We still have one last thing to discuss and this is my favorite! Along with being Taught by God and Moved by God, McManus suggests one more thing that God does for us when we are in a growing love relationship with Him. We are Unleashed by God! I feel like I have truly experienced the first two; being taught by God and moved by God, but I am just beginning to get a glimpse of this last one.
When we are living in a growing love relationship with God, He wants to come sweeping into our souls and set us free to become everything that He intended us to be. God wants to empower us to fulfill the dreams He had for us on the day we were born. He wants us to dream big dreams with Him for His Kingdom. As we take baby steps forward when He tells us to move, we learn that He is always faithful and we begin to dare to take bigger steps out of our comfort zone. The idea of UN-leashing or setting free would suppose that there are things holding us back or keeping us captive. What binds us? What holds us down or holds us back from being all that God intends us to be? Is it fear? Is it busyness? A need for approval from others? Perhaps a message we heard as children about who we were or how we should act? Maybe something painful in our past has produced a sense of shame or guilt? In Galatians 5:1, Paul tells us:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
In this instance, he is talking about being enslaved by the law, but any of the things that steal our freedom are things from which Jesus can set us free! We must ask ourselves this: are we ready to claim that freedom that Jesus promises us? And here is the really exciting part…this is a place where we can really be used by God to encourage one another by holding up a mirror to each other by which we can start to see ourselves as God sees us. When we notice a gift or talent in our brothers and sisters, we need to take the time to affirm those gifts and encourage each other to take that step of faith towards the dreams that God has for each one of us. When I was a young adult in a previous church, I experienced this type of encouragement. At the end of a worship service, a precious, elderly woman who was sitting in front of me turned to me at the end of the service. She took me by the hand, looked in my eyes and said “Darling, Jesus would want you to sing in the choir.” I joined the choir that week! We must allow God to use us in that way…take one another by the hand, look each other in the eyes and affirm the gifts you see in each other. Sometimes it is all we need to take that step towards the place God wants us to be!
I love the quote from Father John Powell that says:
“You have a unique message to deliver; a unique song to sing, and a unique act of love to bestow. This message, this song, and this act of love have been entrusted exclusively to the one and only you…”
God made each of us different for a reason. He gave us different histories, different interests, different passions, different talents. Some pain in our past may have left us uniquely qualified to walk with someone who is experiencing something similar. God is at work all around us and has placed each of us in a position to contribute to that work. He has placed us in this church, each of our individual neighborhoods, our workplaces, in this time in history on purpose. God wants to grow us through a personal love relationship with Him and to use every single one of us in the work that He is doing in OUR world. Hear me clearly on this point, you are not the one person that all of this doesn’t apply to! Beth Moore told us a few weeks ago in our video lesson that humility is not an excuse for disobedience. Don’t let the Enemy of your spirit tell you that you aren’t ready to be used by God! Don’t miss out on the important work that God has set aside exclusively for the one and only you because you don’t feel worthy or ready or equipped…jump in and let God worry about the details! That’s why He is God and we’re not!
So, now what? What might happen if we allowed God to teach us? What might happen if we started watching for God at work around us and humbly offered to join Him in that work? What might happen if we overcame our tendency to compare ourselves to others, to wait until God was finished transforming us, or to wait for guaranteed success and just allowed God to move us to the place He needs to use us in His Kingdom work? What might happen if God was to unleash us to use our gifts and talents in a unique, creative way in the furthering of His Kingdom goals?
There is work to be done. We have to open our eyes to the work that God is doing all around us and make a decision about where we are going to jump in and get to work. We have ministry committees to fill, empty seats in the sanctuary to fill, a choir loft to fill. More importantly, we have hurting people all around us that need what we have to give. Remember our scripture at the beginning? WE know where that place is in the wilderness where God can bring hurting folks home to Him. WE know where to find those rivers of Living Water in the desert. So I ask you once again; what is it that God is whispering in YOUR spirit right now? What is He trying to birth in YOU this Advent? And most importantly, what would it take for you to say YES?