Today my sweet small group girls begin their last year in high school. I can hardly believe how quickly these last five years have passed and fervently expect great things this year.
I was blessed yesterday to have lots of encouragement and reflection from the Lord. The sermon at church centered around making disciples and at leader’s meeting I looked out at the crowd of leaders and thought how strange this ministry has changed from the days of meeting at Braun’s house. Yet I was greatly encouraged to think through the ministry I’ve been blessed to take part in and to know what these leaders have in store if they continue to press into the Lord and give beyond what they think they have.
Braun also shared about how God would use this ministry to change us. How incredibly true. I started five years ago, ready to make a commitment and yet timid and full of unresolved hurts/sins. Through many women in this ministry, God began to soften my heart and change me in ways I could hardly have dreamed. While I have a lifetime to continue changing, he has given me a new pair of eyes and a renewed heart to see his Word and pour myself out for others. He truly does fill us up immeasurably more than we could have dreamed as we pour ourselves out for him.
After leader’s meeting I spent time working on my small group curriculum. I read the all familiar 2 Timothy with fresh eyes as I understood the heart with which Paul wrote to his young disciple, Timothy. My heart was beating so fast as I prayed then and this morning for God to continue to expand my vision for my dear girls, and to expand their visions for their lives beyond just the worldly concerns. I pray they will know they carry a good deposit in them, a gift of God, a prize worth protecting and sharing with everyone they encounter. I have committed myself to them for the rest of our earthly lives into eternity and greatly look forward to seeing the radical, unfathomable ways God uses them.
Although Paul was writing from a place of knowing his life was soon coming to an end, I thought about his words in chapter 4:
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
In Leviticus 23:9-14, the drink offering is given as the Israelites give their first fruits to the Lord. It wasn’t simply a cup of water poured on an altar, it was a portion of their harvest, the first part, poured out as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. They gave this offering before doing anything else with the harvest, requiring their trust in the Lord to provide, especially in years of bad harvest, so it hurt. In these years, I have had times of doubt and questioning what impact I was making, wondering if these girls were getting it. By God’s grace alone, I persisted. In his strength, I’ve had hard discussions, cried when their hearts were broken, lifted up prayers pleading for the ones who were straying, served when I felt like complete junk, led when I was exhausted, and loved until my heart felt as though it would burst from my chest. I don’t say this as a “yay for me” one bit. I say it as I see so clearly the strength of the Spirit shining through me. When I was oh so weak and literally couldn’t pull myself from my bed, the Lord gave me the ability to love, serve, and be faithful through his Spirit, his Word, and his people.
I am zealous for this year, for preparing to pass the torch, for challenging my girls in one of the most selfish times of their lives to live selflessly. And although I am asked often what I’ll do when they graduate and have thoughts myself, will not discuss them as I do not want anything to take my eyes and focus from the opportunities I have to serve these amazingly influential girls today. What a blessing to serve; what joy pouring yourself out like a drink offering brings.
Here are a few pictures over the years. It's amazing how tiny they were back in middle school!!