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One Word: With

Editor’s Note: This post is part of the series “ONE WORD,” a two-week long effort hosted by Self Talk the Gospel in collaboration with the good people at One Word 365. Keep track of the series here and check our daily e-mail newsletter for all posts. Don’t subscribe? Sign up!

 

“So, what’s next for you?”

“Now that you’re done with seminary, what does this mean for you?”

“So are you like a pastor now?”

These are the questions I hear most often now that I’m done with seminary. Many people want to know what’s next for me. I was done with school, had a Master’s degree, surely this meant something more? A new job? A pay raise? photo-1449179391249-52328aae1c16A title? That’s what usually comes after a Master’s degree, right?

During these two years of seminary, I had started writing and teaching bible studies at The Well. As I sat down to write my third study, I pulled out all of my books, spread them across the kitchen counter, thanked God for His presence and grace and felt something I have never felt before: the delight of my Heavenly Father over me and a strong pressing on my heart that said “this is what you were made for”. Overwhelmed by the Father’s love and clarity of the calling and purpose of my life, I stood at my kitchen counter of my books and cried tears of gratitude.

As I was going to seminary, my “what’s next” was already happening, becoming more and more clear.  I started to see the Lord narrow my focus as to how I was to serve the Body of Christ and steward my gifts for the Kingdom.  This meant a new job with fewer hours—but more clarity and joy—stewarding all that I learned to be better at what I was already doing. No big step up, no huge pay raise, no higher position.

 

As I was going to seminary, my “what’s next” was already happening, becoming more and more clear.  I started to see the Lord narrow my focus as to how I was to serve the Body of Christ and steward my gifts for the Kingdom.

 

As 2015 was winding down, I started to dream about this new season. I was only working part time and once school was done, I was eager to start running and dreaming and pursuing my list of ministry ideas. In November, I decided my word for 2016 was going to be RISK. I wanted to step out in ways I never had before, dream dreams that were too big for little ol’ me to make happen, open our home to children in need, give away every bit of savings we had, start 1,000 ministries, say yes to things that would scare me . . . all of it! I thought to myself, “Of course this would be the year of RISK, I had so much time to pursue it all!”

Only, I heard the word wrong. As I started this year and began dreaming about ways to RISK, I realized the Lord was whispering something different to my heart. My husband and I went away for a few days to dream about this new year and new season for me, and came away with less “to do” rather than more. We both took a lot off of our plates and added back on the simple things: people over for dinner, discipleship, health, books to read, etc.  I didn’t hear “Yes daughter, go! Run!  Dream!  DO MORE!”  I heard “shhhhhhhh, slowdown, rest, come here, listen, be WITH me.”

I envisioned this time “after” seminary to be when I’d really get busy after work FOR the Lord.  Instead, there’s a slowness in my heart and longing in my soul to be simple and be WITH Jesus.

 

I didn’t hear “Yes daughter, go! Run!  Dream!  DO MORE!”  I heard “Shhhhhhhh, slowdown, rest, come here, listen, be WITH me.”

 

So, my word for 2016? WITH

I thought this year would be one of DOING much for the Kingdom, of discovering “what’s next” in ministry, and yet the Lord is reminding me to focus on BEING with Him.

What’s next?  Being WITH God. That every word I write and speak is an overflow of time WITH God.

What’s next?  Slowing down and enjoying God’s presence. Maintaining margin to hear His voice, study His word, and delight in His presence.

What’s next? Being WITH God and being WITH people. Remembering this life is a call to serve and love others out of an overflow of love and service to Jesus.

What’s next? It’s keeping my part-time job and not adding anything else to my week just yet.

What’s next? Abiding in Him to bear much fruit.

 

I thought this year would be one of DOING much for the Kingdom, of discovering “what’s next” in ministry, and yet the Lord is reminding me to focus on BEING with Him.

 

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

This means another year of saying no to 1,000 things I could do, to say yes to the few things I should do. It means a year of pruning, to bear more fruit in seasons to come.

What’s next? Accepting His invitation in Matthew 11:28-30:“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (The Message)

I want know God’s love and presence in a deeper way in 2016 more than I ever have before. I think that love is cultivated in the smallest, quietest, and simplest of ways. Slowing down, resting, listening, praying, seeking, delighting IN, and being WITH. These are what’s next for me.

 

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Image Credit: Rachel Crowe, Unslash Creative Commons


Melissa Danisi

About

Melissa Danisi is the Co-Founder of Self Talk the Gospel and serves at The Well Community Church, encouraging and equipping women by teaching God’s word and shepherding leaders. Her greatest passion is to see women walk in the freedom of the Gospel and grow in their love of Jesus through the study of Scripture, which led to writing bible studies on Ephesians, Philippians, Sermon on the Mount, Spiritual Disciplines, and most recently Genesis. She recently received her Master’s Degree in “Pastoral Care to Women” from Western Seminary and has been married to her very Italian husband since 2006.


  • Darlene Hanson

    Love this Melissa. I truly appreciate your writing and treasure your friendship.

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