Since March, our household has been plagued with questions like these:
How are we supposed to be spending our time?
What do we do with our kids all day when we're just stuck in the house?
Is anyone actually going to work next week?
What will fall look like?
WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING??
As a former college volleyball coach, I research a lot of leadership and team building stuff. I listen to podcasts, read books, and watch videos from people like John Maxwell, Brene Brown, Trent Shelton, and Jocko Willink just to see where the business world, the psychology world, the sports world, and the military world all agree. It is amazing to see how people with completely different motives and backgrounds could affirm so many of the same things AND occasionally (though unintentionally) teach Biblical truths. Before 2020, I would use this material to help me add value to my workplace and get motivated. This year, I don't need to be inspired, I need someone to tell me how to survive... just being honest.
The more the days went by, the less control we felt like we had. One day our children were in school, the next day they weren't. One day we are eating in a restaurant, the next day we can't. As more things were removed from our lives, we found ourselves approaching God in an attitude that, I believe, He had been waiting on for many years. We had no personal requests other than keeping our health and praying that we didn't lose our income. Outside of that, we asked God "show us the next step." I feel He said "it's about time you asked!"
James 1:11 says "For the sun rises and, together with the scorching wind, dries up the grass; its flower falls off, and its beautiful appearance perishes. In the same way, the rich person will wither away while pursuing his activities."
Wouldn't it be a shame if we kept busy and worked really hard for a company, our family, or even our church just to realize we were withering away, too distracted by our activities? As this virus worsened, more and more of those activities were taken away and Josh and I grew increasingly aware of something we had already learned: God doesn't give five year plans or even five day plans because He likes to be returned to. A life dependent on God's love, Jesus's sacrifice, and the Holy Spirit's help is what God intended for His creation. We didn't have a plan or framework for building this up, all we committed to was starting individual prayer time at 6:00 am and making sure it included Bible reading. During this time, I didn't really know what to pray. It was like there were a million things and nothing all at the same time. So I just thanked God for whatever I read about in His word and asked that He reveal more of His character to me. Josh, unbeknownst to me, was asking the same thing.
I feel that I should explain our personality types so people can better understand that Josh and I are NOT like-minded on 90% of anything. I am a helper and an achiever. I am a people-pleaser. Some say I am very competitive, but I think I am comparative--meaning I attach worth to whether I can do things perfectly because that means I made everyone happy. I love to meet people's needs which can sometimes make me think I know what's best for everyone. Josh is a peacemaker. Josh is content and easy-going in every phase of life, even getting blown up. He is glass half full, not worried about anything, "what's the worst that could happen?" kind of guy. He doesn't like change because that pulls him out of comfortable spots and if comfortable spots are putting food on the table, why are we rocking the boat?
In a situation like COVID, I am looking for things to do that make some kind of impact somewhere. It's like if I don't overextend and overcommit and overdo, then I'm just wasting time. Josh's goal during COVID was to knock out his work as early in the morning as possible so he could watch all the Marvel movies in chronological order. When we started our commitment to morning prayer, I felt quieted and oddly satisfied with just learning something about the Bible. Josh, however, was finally listening to those nudges God had been giving him.
So our question, especially to the guys, is how many times have you thought about something but chose to just grind away at what you're already doing? Josh's "we should check out the Columbus campus sometime" was actually a nudge from God. So why wasn't Josh more direct about wanting to go? It never really seemed like a big deal whether we went or not, why didn't God make it more... ya know... obvious!? Because He wants us to seek Him in the same way He seeks us. As Josh and I reflect on this, we realize that we have never wanted to disobey God or stray from His plan, but the flip side of that coin is we also did not want to pray, wait, or seek the plan. Imagine starting a new job and never going to ask your boss what she expects of you. Instead you just adopt the mentality of "if she needs me to do something, she'll come tell me. Otherwise, I will just do what I think I need to do." This approach isn't intentionally selfish or defiant, but choosing to live this way is literally telling God "if you want my attention, you're going to have to get it like you did last time." I really hate it when I make God teach me the same thing more than once. I'm also done with explosives. This seeking posture is staying.
As someone who would love to describe my purpose in life in 50 words or less, I have learned a truth that I plan to pass along to anyone that will hear it:
When we found our purpose, we weren't seeking it. We were just seeking God.
We prayed and read our Bibles without looking for answers to today, but rather hoping to become closer to God through better understanding. This learning posture cleared the space for the nudges to be explored. That nudge led us to a church outreach project (which the devil really tried to destroy-- we got lost, spilled a casserole in the car, and fought the entire way there) where we met people who are going to dig into ministry at Fort Benning. We were recruited to join that ministry in it's start up and were formally invited to the Columbus campus where our recruiters were going to church. Since then, we have served the community of Columbus in more ways than we could have imagined. We've done things for kids, soldiers, elderly people, and veterans. While we aren't curing COVID-19 or solving the civil unrest in our country, we lay our heads down at night KNOWING we are being part of the solution for somebody. At the end of the day, I think that kind of purpose is all any human really wants. We delighted ourselves in the Lord and He provided the desires of our hearts.
From Josh and myself, we hope this testimony will help you explore how the Lord might be tapping on your shoulder. If this pandemic has provided us with anything, it's the opportunity to take inventory of every part of our lives. We have to recognize it is a privilege to live in God's subtly-- to simply take a few minutes out of our day to ask and pray instead of being assaulted by God's will every time He wants us to move. This simple thing has been so rewarding for us. Keep praying for us as we learn how to listen to God!