The girl's conference was drawing to an end. It had been an incredible weekend... simply incredible... and I couldn't wait to get home to tell my husband all about it.
We had a large crew of volunteers helping us clean up and after all the "thank you's" and "goodbye's" I started my long trek home. My mind was still spinning from all that God had done when my phone dinged with an email notification. I was sure it was from one of the girls who had a life-changing experience that weekend that made the countless hours spent planning and executing conference worth every minute of it, because I had already begun to hear stories of what God had done. So I checked my phone.
My heart sank as I began to read the message from a frustrated mother who's daughter had allowed us to borrow a few items for decoration and in the process of cleaning up one of the large frames had been broken. I could feel her frustration in every word and just as quickly as the euphoria from the incredible weekend had come, in those few minutes it took to read her email - it left.
The smile that had been glued to my face was now replaced with tears, and the five hour drive home turned into an eternity.
Everything good that had happened was overshadowed by this one thing, and in that moment I felt God speak to my heart.
You've let him steal your joy.
And it was true.
I let Satan march right into my heart and take away a thousand good memories because of one bad one.
And I decided it would be the last time it would happen... but not because he wouldn't try time and time again.
In November I was asked to speak at a conference in Maryland, and I have to admit it was my most favorite adventure yet. Spending the weekend leading team building activities and joining a crew of incredible speakers in mentoring the girls had left my heart full. And as the weekend concluded, and the girls had all packed up, I realized that the card with my flight reimbursement in it was missing.
We looked everywhere, and I could have panicked, but I remembered what God had spoken to me the year prior and I told the girls not to worry. That no matter what happened, God would honor us if we guarded our hearts and responded well. No finger pointing, name calling, or discounting the incredible weekend because of this one misunderstanding. We prayed and went on our way. And right before I boarded my plane home I got the call that another speaker had mistakenly picked it up.
This time I smiled. Because I hadn't let him take anything.
The girls were delighted to hear that the money was recovered and I realized that had I not responded the way that I had, there could have been a much different outcome. I would have recovered the money, but I could not have recovered the seeds that were planted that weekend into the girls' hearts had I not made a commitment to protect them. Both the girls' hearts, and the seeds.
I have had so many opportunities to dig up things that God has intended to plant in my life because of outside circumstances - or lost keys (which is a great story you'll have to read about in next week's blog). But I have made a commitment and I pray that you will too.
Be a protector of the seeds.
Recognize that when things rise up in life, it could very well all be a ploy to take away the very thing that God has just given you. Be alert and aware. Be on the look out for it coming. Because it will.
Have you found a new sense of purpose? Be on the lookout for something that will cause insecurity.
Have you found a safe place to run to? Be on the lookout for that safe place to be tainted.
Have you found peace and happiness? Be on the lookout for literally anything and everything that will try to threaten that, albeit offense, bitterness, a misunderstanding, or a newly discovered truth.
GUARD YOUR HEARTS... that includes the seeds planted there!
How easily they can be uprooted, if we are unaware of what is being done. But I have come to know a certain saying to be true - "chew the meat, and spit out the bones." Which is basically a carniverous way of saying be thankful for the good done, and let the other stuff go.
Be wiser for it, more aware because of it, but never broken or belittled by it.
Mark 4:1-8, 14-20 Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”... The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”