“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
– Phil. 1:6 (NLT)
This past week, I got a pretty cool email. From a seminary. It told me I’ve been accepted into the school to pursue a Master of Arts degree in Ministry to Women.
Weirdly enough, I got this email the morning I was scheduled to tour the campus with my family.
God-timing, y’all. It’s crazy.
I can’t even tell you how much prayer and flip-floppy decision-making has gone into this. I also can’t even tell you how excited I am. If you know my heart, you know it’s not only for sharing the Good News of Jesus with people who don’t know Him, but a big part of my passion is ministering to “church people.” Specifically to women and girls who feel like they have to wear a mask so they look like happy Christians who have it all together; who strive for perfection rather than genuinely abiding in Christ; who try to make God proud rather than embracing His perfect purpose for their lives. Why? Because I’ve been there. And some days, I’m still there.
If you only know me through the blog, this next step in my life may or may not seem like a surprise to you. After all, I always try my best to be transparent and authentically Anna on the blog, and I write about this stuff often.
But for those of you who’ve known me since my younger years, you’ll understand where I’m coming from when I say this is a huge deal. A huge, God-designed deal.
See, I’m an introvert. And although I joke about spending time with a cup of coffee, my cat, and a Hallmark movie (which really happens…), I love, love, love hanging out with people and I get energized by spending time with others.
But I haven’t always thrived in this way. Once upon a time, I was painfully shy. I dreaded social situations. I prayed no one would call on me to read aloud in class or do anything that would keep me from just blending into the background. If I was asked to pray out loud at church, my palms would go clammy and my breathing would become quick and shallow. I would be so anxious.
But before the beginning of creation, God had bigger plans. When I was younger, I had no idea I would one day walk into a Christian campus organization and eventually join the leadership team. Or that I’d be asked to speak during one of the weekly meetings, and even though I would be jittery and lose my appetite, I would absolutely love every minute of it. Or that I’d begin leading Bible studies, speaking in front of the larger group more often, and thriving in groups of people.
I. Had. No. Idea.
If I had known, I probably would’ve been like Sarah who, when told she and Abraham would have a child even though they were very old, cracked up laughing at the idea because it seemed so impossible.
And although I’m still introverted by nature and enjoy some quiet time alone every now and then to recharge, I can’t get enough of community.
Even though I wrestled with God and tried to stay invisible, God didn’t throw up His hands and say, “I guess this is all I’ve got to work with.”
Oh, no. Rather, He worked within my introversion…in my deep-thinking, schedule-loving, detail-oriented, daydreaming, old-souled heart; sculpting and building these into traits that work together for something bigger than my personality. His Spirit stirred within me, He led me slowly but surely, and He grew me. He is still growing me.
When you look at who I am by nature, the last thing you’d see is someone who speaks and leads and writes stories about hard stuff and the God who softens hearts.
But that’s the great thing. It’s not me. It’s Christ in me. The coolest part is I absolutely cannot take credit for anything I say in front of a group, anything I write on a page, or anything I whisper in a heart-to-heart conversation.
It’s all the Holy Spirit.
These days, I’m doing a different kind of stepping back. Rather than trying to blend into the background, I’m learning to step back so Jesus can shine. Because although I still have miles to grow and I can always use a good dose of refinement, God is calling this introvert into ministry.
So whoever you are…wherever you are…whatever you’ve done…whatever you’re doing…God isn’t finished with you. He has a purpose. And if you don’t know what that is yet (I still have no clue what all He has planned for my life), maybe it’s because you wouldn’t believe Him if He told you because it’s so outrageous.
Sarah laughed when God told her she would have a son with Abraham, even though they were very old. But it happened.
Moses made excuses (oh, that hits close to home!) when God called Him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt because he felt completely inadequate and unqualified. And yet God freed His people.
Naomi felt she had nothing left in the world and her condition would never change. But her daughter-in-law Ruth met Boaz, a kinsmen-redeemer, who changed all that…eventually leading to the birth of the Savior.
Story after story of real people who God really used despite the likelihood of it happening.
And God still redeems. The shy, the confident, the anxious, the broken, the popular, the lonely, the invisible, the introvert, the extrovert, the human.
He lavishes His love and He transforms, slowly but surely.
God does the impossible, the improbable, the imperceptible. All to bring Him glory.
He even calls an introvert.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)
By His grace and for His glory,