Thursday, March 1, 2018

24 Hours: Serve & Survival

I have recently overheard myself, in multiple different conversations, telling people that we are living and existing within the 24 hours that God has given us.  We are surviving one day of service at a time -- that is how we are pressing forward.

I have an aversion to making plans.  I have written about the fact that I don't set resolutions and I don't like long-term planning with regards to my personal life, ambitions, or goals.  I simply don't make plans anymore that stretch further than the next few months.  Sure, I'll plan a vacation, and yes, I'll plan a night out with friends, or make business plans for the next few weeks but when it comes to our personal family life - nope.  Not going to happen.

I wasn't always like this.  I remember that well into my mid-twenties I had a full blown timeline of what my life would look like, how things would play out and the path I would walk to get those things.

Then God started to turn my world upside down when all of the most important, impactful, life experiences and relationships were not playing out according to my plan.  I mean, what kind of nerve did the Lord have messing with my timeline like that?

The first thing that the Lord really took the reigns on was my relationship with Jake, which in turn led to changes in career choices and basically lifestyle choices (moving me from Chicago to rural Illinois).  We, as in the Lord and I, made it through that one but after we got married, the Lord still had other plans.

At 26 we began to try for a family, then we walked through infertility for two years until we had our first baby.  In my plan, I was going to be "done" having my three or four kids by 30 years old.  We didn't have our first child until I was 28.  We planned to have our second 1.5 years after our oldest was born but you all know that story - surprise! Natural pregnancy right when our oldest turned 1.  

We won't even get into the job stories here since most of you know my crazy jump out of a very successful, secure, career into the unknown story.  I will also mention that my husband in the last 6 months also had a surprising career change, which is essentially a change to his dream job so that's a huge blessing.   

But ok, we are starting to get the picture.  Life is not within our control - the Lord has other plans.  You'd think we would learn our lesson by now.  Nope - we wanted a third baby.  Ok, we will try naturally.... 6 months later, a pregnancy.  14 weeks later - a miscarriage.  SCREECH. HALT. STOP.  KNOCK THE WIND OUT OF OUR SAILS.

I've had enough.  The Lord has walked us through these lessons time and time and time again and yet, we still try to take control into our own hands.  So here we are.

In everything that has taken place over the last 18 months between career changes, to finance changes to family changes, the Lord has shown up but it has not been easy.  Especially after the miscarriage, I am serious when I say the wind got knocked out of our sails.

Lately, it feels as though nothing is promised or guaranteed other than God.  He is teaching us that nothing is more important than the impact we will have within this next day, within the next 24 hours of life that we have been given to serve and surrender.  This day - these moments - these minutes and these daily interactions are exactly where we are supposed to be serving the Lord and showing his love and his grace, whether it be to 2, 5 or 5,000 people. 

I am blessed in that I have three days at home with my sons and two days in my office.  In my mind, I have been granted incredible opportunities every day to serve with purpose and surrender.  I will also note that just because my work life "balance" is a definite privilege, no matter my location or my husband's, we choose to serve and live these next 24 hours with full surrender to God's will and plan.  Sometimes this is hearing God clearly speak hopes into our lives and visions for our future through devotionals and the word.  Other times, that looks like intentionally playing with and paying attention to our sons and serving their hopes, dreams, aspirations, and drawing out and nurturing the qualities that the Lord has placed within them. Other times, it looks like an intentional conversation over coffee, or in a duck blind, with a close friend.

It is within these moments that we feel the Lord guides our steps the most.  He directs our steps in relationships, in parenting, in work, and in pursuit of His will.  While we hear Him and seek His will - we still don't "make plans" we simply take the next step that he has called us to in that 24-hour window.  Some of these steps, we know are toward something greater, but we don't know the full picture.  Instead of trying to force our vision into the Lord's reality, we simply exist within the moments that God is moving us and ministering to us.

Some may call this survival mode after loss but in my opinion it is more like SERVE-ival mode.  Our ultimate goal now for our marriage and ultimately our family is no longer a number of children or acquiring things, but simply to serve in whatever capacity the Lord calls us to.

I pray that this speaks to some of you that find yourselves more in the no planning camp like me.  It is ok to simply live within the moments that God has given you.  After all, I once heard that the Lord only gives you your future 24 hours at a time.  Now we are choosing to make the most of the 24 hours that we are given instead of rushing through or wishing them away.  One of the definitions of serve is to be of use in achieving or satisfying.  There can be beauty and hope that exists in the right now - as long as you put in the effort to find it, God will be faithful to show it to you.   

Here's to living in SERVE-ival mode.  Serve God. Serve your marriage. Serve your family.  Serve in this day. 

Psalm 139:16  
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

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