Today, I was invited to my sister’s church to do the sermon. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had different plans and has been hammering Southern Ontario with high winds and snow. So, a decision was made early this morning for me not to drive the hour and a bit on snow-covered highways and county roads to get there. On one hand I was relieved because I was nervous at the thought of driving after all the reports of accidents in the last 24 hours. But, another part of me felt convicted. Why was I wimping out when so many have risked their lives to spread the Word.
Friends and family talked me off the ledge. Then I learned that the church service was actually cancelled due to the weather. It made me feel a tiny bit better.
I still, though, have this residual feeling that I failed a test. I haven’t answered the question, what would I risk for God? And, I have always believed that when I am asked to speak, someone desperately needs to hear the message. Many times I am not even really clear about what the subject matter will be until hours before I speak because I try to tune into what needs to be shared. So, then it became about who didn’t get to hear what they needed to hear. That did not sit well with me at all.
In honor of the message, I am posting my sermon here, edited so it is small enough to fit a blog post and because some humour does not translate from presentation to paper. Hopefully, whoever needed to hear it is reading it now. If it is you, we are both blessed as I completed my mission and you can find your way.
Today is the day.
That is something I declared on January 1, 2011.
Today is the day I am going to start living again. Today is the day that I am going to put the loss in my life behind me and appreciate what I have. Today is the day that I am going to start the life I was meant to live.
I know many of you have been in that place where you know your life isn’t going in the right direction, but you felt you had no choice but to continue on the path you were on. Maybe you are there right now. You may be thinking I am too young or too old, have too much education or not enough, are too big or too small, have too much money or not enough.
I was stuck before the tsunami of loss came. I knew in my heart that I wasn’t doing what I should, but wasn’t clear on what I should be doing and who is going to give up the career, the money and all that goes with it to find out? My head said, no way. God said, we’ll see. Then, everything was gone and I had no choice.
So, after spending months feeling battered, bruised and broken I chose to make a change.
Today is the day.
Everyone has that choice, 365 days a year, every year.
Today is the day, I declared.
So what happened on January 2, 2011?
Well, technically, nothing.
I started a campaign of gratitude. I decided that every day I was going to post on Facebook one thing to be grateful for. At first it was hard because I felt I really didn’t have much to be thankful for. But, it soon became a sport for me. I went through lists of things to find the perfect one to write about. I wrote about big things like just being able to breathe and little things like seeing snow fall out my window, smelling homemade soup, and hearing my family laughing in the other room. It is an amazing feeling to go from being consumed by grief and loss to being so grateful for all I had. It changed me. It really changed me.
Just by counting my blessings every day I fought my way out of the darkness.
It also opened me to life. I think that all the information I had been reading from so many different sources over the last months of 2010 were put in my life so I would use them and begin to live again. God knew I had to get to a place of living before I could get to the life I was meant to live.
I look back over the past three years and can see the before and after of the day I declared, today is the day. One of my favorite bible verses. Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. I did not believe that on that day three years ago because I was still angry and my faith had worn thin, but I sure do now.
The gratitude led to a bible study which led to the book I wrote, The Promise. I wrote it during a time I should have been working so that we could back up from the financial edge we were living on. I felt called to write the book, regardless of our financial state. I believed that if I wrote it God would take care of me. I sent it to every publisher and agent listed. And NOTHING happened. No one was interested. I was crushed. I sacrificed my family’s welfare for nothing? Then I got notification that I made the first cut to be in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Finding My Faith. That was it. God was timing the release of The Promise with Chicken Soup.
He is brilliant.
I not only made the cut, the story was put in the book, and I was on the very first page, a huge honor.
So what happened?
At least I thought nothing was happening because things didn’t go the way I thought they should. It did not make sense to me.
Maybe God wasn’t so brilliant after all.
I was wrong again.
During the process of garnering press for The Promise and Chicken Soup I met someone who changed my life. She recognized that I had a calling on my life and she was starting a company that was going to change the world. I knew as soon as she described what they were doing I wanted to be a part of it. That was March 2013. By the fall, I was writing inspirational stories for the company’s website. As of last Monday, I am a full-time employee. I not only have my dream job, it feels like I have come home.
Three years after I made the decision that today was the day, I am living the life I am meant to live. I feel it in every fiber of my being.
So, God did have a plan. But, that plan could not be put into action until I said, today is the day. I do not know how many years He waited patiently for me to declare that. I think it was quite a few. And, He had a plan that was His, in His timing, in His understanding, not mine. When I thought nothing was happening, so much was going on behind the scenes. That is just how God rolls.
I also needed to have my heart in the right place, a place of gratitude, a place of surrender. That is what gave the declaration power.
Today is the day. Are you going to seize it? Are you going to rejoice in it? Or, are you going to let it pass you by.
God is waiting for your declaration so he can put into action His plan to get you to the life you were meant to live.
What are you waiting for?