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Faith Imagined: Where's the Sugar?

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

August 29, 2010

Where's the Sugar?

I made a sugar free apple cobbler for my kids. Even the whipped cream on top was sugar free. I was so excited because it looked beautiful, and it tasted pretty good. My three year old sugar connoisseur son was so excited. I put the dessert in front of him, and his eyes bulged. He took his spoon and started taking big bites. After a few mouthfuls, he put the spoon down and looked up at me.

“What’s wrong?” I said. “You don’t like it?”

He pushed the bowl away and said, “It needs sugar.”

I couldn’t believe it. I looked at my husband, and he shrugged. How did he know there was no sugar?

The same concept goes with ministry. A ministry leader can make sure that everything is perfect and looks great, but there is only one way to ensure that God’s sweetness (Holy Spirit) is present. Unless the leadership is sensitive and broken to the will of God, the Holy Spirit cannot freely move through the ministry like it should.

Before we had kids, God moved my husband and me to Dallas. I saw a commercial for a local Christian school, and I knew that God wanted me to teach there. The position paid very little, so I taught college at night. The year was challenging for me, and I couldn’t wait until summer so I could get outside the classroom.

I started applying to other positions, but I had an uneasy feeling that I was supposed to teach one more year. I got offered an amazing job located downtown Dallas, creating English software to help kids with standardized testing. I was ecstatic because this job paid twice the amount of my two current positions combined, and I could sit behind a computer and analyze grammar and syntax all day.

For five days, I wrestled with God. I knew He didn’t want me to take the job. I remember jogging on my treadmill, and I jumped so hard out of anger that I broke it. I stomped around my living room and finally fell against the wall crying. I cried until there was nothing left. My family and friends didn’t understand. Why would I not go for such an amazing opportunity? All I could say was, "God says so."

During the last day of school, I finally resolved to be obedient, but I still felt very abandoned by God. I went to my desk and opened the Bible. I read Jeremiah 29.11: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’” (NLT). I decided that I would learn everything God wanted to teach me the following year, so, hopefully, he would allow me to leave the classroom.

My last year teaching, I taught seven subjects, including seventh and eighth grade Physical Education. For one of the six weeks, I felt God wanted me to teach them a Christian song in sign language. I didn’t know anything about music, but two of my students were daughters of the choir teacher. I didn’t have a plan, so we just worked each day at putting together a performance. I taught the girls some “choreography” and the sisters helped with the chorus. We finally finished it, and the girls had created something special.

I saw the principal in the hall, and I asked if she wouldn’t mind just taking a quick look at what the girls had created. She said sure, and sat down in an empty auditorium. After the principal saw it, she demanded that they perform in front of the school at the next pep rally. The girls were thrilled, and I was happy that they were able to show the school how hard they worked.

The girls performed in front of the entire school, and the teachers and students were amazed. People were crying, and I didn’t understand what was going on. The choir director came up to me with tears in her eyes and said, “Now that's what it's all about.” Till this day I value the fact that she didn’t thank me. It was obvious that I did nothing except allow myself to be broken by God and stay obedient to His will.

God’s spirit is unleashed through the brokenness of the ministry leader. Leaders are called into dry areas, so Living Water can flow through them, saturating everything with God’s presence. However, the ministry leaders must be broken so that the Holy Spirit in them can move freely. Leaders are responsible for having a broken self-nature and an obedient heart; the rest is up to God.

God’s glory comes in all shapes and forms and through all types of ministries, but it is obvious when the Holy Spirit is present….you can taste His sweetness. God needs our brokenness, so the Holy Spirit in us has free reign. How is God breaking you today? Do you receive it or become callus? How would your ministry (family, marriage, career, relationships, etc.) be different if God's Spirit was in control?

"Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies" (1 Corinthians 15.43-44 NLT).

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Blogger Leah @ Point Ministries said...

Brokenness and humility---they are attributes that I pray every day that the Lord will work in and through me. Otherwise, I am a sham, a fraud, a fake as I minister.

Great post.


2:21 PM  
Blogger Karen Lange said...

Ah, that He would increase and I would decrease.
Blessings for the week,

2:31 PM  
Blogger Heather Spiva said...

This is so real, and transparent.
I loved it. Thank you.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Alex Marestaing said...

All our art, our photos, screenplays, novels, our ministries, are two dimensional without God's spirit working through us. When God's spirit rushes in, that's when things become alive in vivid 3D, and that's when people's lives are changed.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

Sugar-free cobbler?

And obedience when it hurts, and we don't understand.

And brokenness.

And ministry.

Sweet girl, you've got me right where He wants me.

Sweet dreams.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Joanne Sher said...

Alisa, this is a GORGEOUS post. Brought me to tears. Thank you for the reminder.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Daughter of the KING said...

Obedience - I once heard it said that to delay when He speaks is to be disobedience. All I know is the one thing I want said of me is that I knew the Lord, listened to the Holy Spirit and was obedience to His call. Thanks for the reminder that with obedience comes blessings!

Oh by the way, my husband would totally agree with your son "it needs more sugar."

Linda J

5:46 PM  
Blogger MTJ said...

Hi Alisa,

Reading this post helps me understand that it's not about me. As I walk towards Christ, I'm learning to allow myself to be broken; that I might be useful.

What resonates from this post to me is when you wrote, " Leaders are called into dry areas, so Living Water can flow through them, saturating everything with God’s is obvious when the Holy Spirit is present….you can taste His sweetness."

I have no idea where my journey will take me but I genuinely want to avail myself to God; I'm asking to be broken of my thoughts, plans, and old ways that God would find me useful.

Thanks for sharing an encouraging and inspiring message.

Blessings and peace.


5:48 PM  
Anonymous Shelby said...

Alisa, thank you thank you thank you for sharing this post -- for listening to and heeding our Father's call.

I am SO struggling with some ministry stuff right now -- specifically I have a couple of ministry ideas and I am waiting (and not very patiently) to see if they are MY ideas or if the Lord has given them to me. You have reminded me today of the importance of making sure that I'm broken and humble before Him in any event but ESPECIALLY if this ministry I'm hoping and praying for is His.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Bernadine said...

Alisa, this is just what I needed as I struggle to put what I want aside and follow His leading.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Alisa -

There's a scripture that God desires our obedience more than sacrifice. When we walk in His ways, we position ourselves to be blessed and to bless others.

Susan :)

8:04 PM  
Blogger For His Glory said...

Thanks Alisa for sharing. It was a beautiful post.

8:34 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Leaders are called into dry areas, so Living Water can flow through them, saturating everything with God’s presence.
Such a great post Alisa! I cried when I saw the image of you crying everything out as a good opportunity that seemed like the great thing was still not the God opportunity. Thank you for this great post...I praise God for His sweetness that is revealed in your post! I laughed so hard when I read the beginning of your little one shunning the sugar free peach cobbler!!! haaahaa!! The analogy is are a Holy Spirit inspired beautiful!

3:15 AM  
Anonymous Esther said...

A beautiful story of obedience. Thank you!
And God bless you -- 7 subjects! yikes!

6:59 AM  
Blogger Connie Mace said...

Oh Alisa, as I read this, I picture cracked, dry, broken ground becoming saturated with Living Water.Out of this wasteland, beautiful trees and plants flourish. These,in turn,become food and blessing to a host of other creatures, to The Glory of GOD.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Stuff could always be worse said...

As always, what a thought provoking post. Funny how I posted about the human body today....So glad your kids had such a touching musical.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

The Lord always speaks through your words...thanks, Alisa...again....

7:46 PM  
Blogger Crystal Mary said...

Hello, what you wrote here was so good. Obediance is not always easy and Satan places temptations cleverly in our way. I have never really been paid the wage I am due, yet my rewards like yours have been many. God Bless you always. CML

11:14 PM  
OpenID bluecottonmemory said...

I love language and syntax, too - what an obedient daughter you are! God told our family to "go" and people would ask why. They always didn't understand, "God said so." But it was true. I wouldn't budge without God. And in the move, there was the frustration, the unsureness of it all - EVERYTHING - but God was cleaning house, and in the obedience, after the crying out in the desert, after the submitting joyfully - not just submitting, I can see a new thing grow!

Thanks for sharing not only the sweet message of triumph, but the struggle! Struggling does not = failure - Struggling shows the courage to go forth!

9:06 AM  
Blogger Amie B said...

ok - when did i miss this?? did you just recently revamp your blog or am i totally wigging out? it looks fabulous!

12:41 PM  
Blogger May said...

Inspiring post and may the goodness of the Lord be with you and family each day. Praise be to God.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Toyin O. said...

Amen! Awesome post!

2:11 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Love this post!! It was something I needed to read!!


3:33 PM  
Blogger Carlos said...

Great post. I just shared it to my Facebook. It is definatly better to be broken on the rock of Christ that to be pounded into dust :) Keep sharing these great posts, you are being a great vessel of the Lord.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Caleb John said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Warren Baldwin said...

Great story. The impact you made on those girls will last their whole lifetime. That is definitely the "sugar" of the Holy Spirit. Great post.

Looking forward to publishing your guest post on Family Fountain tomorrow. Thanks, it is very good. wb

11:13 PM  
Blogger Erin MacPherson said...

Hi Alisa! I found your blog from Warren's blog and this is go great!! I love what you said about the missing sugar. And I love your 300 club post.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Connie Arnold said...

Thank you for sharing the wonderful post with a great lesson!

7:15 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Smith said...

Thanks for this challenge! Love it!

5:28 PM  
Blogger Leah said...

I almost forgot how much I enjoy your writing! So encouraging to me to hear you speak on being called to dry areas. It's a definite challenge for me to want to stay in areas like this..but as my husband is a worship and youth leader in the community, I realize that what you say is so true. I am printing this for him to read!

9:52 PM  
Blogger From The Heart Online said...

Great post! May others be able to taste the sweetness of the Holy Spirit in my life, my behavior and my words.

BTW - curious about why you valued that you were not thanked by the principal?

8:29 PM  

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