Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Labor Pains

Last night, I dreamt I was nine months pregnant, about to give birth. In my dream, I was committed to natural birth-- no numbing meds, no knives helping things along-- and I was nervous. "Will I be able to handle it? Will I cave in and ask for the epidural? Will I sacrifice the potential health of my baby for a few hours of pain relief?" The dream ended with me walking down the hall to the delivery room, knowing something intense was about to go down. 

This post is not about natural childbirth and the controversy of modern medicine. It's about what the Lord is doing in my heart as I prepare to give birth to a new season of life and ministry; as I walk toward a calling filled with unknowns-- will it hurt? Will I be able to handle it? Will I sacrifice the potential fruit of this ministry for relief from conflict, rejection, or exhaustion? These are the questions running through me on a constant basis, and I don't think they apply to my situation alone. Anyone facing a new task or calling or ministry-- a friend who recently got promoted to charge nurse in her hospital wing, a friend graduating seminary and starting a daunting new job, a friend preparing for marriage, a friend learning how to be a mother-- I'm sure they wrestle with similar questions, too. 

What I'm learning is that God is calling me to something I'm just not ready for yet. That means the answer to my questions is "no! You can't do it. You won't be able to handle it. If left in your own power, you will cave in and sacrifice your ministry for the sake of relief from discomfort." In other words, God is leading me into a situation where I have to realize my utter dependence on Him and cling to Him. I was expressing some of these feelings to my mentor last week and she said, "good! It sounds like you're in a good place to start ministry. You realize you're bankrupt and that you can't be confident in yourself. Only Jesus." 

I woke up from my dream and somehow, my mind went to Moses. When God called him to go stand against Pharaoh on behalf of the Israelite slaves, his response was, "Lord, who am I to lead these people?" God did not comfort Moses, however, by giving Moses a pep talk about his great personality, his good education, or how his personal strengths would outweigh any areas of personal weakness. Instead, God said, "I will be with you." Any confidence Moses had as he started the long trek back to Egypt was not in himself. It was in the Lord and His promise to transform Moses into the man God had called him to be. 

That comforts me. If the Lord calls me to something-- whether physical parenthood or spiritual parenthood-- it doesn't mean I'm able to do it. But it does mean that the Lord is able, and that He will use the very call to transform me. I am who God says I am and I will do what God says I will do-- by His power, not my own. 

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