In third grade our class held a school parade where each of us made a “float” representing a different country. My assigned nation was Spain.
I spent hours with a shoebox and crayons creating a spectacular bullfighting diorama, complete with an arena full of spectators. In the center of the box, I had a representation of a bull, played by our Little People cow, and of a fighter represented by a doll that was likely a hand-me-down with bright pink hair, sunglasses, and zebra-striped tights. Scaled to size, the pink-haired, trailblazing matadora would have been just shy of 10 feet tall.
This box was going to be secured to my 18” stubby Alf skateboard, which I would pull proudly through the halls with some random string/shoelace attached near the wheels.
But sometime between finishing up the night before and displaying it for all my classmates the next morning, I started doubting.
Maybe I saw another student’s box and felt insecure about my own work, or perhaps someone said something I can’t remember all these decades later, but I do remember the confidence draining.
So when the teacher gave out the opportunity for students who weren’t finished to continue working on their projects during recess, I jumped at the chance like someone had just offered me one of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets.
I did some quick research with an Encyclopedia Britannica and found that Spain is known for some impressive architecture, so with construction paper, a tissue box and 20 minutes, I fashioned some kind of building, relieving the cow and the doll of their duties, and covering up all the spectators with Scotch tape and sheets of green and yellow.
To this day I can remember the disappointment on my teacher’s face when I asked to change it up. She knew the box I started with represented a lot of effort and watching me doubt it and haphazardly change things out of fear certainly left her disheartened for me. I received a good grade, but deep down we both knew the first plan was better.
Sadly, that’s not the last time I have wimped out because of doubts and fear and uncertainty. When I am convinced I have a purpose or a calling or an assignment to do, I can start out full force. I am excited and feel passionate about it. Then something happens. I start to question if I have what it takes or whether it’s really something that’s needed. I wonder if it’s something other people will support. I start seeing myself falling flat on my face.
Priscilla Shirer, in Discerning the Voice of God, says “You will know God’s voice because it will bring encouragement along with conviction.” God speaks with conviction, while the enemy speaks with condemnation, she says. “When (God) speaks to you, His words will carry the continued hope of intimacy, friendship, and reconciled relationship.”
Those thoughts I have, mentioned toward the end of the paragraph before last, certainly don’t fall under the category of intimacy, friendship, or relationship. They are harsh and damaging and meant to tear me down.
So, when I am hearing the Holy Spirit guide my heart toward a new purpose or passion or calling and destructive thoughts come my way, I have three jobs to do:
1. Pray – I need to ask the Holy Spirit to renew the excitement I had when He first led me to this new thing and ask Him to make it so very clear if it is not a thing from Him.
2. Remember – the power/talent/resources I need to do the thing He is asking me to do are from Him and He will make sure I am equipped with them. He doesn’t leave us emptyhanded.
3. Get on with it – I must ask God for the first step of my assignment and do it with enthusiasm and delight, then listen for the next step.
So, join me. Put away the construction paper and let’s walk that parade with confidence. If He has asked us to do it, we are as equipped and prepared as we need to be.
“Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you
which path to take.” Proverbs 3:6 (NLT)