“Take Care” ~ this is a common phrase in the English language. People sign their emails with this sentiment, we end a phone call speaking these words, we tell our loved ones to do this. But what does it really mean? This blog idea actually came to me from a very unlikely place.
A darling young girl that used to go to my church, recently reconnected with me on Facebook. It’s been fun to see the new journey she has embarked on…health, eating good food, and exercising. We had a little “back and forth” with some messaging and she asked how my family and I were doing. I wrote an update back to her with updates on everyone. The response I received back startled me a bit…only because I needed to hear this. She said, “You mention taking care of the girls and Tony but don’t mention that you need to take care of yourself too!” Whoa!!
I wrote back and told her that she was right! We talked about a few other things and she ended the conversation with, “Don’t forget to take care of yourself first! otherwise you can’t take care of anyone else.” The sweet words of encouragement from the heart of my Lord through a willing vessel who felt lead to speak truth in love.
This happened about a month ago, and sadly I haven’t done a whole heck of a lot to really take care of myself better. It’s so easy to put everyone else on my list first. I love being a wife and mom, a daughter and a sister, a volunteer and an organizer, a friend and a mentor. But if I am only concentrating on the “out-pouring”, there will soon not be very much to pour out! For one, my devotional life and bible reading has been extremely lacking in the past few months. How interesting (and not too surprising) that the Lord will allow a variety of circumstances to bring me running back to Him.
Here’s the part I’m hesitant to share ~ but I feel I’m among friends when I tell you that I want to be closer to the Lord but I’m a bit afraid to see what He will require of me next. Because I know a bit of what that’s going to look like.
Let me back up a little bit, and go back to “take care” ~
So when we tell someone to “take care” ~ we are guiding them to pay serious attention to whatever it is they are holding onto; to proceed with caution in their actions; to be aware of protecting what it is that they have received or what they’ve been given. Even as I read through these definitions (www.dictionary.com), I may rethink using this phrasing as easily as I have been in the past years. Do I take care with all that the Lord has given me? My family, my friends, my home ~ it’s all His. But the one thing that is at the top of the list when it comes to my life, as a born-again believer in Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit ~ am I truly taking care of René??
Tears are threatening to run down my cheeks and there’s a lump in my throat. I don’t like to be in this place. However, it’s the best place to be ~ the place of a softened heart that can be molded to what God intends. Do you ever feel like this? That there is a physical change that happens literally, when you cry? Like the chemical make-up of our tears can physically alter the muscle of our heart? I think it does ~ our God is amazing and as part of His creation, that means I’m pretty amazing too!
About one year ago, I was at a women’s day conference at our church, and the whole time I felt God whispering eight little words with huge implications to me…”I am calling you to be set apart.” Um, no thank you! I don’t want to be set apart…I want to stay comfortable. I like the way things are going!
I have not felt settled in my spirit since then ~ but I haven’t run off to Tarshish completely. (check out the story of Jonah – chapter 1 – in the bible if I’ve lost you.)
So at the day retreat, during the sessions, I kept finding myself without a “seat saved” for me by anyone! At first I was so sad…and that was the first time I heard God say, “I am calling you to be set apart.” Well, I was doing a part of the introduction to the morning, so I was sitting up front with the other amazing women that I’m on Council with. We all did our thing and went back to sit down…but I was the only one who went back to sitting in the front row…by…myself. Then I heard it again, “I am calling you to be set apart.” Uh, yeah…I get it…I’m literally sitting in the front row BY MYSELF. Well, the speaker was about 5 seats away from me, but once she got up to speak…oy vey! And I hate sitting by myself!
Guess what? I didn’t hate it that day.
Guess what else? That scared me!
After lunch, we went back to the main sanctuary for the last session and I ended up walking in just before things started…and no one save a seat for me. And I heard the kind whisper of the Holy Spirit, “I am calling you to be set apart.” So I went back up to the front row….to sit…by…myself.
Guess what? I wasn’t by myself ~ I was surrounded by the greatness and glory of my Heavenly Father.
I didn’t hate sitting by myself.
I felt free.
I think maybe part of the reason that the Lord has put this particular story to come to mind today, is to remind me that He is still calling me. I am called to be set apart. It’s frightening but freeing all at the same time. Today, I’m embracing anew the call I know that is on my life. I don’t have to have all the answers, but I need to pay attention to God’s direction. Where to walk and what direction to take!
Life is full of various experiences that God uses to grab our attention. I’m going through a few, shall we say, interesting situations (yeah…that’s code for frustrating, sad, irritating, and ridiculous) and out of all of it, I know that God is STILL on the throne and that He is STILL in charge, and that I can STILL trust Him fully with my whole heart, mind, body, and soul!
I Peter 5:10-11 says, “Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen.”
YES! There isn’t anything that I’ll go through that the Lord doesn’t already have control over! This is a great source of joy for me! It’s not that God allows difficult circumstances to come into my life, it’s that He will use those times for my good and His glory. I may not always understand them, but that’s not the point. The point is that I continue to run to Him and His Word, to bathe in the truth of His grace and love.
Colossians is a beautiful book of the New Testament full of so much encouragement and direction in how we need to be living our life as true followers of Jesus Christ. I love chapter 3 the most I think ~ balm to my soul on many occasions. Verses 1-4 say, “So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”
To follow the road that God has called me to, the way that He has called me to allow Him to set me apart ~ it has a simple first step ~ to look up and set my mind and heart on the things of the Lord. The next logical step to help accomplish that goal ~ be in His Word daily and have many times throughout the day that I’m in conversation with my Lord. How else can I know what He wants from me and where He wants me to go?
God has called YOU too!
You have a unique purpose that only you can fulfill ~ that’s how God works. He’s so creative to fill this world with people who have talents and gifts to do His will. But we have to surrender our own comforts and desires ~ trusting that God’s best is better than we can ever imagine!
When you hear the whispering of the Holy Spirit, reminding you that you are called to be set apart, don’t run to Tarshish ~ run to Him and embrace the adventure!