THROWING PENNIES AT OWLS
Yesterday, the kids and I loaded up in our 15 passenger van and roadtripped to Columbus to Mississippi University for Women and its Baptist Student Union. It was there, over 20 years ago, that God started bringing about the reality of the dream that had been birthed in me as a child. You see, when other girls were daydreaming about being cheerleaders or spies, I was looking at the mail order catalogs and picking out apparel for the orphans that I would one day take care of. Way back then, God was turning my heart toward those special ones that I would one day love in Swaziland. I believe firmly that God's spirit was actively involved in those daydreams.
I also remember that around the time I was 9 or 10, a woman who was a missionary to the Choctaw Nation here in Mississippi came and spoke to the congregation at First Baptist Crystal Springs about her ministry. And at the end of the service, as we sang....
"Here is my life, I want to live it;
Here is my life,
I want to give it serving my fellow man,
Doing the will of God;
Here is my life,
Here is my life,
Here is my life.".
And as my childish voice sang out the words, my heart also sang them as I wept and made a commitment to the Lord..
Once I enrolled at MUW, I became very involved in the Baptist Student Union. Nancy Aulds, the director, was instrumental in directing my steps towards overseas ministry. She was the one who first encouraged me to go to Israel as a summer missionary and then the next year, she was there as God led me to Swaziland, the place with the people who have absolutely stolen my heart..
And because of the huge role that BSU played in those formative early adult years of my life, it was a tremendous blessing to be able to return there yesterday and hopefully encourage others to give God their whole life...not just parts of it...but to totally and radically sell out for Him. Because whether its as an accountant living in a sleepy Mississippi town or as a nurse fighting diseases in Swaziland, God has HUGE dreams. And when we totally turn over every area of our life to Him, we'll find joy and fulfillment more increadible than we could have imagined. Because as I've heard Pastor Erwan McManus say, as big as our imaginations are, God's is even bigger..
When we completely turn our lives---the gifts, time, skills, resources, and passions that He has given us---over to Him, He'll do amazing things in the world with us. What an honor and thrill it is to know that the creator of the universe, the one who can do anything with just a spoken word, chooses to use us, chooses to use me, despite the sins, issues, and hurts..
Too often as adults, we let past failures or the "realities" of life keep us from really believing that God wants to do something fantastic with us. My children reminded me yesterday of an important Kingdom principle....the one that talks about how we must become like little children. After I spoke at the BSU about our trip to Swaziland and challenged the group to follow God's dreams for their lives no matter the cost, we went walking around campus with one of my Troubadour Social Club sisters, Katie. MUW is an architectural and botanical treasure. The children had a fun time climbing the chapel's spiral staircase, splashing in the fountains, seeing my old college dorm, exploring an art gallery, and peering through the windows of historic buildings. At one point, we told them about a school tradition that involves throwing pennies at an owl sculpture sitting atop Orr Chapel. The owl must be about 30 feet above the ground but this did not stop my children. It didn't matter that 4 year old little T's penny only flew about 4 feet above his head, he kept trying. And though none of them managed to get their pennies anywhere near the stoic old owl, they had a great time in trying and then had fun searching for lost coins among the bushes at the base of the building..
And isn't that how it should be?.
We won't always achieve every goal we set, but the fear of failure shouldn't stop us from trying...from giving it our all. Because sometimes unimagined blessings come from simply attempting, and many times, though it hurts terribly at the time, some of life's richest blessings come about as a result of our failures and defeats. For God, with His almighty power and creativity, can bring good even from bad. Romans 8:28 promises us that ALL things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The outcome is not OUR responsibility...only the obedience. And I'm finding, that even my ability to obey Him comes from Him..
So dream big, dream GOD'S BIG DREAMS---and don't be afraid to throw pennies at owls.
P.S. My 12 year old daughter says that the next time we go, she's going to bring a slingshot to hit that owl! That girl is going to do amazing things for God's kingdom.