I am honored to continue serving as an Impact Campus Ministries (ICM) board member. Throughout my time as an intern and staff member with ICM, I learned the value of living out the mission of “pursue, model, and teach intimacy with God on the university campus.” And as I transitioned from a staff member to a board member, I have continued to learn the value of pursuing, modeling, and teaching intimacy with God in areas outside of college ministry.
ICM recently hosted its annual All Staff Conference in Fullerton, CA. For each of these conferences, the leadership prayerfully considers the conference theme based on how the organization and staff are currently functioning and where they believe God desires to take them next. To me, this type of listening prayer reinforces our mission of “pursue, model, teach” and transcends from leadership into the rest of the organization, including board of directors.
The theme for this year’s conference was: forward.
I was not able to attend the conference in person, but I was able to Skype in for the day-long board meeting that followed. During our time together, the board discussed many things. Mission, vision, staff care, board commitment, budget, The 5 Voices, etc. And during each vulnerable conversation, our dialogue brought us back to the conference theme.
“This is where we are today,” followed by, “How can we move forward?”
After our meeting, I trusted that God not only wanted that message to reach the staff, but also each of the board members, including me.
“This is where you are today, Megan,” He whispered in His gentle assuring voice. “This is how you can move forward,” He declared confidently over me, a beloved daughter.
The other day, in true divine fashion, I received an email from an organization I follow, Propel Women, inviting me to fix my gaze forward for what is to come.
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; Fix your gaze directly before you.” (Proverbs 4:25)
What are the chances that I would receive that email right after the ICM conference theme was the word forward? I have some friends that would say 100%. Not because it is the new year and that is what everyone is tweeting, texting, and instagramming, but because God wanted to connect these pieces together to get my attention.
I am sure I have read this specific verse more than once, but after our ICM board meeting and reading it in Propel Women’s email, I had to stop and look deeper. I had to lift my heart toward God and ask Him some questions. Are you inviting me into something, God? Is this verse gaining new meaning today? Yes.
It has been a very long time since I have used this blog to update you all. Thus, I must give some background as to where I have come from and what has been holding my gaze.
Most of you know in August I transitioned out of my job as Director of Mobilization at Bridgetown Inc. or Because People Matter (BPM). Until leaving, I did not understand how much of my identity and soul I had poured into that organization and how much that organization poured into me. My schedule, friends, focus, goals and even art projects were infused and tied into BPM. I did not fully understand this until I was no longer able to say, “I’m Megan from Night Strike,” or “I lead Transformation Trips,” or even “I work with the marginalized” and receive words of approval or familiarity. Each of those statements highlighted what I did, while each affirmation aligned my focus on myself and my position at BPM. My gaze was not forward.
When I transitioned out of BPM, I started to realize that my gaze lingered on the path behind me.
But God, being rich in His mercy (and patience), has been slowly realigning my focus. Not only is He shifting my focus forward, away from the past, but He is also removing my gaze from the things that don’t really define who I am.
He opened doors for a job outside of how I used to identify myself; serving the marginalized. I went from Volunteer Coordinator and short-term Mission Trip Teacher to a Sale’s Assistant. I never thought I would or could be a Sale’s Assistant, but I am and I am learning a ton. I put my hours in and work hard every week, and yet my identity is not tied to what I do. There is a clean separation. At first I did not know how to process, but now I am learning to allow myself to continue to be “Megan” without the need for a job title to wave as a flag of proof behind me. What freedom! This freedom allows me to quit looking at myself and to look forward to the path ahead of me. In doing so, I am even able to see other gifts that are planted along my path that I did not see before (more on that in a future blog).
Another way God is realigning my focus is by this new role I am about to step into as a mother. Today marks my 14th* day of being “overdue”. I have acquaintances, friends, and family ask me multiple times a day if I have had my baby yet. No, we are still waiting with all of you for his arrival. I can allow these questions to either draw my focus back to myself and what I am not doing (going into labor on a loosely predicted date) which perpetuates my own insecurity and misaligned gaze, or I can allow these questions to draw me to the truth that I am not in control and God is teaching me how to be a mother as I am going. The beautiful part that God revealed to me is that no matter how I perform, I am still a mother. My role does not get revoked because I haven’t gone into labor, nor is it revoked if I don’t know what I am doing yet. This truth allows my gaze to drift away from my performance and settle on the path directly in front of me. I am free to set my gaze directly ahead of me on the ancient path that Jesus talks about.
The path is laid out before each of us. All we have to do is look just ahead, get on the path and walk forward. Once we are on that path, we keep moving forward and we will find the Shepherd. He will protect us, lead us, and never forsake us.
So today, I will not look behind me at the things that I used to let identify me, nor will I look directly to my performance and good works for security. I will look just ahead to my next step and keep walking until I find that Shepherd. And when I slip off the path, I will look just ahead and find it once again and walk forward.
*14 days was the count when I wrote this blog. We welcomed our BELOVED JOSIAH JAMES into the world on January 26th. He is everything his name stood for and more. Hallelujah!