by Serena Sinclair – Associate Pastor – Adult Ministry
Do you remember the first time someone asked you what you were going to be when you grew up? My plan was to become a Forest Ranger and surround myself with majestic Rockies and endless trails of Aspen meadows. Obviously that dream did not come to fruition, but God has certainly satisfied my yearning for mountain ranges by planting me near State Parks, and now the Sierras. What happens between the span of childhood dreams and the reality of landing in a designated destination? Do we depend on stern determination, the science of logic, or the fate of destiny to propel us forward down the path of the unknown? My future was clearly marked by destiny. Shaped by middle-class small-town culture, I eventually graduated to city life, urban suburbs, and now Modesto. Regardless of where you live, knowing one’s life purpose and marching out into the world to seize life’s opportunities, is viewed with admiration towards an assertive decisive maneuvering of oneself. For me this meant driving all over the Oklahoma City metro searching for that first postgraduate job. Don’t forget this was before MapQuest and GPS systems! For the first time I was carving my own destiny, or so I thought.
By age 26, Brent and I were married, and God primed my heart to take my next faith step, getting serious about His word. At the evangelical church we attended, a group of women gathered me into their circle of inductive Bible study. I remember the adventure of discovering the incredibility of the Spirit of God hovering over the waters in Genesis 1:1 was the same Spirit of God living in me (Eph 1:13). For a lifetime this truth will mystify and intrigue me. What’s interesting was this was not the first time I studied Genesis, I grew up hearing the bible stories and in college I took the mandatory “Genesis freshman” class at my university. Now the experience was very different, instead of sitting in a lecture hall, I was surrounded by women who hungered for God’s word. Their passion for Jesus and for Scripture was overflowing into me. God was stoking a fire in my heart to discover His true character. He wasn’t just an idea or a superhero in a children’s storybook, He was Jehovah God who spoke creation into existence, redeemed me from sin, and was impressing upon my heart He wanted my full attention. The journey of being led by God’s Spirit into a deeper walk actively continued as I served in children’s ministry and continued to join Women’s Life Group Studies. Whenever I met God in His word to prepare for a children’s class or unpack a Scripture through word studies, God was revealing who He was and who I was meant to be. As I seized each opportunity to study God’s word and to share His word, successive doors of opportunity flung open to the next step of my faith walk. Don’t think there weren’t challenges or “lessons to learn” along the path, that is the journey we all navigate as we grow in the rhythms of grace.
So, what is it for you — are you led by sheer determination, destiny, or the logic of pros and cons? The beautiful part of our journey with God is that He is close by whether we acknowledge Him or not (Acts 17:27). In His tender mercy the invitation to draw near to God remains open. He waits for our surrender so He can fill us with His Spirit. In Ephesians 1:13 the apostle Paul says, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” Through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, God is willing and ready to light our way and our purpose through Jesus His Son but we must place ourselves in the precarious position of stepping out in faith, working diligently, and trusting Him.
Pulling from biblical narratives I remember Abraham, Moses, David, Deborah, Esther, Samuel and Isaiah all had something in common, they made themselves available to God. With their faith action, they joined Isaiah in saying, “Here am I, Send me!” The result — God revealed “next steps of faith.”
We can spend a lot of energy determining where God wants us to go, recording the pros and cons, and asking advice from others, or we can say with a heart of surrender and a willingness to follow where He leads, “Here I Am Lord. Send me!” Making ourselves at home in Him and meeting God in His word, is part of the “door opening” process that draws us close to God and sharpens our spiritual senses. Courage doesn’t wait for circumstances to line up in a perfect row, it takes the leap of faith when God gives the green light. Are you ready to say it: “God — Here I Am. Send me!”