It’s the early still of the morning, the best part of the day. The house is quiet. Through my den’s East-facing window, I see again the mercies of God as the sun rises on a new day, pointing me to the true Sunrise from on high.
This year I’ve been trying to give God the firstfruits of my day. Spending time in prayer and God’s Word in the day’s first moments has anchored me for the day ahead; given me time to express again my praise and trust in God and my need for greater faith; convicted me of sin; guided me in my path as I bring my requests before Him; given me peace and a time to thank Him; and blessed me in many unexpected ways.
But isn’t that always the case when we approach God in faith through Christ? In worshiping and surrendering to the One who created us and knows us and first gave to us — the One who did not spare His own Son so that we could be saved from our sins — we find our true identity, what we were made for, and are strengthened in Him for another day.
I shared last time some of the lessons from Gideon I’ve been taking away from my summer Bible study. Here are a few more:
Priscilla Shirer pointed out in the first session that Gideon was part of a nation that had stopped moving forward, how in this study we might find a “divine green light” on somewhere God might be calling us, and we can move forward in His strength.
As we’ve moved along in the study considering what God might be calling us to by looking at Gideon, Priscilla has pointed out that we have spheres of influence, and we must start in the circle nearest to us. So picture a target with a center bull’s-eye and the circles working outward. These are our spheres of influence.
Though Gideon was being called by God to deliver Israel from the Midianites’ oppression (Judges 6:14), Gideon’s work would began in the circles closest to him. He first had to pull down the altar of Baal that belonged to his father and cut down the Asherah (wooden symbol of a female deity, my Bible says) beside it (Judges 6:25). Then he was ready to move outward to another sphere.
“The journey of fulfilling our divine purpose will almost always follow this same pattern,” Priscilla writes.
She also notes, “Choosing to do our primary work in the smaller, less noticeable spheres and devote our best gifts there is often a foreign thought to us. We usually want to jump from the center directly to the perimeter of impact, skipping over the areas most closely connected to us. The result? A life and calling that eventually implode, caving in upon their shoddy, unstable structure.”
This resonated with me. It’s so easy to want to jump to something that looks bigger, to move outward to what might give me more gratification, without stopping to look inward or to focus on my first calling in the home. That is more invisible and often harder, with perhaps less immediate results, so it’s easy not to be as intentional with those central and foremost callings from God.
If we are married and have children, our husband and children are a natural calling not to be overlooked for something more. We won’t have to step on them to fulfill some other ministry. Other callings will enhance and be unified with those first ones.
I think this is so hard for Christian women today. We are being encouraged (in pure and good ways) to be dreaming, considering our passions and desires and how they can be used, taking new territory, moving to a next greater step, willing to give it all to go to something big and unknown. If we aren’t careful, though, we can begin to look to those things to fulfill us, rather than bring glory to God, and these things can cause us to shortchange the most central callings God has given us right in our home. What God calls us to will not be at the expense of our husband and children; it will be in conjunction and in harmony with our homes and family.
Priscilla writes, “These innermost circles are often the ones that offer the least amount of recognition. This is why so many people try to circumvent them. And yet your greatest impact will be done here — in the ordinary rhythms of your daily living.”
So I’m challenged not to look past the inner circles. In my life, I suppose it would look like this (I list church because I work there).
So while I began this study wondering or even hoping for some greater call on my life to emerge, the one that has settled in my heart is first and foremost in my home. I’ve become convinced that these calls don’t become separate, individual, and distinct, but work together in a way that will hopefully please God and bring Him glory. (These are lessons, though, I’ve been having to learn over the last 10 years!)
I’m thankful for a God who loves us, who calls us to Himself, who forgives us, who is merciful and patient with us, who gives us our identity in Him, and who does have purposes for us to accomplish in the world. May we seek Him for what that looks like so that we will neither move forward where He hasn’t led or shrink back in fear from what He is indeed calling us to.
Help us, Lord, as we work from the center out, to find ourselves in the center of Your will. Amen.
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