For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD,
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Rachel celebrated her 30th milestone last July. She connected with several of us (older, ah-hem) friends asking for a gift - our gift of words written on a card and delivered by snail mail. How old-fashioned. I loved it. Rachel is a wise woman. She hunts wisdom and listens well. How would I respond? What scripture would I share? One concept kept resurfacing - wiggle-room; guarding space for the unexpected; planning for the unknown.
Spiritually speaking, wiggle-room is a necessary ingredient of Sabbath-living, my designated time for enjoying the friendship of God. However, there is more. Here are three lessons I practice to preserve wiggle-room (and my sanity).
- White-space on my calendar is as much of an event as the doctor appointment or lunch with my friend. It is my designated time for rest and re-fueling. I keep a weekly white-space day. One of my goals for that day is to not need car keys. Bill and I also reserve a white-space month every summer for time at our small cabin in the mountains. We call it our Sanctuary.
- I don't need to create ministry. God whispered those words to me over 15 years ago. I love ministering to women! Creative ways to live that out abound. As God fleshed out his meaning for me, I learned that my most significant context is my normal world. Ministry surrounds me. When I live inside my God-created boundaries, ministry will happen.
- The need is not the call. I could do that, but should I? I'm learning that the word should is a yellow-flashing light. I need to slow down and look both ways; look back to how God has been speaking; look forward to how this need might affect my now. The needs will always exceed my capacity.
Two Scriptures I regularly pray over, John 1:12 and I John 3:1, both call us children. Children need protection. After Noah, his family, and all the creatures were safely inside the ark, Genesis 7:16 (NLT) records, "... then the Lord closed the door ..." It is frightening to think what might have transpired if God had not closed the door on his children. God closing doors is a good thing. It protects and it preserves wiggle-room.
I don't always follow my own wisdom well, but referring back to and praying over these principles provide guidance as new opportunities come. Last summer I invited Jo and Kathy to a Bible study I was facilitating. Both were intrigued by the topic, both drawn, both prayed. Jo signed on the dotted line. Kathy declined ... but please ask again.
Both considered wiggle-room. Jo opted out of another small group to make space; Kathy is one semester away from finishing an online course. It was easy to affirm the decisions of both my friends. They were living the way I want to live, considering wiggle-room.
The Scripture I shared with Rachel was from I Thessalonians 1 in The Message, "God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special ... Something happened in you ... Your life is echoing the Master's Word ..." (I changed it to the first person.)
God has something special for each of us. Does my calendar allow the wiggle room for God’s plans to become reality?
Father, thank You especially for the wisdom my husband shared; “the need is not necessarily the call.” Help me to be aware of needs around me, but more importantly, to know which of those needs You have designed for me to meet. Amen.
By Sue Tell, Guest Writer