These are words we hear spoken all too often in our houseful of daughters. My wife and I are parents of 4 beautiful girls ages 23 months to 8 years old. Due to the closeness in age, they are all interested in basically the same things. The same toys, the same games, the same clothes, the same hair “thingies”, pretty much everything. And even though our 23 month old isn’t old enough to really care, she cares anyway because everyone else does. So nearly every day we hear that phrase spoken, or shouted, based on the passion associated with the desired item.
Her name is Eva and she is almost 2 years old now. In fact, her birthday is in 2 days. She is the youngest of the 4 daughters and her birth completed my intended goal for our family: to have our own volleyball team. Not really, but I was hoping for a girl when we found out we were pregnant with our fourth child. I love so many things about her – her laugh when I tickle her, the way she prays with her mommy during her morning devotion, the way her voice sounds as she persistently asks me for milk 15 times while I’m working on a blog, and the way she watches her sisters intently when they are doing something she finds interesting. As she has gotten older I have also noticed something a bit less common. I’m not sure exactly how to put this. I guess I’ll just have to level with you…..
She has super-human strength.
Yes, it’s true. She seems to have been born with super-human strength. I’m pretty sure that Samson has nothing on her. While we were not visited by an angel before her birth, laying out specific guidelines for her rearing, I have discovered that she can hold onto something that she’s determined as hers with the strength of 10 men. Prying a toy from her grasp takes planning and ingenuity. What can I find that would be more interesting to her than what she currently has? How can she be distracted? Can we explain that the toy is not hers and that her sister was playing with it first? Not likely. Honey, where’s the WD-40? She will hold onto something so tightly for the sole purpose of having it. She holds it so tight that there is no way she can enjoy playing with it.
But neither can anyone else.
I wonder if that’s what we look like to God sometimes. Grasping things tightly, refusing to share them or let them go. Acting like children when we’re supposed to be mighty warriors. And I’m not talking about holding on to possessions or things, I’m talking about holding on to specific ministries or projects we are “doing for God”.
It’s MY ministry.
It’s MY project.
It’s MY calling.
It’s what I’M good at.
Everyone else, back off! Do not get near my ministry – or else. Of course we do not always see it like that. We call it things like passion, or being a perfectionist, or something along those lines. We would never call it what it really is.
It starts off innocently enough. An idea or ministry opportunity arises and we seek God and put our time and tears into it. We work hard to get it off the ground and sincerely want it to be a blessing to those around us. But, before long, we start to invest more time into the planning and execution of plans than we do the time we’re spending with the God we are supposed to be honoring. We begin to associate who we are with the ministry we have instead of who we are in Christ. Then we start to feel threatened any time someone comes around who may have ideas or who we feel may be better at what we do than we are.
So what happens? We hold our ministry tightly. We wrap both arms around it, protecting it from any outside influence. From anyone who would want to come in and mess it up. From anyone who would come in and recommend any changes or ideas. From anyone who does not agree that we are doing a great job…..
We hold it so tight that it starts to turn blue. It can’t breathe. It gasps for air, trying to stay alive but we hold onto it so tightly and are so protective that even God cannot reach it anymore. It’s OURS. So, God let’s us have it. But now it’s lost its power. In the beginning it was God breathed and anointed but now we’ve squeezed God out of it and it is a dead program. Ok, now what, is that the end?
Prepare for resuscitation.
Have you ever been in this position? Is there any help? There is, and the first step is to give the lifeless body of your program or ministry back to God. He is the Giver of Life. Both physically and spiritually. In one of the visions of Ezekiel, he saw a valley of dry bones. In this vision, by the power of God, the bones were brought together. Muscle, skin, and hair developed. And then, the most important thing happened – God breathed life into the dry bones and made them live. Now, we know if there were bones, at one time there were living bodies that had died and decayed. God brought the dead and lifeless back out of the dust and breathed life into them. He is able to do the same for you.
Will that be His guaranteed answer? To restore the exact ministry you were involved with? Maybe not. Sometimes we do things for a season to prepare for the next. Even through our failures God can be preparing us for bigger things. Don’t give in to the temptation to limit God. When you turn to Him and release your life to Him again, be open for where He leads. Whatever direction He leads us, we need to be prepared to hold tightly to Him and loosely to the things we have. They are God’s to give and to take away. Just because He moves us out of a particular ministry does not mean He is finished using us. Remember, He is the only One who can look around and honestly say….
IT’S ALL MINE.