Four years ago, I was in a season of discernment that involved clarifying my yeses within ministry. Up to that point, I had been involved in several arms of ministry: youth ministry, young adult ministry, adult faith formation, and retreat work. My vocation as a parent was growing as our family grew. Writing was emerging as a new piece of my call. I felt stuck between trying to hold on to what I once did and embracing the new invitations in front of me.
Clarity came through prayer one morning. The image of a river came to mind, and I stood on the banks of the river surveying the landscape. This was the river of my life, and its energy and current were vibrant that day. I wondered where the river began and where it got its fuel to sweep along.
Suddenly, I felt a presence next to me; I turned and saw Jesus standing by me. He, too, was noticing the surroundings, appreciating the river of my life. Then he began pointing to the streams that fed into my river—the things that, at that moment of life, were my greater yeses: motherhood and family, retreats, spiritual direction, and writing. These things brought an increase of faith, hope, love, energy, and passion.
Jesus also pointed out the streams that were drying up, mere trickles into the great river of my life. Many were once rushing streams, but now they no longer seemed a necessary part of my landscape. It was then I had permission to let go of what I once did through calls that I once had. That letting go would allow me to embrace fully the new invitations God had in store.
The four streams feeding the river of my life are not equal by any means. Motherhood and family hold their rightful place together as the stream that matters the most to me. I evaluate invitations to new opportunities against this primary stream. Does this invitation honor my call to marriage and motherhood in a way that supports it? Or will saying yes to it take away too much from this primary call?
Prayer that morning helped me across a threshold in understanding my greater yeses and set me on a new path of ministry work. The four streams still are checkpoints for me, ways of discerning new invitations. Does this invitation flow into the four main streams or does it not fit at all? The streams help me refine and clarify my understanding of what God is inviting me to today.
What would you and Jesus name as the main streams, your greater yeses, that flow into the river of your life? How might naming these help you in discerning?