Monday, January 23, 2017

when you need to know what's next


Our six week summer study had come to an end.  Tears and laughter filled the air as we left the building and said our goodbyes.  I hugged the last few girls and one of them turned back to me as she walked away, the July sunset blazing behind her.

Hey - what's next!?  I need to know what to do next!

I've heard it countless times.

Women's retreats.
Special events.
Bible studies.
Small group gatherings.
Every time I walk with women from the shallow end of spirituality to the depths of abundant living, there is a yearning for more.

Of course there is.

That yearning is not the result of my perfect preparation, but of God's perfect presence.  Once you begin to experience that presence on a consistent basis you never want to go back.  Oh, how I don't ever want a single one of us to go back.
Back to leading instead of being led.
Back to clinging to control instead of clinging to the cross.
Back to making demands instead of waiting for commands.
Back to fumbling around in the dark instead of walking in light.

God's word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

I want you right beside me on that path.  And I don't want you to stop just because our study came to an end or the weekend retreat is over.  I can take your hand and gently guide you.  I can dip my own cupped hand into the living water and hold it up to your lips and watch your thirst quenched for the very first time.  I can do that.  Oh, what an honor to do that.  But what you receive, what keeps you coming back for more, is what God provides in those moments - Himself.

When you ask what's next, I know you want more of those moments, more of Him.  You want a consistent diet of truth and beauty prepared by God himself and served up to you every day.  I don't want you to lose that hunger.  I don't want you to find a substitute thirst quencher.  But I can't go home with you and we can't all have coffee dates every Monday morning and teaching more than six weeks at a time would do me in for good.  In the past, when our time has come to an end, I haven't had much to offer besides a few practical suggestions and some recommended reading.

But, for over a year now I have been working on something for every single person who has asked - What's next?

I could never preach enough sermons or write enough Bible studies to give others everything their souls need.  God may speak through me momentarily, but we were meant for more than a moment.  We were meant for relationship.  I love my relationship with every single one of you, but I desperately want you to know Jesus better than you know me.

Relationship is day after day, week after week, year after year of showing up.
Relationship is making time and space for what matters most.
Relationship is listening and learning and sharing and growing.
Relationship is messy and unpredictable.
And God wants every bit of that with us.

Relationship is - Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.

It is the greatest commandment and it will require our greatest commitment.


But, goodness, that sounds so overwhelming, doesn't it??  


When you ask me what's next, that's the end game - the greatest commitment to the greatest commandment.  But first, we just do one simple thing.  We 

     
     begin.

No big capital letter.  No carefully thought out 5 year plan.  No Bible reading schedule or small group curriculum.


Just - begin...period.


One of the greatest hindrances to our spiritual growth is our failure to launch.  Fear and doubt tell us we have no idea where to actually begin and so we don't do anything at all.  We get stuck somewhere in between a momentary experience with the living God and the hope of an abundant, eternal life with him.


Maybe you're new to this whole spiritually healthy, soul-keeping, Bible studying thing.  Maybe you got a good taste but now it seems the kitchen closed.  Maybe you feasted on the truth of Scripture for years and walked hand-in-hand with Jesus but somewhere along the way something happened and you can't find your way back.  Maybe you're just dried up and worn out.  Maybe you have no idea 'what' you are, but you sure would like to move forward.


What if we all just stood up, looked each other in the eyes and agreed to take a step.  Not a step towards another cause or another fight, but a step towards truth.  A truth to guide us in our fighting and our surrendering, in our 'taking a stand' and our 'taking a seat'.  The precious, grace-filled truth of God's word is the most solid thing I can offer you in this shaky, uncertain world.


With the help of some of my favorite friends I have written a book for all my what's next people.  


The bad news is, I have no idea where the pages of that book will take each one of you.  The good news is, God does.  

The bad news is, I can't write a perfect storybook ending for you.  The good news is, I can help you turn the page to the next chapter.

The official book launch will happen in March, but I would love for us to start gathering together on the virtual back porch now.  In the coming weeks I will share interviews with some of the begin authors and other fun extras!  I want you to be a part of every little bit.  You are my people.  Together we are the what's next people.  So let's begin, shall we?


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