sometimes hurts. His timing often results in doubt. We doubt our capabilities. Ourselves. Even Him.
In the disappointment, waiting and wonder, we can learn from our brother Moses.
Taking action on a conviction before it’s time may be the ugly version of our calling. The ugly version may feel better in the moment. The premature action may feel better than doing nothing at all. While that may be true for a moment, self willing God’s timing will eventually lead to shame.
After Moses took revenge against the Egyptian, his Hebrew brother, having knowledge of the killing said:
Who made you the judge and do you plan to kill me too? Exodus 2
The backlash came from the one he planned to protect.
Eish. Cutting. Brutal.
But if you roll forward a few verses in the story. Don’t you wish you could roll forward a few verses to see that God’s plans are always good?
If you roll forward, you see that God had a family waiting for Moses in a new town. Imagine that. The story includes a hospitable father in law, a committed wife, a job he didn’t have to apply for. Eventual children.
Sisters, we get to live in the in between.
We get to settle into uncomfortable places where we find we are needed and loved. We get to gain character while we wait. We get to serve and love right where we are. We get to be a part of what others are doing with their calling. We get to sweat and love. We may even start to forget that we are waiting.
After a long time, the King of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned because of their difficult labor; and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their difficult labor ascended to God. And God heard their groaning; and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and with Jacob and God saw the Israelites; and God knew. Exodus 2:23
God hears. God remembers. God sees. God knows.
God knew the time came for relief, for healing balm, for freedom.
God heard the cries.
The person to share in the deliverance is you.
You are no longer a person with an elementary understanding of justice. God no longer is concerned that you will come up with a shallow, temporary plan to live out your conviction. God engages with a mature you.
The angel of the Lord appeared to [Moses] in a flame of fire within a bush. As Moses looked, he saw that the bush was on fire but not consumed. So Moses thought, I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn’t the bush burning up? When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses, Moses!” “Here I am,” he answered. Exodus 3:2-4
From there, Moses learns his assignment. Conviction intersects with opportunity in a holy way. Moses deeply cares about deliverance of the Israelites. The Israelites had a need for freedom. Moses had the tools, character and support to live out his calling. Finally. Perfect. In God’s timing.
He hears. He sees. He speaks.
We have conviction and a calling. We also need the character for the job. God holds the timing in his hands. He is not absent minded or distant. He hears, remembers, sees and knows. And then he speaks.
We are living the lives he has given us. We are needed and loved. Right where we are. We gain character. We serve and sweat. We love. We start to forget that we are waiting.
One day, we find that we are standing on holy ground. We are a little afraid because we see that the flame God put in us has not been consumed by time. God tells us that he has some work for us to do unlike what we have done thus far.
We feel unworthy because we finally have the character of humility. We still are afraid, but God promises to be with us. I AM WHO I AM is the confidence we live by.
We now understand:
There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth.Ecc 3:1 (Read more on this in my blog post)
We now understand:
Be still, and know that I am God;Psalm 46:10
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
We now become grateful for this truth:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.Isaiah 55:8-10 (Read more on this in my blog post)
We now understand:
Be doers of the word, and not hearers only . . . the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.James 1:22-25 (Read more on this in my blog post)
QUESTIONS WITH CONVICTION
Define conviction in your own words.
What are your convictions that may lead or already have led to a calling?
What may be in the crate of gifts that God has for you?
Do you relate more to the Moses that acted prematurely on his convictions or the Moses who was overwhelmed by his calling?
Do you believe that you are a person God has chosen to share in the deliverance of someone else? Why or why not?
What is your favorite verse mentioned above and why?
Photo Credit to my friend Silsbee Philo who blesses me with her art.