God doesn't always speak in that burning-bush, build an ark because I'm gonna flood the world, follow the star in the East kind of way. Most of the time He speaks in whispers, in quiet thoughts and wonderings and callings that people don't always hear or heed. And let's be honest, in this day and age, if you tell people that God has spoken to you, you risk being thought of as a flake. Even other God-people tend to wonder, whether they say it or not--did God really tell her something, or did she just skip her meds this morning? But do you know what?--I've been telling people for over a year now that God has called me to open a store that would minister to women through the art and fellowship of scrapbooking, that He has told me my time in the classroom is soon to be over, and that He is working things out clearly and perfectly, revealing His will to me in wonderful ways, for this dream to become reality--and not one person has questioned it. (At least not to my face, except for my husband, who is a worry wart but is now totally on board...LOL!). But really--no one has told me I'm crazy. No one has said I'm making a mistake. No one has said I'm an idiot for giving up the security of a steady teaching salary (such as it is) to open up my own business. That in itself has to mean something.
Instrumental to the courage required to take such a call, to take this huge leap of faith--even though he does not know it (although I plan to let him know during a meeting we have this week)--is my pastor. Every week for at least two years now, Tommy may as well have held up a sign during his sermons--"Paulette, this is for you--listen up!" God has spoken through him on a regular basis, to the point that I have cried weekly as I've listened, taken notes, marked my Bible to read later. Many weeks, the words God has given him have been so obviously FOR me that my husband has turned to me during the service and just dropped his jaw in disbelief, to which I can only reply, "I know, I hear it..."
This all sounds as though I think I'm something special. If you don't know me--if you just somehow stumbled across my blog, or if we have just an e-mail relationship so far and you don't really know me--I can imagine this sounds very self-serving and conceited. I sure don't think that, and I sure don't mean it to come out that way. Hearing God speaking to me these past couple of years, more clearly than ever before, through music, other people, scripture, circumstances, books--has humbled me more than anything. He's telling ME to do something for HIM--something that He believes I am talented enough (and tough enough) to do--for Him? The idea of that is mind-boggling. I thought that teaching was my calling, for the rest of my working life--which itself was an awesome responsibility--and then here He goes giving me a different calling. WOW.
For example, during one sermon last summer, Tommy referred to Ephesians 2:10:
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
Great passage all by itself, right? Then Tommy told us that the word "workmanship" comes from a word meaning "poem". He went on to say that we are God's works of art, His creative masterpieces. God is the artist, and every creation is beautiful and valuable by virtue of its Creator. You have His spark in you. He has shaped you so that no one else can impact the world the way you do.
I really don't think I'm anything special--on my own. I'm only special because of who I belong to, because of who made me and loves me. I am God's masterpiece.
You are too. Remember that. Embrace that.
And the next time God speaks to you, listen. He has plans for you that you've never even dreamed of...
Sunday, February 10, 2008
We'll all heard the expression that "timing is everything". I believe this is true, but that with God, His timing is not only everything--it's perfect. My pastor preached about God's timing last summer. I didn't write down the author of the book (I usually do...), but a quote from it is "God may not be on time, but He's never late." In other words--God knows what He's doing, and when He's doing it, and He reveals it to us--well, when the time is right. Some examples...
I have a couple of friends who own a scrapbook store. In late October, when I shared with one of them that I was planning to open a store near my home, she was immediately very happy for me, began offering advice, told me that she would help me in any way she could--was supportive and wonderful beyond belief, and has continued to be. One important piece of information she gave me was that I would need six months to prepare to open, but I had figured on only three or four. But that issue quickly took a back seat, because when we began talking about start-up money, I'd had in my mind an amount that I would need, and had some general ideas of where and how I could get that money. But the figure she gave me was waaaaaay more than I'd expected. I swallowed hard and tried not to hyperventilate. Thankful for all the advice, I ended the call a few minutes later. Later that night, I prayed for peace, this time specifically about the financial side of the business--not just for me, but for the hubby, who of course was freaked about the prospect of me borrowing money. I had no idea where the difference in the amount I needed and the amount I knew I could get would come from, but I just told God that I knew He would make it happen.
The VERY next day I got an unsolicited, preapproved loan offer in the mail from Capital One for the EXACT difference. No, I'm not kidding.
The retail space that I had wanted from the very beginning is less than five minutes from our house, is just the right size, has affordable rent and great owners, is highly visible, and has a big parking lot. We had inquired about it on and off for about eight months, and it was leased, but the renter never opened up a business there. I checked on at least a dozen other properties, looked at them inside and out, tried to figure out how I could afford them, struggled with terms and fee information, etc. I planned to be off work on a Friday in early December, but ended up changing my appointment to the following Monday because my teaching partner needed to be out on Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, my mom and I both called the listing agent about the space and left voice mails. On Monday, the agent returned my mom's call and left a voice mail. Mom called me and told me to call him back, which I wouldn't have been to do if I had been at school. The agent explained that the renter was trying to get out of his lease, and he wanted to know if I was still interested in renting the space. I didn't even hesitate. Of course, of course I did. When do I pay, where do I sign? When do I get the keys?
I could sign the next day, pay and get the keys as soon as I wanted, and when would my lease begin? On February first.
When had I planned to open? On August first, my forty-first birthday.
How many months is that? Six, exactly. Perfect.