I left my small group church training so encouraged and so very excited to begin this semester, but right along with the excitement came a creeping lie of feeling the weight of the responsibility that comes with leading a small group in our church—the call to disciple and love our group members well. As I kept allowing the thoughts to weigh heavier I began to remember all the other commitments that currently fill my calendar. All of my commitments are great things—being a wife, momma, managing my home, women’s ministry, writing for this blog, small group leader, etc. All amazing gifts from the Lord to be a part of! Unfortunately the prominent emotions that clouded my mind were ones of being overwhelmed and stressed. I want to do all things well. More than doing them well I want others to think I am doing well. I want their approval. And on top of that, I want to complete all my tasks in my timeline, but fortunately in God’s faithfulness, I could not even prepare adequately for these commitments. The lie that it was “all was up to me” became my mindset. Have you ever been here? Overwhelmed by the seasons of life so much so that you forget who is really in control and what the purpose of all things really is? It’s so easy. I went to the Lord crying out to Him about the heaviness I felt and He gently opened my eyes and shifted my focus to truth. “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young,” (Isaiah 40:11). My focus had increasingly shifted from Him to myself and He was bringing me back.
I told Him I didn’t feel like I could do all things, or even any thing well. I questioned if I had followed Him correctly in committing to everything. I told Him I was feeling unsettled and jumbled in my thinking. But He sweetly reminded me that I am not enough, nor will I ever be, that Jesus is the only one who will ever supply all we need. He reminded me that my eyes need to be on Him in order to point others to Him. My small group does not need a perfect leader nor do you need me to be a perfect writer. The Lord can use all of us just where and who we are, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure,” (Psalm 16:8-9).
My to-do lists and responsibilities do not need to be before my eyes, but my Savior does. I can set the Lord always before me, the one who is in control of all things and has all in His hands (Psalm 95). Even knowing this truth, it is becoming clearer just how much the culture can have a pull on us. The world would tell me that if I just work hard enough, “whatever I set my mind to,” I can accomplish. Hard work pays off right? And yes, while there is truth in those statements, what’s left out is complete trust in the One who is the creator and sustainer of this universe. I absolutely want to work hard, love well, serve all I can, but the outcomes are not on me. Everything is out of my control. I could do everything “perfectly”—disciple with the “just right” truth that each group member needed to hear, keep my house perfectly in order, never discipline in anger (let’s be honest, I don’t know if I will ever do that perfectly, yikes), whatever it may be, but I am not in control over other’s responses. The Lord is the one who softens hearts, provides change and stimulates growth. “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth,” (1 Corinthians 3:7). What a weight is lifted by our sweet and loving Father! Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed by your many responsibilities in your daily life? I say that I believe God is in control, but when my mood shifts if something comes out of “my control” then I think I’m saying I believe something other than truth. God’s word can apply right in the heart of your overwhelming feelings! I’m not saying that I’m not going to work hard for what the Lord is calling me to, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ,” (Colossians 3:23-24). I am saying, however, that I’m asking for the grace to truly believe the truth of who God is in this busy season, to trust that His ways are better than mine. To believe that He loves me and loves those I am serving and will do what’s needed to show us Himself.
In God’s sweet providence, just today, as I had time away to write this, when I wanted to get it done yesterday, a young woman that is under my care found herself in the same place as me and we were given 20 minutes to chat about life—the beginnings of a sweet discipleship relationship and friendship. This would not have happened had God allowed what I wanted yesterday. He is so faithful. “… ‘It is finished,’….” (John 19:30). He has done it all!
Planted for His Glory