All the art pieces photographed in this post were created by Tara Donovan. They can be seen exhibited in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, CO.
This was not meant to be on of those “New-Year’s-Eve-Reflection” posts… but alas, procrastination has turned it into that.
The other night I was going through some old journals to jot down some school-related information on any empty sheet of paper I could find. I came across the notebook I kept all my to-do lists and YA service notes. Dude! Some of the notes from the Red Rocks Young Adult (RRYA) Services are killer! It is rather sad that I had forgotten some of these life-giving truths.
At the beginning of this year, RRYA entitled their January series: “Before the Thunder.” It was all about the waiting that takes place between being told your calling and actually getting to step into your calling. Coincidently enough, that in between state was where I found myself at the beginning of 2018. At that time I knew I had been called to New York, but I still had seven long months to wait before I could actually move there.
The first few messages of the series covered important topics such as “active waiting” and becoming a person worth following. You know, the basic good stuff. The last message of the series was about Nehemiah, actually stepping into your calling and the opposition that is bound to happen. I took notes on the message but brushed them off as non-essential for that particular moment in time.
As I have mentioned many times, from February to August I was working two jobs, taking a lot of Kick-boxing and Jiu-Jitsu classes at the UFC Gym, and spending every morning with Jesus. During the first eight months of 2018, I felt indestructible. My confidence level was through the roof. I was not afraid of anything or anyone and felt totally prepared to move away from home.
Now let’s turn to Nehemiah. He was the cupbearer for the king of Persia. God called him to return to Judah and rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. The king granted him permission to leave. Nehemiah was also probably feeling a sense of confidence. However, once he started the project, a bunch of foreign hecklers, Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem did all they could to discourage Nehemiah so he would stop his work. (Nehemiah 4 & 6:1-9)
“The moment you step into your purpose, voices will arise that are not of God.” These voices are voices of opposition. They love to talk you down, scare you, and accuse you.
I was full of fire and fight while I was preparing for my next chapter. However, the moment I got to New York, something weird happened. Out of nowhere, all my confidence got knocked out of me. For the first time in my life, I was actually terrified to talk to new people. Looking back on the last four months, I feel as if I missed out on a lot of fun experiences because I spent way too much time in my apartment or exploring the city alone instead of pursuing friendships.
Now that I am home, I have been asking God what the heck happened this last semester. How did I go from someone who so brazenly fought for what she wanted, to someone who could barely make eye-contact with classmates?
There were several times I truly thought I was going crazy. Yet, after finding these notes, I am realizing I did not go insane (at least not in this particular situation). I simply met opposition and did not see it for what it really was.
When the voices of opposition tried to talk me down, it put limitations on me. I began asking myself if I was capable of doing what I was doing. Am I a good enough writer to write for the school newspaper? Do I have enough skill and experience to mix for the on-campus ministry? Am I smart enough to go to this school? Do I really know the answers well enough to raise my hand and speak in class?
I began to doubt myself instead of responding to these questions with the truth that I knew. The truth is, I do not have what it takes… but God does, and that is sufficient.
The voices of opposition tried scaring me with what-ifs. I was absolutely terrified of talking to new people. I was constantly feeling like a fake and wondered if people could see right through the facade.
What I think really got me was when the voices of opposition began accusing me. High school was rough and I made a lot of dumb decisions, especially regarding school. I quickly started to believe that I was too marred and screwed up to be of any use to God. I had sabotaged my chances of doing anything worthwhile in school or after graduation.
I had forgotten that God is not looking for a perfect heart. He is looking for someone who is willing to step out in obedience. I got caught up in fear this past semester and was too distracted to obey.
Four times, Sanballat and Geshem sent messages to Nehemiah, asking him to meet in a village far away with intent to harm him. Four times, Nehemiah answered “I am carrying on a great project and cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:1-3)
Once we step into our callings and the voices of opposition begin calling us in directions that will lead to harm, we need to recognize them for what they are and call them out. Like Nehemiah, we need to say: “I cannot come down now, I’m too busy living out the calling God has placed on my life.”
It is vitally important to take careful note of what voices we are listening too because the voices we believe will determine our destiny. Will we choose the voices of opposition? Or will we choose the voice of God?