The Place You Chose For Me - www.imperfectvessel.com

The Place You Chose For Me

Not long before my paternal grandmother passed away at the age of 93, she told my dad that she had been waking up with a song in her heart, of which she looked for the lesson of the day.

Music was such a huge part of her life, singing in the church choir for decades, and traveling the globe with the Ohio Valley Chorale.  Music was her avenue to God and the lessons He had to teach.

I guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

At the age of seven I began my journey in the musical world.  I’d eventually go on to play violin, clarinet, tenor saxophone, and steel drums.  Music awakens something inside of me.  It makes me feel alive.  Just like my sense of the Holy Spirit’s presence, music gives me goosebumps.

A few years ago I had the honor of assisting my paternal grandma as she continued to age and decline in her day to day activities.  The two of us were not particularly close, but we shared a love for NCIS (the original, though we would was NCIS: Los Angeles if we were desperate), and she would freely admit that Abby was her favorite.  We both shared a sweet tooth and of course, a love for music.

Some evenings, when we’d watched all of the NCIS episodes we could find, we’d turn on Comcast’s 400s and find a music station to sit and listen to.  Sometimes we’d talk, but other times we’d just allow the music to fill the apartment.

I remember one evening, as I finished up washing dishes from dinner, she asked aloud, “Why am I still here?”

She’d gotten frustrated with her failing eye sight and shaky hands and spilled some of her dinner on her shirt.  Through tears welling in my eyes, I managed to tell her, “Grandma, He’s got plans for you.  There’s still time left.”

Once she moved to an assisted living facility, we’d remind each other that He had big plans for both of us.  And so after she passed this April, I began waking up with a song in my heart.  For a few weeks it was My Story by Big Daddy Weave, but eventually drifted into To Live is Christ by Sidewalk Prophets.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
—Philippians 1:21, ESV

I cannot listen to this latter song without finding my hands in the air and tears streaming down my face.  The chorus just reaches in and grabs a hold of something inside of me.

“My great desire is to be with You
But this is the place You chose for me
This is the place You chose for me
To lift my cross and give everything
This is the time You gave to me
This is the time You gave to me”

I discovered a part of these plans that Grandma and I talked about.  I wasn’t looking for a new job.  I love the people I work with, but another position found me.  Last week, I went for an interview for a position with a lofty title, at an outreach ministry organization in a rural town about 30 minutes from my home.  I prayed Proverbs 3:5-6 and listened to Lauren Daigle’s CD on my way to the interview, to remind myself to trust in whatever path He had for me.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek His will in all you do,
and He will show you which path to take.
—Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT

With this scripture and Lauren’s song, Trust in You, still ringing in my ears, I walked into the fellowship hall of the church where my interview was to be, and faced a picture of Jesus with the words, Trust in the Lord, written plainly at the bottom.  And so I did.

After a battery of grueling questions before a panel of six, I felt at peace with whatever decision they made.  But the phone call I received a week later, while driving home after dinner with some friends, was the invitation for a different kind of peace and coming home.  Once again, I decided to trust His path.

Starting August 15th, I will be the Executive Director of Epworth Center in Bethesda, Ohio.  Lofty title and big shoes to fill, but this is the place He chose for me.

So I will continue to sing the song in my heart, just like Grandma, and trust in His promises.

“If I rise, let me rise on You
Not on all my successes
My esteem or my pursuits
If I lose, let me lose my life
Cause if I belong to Jesus
The flesh is crucified

For me to live is Christ
To die is gain”

—Sidewalk Prophets

Yeshua

What’s in a name?  that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
— William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare, I’ve been to his home in Stratford-upon-Avon in the Midlands of England.  I’ve seen the site of his Globe theatre in London, and have read a number of his plays.  The above quote is one that I’ve heard countless times with my history in theatre and studies in literature.  But it is one that I never really considered until recently.

Shakespeare’s works are found by many to be difficult to understand and decipher meaning from.  I remember spending many months dissecting the work of Othello in my senior English class in high school, wondering why the man would choose to speak through his characters in such cryptic prose.  Just three years prior, I had studied Romeo and Juliet and though very little of it made sense either, the quote where Juliet argues that names of things hold very little significance, that it is what they truly are, their purpose and meaning that matter, that quote made sense.

Just as cryptic as the acts of Shakespeare’s plays, are some lyrics to songs that I listen to on the radio or through the CD player in my car.  I often laugh at myself for some of the words that I believe the artist is singing when I finally learn the right words.

This year has been an intentional act of seeking to know Him better.  I’ve sought after knowledge of what life was like when He walked the earth, what His character was like, and how He conducted Himself when in the company of His closest friends and disciples.  And so I find it strange that we have taken something so personal, such as His name, chosen by God and announced by the angel Gabriel, and changed it from its original spelling and pronunciation.

The English transliteration of His name, Jesus, is written in bold letters in our churches, our homes and in familiar worship songs.  But the Aramaic, Yeshua, it is unfamiliar.  So imagine my surprise when a, what I believed to be familiar, song surprised me as its cryptic lyrics were finally revealed to me, as I drove to work just the other morning.

We’re a people who love to see Your presence here
In the chaos of life, God let Your name be near

Yours is the kingdom
Yours is the power
Yours is the glory God forever

And then I belted out the chorus that I thought I knew by heart; one that reminds me of Mike Weaver’s visit to my church in the fall and the presence of the Lord was so full during his time of worship:

You are welcome here
Have Your way come and glorify Your name
Yes, you are, You are welcome

But then suddenly the breaks were applied (not to the car, just in my mind) and I heard the words for what they really are:

You are welcome here
Have Your way come and glorify Your name
Yes, you are Yeshua, You are welcome

I started the song from the beginning.  Sure enough, His name was in there.  Just as His friends called him.  Just as His mother whispered in the quiet of a stable and cried at the foot of the cross.

Yeshua, you are welcome.

Sure Shakespeare writes, what’s in a name, but doesn’t Yeshua sound so sweet?

Clearing the Clutter

There’s nothing quite like having all of your earthly possessions placed on your front lawn to humble your heart.

When my home was doused in inches of water after a pipe burst during work hours last fall, my tears mixed with the water leaking through the dining room ceiling, as I declared that everything would be okay, “it is all just ‘stuff'”.

But when my friends showed up, in more ways than one, to help me empty my house of my soggy possessions, in order for repairs to take place, my face burned with chagrin over just how much “stuff” I own. Continue reading “Clearing the Clutter”

Car Seat Confessional - www.imperfectvessel.com

Car Seat Confessional

The car was idling out front as I left the warmth of our friends’ home after our small group’s first gathering of the year.  The residual joy lingered in my bones of being in the presence of these people once again after so many months.  I waved to her as she fiddled with something on the dash.  She rolled the passenger-side window down.

“You okay?  I’ve been praying for you”, I told her because I know that she’s been waging war with her own mind lately.

“Just trying to get warm before I get moving.  Wanna get in?”

I climbed in out of the cold and settled against the chilly leather seat.  And so opened the scene for another car seat confessional. Continue reading “Car Seat Confessional”

Deliver Christ Into the World

A dear friend of mine is in the homestretch; eagerly awaiting the arrival of her second child.  Months of preparations have taken place, and now all there is to do is wait with excited expectation for this new little person to arrive.

And it makes me think about the season we’re celebrating right now, Advent, another time of excited expectation; a time that includes careful preparation and celebration at the arrival of the One who is to come! Continue reading “Deliver Christ Into the World”

A New Creation

In 525,600 minutes this blog has been transformed into a new creation.  Something bigger and much more meaningful than I could have ever imagined when I decided to rename and re-brand this space just a year ago.

See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  {Isaiah 43:19}

Continue reading “A New Creation”

Finding Life’s Purpose

At a young age we’re asked a question and often times our answers change depending on the day, the person asking, or the toy we were playing with.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

My answers typically ranged from wanting to swim with Shamu, be an Olympic gymnast like Mary Lou Retton, skate with Disney on Ice, or to become a teacher.  I also remember wanting to be a grocery bagger at one point. 

It’s pretty fair to say that we’re all rather lucky that the decision for finding life’s purpose is not determined at the age of four!

But what about those of us who have moved on from the innocent dreams of a child and are still struggling to find our way through the mundaness of life?

How exactly do we go about finding life’s purpose?

What’s your life purpose?

This is something that I’ve been studying and praying on lately.  I’m thirty-one years old and growing up, I always viewed women in their 30s to be mature individuals that had their lives on the right track heading towards something special, unlike the floundering around that often takes place in your twenties. So last year as I was turning thirty, I was scared and somewhat depressed because I didn’t feel my life was on the path that I imagined it would be by this third decade of existence.  

But you see, all along I have been focusing on this “plan Bree” instead of “plan G-O-D”!

1 Corinthians 12:1-11 MSG says,

What I want to talk about now is the various ways God’s Spirit gets worked into our lives. This is complex and often misunderstood, but I want you to be informed and knowledgeable. Remember how you were when you didn’t know God, led from one phony god to another, never knowing what you were doing, just doing it because everybody else did it? It’s different in this life. God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can. For instance, by using your heads, you know perfectly well that the Spirit of God would never prompt anyone to say “Jesus be damned!” Nor would anyone be inclined to say “Jesus is Master!” without the insight of the Holy Spirit.

God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:

– wise counsel
– clear understanding
– simple trust
– healing the sick
– miraculous acts
– proclamation
– distinguishing between spirits
– tongues
– interpretation of tongues.

All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.

That last line is a kicker!  “He decides who gets what and WHEN.”

HE, not ME.

I don’t know if you have a devotional that you read through regularly, but if you’re in the search of one, you should definitely check out Jesus Calling. There is also an app that you can download on your smartphone to keep these messages close at all times.

A message that I found in the Jesus Calling devotional and highlighted for times that I started doubting if there was any purpose to my life at all, I think is very fitting with the scripture of 1 Corinthians.

“Approach this day with awareness of who is Boss.  As you make plans for the day, remember that it is I who orchestrate the events of your life.  On days when things go smoothly, according to your plans, you may be unaware of My sovereign Presence.  On days when your plans are thwarted, be on the lookout for Me!  I may be doing something important in your life, something quite different from what you expected.  It is essential at such times to stay in communication with Me, accepting My way as better than yours.  Don’t try to figure out what is happening.  Simply trust Me and thank Me in advance for the good that will come out of it all.  I know the plans I have for you, and they are good.

The scriptures that inspired this reading is derived from Isaiah 55:9-11.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.  As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

And the scripture that brings it all home, from Jeremiah 29:11.  This is a familiar verse to me, but paired with the previous verses, my eyes are finally opened to the weight of its message:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prospers you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

So how do we find life’s purpose?  Is it being a parent, a child, a student, a teacher, a social worker, office employee, manual laborer, a manager, or CEO of a business?

No, those are our roles in life, but our purpose is something greater, provided from God and in HIS timing, that He will show us our purpose.

It may not be the same from year to year, or even month to month, but in our daily lives we need to be alert and aware of the opportunities that God places before us, that we may administer our gifts to His people.  And if you’re anythign like me and question whether or not you have gifts that are worth giving, I remind you (and myself), don’t doubt the Lord. He molded and shaped each of us in His image and designed a plan that will bring glory to His name.

Let’s remember not to turn a blind eye to these opportunities, but seek His assistance as we face life’s obstacles.  After all, with Him NOTHING is impossible.  Each of us has a purpose for something much greater than we can fathom.

Do you find yourself living your life according to your own plan, rather than that of God’s?  Do you wish to accept His will more fully?  If so, please join me in praying this simple prayer…

Heavenly Father, I often get caught up in the idea of what I think my life should be or should hold, and I begin to question the purpose of the chaos that sometimes comes with life and how it fits into my plans.  I have it all wrong.  It’s how it fits into YOUR’S.  I ask that you provide me patience as I await the arrival of the gifts and purpose you have designed especially for me.  And once I am presented an opportunity to use these gifts, I ask that You grant me courage and boldness to face them.  I know that through Your Spirit I can do all things.  I thank you for all that You are and continue to be in my life.  I pray these things in Your Son’s precious and holy name.  Amen.

Linking up at:
Coffee For Your Heart // And more