She could see the churchís counseling office from where she stood and it made Carey feel like a young girl looking through a picket fence, longing to play in a different yard. She felt the tugging of her heart and a twinge of jealousy as she imagined the kingdom-building work that would be happening behind those doors, across the street.
She put the key in the door of her work place and felt the heart squeeze move to discontentment and then frustration.
"Why Lord?" she asked out loud, her voice edged with anger. The financial stress of their situation dictated a job like she had, but oh, how her heart longed for the opportunity to sit with others and, in the Lord's strength, lead them to a better life; a better way. Just like the ministry office in her view right now.
She moved into her building, still deep in thought. To make a difference, leave her mark on the lives of others, to have purpose and value were all things that her Carey-heart longed for. But, for today and who knew how many tomorrows, it seemed this was where she was to be.
As she went about her duties, the Holy Spirit brought to her mind the consequences of her present thought patterns. Discontentment brought bondage. It was impossible for her to be surrendered to her Lord while allowing "if-only" and "what-ifs" a place in her mind. Paulís words in Romans 12:1 (NIV) came to the surface of all other thoughts: "In view of God's mercy, offer your bodies as living sacrifices, for this is your spiritual act of worship."
It would only take Carey a moment to list the ways that God had been merciful to her. Without a second thought, she wanted to express her heart of thanks to Him.
"I'm sorry Lord. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me." (Psalm 51:10 NLT) and as surely as Carey spoke David's words, the Holy Spirit continued His work and re-established the Lord's place in her choice of attitudes.
In her mind, she pictured herself bowing before the throne of God. On her knees, in reverence and awe, she humbly laid her life down once again. "I surrender my desire for ministry with purpose, Lord" and then using Mary's words from Luke 1:38 (NLT) Carey said, "I am the Lordís servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants."
While there was no one to witness this fresh victory, the decision was nonetheless established in the spiritual realm, cheered on by a heavenly crowd of witnesses.
Over the next days much heaven-on-earth work was done as hearts were gently held, hopes and dreams shared, confusion and miscommunications cleared and fears dispelled. Later, Carey realized that her office had been used like a counseling room as coworkers and friends found it to be a safe place to lay down their heartsí burdens.
Carey's decision to surrender held firm, however, the true breakthrough to solid victory came with a precious vision from her Lord. They stood together before a wide and deep trench. From her angle, Carey saw the top two rungs of a ladder that was leaning up against the side. As she moved closer, she saw her coworkers down below her! They were busy as they went about their regular business and seemed content, happy even. But somehow Carey sensed that where they might have turned to her for comfort and support they now held it in, or saw their hearts trampled by another's inability to offer help.
The Lord gently spoke into Carey's silent observations. "The ladder symbolizes your surrender, dear one. You can do your job, this job that I've prepared for you, from where we stand up here, but the kingdom-building work will most effectively be done while you work shoulder to shoulder with these that are as precious to me as you are. Your surrender to be fully in that trench signifies your trust in me to know best where you fulfill my purposes."
Carey's eyes brimmed with tears of thankfulness. Full-time, purpose-filled and purposeful work, while holding the hearts of her friends, was her lifeís dream and here it was right before her. As if for the first time, she saw that she was working on purpose and her heart soared!
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