Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ideas, Burdens and Blessings

For the past couple days, I have spent many, many hours doing something that really needed to be done - but that I did not want to do.......... painting my garage!

It started out as just an idea, then became a burden requiring much endurance, and then became a blessing.

We have lived in our house for almost 13 years, and between three kids, all their friends, bikes, beach chairs, basketballs, footballs, tools, ladders, cords, and everything in between that gets thrown into a garage - plus lots of holes in the walls from all that stuff getting tossed about - my garage, was a disaster.

So I went to Home Depot and loaded up on paint and supplies, and set out about my task early on Monday morning. The real question is why I decided to tackle this project in the middle of July, when it is 95 degrees outside, and probably a few degrees hotter in a two car garage. But that is a question for another day.

I have found that whenever I paint, the prepping part of painting is worse than the painting itself. Trying to get the garage emptied out enough to do anything in there, was the first hurdle, then our driveway looked like we were having a huge yard sale.

Then I patched up some damaged areas in the wall with a sheetrock patch kit, spackled all the holes, then sanded them down when they were dry. Next came the accurate application of the painters tape all over the floors, ceilings, window sills, window panes, etc, which could make even the calmest person begin to have a mild anxiety attack.

Then, finally, we (me and my children, who had been involuntarily drafted for this project) began to paint. At first, it seemed fun! Seeing the soft suede colored paint covering up all the dirty old white paint on the walls, was cool.

But after about seven hours of this "fun", I wanted to be done. I was tired of painting. I justed wanted to snap my fingers like a genie and have it all be done.

But the job was far from done.

So the next morning I got up early, and began again, ready to tackle the garage with new gusto. I worked all day to finish the painting and trim work, with the exception of a few distrations with the kids, then around 9pm, I sighed a big sigh of relief, thinking that I was finally finished.... until I looked up, and noticed that I had only painted 1/3 of the huge beam that stretched across the ceiling! My heart sunk - I did not want to go on! I did not want to get back on that ladder! I wanted to take a shower!

But I pulled up my boot straps, and the ten foot ladder, and got back to work, and shortly after 10pm, the work was done. The floor was swept, and everything was organized. I felt so proud of my efforts! I could see the final outcome, and it was well worth the effort. Now I could enter my garage in the days and months to come, without trying to walk through it with my eyes close so I didnt see the mess!

As I was thinking about the project, and how good it felt to have it all finished - I began to think about how the things that God calls us to do in life, can seem the same way as tackling a big home project, and how these projects or repairs always seem to get bigger and harder once you get started.

Gods call on our lives can be just like my garage painting - an idea, a burden, and a blessing.

When we feel God calling us to do something, even if we procrastinate for a while about it, hopefully we will eventually say "YES! YES LORD! USE ME!". Thats the idea part. God plants ideas and desires in our hearts, but it is up to us to say yes.

But in the same way that the garage painting idea seemed good at first then became a burden - Gods call on our lives can feel the same way at times. You see, its easy to say yes to something, but its much more difficult to actually act upon that desire. Ideas and dreams are worthless, until we allow ourselves to act upon them.

We have to take the desire from the idea stage, to the reality stage - making it become a reality in our life, not just a dream in our heart. All the while, trusting in Jeremiah 29:11 that God has a future and a hope for us, plans to prosper us and not harm us. We could have all kinds of dreams about things we might like to do, but none of them matter, until we are willing to step out of our comfort zone, and do a little shopping - not at Home Depot - but in the Bible, to search for His Words that will encourage us and equip us to get to work.

But once we say yes, that call, may begin to feel a little like a burden. We have to do a lot prep work, to get us ready for service. We have to allow God to fill in the holes and repair the scars that our life has left on our hearts.

Lets be honest, serving Christ is not always fun and games. Sometimes it can be extremely stressful and emotionally draining. It causes us to make sacrifices, and become more transparent.

Serving Christ is always rewarding, but at the same time, can make us feel tired and wonder if we are ever going to meet our goal. We can get frustrated or feel unworthy or incapable, and each time we think we are making progress or doing what God has called us to do, we stumble in our faith walk, make mistakes in our lives, and may feel ill-equipped to fulfill the goal that we are striving for.

We may feel like we are in over our heads - burdened - and wonder why we ever even started such a project in our life.

But then - we begin to see the fruits of our efforts. We begin to see God helping us overcome hurdles as we make Him a priority in our life, and as we trust Him to guide us in our actions and decisions.

We begin to have more comfort and maybe feel a little more comfortable, even though we are out of our normal comfort zone.

We begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and realize that just maybe we can be successful in this project we have taken on - the project of living life out loud for Jesus, despite the blood, sweat and tears that we may have to put it. We may realize, that God is making our ideas and dreams come true.

We begin to feel blessed - and accept the realization that God really did know what was best for us, and now He is blessing us through our obedience!

Ideas become reality. Reality becomes a temporary burden. The burden becomes a blessing.

Its a process that we all have to go through, whether it is about painting a garage, or painting a life that portrays Jesus working in and through us. And one day, we can step back and breathe a sigh of relief, as we take in all that God has done.

But keep in mind - that just when we think we are finished, God is really just getting started.

- below are a few picturs of our garage painting escsapades -

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Shelly said...

Right now, I'm feeling God's calling being a bit of a burden . . . it has brought on (I think) some major spiritual warfare.

I will be attending She Speaks next week for the first time. I definitely feel called to attend. And, now I'm dealing with MAJOR distractions in these last critical stages of my preparation.

Will you pray for me?

Thanks for sharing this post.


Tracie Miles said...

Shelly - I would be privileged to pray for you! I know first hand the spiritual attacks that we come under when we are doing something that God calls us to and something that is becoming a threat to Satan. I experience it each year, along with every person on our speaker team, prior to the conference. Satan knows that powerful things happen at She Speaks! So just remember that you in an army that is strong, and that we are praying for you! And I want to pray for you below -

Dear Heavenly Father - I lift up my sister in Christ, Shelly, to you today. You know the attacks that are happening in her life and the reason that Satan wages war against us, to those who are trying to glorify You through their lives. You call us to do things that are way out of our comfort zones, which may cause us to begin feeling confused, concerned and lose confidence. We may even wonder if we heard You correctly, but we trust that in Your hands, all things will turn out for good. But Lord please guide Shellys heart and give her the strength to handle whatever adversities she is facing this week as she prepares for She Speaks. Put Satan in the back seat of her life, and protect her with a hedge of protection, surrounding her with angels and love. Help us all to put on the full armor of God and continue to be joyful and excited about what you have planned for our lives. Help Shelly and every other woman who is attending She Speaks to be ready for the battle by fully relying on You. Draw us closer to you in all that we face, and help us see You at work in our hearts and our lives even when things are difficult. Guide our thoughts so that they stay focused on You and what plans You have called us to, instead of focusing on our own abilities, insecurities or problems. Lord, we trust you in everything, and believe that You will not forsake us or leave us alone. Lord I ask that you make Your presence known to Shelly over the coming week, fill her heart with joy and excitement, and her mind with nothing but good and positive thoughts and expectations. Help her to negate all the lies that Satan will try to tell her, and instead fill her completely with a sense of wholeness, that can only be found in You. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

See you next week!