Faithful in little, faithful in much

In the last month God has made it increasingly clear to me that much is accomplished in the drudgery of the day-to-day. Even the most mundane of tasks is worthwhile, all because our lives and our actions matter. Every word, every action, even every thought matters. Everything we do is eternal.

I love the Parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25:14-29 (here are verses 14-23, but it’s all really good):

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”  

One of the neatest experiences is to realize that consistenly being faithful in little has a dramatic impact on your friends, family, and coworkers. The truth is that so often we become influencers and transform environments without even realizing that we’ve done so. When you’re faithful with little when it’s hard and when you don’t understand, and when you think no one sees, you yourself are transformed, sanctified, and made more like Christ. And that doesn’t go unnoticed.

I think sometimes we feel like we’re out in the desert.We feel without hope of achieving our dreams and sometimes we even begin to feel forgotten. We wonder why God’s put our dreams on hold. But let me say this – if I’ve learned nothing else in the last several years, I have learned that faithfulness in the desert leads to an incredible reward. God never, ever puts our dreams on hold, even when we’re asked to wait.

I love this verse and I’ve held on to it since the fall:

“But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” Habakkuk 2:3

So, my encouragement to you today – if you feel stuck in the wrong job or the wrong state, or even if you don’t know where God is calling you or what His plans for you are – be faithful right now. Be faithful where you are. Look for opportunities to love and influence the people you see daily. The rewards you will reap as you eventually move from one season to another will be tremendous.

The challenge for me as I transition is to continue pushing through, working hard, and remaining faithful as I see the end approaching rapidly.

This one’s for the girls

This entry is about my girls. It’s for my girls. I call them “my girls” because I think they’re mine, but God always reminds me that really they’re His. This entry is about Stephanie, Ceci, Margot, Janelle, Talli, Janelle T., Karen, Megan, and Becca, and it’s about all the other girls that I’ve ever had the privilege and blessing to have in my small group.

Just like the girls are HIS girls, this vision I have for college ministry and for the Gathering, and for my life… it’s HIS vision. He’s the one who fulfills His own purposes and I am shocked and awed, amazed and astounded that He uses me and that I get to be a part of what He’s doing in my generation. Leading and loving in this ministry is never a burden or a sacrifice. It’s a joy. I feel incredibly blessed just to be used by God and to watch the Holy Spirit work in the lives of the people around me.

Tonight we celebrated community. We took the time to talk about and embrace what God’s done in our lives this last semester and year. We talked about our growth and the fruit we see in each others lives. We talked about how to run from sin and stay pure when we’re away from community while home for the summer. We talked about what the Church should really look like and what Christian community means to our lives. We took time out of our busy lives and away from the demands of finals to meet for three and  a half hours. I know… crazy, right? I didn’t plan on spending that much time there, but God definitely had different plans for us tonight. If I could put our meeting into words, if I were to use just a single word, all I can say is that it was beautiful.

Tonight we did what we call “affirmations.” Basically, we went around the room and talked about (and to) each girl – told what they have meant to us and to our community, how they have grown, and the character attributes that we see in them that make them the women God has called them to be. We laugh and we cry and we have to really be careful about giving each person time to talk because I think we all could have gone on and on for hours longer about each girl, if we had the time. Our group doubled in size this semester but never lost the vulnerability and transparency that we developed at the beginning of the year and I’m so very grateful.

So this is for the girls:

Girls, what a year! We walked through all sorts of difficult trials together. We walked through breakups, talked through theological differences, sent friends abroad, weathered economic hardship, prayed and interceded for salvations, and delved straight into talking about tough topics like brokenness and healing, marriage and relationships, sex and sin. Thank you for that. I can’t even begin to tell you what you have meant to me. You have grown SO much. And I’ve enjoyed walking with you each step of the way.

Christ, and what He  does in our lives, makes us beautiful and makes our time together extraordinary. It’s not every day that you put seven girls in a tiny room and watch as they affirm one another in Christ. It’s almost as though tonight we could watch the growth take place in front of our eyes as we strengthened and sharpened one another. The last meeting of the group is always a little bittersweet for me because I’m sad that you’re heading home or abroad for the summer, but oh so sweet, because I get to hear you talk about all of the revelation that’s come to your hearts, all that you’ve learned, all of the places where you have grown spiritually and emotionally, and how your need for community and mentorship was met by our group. And in that moment, I get to watch all of my dreams come true. For my life and for yours.

Thank you for coming. Thank you for being faithful. Thank you for truly loving one another and abstaining from all drama. And thank you for all of the many ways you have loved and supported me this year. Finish finals well, and remember this – community is at the heart of the Church and it’s vital to our relationships with Christ. Take this community we’ve built and recreate it where you are this summer. Embrace and search the Word. Make knowing Christ your pursuit and make Him your heart’s first affection. And run from sin – flee from whatever is evil and remember that compromise is made an inch at a time until you’re a mile from the truth.

This community isn’t dissolving. It’s merely moving. It remains and is here for you always. Like I said tonight, I pray you will all still be friends as you walk through the next seasons of life – graduation and entering the workforce, relationships and marriage, and mortgages and children… lean on and continue to learn from each other. Hold each other accountable. This community is an investment from which you will reap massive dividends.

I love you,

Whitney

Dream Vacation – Part II

So yesterday as I was polling my office, my facebook friends, my mom, and searching the internet for some fun, inexpensive weekend getaways from DC, I realized several things:

*I have numerous countries that I’d like to visit, but even with an unlimited budget this weekend, I probably wouldn’t have gone to any of them. I’ve been dreaming of a trip to Spain, Portugal, Greece and Turkey for almost three years now, but I would have bypassed the chance to do that to just jump in a kayak and float down a river in east Texas or lie on a beach and listen to nothing but waves.

*When I asked myself the question: “If I could vacation anywhere, where would I go?” – The answer wasn’t Europe (which I absolutely love-this in no way should be interpreted to mean that I no longer love traveling or all things European), places I dream of visiting, or even home. I wanted to go somewhere I could really rest. I decided that for this weekend, that actually meant staying home. I might still go visit some places in and around DC that I’ve been wanting to see (I constantly have a list), but I decided that God was really asking me to set aside time to be still.

If money wasn’t a hindrance, I would have decided to go to some small island somewhere with miles of beach – white sand, really blue sky, and clear water. In my imagination, this place is small, with similar landscape everywhere, and not much else to see or do. That would keep me from running around from place to place, trying to see all of the important sites and landmarks (like Court and I did in Europe several summers ago). I realized that I don’t think I’ve really ever gone on a vacation just to relax (other than some incredible weekends/holidays in Pennsylvania now and then and a couple of weekends in WV).

So, that’s a goal in the coming year – take a week to just relax – go somewhere fun. Maybe I’ll take a cruise while they’re cheap or visit somewhere else I’ve never been. I’m learning a lot about myself this summer and one of the things I’m learning is that I need to cultivate the ability to be alone. And to be quiet.  Both of those things are invaluable, especially in cultivating one’s relationship with God and maintaining one’s emotional and spiritual health.

So I’ve created a list of things I’ve been wanting to do and started doing them… just one at a time – I refuse to be in a hurry. Today I called my sister and talked to a best friend for a long time, went running, tried out a new salsa recipe, tried a snow cone stand I’ve seen for over a year and never taken the time to stop at (won’t be returning, by the way – snow cones are only good in Texas), napped, finished a great book (another new post re: politics coming soon), and got a great tan.

There are important lessons that will be learned this weekend. Thankfully God got my attention this week and reminded me of how much I need Him, His rest, and His peace. I can honestly say that I’m realizing that I keep myself busy many times because I don’t know what to do with the quiet time. This weekend is about learning what to do in the quiet time, and more than that, it’s about learning to enjoy it.

(For those of you interested in visiting one of the top 10 getaways close to DC, visit: http://dc.about.com/od/hotels/tp/Top10Getaways.htm)

Dream vacation

I’m not sure if anyone is really even reading this or paying attention… but I’ve been asking myself this question all day and decided to see what sort of responses it might elicit from the world at large.

If you could vacation anywhere, where would you go? Why would you go there and what would you do while there?

I’m asking because I suddenly found myself with a lot of free time on my hands this week and stopped long enough to ask myself what I really wanted to do with it. I don’t have the money or enough time to take some of the incredible trips I dreamed up, but it was an interesting thought process. I’ll share a bit later on this evening… I’m still thinking 🙂