The books I have been reading lately have been touching on a couple of repeating themes. I certainly wasn’t looking to study these issues in any sort of depth. I just started reading and then…whoa! Coincidence? I think not. Papa God trying to tell me something? More than likely.
Last year (I’m really having trouble believing it is 2017!), my women’s ministry team read Lysa Terkeurst’s book The Best Yes. It took me forever to read it because of course, I was reading all sorts of other things at the same time. Did I finish it? Yes. Yes I did. And it was good. I’ll go into more detail about the book in another post.
Then at the beginning of this year, I started the book Simplify by Bill Hybels. I’m reading it with my adult Sunday school class at church. We are about 3 or 4 chapters in, and I really like it.
On top of that, I am leading a 6-week Beth Moore Bible study for about 10 women on Monday mornings. We are working our way through Entrusted which is a study of 2 Timothy.
At this point you may be wondering, what is she thinking!? I know right? I’m not sure exactly what happened. But I found out that Ann Voskamp was doing a free 6-week online study of her new book The Broken Way and I had to get in on that as well. I loved Ann’s One Thousand Gifts and had purchased The Broken Way for myself for Christmas.
My brain is exploding.
I started this post talking about repeating themes. Although you could say one theme is that I try to read too many books at once, that isn’t what I wanted to talk about.
The first is Focus.
The Best Yes is all about learning how to say no to the things that will keep you from saying Yes to the things God wants you to.
Simplify is about un-cluttering your soul by focusing on who God has called you to be.
One of Beth’s points in Entrusted is that in order to live in the fullness of our calling we will need to narrow our focus. We just can’t be great at too many things.
Oh! And to top it all off, I was hanging out with another homeschool mom recently and she was sharing how she has narrowed her focus down to just two things in her life currently.
So what is my take-away? I hear God telling me to narrow my focus. I’m trying to do too much and it is wearing me out. I’m a little nervous though. It’s all good stuff. But it is all too much and the pruning process can be painful. Which leads me to the other theme.
I don’t like this word. I don’t like the reality of suffering. Pain. Yuck. Blech! I have been thinking quite a bit about suffering lately. I can think of things in my life that have been painful. Most people can. But I can’t really say that I have encountered anything that I would define as suffering. In spite of the fact that I would say I haven’t truly suffered, I have such a low tolerance for pain of any kind and actively seek to avoid it. Yet when I read the Bible, I see my brothers and sisters embracing suffering for Jesus.
I’ve become soft. I’ve become a wuss. And it doesn’t matter what kind of pain it is – physical, emotional, or mental – I don’t want any of it. But am I missing out something special I can have with Jesus by avoiding it?
Beth and Ann both say yes. In Entrusted, Beth reiterates a point she has made often in other studies – our ministry (the role we get to play in God’s grand design – whatever that role happens to be) often becomes evident to us after walking through pain, through wounding experiences. In The Broken Way, Ann encourages us to embrace brokenness. Jesus broke himself for us and embraces us in our brokenness. He is near to the brokenhearted and is a doctor to the sick.
Here’s the thing. I AM broken. Broken with and by sin. And if I pretend that I am not – that I don’t desperately NEED Jesus – then I am just robbing myself. Robbing myself of forgiveness, of sweet communion, of healing. Robbing myself of what Paul experienced when he let God’s glory and power cover his weakness. Robbing myself of stepping into the role God has designed for me.
Focus & Suffering. I wonder where God is taking me. Where is He taking you?