It all began with Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts) planning her wedding for the fourth time. The first three times, she left her fiance standing at the altar. Waiting for her, confused, watching her turn and run away. There I was, outraged, sitting on the couch watching the movie when suddenly this came to my head… “And what makes you so different from her? Aren't you running away too?”. To understand such an offense, I watched the movie two more times. And yes, in fact, Maggie and I had some things in common. We ran away because of fear and because it was just not the right time, or so I thought.
Since I gave my life to Christ, I haven't stopped serving and according to myself, I was willing to go out of my comfort zone. How many times have I told him… “I’ll do anything you tell me to do” or “Here I am, use me”. In my case, I think I didn’t have a full understanding of what getting out of the comfort zone meant. It was easy to see what others were doing and do it because I was under the shadow of someone else. One of my biggest fears is to speak in a group or in public. To do an exposition in front of the class during my school years was torture. Just knowing that everyone was watching, made my hands sweaty, my body would shake and my face turned to the right side. No matter how hard I tried to look to the front, I couldn’t. When I was done with school, I felt relieved because I would never have to do it again and right now I can imagine God saying something like, “honey, If only you knew”. Years later, my then ministry leader, asked me to share in front of a women's meeting, this was how God led me to serve in ministry at that time. I felt like God was giving me a gentle push, so I did, but not before warning them about the situation with my face so they wouldn't think I was possessed (Turning away from the crowd because of the fear). It went from small groups, to translating at a women’s conference. Then, to translate for my pastor’s and some guest speakers. Before every service, I ran to the bathroom because my stomach betrayed me thanks to my nerves. I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t see the people in front of me, but even like that I still did it. God knows I would never say no to Him.
Then, God put it on my heart to do something else, to make YouTube videos and here is when my story begins as “the Runaway Bride”. I was so scared, I felt so unprepared. Truth is I would never feel prepared because that’s what fear does. Look, God will never ask you to do something you cannot do. Since your mother’s womb He called you and deposited in you gifts and talents to reinforce the way to your calling. In the process, you’ll learn and on the way you’ll be prepared. Your obedience will take you to the purpose of the One you live for and the promises He has for you. (2 Peter 3:9) He delights and glorifies through your obedience. The problem is that I had another little problem, I was inconsistent.
Often, I didn’t finish what I started, it was common. I was not done reading a book but I was about to start reading a new one. I decided to follow an exercise routine until my body was hurting then I postponed it to the next day which turned into the next year, I’m not even going to mention the time I tried to be a vegetarian. I have a long list of good things that I wanted to do and didn’t finish, after all, life is full of distractions, right? This is not what impacted my life. It is easy to promise myself I'll do something and not do it. The problem is, when I promised something to God and didn’t do it, I was full of shame. If I was not faithful with the small things, how could I be with the bigger ones? (Matthew 25:23). Why was it that every time I set myself to be obedient something happens? Spiritual attacks, comparison, tiredness, or even using my service in the church as an excuse to not do His will. Not so long ago, I realized the reason why this was happening.
The devil despises progress. Every time you set yourself to do something that will bring you progress, you will face opposition. He doesn’t like committed people. He will let you start, but will do anything in his power to stop you from accomplishing your goals, especially if they come from God. His strategies are unlimited and his purpose is to make you inconsistent. James 1:8 says “a double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” I fell into his lies and without noticing, I began to run away from God's will. Am I reminding you of somebody?
Jonah was a prophet who God sent on a special mission. In response, Jonah tried to run away and in the process, he was swallowed by a big fish. After praying to Jehovah from the belly of the fish for three days and three nights, the fish spit Jonah out. Jonah finally went to Nineveh to give them the word God had for them and thanks to that word, they repented from their bad ways and God forgave them. Maybe if Jonah would have obeyed from the beginning, nothing bad would have happened to him, but being inside the fish helped him understand who God is and what it means to promise to fulfill vows made to him. The devil cannot stop God’s plan, but he will try to delay it. All I can say is, thank God for His mercy and for the many opportunities (Lamentations 3:22-23). I worked so hard on running away, making excuse after excuse, debating God with the reasons why I was not good for the job He was giving me. Thank God there are no big fishes in the desert.
I began to feel like a failure. Talking to a friend about it, she told me something she heard from a pastor, “If we don’t quit, He won’t quit. God can work with failures, but He can’t work with quitters.” And that’s all I needed to get up one more time and not stop. It helped me understand that I cannot let my situation determine my obedience. I don’t know what’s coming, but for once I am where He wants me to be, I will do what He wants me to do.
“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”. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Meet Laura Marquez, my guest writer this month. Laura and her husband Hugo have been friends of ours for the last few years. They are missionaries at heart and are truly servants of the Kingdom. When I was thinking who I wanted to feature this month, I heard God tell me she had a message to share. I pray this message is a blessing to you and that as you read it that you too will stop running from whatever God is calling you to.
Be blessed. Gwen