Coming to Life: Actions
God has been calling me to something for a while now. Every time he places this idea on my heart, I have successfully avoided it. I convince myself it couldn’t possibly be God’s voice asking this of me. I mean, sure, I have a passion for it, but all that passion doesn’t make up for my lack of expertise. I’m just not equipped enough for this to actually succeed. I tell myself that I’m confusing passion with calling and push God’s prompting to the side. But at the end of the day, I know how to discern God’s voice in my life and I know I am avoiding it for one simple reason: it’s really scary.
This call from God comes with a high, very public risk of failure. I don’t want to fail, especially in front of people. So instead of listening to God and setting myself up for failure, I’ve chosen inaction.
I want the comfort of knowing God is calling me to success in order for me to choose action—not just success by his standards, but success by the world’s standards too. I think most people have observed, at one time or another, the measures of success by which the world set up for us to live. Sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken; but, no matter how they’re communicated, you are the first to know if you don’t live up to these “ideals.” It is these unspoken and spoken ideals that have paralyzed me into inaction.
If God is calling me to something that I can’t succeed in by his and the world’s standards, then it doesn’t feel worth doing.
As I was settling nicely into my choice of inaction, I was asked to write this blog post about Sunday’s sermon on holy doing. Which, in case you were wondering, is not a checklist of things we should do in order to be holy (like I was hoping). Instead, it was a strong charge to allow God to use me, just as I am, right now.
I sat in the sanctuary on Sunday listening to Lake Mary Student Minister Chad Buel speak, and I was struck by the story in Mark 14. Mary pours a very expensive perfume called “nard” onto Jesus, and Judas tries to shame her for this action. As Judas’ words get harsher, Jesus steps in and says, “Leave her alone.” He says, “She did what she could,” and that because of this, her story will be told alongside his in the future.
Ummm, wait. What?
Guys, for the sake of saving face, I’d love to tell you that I would be like Mary—busting out my finest nard for Jesus and not caring what it cost me. But if I’m honest, really honest, I would have absolutely found myself caring what Judas thought. Maybe I wouldn’t have chosen inaction, but I might have at least stumbled at Judas’ harsh words toward me and decide to only use half the bottle to try and satisfy both him and Jesus. But Mary? She doesn’t listen to Judas. She takes action, drowning out the sound of Judas’ words. And then Jesus steps in and says, “She did what she could.” He didn’t say, “She did the best thing anyone has ever done for me,” or, “She is the best nard pourer in the land.” He said, “She did what she could.”
If I heard those words from anyone but Jesus, it would leave me wanting. Like a Southern woman saying, “Bless your heart,” the words, “She did what she could,” by the world’s standards, can leave you questioning: Is that a good thing?
But there is no double meaning to Jesus’ words. He tells Judas that Mary did exactly what she was equipped for—what he equipped her for. She did exactly enough. Jesus fills in the gaps between Mary’s small action and Judas’ harsh words. And because she didn’t let the standards set by Judas hold her back, Mary’s story speaks to me all these years later. Because of her, I see that giving all I have, when I have it, and right now is all that God asks of me. By letting the world’s standards slip in to squander my actions, I am setting finite limits on an infinite God’s purpose for my life. My choice of inaction has done a disservice to God’s plan for me and to the world around me.
Even after years of inaction, God graciously led me right back to where he wanted me, face to face with his plan. I don’t know why God is calling me to this idea. I don’t know if it will even progress past me saying, “Yes” to him. But today, now, I have to stop letting the world’s standards dictate when and how I take action. He has equipped me just enough for this journey and if I fail by the world’s standards, it will be OK. Because I know that my God will be standing in the gap saying, “Leave her alone. … She did what she could.” And that, my friends, will be exactly enough.
Amy Kaufholz is the Lake Mary Ministry Coordinator at Summit Church. She’s married to a stellar guy named Jimmy and has an awesome 6-year-old daughter named Izzy. Amy also loves music, movies, Disney, and all things shopping!