Life is good. So good. My days are filled with five small children to feed, train, and keep alive. My nights usually consist of a cozy book in one hand and a nursing baby in the other. My brain is full of lists and thoughts and ideas.
Transfer the laundry over to the dryer. Unload the dishwasher. Floss the kids’ teeth. Call the doctor for their next appointment. I wonder how my husband’s day at work was. I need to create a chore chart. I should plant some bulbs this fall. Maybe something that attracts butterflies. I need to teach the girls about butterflies in school this year. Oooo, I should talk about butterflies in my next lesson at church.
On and on it goes. I recently read an article describing it as the “mother load”. Even when women get enough sleep, they can still feel exhausted because of the continual activity in their minds. I believe that my “mother load” along with lack of daily Bible reading and designated prayer time, is why I did not hear God clearly when He was speaking to me this past spring.
The beginning of this year brought our 5th baby. He is a treasure to us, but let’s be real, five kids is a lot to manage! Along with the kiddos, I am a wife, a home-school teacher, a daughter, and a friend. I also lead at church as Associate Director of Lifegate Women. I love leading and teaching. It ignites my passions. It fuels my soul. It connects me to women that I care so deeply for.
My brain and my calendar was full. God was trying to speak to me, but I could not hear because I was not being a good listener. I wasn’t taking time alone with Him to listen. My brain was so consumed with my passions that His voice wasn’t loud enough to cut through the raucous. He needed my attention. So, He spoke to my friend. He told her, “I want Samantha for myself. I want her to come away with Me.”
My friend is a good friend. She was able to hear God speaking to her because she was taking time to quiet herself and talk with Him. She listened to Him. She brought the message to me and I said, “Nope. No way. I’m fine. God’s not telling me to take a break.”
When she spoke God’s truth out loud, it was like my soul perked up. It was like adjusting the staticky radio channel to get a clearer signal.
Over the following weeks, I was able to get alone in my secret place with God. I asked Him if He really told my friend those things. Was He really drawing me to Him? Was He asking me to step away from ministry? I felt the covering of His grace leaving me when I was doing ministry work. I was stressed. Tired. I was not being a good leader. Without His grace, I was striving to make it work and that is never a good idea.
So many thoughts. Pushing and pulling me. A battle between my flesh, spirit, and soul raged on. I thought, I can sustain this level of commitment. I’m a high capacity person! I can surely manage 5 kids, a marriage, and shepherding 8 leaders at 3 campuses. If I quit, people will think I just couldn’t cut it. If I quit, how will I move forward in growing as a speaker and teacher? If I want to be successful, I can’t afford to take a break. If I step away, nobody will know me anymore.
Pride. A big ol’ slap in the face from pride! Once I recognized these prideful thoughts, I knew what needed to be done.
I set up an appointment with my associate pastor. We chatted and discussed current ministry issues. We reviewed some high and lows of the past year. Then she asked the question I knew was coming. The one I was dreading to answer. She asked, “What are your thoughts for next semester? What is God showing you?”…… I sat there for 30 minutes trying to muster the courage to say what I was about to say. I let it out. I told her that she was right, God was calling me away. God wants to speak to me because He has things to teach me. He loves me and misses alone time with me. When I spend time with Him, the conversation regularly revolves around ministry and what I need from Him so that I can teach it to the women. But, He wants me…. just me. And as a good friend should do, she came closer. She held my hand. She cried with me and she told me, “It’s going to be okay. I’m so proud of you.”
Once I was obedient, my soul was able to breathe again. I felt light and refreshed. I was sad. I would even say that I was heartbroken. But I was also joyful.
Listen my friend, obedience can be hard. Even when our hearts desire obedience, our flesh will push against it and try to rule over us. We have to be courageous. We need friends that love Jesus, pray for us, and safely speak truth into our lives. With prayer and the strength of Holy Spirit in you, you can quiet your flesh. You can choose obedience. Then and only then will you be able to breathe without difficulty. You will rest knowing that you have obeyed. It feels oh so good.
My prayer is that my heart seeks obedience first. Above my desires, above my dreams for my future, I want to be faithful. I desire God’s overwhelming grace in my life. I recently read that “good is the enemy of best”. I don’t want a good life, I want the best life that God has planned for me!
I understand how hard it can be to say, “I need a break” from great ministry work. But now I also understand more clearly how obedience brings such sweet peace. Let it be said of me that I love serving my Father in ministry work, but even more than that, I love Him and He loves me. I choose not to be successful. I choose obedience. I choose Him.