What are you doing when your soul is deeply glad?

This is a post is part of a series based on questions from Steve Wiens' book Beginnings. To learn more, check out this post. I love for you to join me by linking up with your own post, or commenting below. 

Today's question comes from page 76, at the end of the chapter called "Seeds." It is a chapter that asks about what gifts within us are longing to be born.

Last year, my One Word 365 was TOV. That's what this chapter is all about.

what makes your soul glad

Questions about gifts and purpose and calling and "what is God's will for our lives" tend to loom large in Christian circles. Naming our gifts can feel like standing in the street naked... in the winter... with a crowd looking on. Is the vulnerability worth it? Meanwhile, the idea of God's will can feel like a frantic search for the x on a treasure map. If we don't get to just the right spot, will we miss it?

All this leads to a tension. On the one hand, we feel the pull to live a life of purpose and meaning. We long to use the gifts within us to bring good things to the world. On the other hand, we feel the pull to avoid the questions that feel too big and risky to answer.

Which is why I love turning questions of calling into questions of delight. We may not be able to articulate our best gifts, but we can often name what brings us joy. What if reflecting on the things that delight us is what opens the door to learn more about our truest selves? What if it shrinks the big questions into pieces we can move towards one step at a time? 

Here's my challenge for all of us today. Let's make a list- What are the big and small things we do that bring our souls gladness, joy, and fulfillment? Here are some of mine:

  • Engaging in deep, meandering conversations in which no one notices how much time has passed.
  • Eating delicious food.
  • Teaching the Scriptures and helping people see their relevance.
  • Helping people unlock their potential.
  • Listening to music I love.
  • Cooking.
  • Traveling.
  • Running through the woods on a beautiful day.
  • Watching people's eyes light up with the reality of learning something new at just the right moment.
  • Leading a meeting. (Seriously. I have so much fun leading engaging meetings, and I hate sitting through boring ones.)
  • Hosting people at my house.
  • Laughing with my children.
  • Snuggling with my husband.

Now, let's look through our lists- Are there any threads connecting pieces? How might those threads lead us? 

For me, the most noticeable thread is people. I am a people-person through and through. This tells me something important about how God has wired me and what kinds of seeds I may be designed to plant in this world.

Maybe with lists like these, the question of calling can feel a little less scary... and a lot more fun.

- Steph


Your turn: What are you doing when your soul is deeply glad?

If  you are a blogger, link up with your post below. If you are not a blogger, you can also link up to an Instagram post, how cool is that? Or, maybe now is the the time to step out of the shadows and respond with a comment. I promised I will reply to all comments left. 


Now it's time for next week's question, from page 109 of Beginnings, "How would you describe the season you find yourself in these days?"

Come back next week to link up and respond. 

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What if it's like driving a boat?

One of our favorite places in the world is my in-law’s cabin on a lake. We love to go there to swim, boat, and escape from the pressures of everyday life.

There is so much I love to do while I’m there, but there’s one thing I despise: I don’t like to drive the speedboat.

I like riding in the speed boat. I enjoy watching my kids ski or tube behind it. But, I flat out refuse to drive it. When I get behind the wheel, my heart thumps, my hands sweat, and my gut gets twisted in anxiety.

For some, driving a boat is easier than driving a car. There is wide open space in front of you. You don’t have to worry about staying in your lane or turning the right way. You simply watch for other boats, stay mindful of your speed, and go where you want to go… Which is exactly what I can’t handle. 

What if I don’t know where I want to go? What if I choose wrong? What if I direct the boat into danger? Why can’t someone just make lanes I can follow so I don’t mess this entire thing up???

So, my husband drives the boat, and I watch, missing out on what could be a grand adventure.

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There are many metaphors that could be used to describe God’s will. I used to think about it like a GPS. We drive, and God tells us where to go. If we go the wrong way, God reroutes us. There is a precise destination at the end that God will not fail to take us to.  Not only that, there is a best route to get there, and if we miss a turn, the drive is going to be much more frustrating.

There’s comfort in that idea. We are behind the wheel, but our lives are not ours to direct. It is simply our responsibility to follow wherever God tells us to go.

But what if God’s will is more like driving a boat? 

What if God is sitting next to us, sunglasses on, with a mischievous smile spread across His face. What if God is asking us that most dangerous of questions… Where do you want to go? 

Owning our desires is dangerous. What if I chose wrong? What if the risks are too high? What if I mess the whole thing up?

But what if that’s the grand adventure God is inviting you into? A life with God beside us, laughing in the wind, riding by our side in the spirit of possibility and wonder. Ready to help if we crash into a rock, but letting us step into the energy of forging out own way.

The wide open water is ahead of you. Where do you want to go?

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Understanding The Story

The Bible is the story of God and God’s people. It is not primarily a rule book telling us how we should live. Or a scientific textbook explaining how things work. Or a history book of heroes we should emulate.

It is a story. It is The Story.

It is The Story of Yawheh, a God who has existed since before the foundations of this earth, who reached into time and space to create, redeem, and love. It is The Story of a people who have sometimes understood, but more often than not, The Story of a people who have messed things up. And it is The Story of a God who keeps on loving them anyway.

I think the Israelites understood this better than we do. Their view on God and history is revealed in the way they tell their own story.

In Psalm 106, we see a people who share accounts of their blunders as easily as they share their victories.

“We have sinned, even as our ancestors did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly.” – Psalm 106:6

“He saved them from the and of the foe; from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them. Then they believed his promises And sang his praise.” – Psalm 106:10, 12

And we see a people who declare God’s goodness as the introduction to them both.

“Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” – Psalm 106:1

They seem to understand what The Story is really about: a God whose love for His people endures through everything.

The Story is not about Israel’s leaders. They had some great ones, but those leaders were human, right along with the rest of us. They made mistakes. And if we understand what The Story is really about, it shouldn’t make us uncomfortable to talk about them.

Though, in our humanness, it probably will make us uncomfortable. And that’s okay, too. We should still do it. Just like the Israelites did.

“By the waters of Meribah they angered the Lord, and trouble came to Moses because of them; for they rebelled against the Spirit of God, and rash words came from Moses’ lips.” – Psalm 106:32-33

Isn’t it wonderfully human that they tell the story of Moses’ anger, but still blame it on the ever-annoying dessert wanderers? I can feel them telling that story through gritted teeth, knowing they need to share it all, but struggling to take one of their great heroes off his pedestal.

I have had the honor of studying the Old Testament with a brilliant and insightful rabbi. He describes the will of God as a deep and wide river. The will of God is not a point on a map that we have to find, but a vast and refreshing stream in which we are invited to wade.

We can step into it at anytime and walk around. Once we do, we stand in the movement of all that has come before us and all that will surge after us. To understand who God is and who we are, we have to look at how the river runs all around us, back in the past, around us in the present, and ahead into the future.

The Bible is one place that tells the story of what comes before us. And the way it tells the good and the bad together gives us a model of what looking back really means. It doesn’t mean glossing over or forgetting.

Looking back means seeing how humanity struggles and God continues to love. It means looking unanswered questions in the face and finding the ways that God can still be good even when we don’t understand. Looking back means remembering how Jesus lived and hearing what Jesus said when the things in our present tell us to abandon this crazy faith.

Psalm 106
Psalm 106

That was my reflection on Psalm 106. Link up with your own reflection below. Or stop back next week for a reflection on Psalm 107.

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