by Sue Tell
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD,
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Rachel celebrated her 30th milestone last July. She connected with several of us (older, ah-hem) friends asking for a gift - our gift of words written on a card and delivered by snail mail. How old-fashioned. I loved it. Rachel is a wise woman. She hunts wisdom and listens well. How would I respond? What scripture would I share? One concept kept resurfacing - wiggle-room; guarding space for the unexpected; planning for the unknown.
Spiritually speaking, wiggle-room is a necessary ingredient of Sabbath-living, my designated time for enjoying the friendship of God. However, there is more. Here are three lessons I practice to preserve wiggle-room (and my sanity).
White-space on my calendar is as much of an event as the doctor appointment or lunch with my friend. It is my designated time for rest and re-fueling. I keep a weekly white-space day. One of my goals for that day is to not need car keys. Bill and I also reserve a white-space month every summer for time at our small cabin in the mountains. We call it our Sanctuary.
I don't need to create ministry. God whispered those words to me over 15 years ago. I love ministering to women! Creative ways to live that out abound. As God fleshed out his meaning for me, I learned that my most significant context is my normal world. Ministry surrounds me. When I live inside my God-created boundaries, ministry will happen.
The need is not the call. I could do that, but should I? I'm learning that the word should is a yellow-flashing light. I need to slow down and look both ways; look back to how God has been speaking; look forward to how this need might affect my now. The needs will always exceed my capacity.
Two scriptures I regularly pray over, John 1:12 and I John 3:1, both call us children. Children need protection. After Noah, his family, and all the creatures were safely inside the ark, Genesis 7:16 (NLT) records, "... then the Lord closed the door ..." It is frightening to think what might have transpired if God had not closed the door on his children. God closing doors is a good thing. It protects and it preserves wiggle-room.
I don't always follow my own wisdom well, but referring back to and praying over these principles provide guidance as new opportunities come. Last summer I invited Jo and Kathy to a Bible study I was facilitating. Both were intrigued by the topic, both drawn, both prayed. Jo signed on the dotted line. Kathy declined...but please ask again.
Both considered wiggle-room. Jo opted out of another small group to make space; Kathy is one semester away from finishing an online course. It was easy to affirm the decisions of both my friends. They were living the way I want to live, considering wiggle-room.
The scripture I shared with Rachel was from I Thessalonians 1 in The Message, "God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special...Something happened in you ... Your life is echoing the Master's Word ..." (I changed it to the first person.)
God has something special for each of us. Does my calendar allow the wiggle room for God’s plans to become reality?
Father, thank you especially for the wisdom my husband shared; “the need is not necessarily the call”. Help me to be aware of needs around me, but more importantly, to know which of those needs You have designed for me to meet. Amen
Sue Tell and her husband Bill have been married for almost 46 years and have served on the staff of The Navigators for 46 years as well. Although their official roles have changed over the years, the campus ministry has always been a part. Sue writes a weekly faith-based blog, Echoes of Grace, that you can find at suetell.com. (Echoes of Grace is "on leave" for the months of July and August for some website updates but will return September 6.) Sue also enjoys facilitating Sabbath-Living retreats to help women grow in their friendship with God. Bill and Sue have two married sons, five grands, and her favorite walking buddy, a Golden Retriever named Lexie.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to the interview “The Demons of War" so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
The impact of war on individuals and families often goes unnoticed. Dr. Chuck Betters and his wife, Sharon, engage in some of the most down to earth dialog in this series. . . These veterans respond with specific solutions and real answers that will surely benefit those struggling with the “Demons of War.” The Demons of War resource addresses Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.