Lately my prayers are full of tension between belief of "Lord do it! You can! I believe!" to trusting "Yet, Your will be done!"
Trust and belief.
Neither of these has ever come easy for me. I'm stubborn, I question everything, I'm too self-reliant, I don't like to ask for help, and I love playing devil's advocate. I've struggled in this tension ever since Jesus said to me, 18 years ago, "Follow me" and I finally said, "Let's do this!"
I trust and believe, then I doubt and question, then I repent and repeat.
I have only recently found real freedom in this tension. I will never understand the Lord and His ways. The more I know Him and read His words, the more I understand this is exactly how it's always been and, mostly likely, exactly how it's supposed to be. Even so, I trust and believe. I may not trust and believe in my current circumstance, and I'm not supposed to. I can, however, trust and believe Him, even when it doesn't make sense. Especially when it doesn’t make sense.
I'm about to be very vulnerable with you all. I don't believe I've ever said any of this out loud, expect just to a few that are most close to me. I shared with you that I want to be a writer and you just heard all about my failures, but I didn't tell you everything.
My recent tension in prayer has been this--
"I want to be on this shelf. Your will be done."
Since college I stuffed this dream, this feeling, this knowing, this hope, as far down as it could go. I hid behind humility. "No not me. I don't need to be published. No, I don't want to be the next Beth Moore; I just want to be Becky. I don't need a publishing deal."
Truth? I was lying. I wanted to be exactly like Beth Moore. I still do. (I can't believe I said that out loud.)
I stuffed this because I feared that I could never measure up. You know why? Beth Moore wasn't an international bestseller and speaker to me; she was my Sunday school teacher. I've never wanted to be like the bestseller and stadium filling Beth Moore, largely because I don't know her. I'm not much for Christian celebrity. I've wanted, however, to be like my Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Moore.
I sat in the middle left and took notes as fast as my baby Christian hands could each Sunday. I picked up the cassette tapes (yes, cassette tape) of the previous weeks teaching and listened to it at least 5 times each week. I could not get enough. I had absolutely no clue others knew who she was-- quite a surprise when I went to college and saw others with my Sunday school teacher's Bible studies! I thought it was cool that our church bookstore sold them for her. (Ha!)
She taught me that the Word could be hilarious and unbelievably practical. She taught me that I was accepted and loved regardless. She taught me that He desires radical obedience. She taught me that His Word was all I needed. She taught me that, even at 16, you could flip through His Scriptures and dive in deep and study Greek words. She taught me how God can use anyone if you say yes to Him when He asks. She taught me that serving your church in teaching is one of the sweetest gifts you can give. Investing in others as often as you can with the gifts you've been given is the best kind of offering. She taught me that prayer was foundational and couldn't be replaced with studying scripture.
She's never once made it about her, even when others do. I've never walked away more impressed with her, but every single time totally in awe of the God she teaches and more obsessed with His Word. In our generation of platform building, she breaks every rule. She doesn't just say He is enough; she lives it. Nothing has been about our likes, comments, applauses or purchases. It's been a beautiful model for this young teacher and writer.
She always has and always will be one of my greatest heroes-- never longing to have her same fame, just her same level of impact. Does that make sense?
Then comes along the Internet and all the insecurities of my lack of measuring up were confirmed. Do you know how many women have a passion very similar to mine? About one billion and twenty-three give or take a few.
Do you feel this way too? How could you possibly measure up? You are so far behind and can't ever get a break or catch up. Hang tight and keep reading. I so hope you are encouraged today, friend.
Back to my dream, knowing, hope, and now, very public, prayer: this shelf.
I know a lot of people want to write books, and I'm open to that too if the Lord brings book ideas to me.
Today, I want to write Bible studies. I know I already do through Sacred Holidays. I do this because I believe we can do the very thing God has called us to right now. We have to start somewhere, train ourselves up to the thing God has for us. The training is not wasted and it's also absolutely needed. Too many of us are waiting when we should be training. Too many times we are waiting for the big moment, like the Olympics is all that mattered for those athletes this summer. Every single practice and competition before this day mattered. And every step after the Olympics matters. We don't have one moment of a calling waiting for us, maybe for some, but not for most. Each day is a part of our journey. A new chance to say yes to God and love others.
I believe there is still more to come for me-- particularly standalone (non-seasonal) studies. More doesn't make what is before me now any less, just different.
I want to write standalone Bible studies because I desperately want to help women love God's Word and see it as enough. I talk to too many women that struggle to spend time with Him and my heart breaks for them. I get it. I know it's normal. Yet, I want to write studies that ignite a passion for women in God's Word! Not a routine or an obligation or a checklist. Nope, I want women to know that it really and truly is "living and active" (Hebrews 4:12).
We read a lot of books and blogs and magazines. We listen to a lot of preachers and podcasters and friends. We need more scripture in our lives-- God's unfiltered Word speaking right to us.
For so long I thought my desires were impure in wanting to be published by Lifeway. I thought I had made it about myself. Did I want the fame? The glory?
I can honestly say that's not even close to it after having experienced all sides of self-publishing four studies now. Self-publishing works best for Sacred Holidays right now. However, I would LOVE to have the hearts, minds and souls within the walls of Lifeway all throughout the studies I write separate from Sacred Holidays. Why? Frankly, they know more than I do.
I love to write and teach and will keep doing it as long as the Lord gives me words. However, I really don't like everything else. I would love to be freed up to not be the shipping director, marketing team, proof reader, content editor, designer, etc. We do have a team of people working with me now and they are rocking it. Even so, for a stand-alone study, I want the wisdom of the editors, the creativity of those designers, the insight of whoever else is behind the name. I know they aren't perfect. No one is.
I want to be freed up to write, teach, minister and be lead. I already am a writer and teacher. However, I want to become a better writer and teacher. I fully believe that by joining forces with a publisher that, together, we can create better materials than apart.
This past week I texted some friends and asked them to pray this with me. Tonight I felt like I should put this before you all too.
Will you pray with and for me?
Here's the catch: Lifeway has a "Don't find us, we will find" you policy when it comes to Bible study writers. There's no way in until they find you.
So will you join me in praying for a way in? Then join me in praying, "His will be done." Full of faith that He could, and trusting whatever is best. The trusting doesn't allow room for God to not pull through on the first, but to do whatever is best because I don't know what He does. As my former paster, Curtis Jones, used to say (paraphrased): "We don't add the "Thy Will be done" because we are afraid He can't. We add it because we know His way is better. So we come with all our faith in what we are asking of Him knowing He has our best in mind."
What can you pray for yourself today? Give it to God-- full of faith and full of trust.
What can you pray for your friends today? Often times it's hard for our friends to see the things that God has for them, so we need to pray full of faith and trust until they can see it.
If you know others who are going through this, will you share this post with them?
I'll leave you with a song that just came on my Pandora station as I made my final read through on this blog post. I'd never heard this song before, but it's absolutely perfect:
"Thy Will Be Done" by Hilary Scott