An excerpt from a speech shared by Cassandra Vaughan for 2016 Women’s Day at Mount Ollie Baptist Church in Brooklyn, NY.
Our theme for Women’s Day is “Women Positioned for God’s Purpose.” This theme should cause each of us to question: “Am I where God wants me to be?” and “Am I available for God to use me as He sees fit?”
This is my prayer based on Ephesians 1: 17 – 19, “Lord, please give me the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know you better. Please let the eyes of my heart be enlightened so that I may know the hope to which you have called me, the hope of my glorious inheritance as a believer in you, and what you can do through me when I am fully surrendered to you.”
This spring, I realized anew that because my job as a math teacher had taken over the bulk of my time, I was not available for God to use me as He wanted. I was not where God wanted me to be. Yes, I was doing “good” work as a teacher, but it was keeping me from attending church as often as I should and was leaving me so exhausted that I often fell asleep while reading my Bible. Staying up late planning lessons and grading papers was robbing me of time with my family and friends and with my LORD. The lack of sleep was literally killing me. Every time I went to the doctor they found something else wrong in my body. You would think that by my 12th year of teaching I wouldn’t need to work so hard, but because of a new curriculum I was asked to teach for 8th and 9th Grade Math this school-year, I was constantly working and had little time for anything else.
During Spring Break, I started reading Women Risktakers while riding the train to medical appointments. Once I started reading the book, I knew God wanted to use the book to give me courage to make some changes in my life. As I read the book and prayed for God’s wisdom, God told me that I needed to trust Him to be Jehovah Jireh, My Provider. I needed to surrender my plan for my life to God and instead seek HIS direction for my life and ministry.
Many years ago, God had told me that there was a calling on my life to minister to women and children. Yet now my teaching job left no time to do the things HE called me to do. I wasn’t even being a good witness to my students because the exhaustion so frequently led me to lose my patience with them. The sleep deprivation was taking its toll on my physical and emotional health. God made it clear to me that I needed to get some rest and make time to hear HIS plan for my life and ministry. I needed to quit my job and trust God to provide as I wait to be positioned for HIS purpose. After all, he can’t give me my marching orders until I am well enough to carry them out.
Having grown up poor, I tend to worry about money and was always taught not to quit a job without having another one in place, but this was a very different situation. My job was literally killing me. Once I told my principal that I wouldn’t be returning to the classroom next September, God immediately started speaking to me and I started listening and obeying. Am I taking a risk by giving up my tenured teaching position? Definitely! Nevertheless, if I am to do the things God is calling me to do, I need to be alive, healthy, and available for HIS purpose. So today I am in God’s waiting room, waiting to see how HE is going to work in me and through me. I am not encouraging any of you to run out and quit your job like I did. In my case, it was literally a matter of life versus death. God may be asking you, however, to examine your life and see what is keeping you from being fully available for HIS purpose. Perhaps you are busy doing good things at church, but not the ministry you know God called you to do. Perhaps fear is holding you back or perhaps you are worried about what others will think. What is keeping you from being positioned for HIS purpose? Perhaps, you are just busy doing what YOU want to do, rather than what GOD wants you to do. So I exhort each of you with these words from the conclusion of Women Risktakers:
“My sister, I charge you to position yourself to accomplish the very thing that you were born to accomplish. You may need to take a deeper look at the work you have been doing. Even if it is a good work, it may not be a God work in this season of your life. . . . Seek out the high calling, which the Master designed for you to fulfill before time began. Pray that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened so that you will begin to understand the path HE has chosen for you, and that you will know HE is bringing you to an expected end. . . . Your challenges, disappointments, and seasons of waiting will be explained to you as you open up your heart and allow God to do HIS ultimate work in you. . . . God has a plan for you.”