“What are your plans now?” This question greets me nearly every day through many different people. It’s not a bad question at all; in fact, it is one I rather expect to be asked after moving back from across the world.
We’ve been home just about a month now and it is so easy to jump back into old routines; seek out the steady paycheck, pay the bills and slip right back into life as if the last six months of my life never happened. But it would be a tragedy to do so. Because the time I spent in Latvia was meant to change something, and I see now that the main person it was meant to change was me.
I feel like there is a great temptation to view seasons like this as simply “a transition season”. But the truth is, times of transition are, in and of themselves, a separate season; not just time that passes in between two seasons. If we view it only as a time of transition, I think we miss out on what we were meant to learn. And so it begs the question, “What does God have for me in this season. What are my plans?”
This morning, I came across a verse that keeps echoing in my mind:
“This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gifts God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.”
- 2 Timothy 1:6-7
One of my favorite things to do when I had the night shift working at the transition center in Latvia was to take the women down to the lake, start a fire, roast marshmallows and stare out into the wonder of God’s beautiful creation. I always watched intently they carefully crafted the fire.
Lighting a flame is easy; it’s done with the simple strike of a match. But the flame can be gone as fast as it came if the next part isn’t handled very carefully. Building a fire requires the perfect combination of the right pieces of wood, a structure that protects the flame from the wind and some sort of paper to catch on fire first. Even once the fire is roaring, it still calls for new wood every so often or else it will eventually return to ash.
Starting a flame is easy. But a fire requires precision, protection and action.
That’s when God made it clear to me what this season is for; this distinct season in time was given to me to fan into flames the new spiritual gifts that he has put inside of me.
All of my life, I have followed my most obvious gifts. Ever since I stood on a church stage at age four and belted out a solo in front of hundreds of people, it has been pretty clear that God gifted me in music. I love music and performing, so it became easy to design a life that revolved around that one gift.
Deciding to move to Latvia was the first time in my life that I made a conscious decision to do something that didn’t have anything to do with advancing my music in anyway. In fact, I was giving up a stage where I reached over a thousand people every week to lead worship for a few women every week during our center and café ministries.
But when I finally set aside my identity as an artist and simply focused on helping broken people, God placed all kinds of new passions and desires inside of me; new skills, new perspective, a deeper compassion and an ever-expanding renewal of creativity.
Suddenly, I had space and time to process. And given what I witnessed on a daily basis, there was a lot to process. I found that I process best by writing and a new passion began to come to life as I began posting my thoughts. I realized that I have had it backwards my whole life. Being passionate about music actually doesn’t make me passionate. But when I am passionate about reaching people, music becomes one of the creative ways in which I express that passion.
So now I am faced with a choice; will I fan the flames until it becomes a roaring fire, or will I slip back into old routines and forget that God lit the flame for a reason?
I choose to fan the flames. I choose to study, learn and give time to perfecting what God has placed inside of me. And most of all, I choose to keep pursing what makes me come alive; reaching people who are hopeless and helping them find hope.
The truth is, my location has changed, but my plan has not. Moving home wasn’t my way of giving up the process God took me through on discovering what I am passionate about. Moving home was my way of pursuing what I am passionate about on an even deeper level. This is a season of discovering what that deeper level looks like.
God lights the flame, but it’s our responsibility to fan the flames. Are we fanning the flames?