Jennifer Kostick– Jennifer has been married for twenty-three years to her high school sweetheart, Paul. She is the mother of three children, Paul IV (22), Samuel (6), and Grace (6). She also has six babies residing in heaven. It is those six tiny souls who have propelled her into women’s ministry. She is a conference speaker and author of the book Nothing to Hold but Hope (one woman's journey through miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility). Jennifer blogs at www.Jenniferkostick.com and is passionate about encouraging women through a godly message of mercy and hope.
I had the opportunity to livestream some of the IF:Gathering conference last weekend. I enjoyed the speakers, and this week there are many quotes floating around social media. In case you missed it, here is a quote by Jill Briscoe I want to share with you:
“You go where you’re sent, and you stay where you’re put, and you give what you’ve got”
Friend, that preaches.
It’s not a finger pointing, fire and brimstone type of quote. It’s not meant to guilt you into volunteering at church, or change you into someone different than who you’ve been designed to become. It’s meant to make you think about your calling. It made me think. I began asking myself the following questions:
Let’s take these questions and quickly break them down. We will begin with the first two:
If you are a church goer, this is usually the easy part, because we all have gifts leading to passions and desires placed by the living God. Most of us want to use them, and the local church usually provides a place, or platform, for that to happen. It’s when we become active in that space that the difficulty begins…
It’s all too easy to become distracted by our gifts rather than stay focused on the giver. People quickly praise what other people have to offer, instead of praising the One who freely gave the greatest offering on the cross. And, if we aren't careful, finding ourselves swept up inside the calling rather than the One who called us in the first place, will happen before we know it.
Guilty or not of the above statements, we will all come to a place where ministry hurts. I know this is a real shocker, but people don’t always agree! I know, right?!? It's in those times that scriptures warning us about powers and principalities seem to be erased from memory, even if the pastor just preached his best sermon on that topic only five minutes before. The defense of an eye for an eye is at the forefront of our brains, conveniently allowing us to forget what follows in the next passages. (You know what I’m talking about, that whole turning the other cheek thing…) Let me be very honest about something concerning the enemy: he’s the master manipulator of the Word of God. Manipulation of God’s Word is the only weapon the enemy of our souls has ever used; beginning way back in the Garden of Eden, and unfortunately, it’s still working to this day.
Staying where we are called is tough, because when we are emptied of giving everything we have, we feel hungry and hunger pains hurt. The Bible instructs us to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Guess what? Hunger pains and dehydration can end life. Yes, when we seek God we will find Him and He will fill us. That’s not the issue. (See Matthew 5:6) The issue lies in the following questions: Are we willing to humble ourselves when others have wronged us, or when we feel wronged, so that we can be filled? Are we willing to fight for the place we’ve been called to occupy? And I’m not talking about fighting people, although it sometimes feels like that. Our callings often attach us to roles within the local church and we tend to grip those roles tightly. WAY TOO TIGHTLY.
From the perspective of attachment to our roles in the church and how unhealthy that can be, Lisa whittle in her book, (W)hole, said something that blew me away. she penned the following thought:
“Losing our dependence on a role is the birth of true identity.”
Now that’s some solid preaching! I don’t believe we can fully live our purpose when we depend on the design rather than the designer. Living out our calling doesn’t make us who we are. It’s the God we serve with our callings - He makes us who we are. When we grasp this concept, we begin a life-giving process of transformation. Lisa Whittle, through pain and family devastation that was no fault of her own, had to come to this conclusion early on in life. It wasn’t her role that fulfilled her; it was being God’s child that fulfilled her. We ALL need to arrive at this same conclusion in order to grow.
My personality, when hurt, is to construct walls. I want to build them tall, all the way around my heart, and then take pride in my own personal fortress. And God, in the entire forty-four years since placing me on this earth, has had the audacity to keep making me tear those walls down. It hurts every single time. After all these years, you would think I would have learned my lesson and quit building them, but it took this quote from Rebekah Lyons, which practically punched me in the gut, to help me understand:
“You cannot self-preserve and give freely.”
He uses others who have gone where they were sent, stayed there, and given everything they had until they were emptied, just to reach me and so many like me.
Most of us are broken women with whole callings. That is not a bad thing. In fact, I think it’s part of the Designers design. It’s learning how to tap into that brokenness from a place of humility that honors God and allows wholeness to flow. Our pain causes us to connect with others and minister genuinely from one broken life to another. Through this, He makes a way for us to live wholly and freely, giving everything we’ve got for His glory. And, yes, sometimes it will hurt. My advice: Go anyway, stay anyway, and give anyway. I know I will.
My new prayer:
Father, God, because I’m being honest and know I have many years left to live, there will probably be another time in my life when I’ll forget all this and start construction on another wall around my heart. When I do, please knock it down swiftly in Jesus name.
And all the self-preserving women shout, “AMEN!”
This idea of purpose, and that we all need one, is something I’m constantly reminded of each and every day. In fact, I haven’t been able to shake this concept for at least two years. I know there’s mercy in our purpose, justice in our purpose, and spiritual wholeness in our purpose in a way I’ve never understood before. It's changed my life, literally.
Jesus prayed these words:
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
As a mother, I want to give my children the best of me, modeling love and godliness. As a wife, I want to fill my husband’s heart with joy, be his supportive counterpart, and faithful intercessor. As a friend, I want to be filled with life, an encourager, someone my community wants to be with and knows they can count on. As a daughter of the Most High, I want to make my life count for more than I can see with these human eyes.
And right before our human eyes, in black in white, we have a prayer that Jesus spoke to His Father. We have a glimpse of a private moment between Himself and The Creator - an inside track on what our purpose is intended to become and the gift He gives us in return.
To live fully, and to reap eternal life, is choosing to know God.
Life is that we would find our purpose in serving a God who owns the definition, love.
Living life here and continuing life eternally would mean understanding His grace is sufficient and His truth endures. There’s mercy in his wanting us, and truth in His love for us – even when our lives seem mixed up and upside down, topsy-turvy in a world that’s anything but our home, we can find life and purpose in our heavenly Father.
When we know God, we find life.
“This is life, “Jesus said, “That they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
This is life… that we find purpose.
This is life… that we pursue hope and holiness in a way that sets us apart in newness.
This is life… that we would be transformed by making the decision to know a God who already knows every detail about us.
We can all have life, and when we look at this perspective on purpose, hope happens and healing begins.
Hello, Friends! I hope you had a very Merry Christmas! I’ve been on a bit of a writing sabbatical the last couple months and will continue in this season until mid-February. Thank you so much for all who have reached out to me. Your words of encouragement and prayers mean so much!
I’m looking forward to picking my writing schedule back up in mid-February with posts at least once a week. We will be focusing on purpose in the life of women. I’m looking forward to sharing what God has been whispering to my heart.
Until then, I want to leave you with this:
I always find it astonishing that there is nothing new under the sun and yet God continues to do new things in our lives – things we could never imagine or even begin to dream without the revelation of the Holy Spirit. He is good and his mercy endures. Just this past week I was studying Joshua and read the following scripture:
Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.
There’s enough hope in that verse to heal any gap of waiting you’ll ever face. There’s more than enough grace and mercy to cover anything you’ve ever done. The Lord has good things in store for your life and regardless of the flesh you fight and the skin you wear, His love will overcome. When we stay pressed into the One who loves us most – the One who speaks good things over us – no matter what happens in the interim, we can be secure in the fact there is a future and hope for those who call on His name.
May your New Year be full of overcoming and pressing into the God who speaks good things over you. May you experience every good thing come to pass and see life through spiritual spectacles allowing hope to win and grace to filter cloudy vision.
God bless you!
Talk to you in February, dear friends.