Hearing from God isn’t an exact science. It’s not like getting an email or a laminated sheet with a set of instructions on it – although it would be a whole lot easier if it was. As I’ve discovered, there’s a lot of wandering around asking yourself if you’re hearing it correctly and asking other people for validation that it isn’t your ego talking. Thankfully nobody I’ve spoken to has turned around and said ‘you’re making that up Rach.’
It’s been a case of joining the dots together to complete the picture. I got a sense of peace about certain things, they felt ‘right’. God doesn’t give me dreams, but I did get a clear mental image and a few verses from the Bible that constantly recurred:
Romans 12: 1-2 – Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Colossians 2:8 – Don’t let anyone fill your head with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense
Ephesians 1:15-17 – For God to give me spiritual insight and wisdom so I can grow in understanding
Psalm 119:105 – Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path
Philippians 4:8 – Focus on the good stuff
Romans 12: 8 – If your gift is to encourage others, then be encouraging.
God’s will for your life is always going to be something specific to you. It’s going to pull together what you’re good at and what you’re passionate about. God will never send you to Botswana if you didn’t want to go overseas in the first place. He’s not going to send you out to do things you’re not equipped to do or willing to undertake, because he’s after people who are going to give it their all. Colossians 3:23 tells us to work at everything with all our heart; it doesn’t say turn out some half-baked effort and say ‘that’ll do’. But if it’s something perfect for you, then of course you’re going to pick up the ball and run with it all the way to the goal line. Good grief was that a rugby analogy? I wonder who that could have possibly been influenced by 😉
So what does God want me to do that marries up what I’m good at, what I’m passionate about and throws in a big old dose of scary? It needs to have scary in it, because it’s not going to be much of a mission if there isn’t something that makes you look at God and say (in a weak and feeble voice), ‘That? Okay, I’ll do it, but that’s totally out of my comfort zone so you’ll have to be there too.’ To which God just points you in the direction of Philippians 4:13 (I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength). He’ll be right there every step of the way, but you have to take those steps too.
What am I good at? Well, mucking about on the internet mostly. But I’m also good at writing, making people smile and studying.
What am I passionate about? Three main things fire me up:
- Firstly, I’m concerned about the stresses and strains that women these days are under. The hard physical burden of 100+ years ago has been replaced by an increased assault on our hearts and minds, our spirit and emotions. Sometimes it’s from the emotional baggage we accumulate through life, but a lot of it is from the media. Books, magazines, television programmes, music and celebrities have an increasingly greater influence on the lives of women these days. They dictate what we wear, buy, eat, drink – even what we think and talk about. While a lot of it is no more than an amusing diversion, there is a subtle undercurrent at work that is undermining what women think and believe about themselves. It can leave us feeling as if we’re chasing our tails as we constantly try to keep up with the next big thing. The pressure may be subtle but it’s there and damaging. Not everything is corrosive, but we need to learn to be objective, to chart a path through it; looking at it, testing it, rejecting the stuff of no value and holding on to what is good. I believe the Bible can help us there. It may have been written several thousand years ago but the principles in it still work and are an excellent yardstick to measure things against.
- Secondly, I’m challenged by how modern life impacts the environment and the other people we share the planet with. I believe that we’ve been given this planet to care for and the sad fact is that we aren’t doing that. We’re making token gestures, preserving our self-interest at every turn and living in a way that is greedy. I’m a realist though and there’s no way that I can stop driving my Renault Scenic tomorrow. Actually, if the price of petrol goes up any more and the tanker drivers do go on strike, then that might come to pass sooner rather than later. But I’m really fired-up about the challenge to live simply and ethically. I can’t turn into model environmentalist overnight, but perhaps I can embark on a process to move myself along a path where I’m having progressively less impact on the planet than I am today.
- Thirdly, I want to show people that far from being boring, untrue and irrelevant, that Christianity has something to say to people today and that Christians are not people who are stuck living in a bygone era. I want to demonstrate to that have faith in God isn’t some onerous thing that feels like the weight of the world. I believe Christianity should be a very straightforward and simple thing: Hearing and understanding what Jesus did for you, responding to that sacrifice he made and in turn living a life that reflects your gratitude for that. Anything else is just gilding the lily. I don’t think God’s really interested in what you look like while you’re doing it, the words you use or the songs you sing; because all he’s concerned about is your heart. So in terms of people who are already Christians, I don’t care what branch of the church you come from, as long as we get the absolute basics in agreement, the rest is irrelevant.
So those are my talents and that’s what’s on my heart. If you marry it up with my life experience and join the dots, something quite tangible can be pulled from it:
God is calling me to share and live out the gospel in a relevant way, to be an encourager and to build people up in his Word. I believe he’s told me to do this in three ways:
Through Bible study – I currently lead a house group and I’ve had a fresh vision for what that can become, to practically encourage women who are Christians, to help them look at the world around them and see what the Bible says about it. This is specific to my local area; I’m not being called away because my heart is still completely in Ampthill.
Through Blogging and Article writing – Finally I get the answer to the ‘is it fiction writing or is it article writing…’ dilemma that’s plagued me for about a year. I’m not shutting the door on fiction (I will finish what I’m currently working on), but for the moment my path lies in blogs and articles. At this point you’re going to say, ‘but you’re already doing that Rachel’. Yes, I know I am, but never before have I felt that this is ‘of God’. Starting Everyday Life and Faith seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I know that it has God’s stamp of approval AND a clearer remit of what it’s to be about.
It’s my contribution to the Great Commission, where Jesus says ‘Go into the entire world…’ As Christians we have a job to do and it’s to cover the Earth with his message. I am not called to be anywhere other than Ampthill, but I do have a blog and the World Wide Web at my fingertips; ergo… the entire world.
Now, this isn’t about me reaching out of your computer screen with a Bible and smacking you around the head with it. Everyday Life and Faith is to be encouraging, informative and questioning. It’s to be a resource, and isn’t about being dogmatic or in any way off-putting. I want you to know me as a Christian and as such, a fallible human being. But I want to build up wisdom and integrity so that you know I can be relied upon to write how what I see in the Bible relates to the world around me. Whatever comes out of me needs to be clear and biblical but relevant to modern life. It’s also got to be British. Books written by American Christian women are all very well, but British women are different and don’t respond to the saccharine sentiments that can be found in a lot of American Christian writing. British women have a degree of snark and scepticism about life. Call them ‘dearest sister’ or ‘beloved one’ in a piece of writing and they will most likely vomit. I am not called to use anyone else’s talents; I am called to use mine, so I will be using my very British way of expressing things.
But I am not a theologian. My degree is in Geology, not Theology. I haven’t completed any formal Bible study programme; all I have is ten years of reading and studying it for myself and trying to live out what I read to the best of my ability. So this isn’t going to be some great theological treatise; this will be just me, wittering on as I always do but now with a clear purpose! However, one of my gifts is for study so I will continue to learn and seek wisdom as I go.
So what does that leave me with? Ah…The Big Old Dose of Scary…
The ‘scary’ is this: There may come a time when God might want me to speak what I’ve written. I don’t know how this is going to work out – podcasts, broadcasting or public speaking, but believe me when I say that I don’t have a good track record when it comes to public speaking. However, this is insistent, it won’t go away. I don’t think this is for now, I’m not equipped to do it, but this is what I need to be willing to do if God asks me to do it.
So there you have it, that’s my mission and I’m accepting it: Bible teaching, writing about the Bible and Christianity in an accessible way and possibly turning writing into speaking at some point.
Here I am, Rachel Lewis, just a woman with a computer, a head full of knowledge and a heart full of desire to encourage; offering it all up to God and saying:
“This is for you. Everything I do will be for you Lord. This is how I show my gratitude for what you did for me, by doing what I can do.”
All I do now is step out in faith and trust that God will do the rest.
“Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.” Psalm 25: 4-5 (NLT)
“Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him and he will help you.” Psalm 37: 5 (NLT)