For those in ministry whether online or not there are three key words that we pay attention to. They are plan, purpose, and platform.
This weekend I left for a women’s retreat with my church in the middle of a battle dealing directly with these three things. Recently, I joined Michael Hyatt’s Platform University and between the wealth of information I find there and in my Jon Acuff online groups, I was beginning to get lost in the “how” of it all, which is the wrong question to ask I know (click the link to read more about that).
So, Friday before I left I had a conversation with God in the car. Actually, I yelled at Him. It went something like this: “God I can’t stand this battle. I don’t know what value I have to offer. Is this path of writing what you really want from me? Seriously, it would be so much easier to not have to do all of this. I’m tired of battling against doubt and fears when I could be spending time with my husband and kids. I don’t want this battle anymore. I’m sick of it. If this isn’t your plan, make that clear, and NOW!”
Well, as we know God always has a plan and while in those moments I was focused on the long term plan, I fail too often to realize that each moment is a part of the plan. God’s plan for me this weekend was to remind me that #He is and I must (go ahead and Tweet That).
This plan was beautifully and intricately woven, beginning with the fact that I wasn’t supposed to be at the retreat until Saturday morning. However, a change in plans had me leaving Friday and a neighbor who hadn’t wanted to go to the retreat texted me Wednesday and said she was going. At that point I offered for her to ride with me.
But before all that had even happened, on Wednesday I received a phone call from our Pastor’s wife.
“Shelly, Sandy (the speaker) has asked me to find people who are willing to be in a small skit on Saturday. There aren’t any lines and all you have to do is stand there and turn around when she says. I’ll need you to bring a black sweater and I’m going to attach a letter to it. The letters represent a sin, but not necessarily yours. Sandy will tell the audience that.”
I said okay and that was that.
Fast forward to Saturday night of the retreat and the time comes for all twelve volunteers to come to the stage for this skit.
I take my sweater and put it on standing second in line. Sandy turns the first person, who happens to be a huge cheerleader of mine named Mindy, around and proceeds to tell what her letter stands for. Then she does the same to me.
“Now, this is a V. What does the V stand for?”
The audience gives some guesses.
“V stands for victim,” Sandy continues… “maybe you’ve been molested or maybe you’ve been raped…” She continued with other areas of victimization, but those were all I heard.
Hold on, this wasn’t funny. I had another conversation with God on that stage in which I told Him that He had a very sick sense of humor. Why did this scarlet letter have to follow me everywhere I went? And then my friend Mindy grabbed my hand. And in that moment God reminded me of just how far he had brought me. He reminded me that I could wear that sweater with a smile on my face and a thankfulness in my heart because He knew that I was not a victim anymore.
I didn’t really hear any of the rest of the skit to be honest. Me and God were doing business through the rest of it.
Later that night while my eyes were closed and my voice was pouring out my heart to heaven, I was gently grabbed from behind, and in my ear was a whisper.
“I have some ladies who want to talk to you. Would you be willing to come share your story?”
To keep their anonymity I’ll just say that as they shared their stories with me and I with them, God met us all right where we were at. Our stories had points of overlap, but were definitely not the same.
At one point I looked deep into the eyes of young lady expressing such excruciating pain from circumstances similar to what I had experienced as a teen. As she spoke, I realized I no longer knew the pain of my past. I was not connecting with it. And in that moment I realized too, that this scarlet letter that I had been so upset about defining me and I had so desperately wanted to lose, was in fact a letter covered in the scarlet grace and hope of Christ.
I’m not a victim! And as I spoke to theses ladies I heard myself say, “I don’t have all the answers for you, all I have to offer you is hope. I’m here to tell you that with God, it’s possible.”
That was it. The answer to the question what value do I have to offer…hope. And to be used as an instrument of hope, there is a part of me that will need to forever identify with the pain of my past that connects me to those who are hurting now.
And the story doesn’t end there.
Sunday morning Sandy spoke on God having a plan, a purpose, and a platform for our stories. Seriously after being a part of this whole new community of bloggers and people passionate about following the call of Christ on their lives, it was as if God had placed those three words there just say, “I heard your cry, and if you haven’t figured it out yet, this is My plan for you.” It was clear. My God was being audible in the way I’d asked Him to. And, if I had left the retreat to that sweet icing on the cake of my weekend I would have been more than satisfied, but God…
Besides the ladies I was able to minster with that night, remember my neighbor that rode with me? Let’s just say that on the car ride home I was given the gift of trust by someone I hardly knew. And, if it hadn’t been for the weekend unfolding like it did, I’m not sure that the credibility for such trust would have been there. While her story too was unique, she shared in confidence, and I am honored to be allowed into her life in this way. I now have an opportunity to love my neighbor in a very real and tangible way.
Here I had been beating myself up over numbers and allowing Satan to use it to plague me with self-doubt. I mean seriously, I began this new website in January and as much as I would love to have 500 followers in every aspect of media before sitting down with publisher in July, I understand that I need to be focused more on offering people the greatest value I have to offer: the hope of Christ.
This weekend I had a very important platform both on and off the stage and it looked nothing like Michael Hyatt’s, but it was in no way any less important.
God’s plans, purposes, and platforms don’t fit always fit into well defined boxes Tweet That.
Some of them are beautifully packaged and pleasing to the eye, some of them are barely recognizable. Regardless, they are all gifts, even if we don’t see the value in them right away.
Now, this doesn’t mean that we don’t strive to make our voices heard above the crowd. It doesn’t mean we don’t need to learn from some of the best like Jon Acuff and Michael Hyatt. It doesn’t mean we don’t ask God to enlarge our territory and build our platforms.
It does, however, mean that we need to remember God is and we must in every. single. moment. Whatever He has called us to, the plan, the purpose, and the platform surround us wherever we are with each breath we take.
In chasing the dreams God has placed on our hearts, the enemy will do whatever it takes to keep us from moving forward. What guardrails do you have set up to keep him from knocking you down? What promises do you claim? It’s a battle people, how do you prepare? I’m currently “Drawing Circles” in prayer. Please share some of your strategies with me. I’d love to hear them.