Tag Archives: voice

How a "Good Thing" Can Be a Stumbling Block


Would you call your closest friend Satan?  No doubt that friends can have disagreements sometimes.  It happens.  But calling someone you consider to be your confidant, advocate and support system, the name of a  being whose only mission is to destroy seems harsh.  Especially, if the context involves your friend seemingly making known a desire that they wish for your well being.  Why on Earth would you be so angry over that interaction?
In fact, an eyewitness would most likely accuse you of overreacting.  (Do you need more sleep? Is something bothering you?)
So goes the pondering on this passage found in Matthew 16: 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Wow! Really?
Jesus invited Peter to be his friend and mentoree.  HE invited Peter into relationship. They ate together, prayed together, shared together.  They literally did life together.
I couldn’t imagine imitating Jesus in that way. And yet…we are called to do exactly that….because that’s what a disciple does….and that’s what the Holy Spirit makes possible.
I’ve learned that I need to do just what he did. And more often.  Because Jesus tuned his ears to hear the voice of his Father among the many voices calling out to him. His first priority was following the will of God.  Not his disciples. Not the crowds. Not his family.
The irony is that many of those voices represented good things:
healing
listening
friendship
Yet, none represented the BEST thing.  The BEST thing was the plan that God was laying out for him.  But Peter was not ready for what that plan entailed.  Who can blame him?  Of course he doesn’t want to hear that a death sentence awaits.  The implications of Jesus’ death are many-the most personal one being that it would leave Peter without this person who has transformed his life on Earth.
But it isn’t about Peter.
And it isn’t about all the ways Jesus could fulfill people’s needs.  It’s about being in tune with the will of his Father.
Jesus’ exhortation most certainly sent a chill to Peter  But it was truth.  Peter’s plea to Jesus represented a path that was contrary to the one that Jesus knew  he was to walk. One would be afire with the Glory of God and the other would lead away.
Satan will try hard to distract us from listening to God’s voice. Some of those distractions come in the form of “good things”: other people’s expectations, the myriad of ministry opportunities luring us, the desire to do good, even relationships.
Sometimes you get a gut feeling that the path you’re on is not where God wants you treading.   It’s that inner voice that you ignore because the way you are investing your time and resources appears to be productive.
But that “peace that passes all understanding” isn’t there.
In the last year, I’ve come to realize what happens when I don’t really listen to the inner voice of the Holy Spirit. It’s so easy to dig in and be consumed by “callings” to areas that use my skills and gifts. Being drawn to people is always a temptation of mine. But when I jump in without listening; without praying,  I feel tired and frustrated.  And, in a sense, those “good” things become my “Peter.”  They are stumbling blocks.
What is God’s purpose for you right now?  What is the “BEST” way that Jesus can be seen at work in your life? What must you give up to embrace it?
 
 
 

When Working at Target Became My Calling

The ways that God speaks into our lives constantly amaze me.

Sometimes it’s loud and blatant .

Other times, the voice comes as a whisper or a gentle nudging.

And often, it comes in the midst of an ordinary moment. Unexpected. Like a burning bush appearing among the familiar landscape.

One day, as I waited at an intersection for the light to change, I glanced up at the Target across the road. I was just passing time. Yet, my eyes connected to a sign advertising the need for overnight stockers. For some reason, the sign resonated with me.

Why? I have no idea. My husband was working. My days and nights were filled with the schedules and activity that result from having three small children.

The Holy Spirit was nudging through the most ordinary circumstances

As the light turned to green, the thoughts were packed into the back of my mind and I proceeded down the road and onto my day.

Two years later, I found myself listening to my husband share the devastating news that his company would be closing a few months later. A peace “that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7 )” permeated my heart as we talked over a coffee date about the plans for our immediate future. A few months provided a bit of cushion but still….what if he doesn’t find a job? Do we sell our house? So many questions surfaced.

And did I mention Christmas was right around the corner? I had a college degree as well as an M.Div. but I had left my pastoral position to enter a season of staying home with our children. Now what?

As we talked, my mind had not forgotten the nudge about the Target sign I had seen two years earlier. The job would entail nights at work and sleep during the day. How does one do that with a two year old? Ironically, my husband’s company did not have a current space for him to work from so he was given the opportunity to work from home.

God affirmed what had been revealed two years earlier. A new season for me was emerging.

Within weeks, I donned the red shirt and displayed my new title: Target employee.

Though the schedule often left my body exhausted, my spirit felt renewed. The job allowed for adult conversation, a means of providing financially for my family and even opportunities to look at merchandise without being yanked away by bored children.

In addition, my eyes and my heart were opened up to the life situations for many who live “under the radar.” Many people with whom I worked alongside, shared stories of broken dreams and desperation.

A wife became ill, and though retired, her husband resumed employment in order to pay bills. Two corporate executives lost their jobs in a mass lay off. Now, one worked the night shift. Many single moms worked with me. Unlike myself, they navigated sleeping in between transporting kids to school and managing other household tasks.

College students who juggled work with school also became colleagues. Here we were, an eclectic group to be sure, but serving together for one purpose. And I felt honored to be invited into their narratives.

In January, my husband found a new job which meant my job at Target was no longer necessary. I was happy to be done but a bit sad that this season was over. I was well aware that, while I had the option to leave the job, others did not have such a choice.I left with their stories imprinted on my heart and pondered how I could help others in similar situations.

Like Esther, my life entered a new season-for a divine purpose. One, that she hesitantly embraced as it came about unexpectedly and took her out of her comfort zone. But Mordecai exhorted,And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

Ultimately this season reminded me that our calling is wherever God leads us. Anytime. Anywhere. Anyplace.

When have you been ordained to “such a time as this?”

How a "Good Thing" Can Be a Stumbling Block


Would you call your closest friend Satan?  No doubt that friends can have disagreements sometimes.  It happens.  But calling someone you consider to be your confidant, advocate and support system, the name of a  being whose only mission is to destroy seems harsh.  Especially, if the context involves your friend seemingly making known a desire that they wish for your well being.  Why on Earth would you be so angry over that interaction?
In fact, an eyewitness would most likely accuse you of overreacting.  (Do you need more sleep? Is something bothering you?)
So goes the pondering on this passage found in Matthew 16: 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Wow! Really?
Jesus invited Peter to be his friend and mentoree.  HE invited Peter into relationship. They ate together, prayed together, shared together.  They literally did life together.
I couldn’t imagine imitating Jesus in that way. And yet…we are called to imitate him.
I’ve learned that I need to do just what he did. And more often.  Because Jesus tuned his ears to hear the voice of his Father among the many voices calling out to him. His first priority was following the will of God.  Not his disciples. Not the crowds. Not his family.
The irony is that many of those voices represented good things: healing, listening, friendship.  Yet, none represented the BEST thing.  The BEST thing was the plan that God was laying out for him.  But Peter was not ready for what that plan entailed.  Who can blame him?  Of course he doesn’t want to hear that a death sentence awaits.  The implications of Jesus’ death are many-the most personal one being that it would leave Peter without this person who has transformed his life on Earth.  But it isn’t about Peter.  And it isn’t about all the ways Jesus could fulfill people’s needs.  It’s about being in tune with the will of his Father.
Jesus’ exhortation most certainly sent a chill to Peter  But it was truth.  Peter’s plea to Jesus represented a path that was contrary to the one that Jesus knew  he was to walk. One would be afire with the Glory of God and the other would lead away.
Satan will try hard to distract us from listening to God’s voice. Some of those distractions come in the form of “good things”: other people’s expectations, the myriad of ministry opportunities luring us, the desire to do good.
But sometimes you get a gut feeling that the path you’re on is not where God wants you treading.   It’s that inner voice that you ignore because the way you are investing your time and resources appears to be productive.
But that “peace that passes all understanding” isn’t there.
In the last year, I’ve come to realize what happens when I don’t really listen to the inner voice of the Holy Spirit. It’s so easy to dig in and be consumed by “callings” to areas that use my skills and gifts. Being drawn to people is always a temptation of mine. But when I jump in without listening; without praying,  I feel tired and frustrated.  And, in a sense, those “good” things become my “Peter.”  They are stumbling blocks.
What is God’s purpose for you right now?  In this season of your life?  What is the “BEST” way that Jesus can be seen at work in your life? What must you give up to embrace it?