The Danger in Comparing

 

Our girls have always sung: all over the house, at church, in the store… it shouldn’t have surprised me.  I was the child who clogged through every store my mother took me.

I remember our oldest 3 girls singing VBS songs in a grocery store and getting a bit loud, I thought, to serenade a woman standing nearby.  I tried to hush them a little, but as the woman passed me to leave she leaned in close and in a low tone she said, “Just think, they might be the next Point of Grace.”

It took my breath away, the way you know God just used someone to speak important truth to you.  The truth was that they were made to sing out loud, and it wasn’t my place to muffle them. I felt a little panicked, suddenly wondering if I was equipped to teach them what they would need to know.  I started praying right then and there that God would provide by enabling me or sending whatever teachers He will, and He has done both over the years.

My husband started them singing at the camp Annual Banquet each year, and I don’t remember how they began singing at church, but nowadays they sing at no less than 20 churches or events a year.  Their harmony is beautiful.  I don’t turn on the radio at home very often because who needs that when you have live music most of the day?

IMG_6938

It is a joy to watch and see how each one of the children develop in their gift each year, and even the older kids notice and appreciate as their younger siblings reach new levels. Lilly is 14 now, and has been coming into her own.  She is developing her own style and writing her own music.  I’ve seen our oldest listening, shake her head in wonderment, and I’ve known that she was comparing.

“My voice isn’t anything special,” she began to believe.

She forgot about the man who said that whichever sister is singing alto is “Amazing”.

She didn’t think about the woman at church who said she knew my Angel Girl would be able to pick out the elusive harmony.

She never considered how she has been becoming the teacher her sisters all go to when they need help understanding music theory.

I encourage her, but sometimes you need to hear it from someone who isn’t ‘just Mom’.

The comparing… it chokes dreams.  It kills confidence.  Instead of trail blazing, you fall to the rear because that is where you feel more comfortable. You might even talk yourself right out of the plans God has for you, but you and I, we’ve been chosen to be the bearer of the blessing others need.

In the Old Testament, God chose Esther.  He used Esther’s humility to save an entire nation.  He used her position: as the king’s favorite she had potential sway. He used her wisdom: a young woman who respected and listened to the uncle who told her that if she refused, God would use another way and she would forfeit the plan for her life.  He used her Jewish influence–the nation of Israel fasted and prayed with her in preparation for a risk that was greater than any you and I are likely to encounter: to go to the king without an invitation, and it could have cost her life.  She gave what she had to God as an offering.  She said, “If I perish, I perish.”  She didn’t say someone else was better equipped.  She risked everything and history documents how she blazed that trail.

While my Angel Girl was counseling at camp this summer, they put her on worship team. Every chapel, she had the opportunity to lead the singing with her peers while playing the keyboard and/or singing for worship.  I was glad.  I knew it would be a good experience, and I just kept praying God would use it as He weaves together his will for her life.

Angel on Worship Team

She said she played so often that the nervousness which normally paralyzes her concentration and her hands when she plays in public had disappeared by the end of summer camps. And then there was that voice she kept hearing over the monitor… the one she didn’t recognize as belonging to any of the other singers, and then one day she realized it was her own.  “In a good way,” she smiled.

Angel at bleachers

My daughter has been given a song to sing out loud.  So have you, whether literally or figuratively.

Your abilities? They don’t belong to you, as much as society will tell you that they do and that it’s your right to do with them as you please.  No, they were given to you by God and for God.  Don’t think about what other people think. Don’t belittle your gifts.  Don’t allow your song, whatever it is, to be muffled by comparing it to the abilities He has given to others.

Don’t fall back.

Don’t forfeit the plan.

Keep your gaze on the King.  He is your compass.  Orientate your thoughts, your feelings and your feet toward Him, and Keep. Moving. Forward.

You may never know all the lives you touch, but someday you’ll catch a glimpse of yourself the way God sees you.  You’ll hear your own voice in the so called monitor and be surprised {in a good way 🙂 } and you’ll be glad you chose to sing.

 

 

 

Know Your “Why”, Committing Your Plans to the Lord

Yesterday was my Sabbath and, consequently, the day I choose not to exercise.

There’s a reason I committed to exercising 6 days a week, and it wasn’t because I thought my end goals would be unrealistic if I kept my fitness program to 5 days.  The truth is, when I have a day off I’m not eager to begin again.  I feel good after a work-out and I’m glad I did it, but I don’t enjoy getting started.

So, when my alarm went off at 6:15, I didn’t want to get up.  Night summer rains had left gloomy clouds overhead and, between the dark and the barometric changes, I felt sooooo tired.  Still, I got dressed, downed my Plexus Slim, and tied my running shoes.

running shoes

Good morning to you too.

I was moving slow, my body felt heavy, and Theresa Tapp was just a little too perky.  My form did not feel strong.  I was just sure I couldn’t be getting much out of it… but I was more sure that if I sat down like I wanted I might not get up and move tomorrow either.  And so I had to keep reminding myself of my “Why”.

Why am I doing this?

Goals are good.  Having a standard to measure success is normally a good motivator, except building muscle tone and getting into my wedding dress are not truly my “Why”.

I have all kinds of good reasons to take care of myself, and goals that I can set:

To feel well.

To set an example for my children.

To be strong so I can stay active and be a good mom to my little people.

Someday I want to be the fun Grandma, not the weak and fragile one.

I like my small clothes.  😉

To please my husband.

I made a commitment to myself.

I told those people on Facebook I was going to do this… huhmmmm.

My “Why” is that for some reason God really chose this, stewardship of my body–His Temple, as a major bone to pick with me.  I think He began when a conversation with a friend led me to ask Him to teach me what trusting Him with my health would look like. He started as this still, small voice, but really had to crank up the volume to get me to focus on His message instead of making those excuses, “I should, could, didn’t…I don’t want to,”  and so THIS: obedience, is my “Why”.  Honoring God with this body He gave me (the only one I get) by doing my part to keep it healthy and strong so I can stand at the ready to go forth and do whatever He calls me to do without any physical excuses to hold me back.  He wants me to be faithful to do my part and He is always faithful to do HIS.

I was reading in Acts 20, Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Elders as he prepared to go to Jerusalem and the end.  ESV

(22)And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, (23)Except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.  (24)But I do not account my life of any value not as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” verses 22-24

Paul’s life as a an apostle had not been easy.  He had traveled from place to place, working when necessary, building relationships, teaching, preaching, discipling (and disciplining). He was slandered, stoned, and ship wrecked, and still he faithfully ministered the gospel wherever the Lord lead.  But now he says the Holy Spirit is preparing him that imprisonment and afflictions await.

That’s just what you want to hear when  you’re packing for a trip, isn’t it?

Verse 24 in the Amplified Version say this: “But none of these things move me; neither do I esteem my life dear to myself…

When storms come, your form is bad, and discouragement looms, what will guarantee that you stay the course?

Goals change.  When you meet your goal, then what?  Too often we slide back into bad habits.  Good reasons can be subject to whims… “I don’t feel like it today”, “How did that chocolate make its way into my fridge door?”  “I can’t.”

There are days that there are no reasons good enough to keep us putting one foot in front of another, but there is a way.  God tells us that,

The heart of man plans his way,
    but the Lord establishes his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9

Have you committed your plans to the Lord?  He will let you know if your plans are from Him and worth pursuing or if maybe you’re losing steam because you went out on a limb by yourself.

In Acts 20, Paul’s was on the Lord’s errand, not His own.  His “Why” didn’t change. Regardless of his circumstances, he would not be moved off course.  He was driven to complete the responsibility given to Him by God.  To finish his “race” well.  To disseminate the message of God’s grace and salvation for mankind until God said his turn was finished.  He trusted God’s way.  That was his “Why”.

What are the things in your life that are worth doing right?  What have you dedicated yourself to?  Are you committed to the Lord?  A marriage?  A ministry? Home-schooling? A healthy lifestyle?  A budget?  Finishing school?  Writing a book?

God promises that when we commit our plans to Him, He will establish our steps.  He supplies the resolve, the strength, the partners, the tools… He gives supernatural gifts, abilities, and brings about fruit of self-control when we lean in close to Him.

If He authors the purpose, He supplies the way to succeed, but He requires our cooperation.

Our “Why” needs to be greater than mere “good reasons”.  It takes the whole, big picture into account.  It is a commitment to something, or Someone, greater. Unchanging. Captivating.  Worthy.  It is greater than our goals.  It generates our goals.

Commit your plans to the Lord, and then “none of these will move you.”  Resolve.  Know your “why”.