This past spring has been a blur. Two baseball teams, a flag football team and a gymnastics class have kept our kids very busy. Andrew and I had additional things to keep us busy: newlywed community group, teaching pre-k Sunday School, running cameras at church. He also worked two full-time jobs, and I finished writing a book. Many times I said that I was grateful for my great full life. In the past, we had felt the need for expansion (can you tell??), but now we feel the need for it to get smaller. But what should go and how do you decide?
Jimmy Needham has a new song on his most recent album titled “Clear the Stage.” The song talks about true worship. The picture is that we have a lot of other things that have crowded the stage in our lives. Sometimes it’s hard to tell who the real star is. We have other things that have taken center stage. Sometimes the other things are godly things, like teaching Sunday School or leading Bible studies. Sometimes the other things are good things, like baseball and flag football that help our kids grow and learn. Sometimes the other things are bad things, sin patterns, bad habits and character flaws, that we refuse to surrender. Nevertheless all of the other things, godly, good or bad, are simply idols. They are other things that take our affection and devotion. There is no longer room on the stage for the One who should be the center of it all.
At the end of our ragged spring when we went down to one baseball team, flag football ended and Hope decided to stop gymnastics, I told Andrew I felt it was time to clear the stage. However I did not know it would cost so much and hurt so bad. I look back at our year so far, and see it filled with loss. This year started with the loss of Andrew’s mom. She passed away last December, and I was in a fog most of January. I’ve also lost a close friendship because I’ve been hurtful. I’ve tried to find a way to mend it, and yet it remains broken. My best-laid plans have been lost. I’ve lost a position I thought God had for me, but obviously He didn’t. I’m on a long waiting list for a speaking conference I was planning to attend this summer. Last weekend I lost my hard drive with the latest revisions of my book. Obviously not all the losses carry the same weight, yet all are losses that bring sadness.
In it all, I see God clearing the stage so that He can take his proper place. The idol of reputation has been kicked off the stage. I’ve had to step back and let God defend my reputation, let Him protect my name. The idol of self-effort has been banished as well. My self-effort has reached a dead end. It has accomplished nothing. I still have a broken friendship; I have still been disqualified; I am still a bad mom who yells at her kids. In spite of my efforts and all of my trying harder, my heart remains the same. The idol of control and planning has been sufficiently removed. I’m in a place I didn’t plan to be. In years past I’ve always had a plan for the fall by the beginning of the summer. I can honestly say that I don’t know what the fall holds. The only thing I know is what God has given me to do today…and some days this week. (It’s His grace that gives this Type-A planner some type of working plan for the week.) My eyes are open and my heart is asking who are the people He has given to me to serve this week. All I can do is take the next step and trust Him more, extremely difficult and sometimes painful for this melting Ice Queen.
When it’s time to clear the stage, all I can do is surrender the stage. He is the One who moves the pieces where they need be. He is the One who decides what goes and what stays. The stage of my life belongs to Him because He bought it with the precious blood of His only Son. I want him to have the stage because he will make it beautiful. When I have the stage, I tend to mess it up because I’m not perfect. I want him to be in the center because he is perfect. He is the Creator of the universe, sovereign over all, reigning in love. I am merely a piece of that stage for him to use to tell His story. Whether I have a big part or a small part is all up to the Director. So let the clearing continue! God…what else has to go? All I want, all I need, all I have is You.
So how is God asking you to Clear the Stage?
Click here to see a video of Jimmy Needham’s song, “Clear the Stage.”