BIG plans, Masterpieces, and what Pastor Dave taught me…

I have the privilege this morning of speaking to a women’s ministry group. The monthly time together is called Mingling with Masterpieces.

Familiar images come to mind when you hear the word masterpiece: Mona Lisa, statue of David, Handel’s Messiah…all worthy of the term for sure.

But consider this: 108 billion people have been born on this earth. Billion. With a B. And the strand of DNA that wires each person has never been duplicated.
In the entire course of history, no one ever has been or ever will be just like me…or just like you.

Masterpiece? I think so!

And consider this:
Psalm 139: 13-16
You created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
This is King David praising God because He sees us and wires us and puts us together before our face is ever seen on the earth.

And He has done it 108 billion times.

 But here is something more amazing:
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

There are promises in the Bible that are for “God’s people”…salvation through faith in Christ, a new heart and new spirit, a place in the family of God

But these two verses speak to the special place each of us has as an individual.

Think about it, my friend. There is a plan made specifically for you…only you.

This is precisely why I am passionate about helping people THINK BIG and focus small.

When you ask a group of first graders what plans they have, you will hear completely uninhibited answers…some off the wall plans, some BIG plans.

We lose that as adults, don’t we? We settle, we get into an adult routine…or we learn that BIG plans can either be a BIG DEAL or a BIG DISASTER, and we are afraid to risk the latter for a chance at the former.

Have you been there? Has it ever occurred to you that what you are doing day in, day out is not especially satisfying?

If that is the case, I would humbly suggest it might be time to THINK BIG and focus small on God’s plan and the place it has in your agenda.

Why? Because God has BIG plans…and you will never be satisfied in life until you know your purpose and the plan God has for you.

Okay, Beth, what does that mean?

It means God has a plan meant to fulfill you because it was uniquely created for you.

It means God’s plan may be bigger than your plan, and you won’t see that until you expand your vision.

Folks, God did not create a unique DNA strand just for you so you could drag through life being mediocre and unhappy!

Understand this: each of us needs to find out purpose and work our purpose in order to be our best selves…not just for our own sake, but for the sake of the people we love, the people we can touch and for the Kingdom of God.

I think we downplay the words of Jesus sometimes.

Matthew 5:14 from the Message
You’re here to be light… God is not a secret to be kept. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

He wasn’t talking about people we might think of as spiritual giants. No – your soul was created to burn brightly and shine as much as anyone else!

And how about this…

John 14:12
The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things.

Jesus wasn’t kidding. God has BIG plans. We need to THINK BIG.

Folks, God BELIEVES in YOU. He does! When you understand how much God believes in you AND you learn to believe in yourself, BIG things can happen.

So then you might ask, “How do I start to think BIG?”

Have you seen the magnet/shirt/wall plaque that says, “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”

That is exactly where you start. What makes you itch? What gets your blood pumping? What makes you forget how many hours have gone by? How do you REALLY enjoy spending your time? And wouldn’t you love to do more of that?

Sometimes when I talk to people about this, they question the validity of doing what they love as a vocation. 

That is a complex subject for another day…but I know this for sure:
God put passions and desires and gifts in every one of us. We have an obligation to use those gifts, to find our purpose and work it.

How, you ask, will you know?

You can do a spiritual gifts analysis. You can talk to people who know you well.
I did that. More than once. But the door was closed because part of me didn’t believe it.
I didn’t believe Jeremiah 29:11 was for me.                                                                   I thought I had missed too many chances.                                                                   
I thought I wasn’t special enough or good enough.                                                      
I thought I had too many problems.

How about you? Have you ever believed any of those lies?

I spent a lot of years thinking small, living small. It didn’t serve me or anyone around me. It certainly didn’t serve God.

I am not dismissing the value of spiritual gift surveys, but I believe this to be true -when you get real with God, and allow Him to get real with you, the plan will come alive, your passions will show themselves…and if you are like me, you will find you have known all along what they were.

In addition to wanting to be the first female in Major League Baseball, I always always always wanted to be a teacher and speaker.

TRUE STORY:
I was 11 years old, outside throwing a tennis ball off the cement block building behind our house. A friend appeared from around the corner of the building with a puzzled look on her face. She heard me talking and was surprised to find me alone. Who was I talking to?
With complete honesty, I told her I was practicing being interviewed because some day people would want to hear what I have to say.
She looked at me like I was crazy and walked – or maybe ran – away.

But I believed it! I was a young kid with who could THINK BIG…until the world interfered and convinced me that I wasn’t special.

I spent close to thirty years wandering in that wilderness of believing what the world said about me. Praise God for my beloved friend David Panther and a circle of wonderful friends who walked with me, encouraged me, modeled for me.
And look…I have come back to the place where I listen more to God than to the world – and my passions are still the same.

I am a writer and teacher and speaker…just like I practiced being so long ago.

Please understand that the plan God has for you may or may not be something that affects your vocation. I am not suggesting you quit your job on Monday.

But that is what Patty Stonesifer did. She was a Senior VP at MicroSoft, then the CEO of the Gates Foundation. She left at the end of 2008 to pursue her passions. She served on the board of the Gavi Fund, which helps to provide vaccines to developing countries. She has also served on the U.S. delegation to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Aids.
Patty Stonesifer is currently the CEO of Martha’s Table, a non-profit corporation in Washington, DC that develops sustainable solutions to poverty. She believed there was something more – even though she worked for a philanthropic giant – she saw a different purpose. So she quit and followed her heart.

I hear you…Patty Stonsifer had millions of dollars – of course she could do whatever she wanted.

Cheryl Krueger didn’t have millions of dollars. She started a bakery – one bakery in Columbus, OH – with her college roommate.  One bakery that, in seven years, became Cheryl & Co. And she became a multi-millionaire.

Mother Theresa won the Nobel Prize because she was so passionate about helping the poorest of the poor. She wasn’t a millionaire – but her foundation has helped millions of people.

We need to THINK BIG.

That doesn’t mean we all be public figures or our plan will take us all over the world. It means that, in God’s economy, every piece is important.
The body has 206 bones. Do you know what the smallest one is? The stirrup. It is the size of a grain of rice. Consider this: The footplate of the stirrup bone is attached to a membrane called the oval window, which leads to the inner ear. It is connected to two other very small bones called the hammer and the anvil. All three of these bones are joined to the eardrum, where sound is collected before it is sent in the form of nerve signals to the brain.
The ear is a very important organ for keeping our sense of balance. Without a sense of balance, we could not hold our body steady, and we would stagger and fall when we tried to move.
The smallest bone in the body is largely responsible for our hearing AND balance. That is kind of a big deal to me. How about you?
But, you ask, what if I THINK BIG and I don’t know what to do next?

Believe this: energy creates and attracts energy. People are drawn to high energy.  When you step into God’s BIG plan, He will line up folks to help and support you!

Okay Beth, I can THINK BIG…now what? How do I focus small? Again, a complex subject, but here is an overview…

Understand that there probably will not be a huge spotlights pointing the way. God wants to reveal His plan, but He will do it in pieces. 
We need to spend time with Him, talk to Him, read His Word. As you do this, you will find that doors open and doors close, and the plan will start to show itself.

Take a look at your life and ask yourself if you are more often purposeful or reactionary? Are you and God deciding your course each day, or do you flap in the wind of other people’s needs or demands?

Drill down and take a good look at how you spend your time? If we budget our money, shouldn’t we also budget our time?

Obviously there are commitments we have to honor. I am not suggesting you abandon those duties.

As women, we often have trouble saying NO. Would you agree? So your child’s PTO group needs a treasurer, and the Little League concession stand needs a volunteer, and how can you say NO to helping raise money to find a cure for cancer…WHO doesn’t want THAT???

And here is what happens…you do the things you must to care for your family, then you do the things you accepted because you couldn’t say NO….and Monday becomes Saturday over and over.

We each have tasks that must be done daily. God never wants us to be out of balance in any direction.

BUT…but…but…

HEAR THIS: when you do things that are not part of YOUR purpose, that don’t feed you, that suck energy, you are not just cheating yourself!

I don’t know about you, but I get grumpy when I have to fulfill duties I accepted out of some false sense of obligation.

Who is served by that? Not God. Not your spouse or your kids, especially when it occurs to you that you haven’t had a real conversation with any of them for days…or weeks.

Who is served by you doing things that illicit absolutely no passion from you?
No one. Exactly no one.

And here is the incredibly freeing part…when you understand how much God believes in you, when you embrace Jeremiah 29:11 and seek God for that purpose daily, you are free from the need for approval from everyone who crosses your path…you are FREE from the need to “convince” people.

Joyce Meyer talks about this…she says she is anointed to bring God’s Word to people. That is her gift. For years she tried to be like the other ladies of the church…canning vegetables, sewing, working in the nursery…and she was miserable because all of those things – which she disliked – took time away from preparing and speaking to groups. So she stopped doing all those other things.She stopped when she was speaking to 25 people at a weekly Bible study. She stopped BEFORE she had a BIG ministry.

Do you get it? I sure do!

When you find and work your purpose, you will be MUCH happier, kinder, more loving. You will. I know because I am!

Imagine you and your spouse/best friend/partner talking enthusiastically about your day instead of bitching about how horrible work was. 
Imagine having meetings that pump your blood, instead of being part of a group to which you feel obliged because the other mothers do it, but you go home weary and drained and then there is laundry and lunches and now that you have complained for so long it is time to sleep so you can do it all again tomorrow.

Imagine how that might feel! Imagine how God could be glorified by that!

One of my favorite sayings is, “You can go to the ocean with an eye dropper or you can go with a bucket. The ocean has plenty and will fill whatever you bring.”

Folks, God has a very specific plan for each of us. It is a GOOD plan.

We need to THINK BIG so we can join hands with God.

We need to focus small so those plans don’t get pushed aside by laundry/cleaning/grocery/meals/work/kids/rinseandrepeat.

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

May God bless each of us as we seek Him.

AMEN!