My Life's Stories
Inspired by the testimonies of others and the invitation given to me a few weeks ago to share my own, I have created this space on my blog to share My Story. Here is the introduction and an invitation to read along as I share My Life's Stories to give a Testimony of God's Goodness. Along the way, I hope you will also be inspired and equipped to start recording your story.
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Choosing a verse or life motto is not uncommon. It is a way to put up some guardrails on the pathways of our thoughts, dreams and planning for the future. Even a single word can help us focus, giving us a guide for what to say “no” to and what to say “yes” to. I like words. I like focus. I also really like a plan. And as much as I personally like to make deviations from plans, I only like those deviations I choose--the ones that I believe adjust the plan but still keep my feet heading the intended direction of my heart.
In today’s, My Story, post I share about a time in my life when fighting to both adjust and stay the course meant to settle in for a longer season in a place neither my husband nor I had imagined we would stay long. We’d come “home” after years overseas with some pretty specific answers to the questions: What are you doing here?
And over the course of a few years, made significant progress toward some of those aims, and watched as God took the sick loved ones we’d come home to take care home to heaven. Which landed us back at: What are you doing here?
You can read the story below to find the answer God gave us for this question back in 2015. His answer was specific, yet took nearly two years to fulfill. And as I write this intro today, nearly five years later, I realize that this question--What are you doing here?--continues to guide us.
I will be honest, even after eight years of being set in this current location, actively pursuing God’s purpose for my life on Douglas Street, there are days when this question is not a voice of courage, or a gentle wind soothing my anxious soul. Some days I turn the question around to God and it leaves my lips in exasperation--with hands thrown in the air like a teen full of angst and frustration--I ask God, What am I doing here?
I imagine my angst and frustration would be a 2 out of 10 in comparison to Elijah’s, to whom this question was spoken in, 1 Kings 19:11-13 . God sent Elijah to a place inhabited by a people who were in desperate need of God, but who found their fill from idols and destructive ways of living. Elijah’s life was his answer to the question God asked. He spent his days using his words to get the people’s eyes and hearts pointed back toward God. But they wouldn’t listen, and even when God revealed his presence and power through mighty acts of his hands, the people still ignored the invitation to let God be the one and only true God of their worship.
Elijah was doing what he had been set in his place to do. And yet, his life was under threat, he had no co-laborers in his ministry, and he finds himself on a desolate mountain, a 40 day journey from home, waiting on the voice of God to direct his steps. I don’t think it is implausible to imagine that Elijah is hoping that when the Lord speaks it will be with a new assignment or permission to be done trying to lead God’s people back to His heart.
And what does God speak to Elijah?
After a powerful wind, an earthquake, and a fire (all of which the Lord was not in) came a still small voice. And that voice asked Elijah the question: What are you doing here?
No pep talk. No single word or phrase to interpret. No statement of permission to abort the mission. Just a question.
A question that gave Elijah space and permission to pour his heart out to God and confess his frustrations and loneliness. He didn’t even ask for permission to quit. But he made his loneliness known. He set his need in front of the Lord. And the verses that follow reveal that God responds to Elijah’s need with instructions on how to find a teammate to continue his assignment as a prophet to his people.
In my life, especially over the last five years, this question--What are you doing here?--has been instrumental in my continued search to understand and navigate my calling and gifts well even when I can’t see clearly that this really is where I am supposed to be right now. Sometimes this question brings quiet reflection. Sometimes this question makes me angry. But on both ends of the emotional spectrum on which my thoughts swing, I have found that God is faithful in providing me with direction, new ideas, and peace--often after a metaphorical wind, earthquake and fire shake up my heart and rattle my thoughts.
How about you?
What are you doing here?
After the wind calms, the earthquake settles, and the fire of your emotions and thoughts subside, do you hear that still small voice asking you, What are you doing here?
Will you answer God honestly, like Elijah, and voice your thoughts and needs. Yes, he already knows them. He didn’t ask Elijah this question because he didn’t know what was happening on earth. His question was a gift to Elijah--an opportunity for Elijah to build a two-way relationship with God and receive from the Lord an action plan for how to continue on mission.
How can we help each other hear God and lean on Him for direction?
One way would be to insert this question--What are you doing here?--in to our conversations, prayers, and devotional times. As you consider the ever popular question that comes up at New Years--What is your New Year’s Resolution?--perhaps you can turn the conversation in a different direction and ask, What are you doing here?
And then wait, and listen for what those around you express as their mission and the needs they have in completing what God has set them in this time and place to fulfill. There may be feelings like strong winds, emotions like earthquakes, and words like fire that come before the quiet voice. God can handle those. And He waits for them to pass before he speaks. And when they do, He simply asks, What are you doing here?
Can we do the same for others? Can we give them the gift of this question too?
What are you doing here?
How one answers this question will be an indicator of the desires of her heart and visions in her mind. Secondly, allowing oneself time and quiet space to wait on the Lord for an answer is an opportunity to speak to God and hear from God, letting Him know you see your calling and your need and are ready for Him to give you direction on how to persevere in the plans He has for you.
Find your mountain cave place. Wait on the Lord. He will come. He will guide. He sees you right where you are. God still speaks. Will you be honest with the answers you give to His questions?
He comes to your cave-like spaces to help you see He is your God, your creator and your answers matter to him. And his answers to you will give you the strength to press on in all he has for you this year.
What Are You Doing Here?, Story No. 9
Questions for Reflection:
Stay tuned . . . Coming next, Story No. 10, The Adoption of a Son
Jaclyn is a wife, mom, educator, visionary, and avid runner who uses her writing to pick up and examine life, culture, faith and running, probing to discover the awe of God who is sovereign over it all. Join her on her journey at jaclynloween.com. She is a firm believer in the powerful, effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out theGreat Commission. Because we are stronger, healthier and lovelier when living on mission together, she desires to help others know their unique design and purpose for such a time as this.