She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me."
—Genesis 16:13, NIV

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I've felt destined for ministry for most of my life, but over the years, I've struggled to define exactly what that means. When I was younger, being "called to ministry" meant becoming a pastor. As a female growing up in very conservative churches that didn't recognize or utilize female's pastoral gifts, I assumed this calling would lead me into missionary work—something that seemed okay for girls to do. When I was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 17, I'm not sure what was more challenging: the physical struggle of cancer or the disappointment from assuming I couldn't fulfill my calling. No doctor was going to give me a green light to travel the world as a high-risk cancer patient.

Over the years, God has brought many helpful resources and people into my path to show me God's calling doesn't stop when we face adversity, and that God wants to use female leaders and cancer survivors in big ways. I've occasionally accepted leadership roles at church and read all kind of books about women and ministry. But if I'm being honest, I still struggle with confusion at times.

While I've got a new understanding of female roles, I still wonder what being "called into ministry" means. Is it a job? A formal role on church staff or at a Christian nonprofit? Does it mean marketplace ministry? Isn't everyone called into ministry—basically serving others—if they are following Jesus? These big questions don't often get quick answers. But recently, God gave me a big "a-ha" and then "woah, wow."

I was wrestling with these questions and happened to find a YouTube video called "What is ministry?" I watched the video, and then a different video with the same title popped up and played. After about ten minutes, I had watched several videos produced by various leaders, all of them were attempting to define ministry. It helped... a little. Yet I still wasn't fully satisfied. A few days later, I sat down with my journal and Bible. I needed a heart-to-heart with God. "Turn to Ephesians 4" I sensed Him say. As I opened my Bible to find the Scripture, I noticed something I'd scribbled in the margin 10 years prior next to verse 12. In my own writing, it said "What is ministry."

A smile broke out across my face, I'd forgotten all about the verse. As I read it, it was the most satisfying answer I'd heard all week—ministry is preparing God's people for works of service and building up the body of Christ. Simple. Powerful. Not only did the verse answer my question, it helped me encounter a beautiful side of God. When Hagar encountered God in the same way, she exclaimed, "You are the God who sees!" The God who made me had been watching and listening. This didn't only answer my question, it super-charged my faith.

Reflect

  • Are there any situations, issues or deep questions on your heart bringing you confusion or disappointment?
  • Where can you go to be still so you can hear the voice of God?
  • Do you believe God sees you right now—where you're at? Why or why not?

Prayer

Father, I want to believe that you see me. Thank you that I don't go through life alone, even though I may feel like it sometimes. Will you help me find a time and place to be still and quiet so we can connect? I want to know you and understand who I'm meant to be. Amen.

Junior high is when I first learned about mustard seeds. If you're not familar with them, they're tiny little yellow balls that, if planted in fertile soil, can grow to become huge bushes. I've never seen one of these big bushes (that I'm aware of), but I have seen and held a mustard seed. These tiny little seeds are one of the many practical things Jesus used to describe faith.

Shortly after I learned about mustard seeds, I was at the grocery store with my mom and happened to notice a red container of them in the spices aisle. I nearly gasped. It contained not one, but hundreds, of mustard seeds.

"Woah," I thought. If one of these can move mountains, I can only imagine what this entire thing could do. 

I honestly can't remember if I bought the container with my own money, or if Mom bought it for me, but I do remember that I couldn't leave the store without it. Once I made it home, I dropped a single mustard seed into mini glass jar and I've kept it near me ever since. It used to sit near my bed, and now I keep it on my desk. It's with me all the time.

I tossed out the container of mustard seeds years ago, but I've always held on to the single seed in the jar. It's a physical reminder that faith doesn't take much and that it starts really, really small. 

Over the years I've seen incredible things due to small amounts of faith. I've seen relationships restored and reconciled. I've witnessed people step into breakthrough over alcohol, pornography, drugs and other addictions. Those with $50 to their name were provided for, and those without hope had a breakthrough at just the right time. And yes, I have seen and heard about faith bringing healing to people in a variety of physical, emotional and mental ways.

Personally, being intentional to step into faith has brought about many desires of my heart. If you know my story, you know the first few decades were really hard, but the past 15 years have brought incredible blessings. I believe it's because of where I put my faith.

Having mustard seed faith isn't exactly like possessing a magic wand, which means there's still mountains I am hoping to see moved and prayers yet to be answered.  But, a small seed of faith is a catalyst for change, and it's a step of surrender that says, "I'll choose to trust God and even though I can't physically see Him or discern the way this mountain's going to move, I'll continue to trust and believe."

This devotional first appeared in the Monday Morning Survival Guide. Subscribe to get next Monday's devotional emailed to you!

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