So, I’ve been on family vacation in my happy place, on the snow-packed ski slopes of beautiful Colorado, for over a week.  I’m truly grateful for opportunities to relax…well, if exhausting myself completely by doing a super fun but extremely strenuous activity from morning until the lifts close down is relaxing?  It was a great week, a much needed break and also a difficult week with unexpected disappointments and the typical stresses of traveling (and skiing) with children.  And my dad.  He is by far the most entertaining part of the program.  But, that’s another story; stories.  Ha!

Today, we woke up in our own beds (my tired muscles are so glad) and it’s time to get back to it.  My to-do list is a mile long.  There are phone calls to make, emails to send and projects that need extensive attention, not to mention GIANT suitcases crammed full of dirty laundry and a toddler begging for another round of chocolate milk. Yet, I feel inspired to share something with you:

The Kingdom of God is at hand.

To be frank, I really, really, really wanted this past week to just be about me.  Some us time.  Some just-let-me-be time. Ya know?

That sounds worse in black and white.

Didn’t exactly happen.  Never does.

I guess my relationship with the Lord has become one where He is ALWAYS present.  Imagine.  He’s not really into leaving me alone. (Yes, I know how awful that sounds, but I’m just being honest here.  Remember, I wanted a break.  Which usually translates into me wanting to only think about myself.  Yep. Sad.) However, continually lingering in my mind and heart is the ache of my calling.

Truly, where can I go that You, Lord, are not there?  I’m riding the lift up the mountain and the Lord is whispering, “Are you seeing this?! How gorgeous is my creation, Jaclyn? Do you understand who I am?” I’m watching skiers and snowboarders and listening to bits and pieces of their conversations as diverse and complicated as the outfits they wear and again the Spirit whispers, “Did you hear that? So many people, Jaclyn.  They LOVE this mountain more than anything in life, but they have no clue who made it.”  Thrilled as my children fly by on skis, I hear, “You’re welcome.”  (I know, that’s weird, but sometimes I need reminded that these kiddos are truly blessings and gifts from God Himself.)

I’m trying to enjoy the fire and the view and His thoughts come quickly and then go.  “SHINE is coming, Jaclyn.  Are you ready?    What will you do to make my Kingdom most important?  You ski today, but my Kingdom is forever.  Are you listening!?  Will you do what it takes?”

No matter where I am, He finds me.  He reminds me that He reigns.  That He is God.  Supreme.  Above all.  Beyond me.

He calls.

So this morning I wake up, get the big kids off to school and I literally want to lay in bed and catch up on some TV.  I mean DVR is a real thing and I’m still sleepy.  I should get a day to recover, right?!  But, He’s here, again, calling,  “Open the book.  Do.not.touch.that.remote.”  Geez.  My heart knows He loves me so.   And I’m writing to tell you that even as I, a sinful, weak, selfish woman open MARK this morning, my faithful God stirs my heart.  He reminds me that my calling is not one bit different than yours or the men whose names are written on the page.  It’s a call to follow Jesus.  That’s it.  Nothing fancy, nothing special, not one calling more significant than another.  All the same.  Just the call that has resounded for over 2000 years, “Come, follow me,” said Jesus.

Says Jesus.

And that’s enough.

But, wait, there’s more.  It hit me afresh that Jesus did not ONLY issue the command, “follow me” —although He would have been right to do so.   He also backed up that offer with real action.   He healed people.  He served people.  He taught people.  He gave people a reason, multiple reasons, to follow Him and be part of His kingdom.

I love Jesus.  No other god, no other King, no other ruler is like that.

How do I apply that truth to my own life?  Easy.

Wait.

No, it’s hard following Jesus.  Make sure other people know that same offer is extended to them AND give them a reason to follow Jesus.  Love them.  Show them.  Teach them.  Don’t give up on them.  Do SOMETHING that attracts them to the kingdom and the king.

To summarize, I guess what’s getting me is the glory of how that simple call is both universal and personal.  Follow Jesus.  Two words.  Same for you, me and every person who walks the earth.  Yet, how it plays out in my life and yours will be oh-so-personal and different.  No matter where I go or where I’ve been, He’s working on me and WITH me, so that by His grace I can be effective as I get back to the things He has given me to both be and do.  Whether it’s working on SHINEtheConference, planning to serve at women’s events, speaking somewhere, working with businesses, helping non-profits, teaching a Bible class, raising three children or supporting my husband; the call is always the same.  It lingers no matter which hat I’m wearing.  Regrettably, I wander from it sometimes.  Worse, I WANT to wander from it sometimes.  Ministry is hard.  I want breaks.  I want ME time.  I’m selfish and ridiculous, as if I’m the one doing the work.  But, my faithful God always calls me back to one thing: following.  Doing life His way.  Letting the Holy Spirit lead.  Making choices each day that require obedience and surrender to what He wants and letting Him do it.  Reminding me that His kingdom matters so much more than mine.  My kingdom is coming to an end.  His kingdom is forever.

It’s just that simple.

I have no idea why I felt so compelled to share this today of all days except that maybe you needed this too?  Maybe you are tired, worn out in ministry or struggling to find direction.  Stop.  Just follow Jesus.  If you have no idea what that means or looks like, read MARK with me.  Study His life and do what Jesus did.  Say what He said.  Love what He loved.  SHINE for His glory.  Get back to it.

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