At the beginning of this year I had the honor of attending the Cabinet Meeting of the Holston Conference with my mentor. That was the first time I met our new Bishop- Mary Virginia Taylor. It was during this gathering that I saw how very down to earth and authentic the leaders of the Holston Conference are. I mean here I was, a mom, filling in as a supply pastor in a little rural church in Carroll County, VA. and I was among the top leaders of the UMC. All educated, degreed, ordained and called by God. I was feeling out of place. I saw them as being “ somebody” and me as being “ just a mom.” LOL I was expecting something much different than what I saw. Most were dressed in jeans & tennis shoes and all had some sort of electronic device in front of them….all except Bishop T. She chose to use a white legal pad and pen that day. When I met her I noticed the twinkle in her eye and the joy of the Lord in her countenance. She was beaming with the Father’s love. We were introduced and very warmly welcomed. We shared some laughs, prayers and finally ministry celebrations. At the end of our time together the Bishop and all of the Cabinet members laid hands on us and prayed over us and our ministry areas. Then we were on our way.
It was one of those marker moments that I’ll never forget.
This weekend I “met” the Bishop again, only this time at Annual Conference. That same twinkle was there and the joy of the Lord had increased! Praise God!
Annual Conference is a time when all the church leaders in the conference area come together to share in celebrating the many ministries and business of the church. While it’s not all fun and games, I choose to focus on the goodness of what GOD is doing among the body of Christ, and let me just tell you He IS HERE! The celebrations were many and I came away with an increased joy in knowing that the United Methodist Church has the Father’s heart for missions both near and far.
But I’m not blogging about that tonight.
My heart is wrapped around what the Bishop said this morning…
Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally. Matt. 28:16-17 ( MSG)
( The conference theme is “IMAGINE.” )
“to “Just IMAGINE” what God can do!!!” ( Bishop T)
This is how I see it…
When we begin to imagine what God can do ( and wants to do) and we let go of the things that are holding us back, things like pain, unforgiveness, the past, our own expectations, and sometimes jobs and even relationships, then we can be released to do the work that God has called us to do. When we are truly set free, then we can help set others free through the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s not about us, but about God working through us. He sent His Spirit here to help us, to counsel us, and if we are holding anything back then the Spirit has no room to work. That junk takes up room and we must let it go so that God can do the work. When we let go of everything that hinders us and we say ‘YES” I hear you Lord, and “NO” I don’t know how to do this , but I TRUST YOU GOD to do this,” THEN God has all the room He needs to do a mighty work through us. It’s like releasing a dove to fly. You hold it gently in your hands but it can’t go anyplace until you release it. It’s the same way with our own destiny. We must be released in order to walk into it and when you finally let go-it stretches it’s wings, circles and flies away into freedom to live for God, to bring life and to be a messenger of peace, hope and love to the world. When you say, “ Lord, I don’t understand how this will work but I know you are a God of goodness and you know the plans you have for me. I will follow you, I will focus on you and I will not be stopped from doing what YOU have called me to do even if it’s different, misunderstood, unheard of or risky. I WILL FOLLOW YOU.” Then things begin to change inside of you. With each declaration you speak forth and each step you take your faith increases and your trust grows. Like the dove, you circle higher and higher. One day you wake up and you say, “ Wow, Lord, we’ve come a long way and we still have a lot of work to do. I better get ready, I better train harder , I better prepare more and I better press into that secret place with You, Lord.” We must get real with ourselves and then get right with God. It’s up close and personal. It’s between the two of you and no one else. It’s like a dance. You follow His lead BUT you have to let Him lead! When we do this, then things begin to fall away and nothing is as important as your time with the Lord. The brushes drop, the paint spills and the canvas lays blank until He gives you the picture. It’s not about you, but about Him.
Imagine what He wants to do through you….
It’s exactly as Bishop T said:
“ This is not the time for any of us to “hold back,” to stay in safe and comfortable places, to have a back up plan in case the things we imagine-the dreams we dare to dream-don’t work out. Instead, this is the time we must put our hands to the plow, get to work in the world, and refuse to look back, risking it all to be the people and the church that God calls us to be. If we can do this and set ourselves loose into the world, just imagine-just imagine-what God can do!”
The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me
because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
pardon all prisoners.
Today, I saw and heard God through new eyes. I felt the love of the Father through a woman who has totally and wholly committed herself to God. She didn’t plan it this way- but He did! She didn’t stay her in comfort zone or snuggle up on that padded pew-she said, ‘ here I am Lord, send me.”
And He did.
For such a time as this.
As a woman in ministry working in a not so friendly man’s world- I came away inspired, encouraged, equipped, and empowered to walk into the destiny that God planned for me long ago and to BE the woman that God has called me to be in HIS world. He has only grown my desire to help others do the same. To unloose ourselves from the grip of our past and IMAGINE what GOD can DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
THIS is freedom!
I encourage YOU to IMAGINE what God has planned for your life. Then I DARE YOU to write it down. No one has to see it except you. Write down anything that comes to mind even if its crazy. Ask God to reveal scriptures to you that will speak to you about what you are hearing and He will. Draw a picture of it. Paint it. Sketch it, scribble it. It’s between you and God and no one else. It’s not going to be graded or critiqued. It is an exercise of FAITH. When we exercise our muscles- they grow stronger- I am daring you to exercise your faith by doing this one little thing. When you feel like it’s all out on paper-then pray over it. Put it someplace where you will see it daily and every time you lay eyes on it- send up a prayer.
Water it with prayer, wait, listen, obey, and watch what happens.
IMAGINE…I dare you!
“Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.”