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Riding the character wave
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“Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!]… knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance develops maturity of character.” Romans 5:3-5 (Amplified Bible)

A few months ago I was given the opportunity to manage a fantastic little Italian deli in town called DeVinci‘s Delicatessen & Catering. I knew the position would bring many changes for me, including that of freelance writing, which has been my primary avenue of ministry for many years. I knew I wouldn’t have the same amount of free time to write devotions and faith articles if I accepted the position, but I truly believed that God was opening a new opportunity of ministry for me at DeVinci’s and so I embraced the opportunity.

An interesting thing about a new “God-given” opportunity, however, is that the moment you accept it, numerous challenges follow.

While certain aspects of restaurant management were easy to learn, others seemed totally overwhelming. The challenges included ensuring customer satisfaction, business protocol, employee relations, and learning how to balance the needs of my family with my church activities and friends.

 It’s not that I’ve never multi-tasked or juggled responsibilities before… . It’s just that in this line of work, I’m forced to deal with problems right on the spot… instantly. No longer can I regroup at my leisure through e-mail, Internet and other “techy” ways of interaction as I had prior with freelance writing. These days, I have to pull it together and act in a way that hopefully honors God immediately. Boy, is that a scary feeling!

To tell you the truth, this new “God-given” opportunity has caused me to feel a little like a fish in a fishbowl with everyone looking at me to make sure I’m swimming the right way. Many of the local customers recognize me from the faith articles I’ve written over the years and seem curious to know if I’m going to be the person I‘ve apparently expressed myself to be through my writing. In other words, will I have the same faith-filled response to all the good, bad and ugly that just might pop up throughout the day in working in a customer oriented business as I would on paper?  I don’t blame their curiosity.  I’m curious too.

I began to pray about it and sensed God wanting me to not worry about anyone or anything but simply to apply all the things I’ve written about for so long, in a deeper way. Ultimately, to apply God’s word in my day-to-day life at DeVinci’s.

Naturally my response to this was: “What! Are you kidding, God? Do I have to have spiritual lessons at DeVinci’s too? Don’t I ever get a break from growing?” Uuuuugh!!!

What’s up with God being so deep, huh? I have a comfort zone with my spiritual walk. Doesn’t He understand that? Why does God keep getting in my personal bubble and acting as if He belongs there and making me feel uncomfortable? He acts as if He has some sort of right or something. Oh, wait! That’s right! He does.

Sometimes God purposely put us in a fishbowl so to speak, not so much for others to see us, but so that we can see ourselves and understand where it is we need to grow.

Who would have thought that serving tasty raviolis and foccacia bread would lead to more spiritual growth. As of right now, I’m learning about being honest with myself and holding myself accountable to my God in a deeper way. I’m learning to minister not just with inspirational words on paper or after I’ve had that hide-a-way time to regroup, but right in the midst of catering madness, scheduling employees, pursuing business goals while at the same time balancing family, and holding firm to my convictions. I’m also learning to apologize quickly when I act in a less-than-Godly manner. Yes, it does happen on occasion.

 I guess you can say I’m learning to ride the wave of spiritual growth that God has me on.  Sometimes the ride is smooth sailing, most times the ride is quite bumpy. I’m learning however that as I am patient and endure, God is developing within me a greater maturity of character which makes the ride worth it.

Think about where God has you right now. Is it an extremely bumpy time? If so, perhaps God has you on a wave that is building your character too through patience and endurance.