November 2015 Final Issue
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I Give You Permission

Stop waiting for something to happen or for someone to give you permission to do things.

Kate Kendall

Have you ever felt unworthy or not enough? Has God called you to something, and you hear a voice in your head that says, “Who do you think you are?” or “You can’t do that!” I received a calling on my life to speak almost twenty years ago at Christ for the Nations in Dallas, TX. My first message, which I still have somewhere, was titled ‘The Joy of the Lord is My Strength.’ As I spoke, I felt both nervousness and the pleasure of God. Occasionally, even after all these years, I still hear a voice saying, “Who do you think you are?” Through the years, I’ve learned to always be prepared and to wait for God’s perfect timing. I’ve struggled with the questions that have to be asked: What are my motives? Why do I still feel called to speak after almost twenty years? And again, what are my motives? (I think if you’re in ministry and you don’t ask yourself about your motives and search your heart, then you might want to check your motives.) I once heard Christine Caine speak, and she said that as God started to use her more and more in the area of speaking, she would have people that knew her say, “Well, just who do you think you are?” And she talked about all the years she served in youth ministry and driving the van and her private prayer life with the Lord that no one knew about. Now, she just says, “I’m a child of the living God, honey, who are you?!” That’s how the enemy works though, isn’t it? God calls us to something, whether big or small it’s all important and needed in the kingdom of God, and yet we’re waiting for permission. We wait for someone to recognize us as a/an _________________ (you fill in the blank here). It’s like we need someone else’s permission to be worthy enough. I have been writing in some form or capacity most of my life. In high school, it was poems (I wish I could find those). I took breaks here and there. I have always journaled, and I began blogging in 2005. Recently, I struggled with a word. It’s going to sound silly, but I did. I wanted to get business cards made for my writing and speaking. I have a published story in Chicken Soup for the Soul (and since then, I’ve self-published a devotional). But I couldn’t decide if I should put ‘writer’ or ‘author’ on the business cards. Honestly, I didn’t feel worthy of “author” status. My husband convinced me to put author, knowing I’ll have these cards for a while and that I have more books in my head. I almost felt like an imposter, like I could only call myself an author if another author recognized me as an author. I ordered the cards and absolutely loved them. But I also didn’t tell anybody else about the cards and hid them for over a year in my room. I didn’t feel worthy yet, and truly, I’m not sure if I ever will. This whole ‘permission’ thing affects other areas too. I run and have run off-and-on since I was sixteen. I’ve been running consistently over the past three years but nothing crazy. At what point do I go from a casual ‘jogger’ to a ‘runner’? It’s like I’m waiting for permission again. Or cycling. I picked up cycling in 2006 after my knee surgery and fell in love with it! And I have the bike, all the equipment, and love to ride but could never quite figure out from what point do I go from ‘I like to ride my bike’ to ‘cyclist’? They’re all just words, I know. And what I’ve come to realize is that I put too much stock into titles, and that for some reason, I wait for someone in a position or sport (or whatever it is) to see my value in that thing and call it out. Okay, if that person sees me as a writer, well then I am. No, no. When there is something inside of us that we love to do or feel called to do, we don’t need anyone’s permission (yes, I’m preaching to myself here)! You know what I find interesting? That no matter how qualified you feel or don’t feel, or how gifted you are at something, I think there’s always something in us that doesn’t quite feel worthy. And for me, with my wild past, I’m always amazed that God would even choose to use me. One of the greatest apostles, Paul, felt the same way. 1 Cor. 15:9-10 (MSG) - "It was fitting that I bring up the rear. I don’t deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God’s church right out of existence. But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I’m not about to let his grace go to waste. Haven’t I worked hard trying to do more than any of the others? Even then, my work didn’t amount to all that much. It was God giving me the work to do, God giving me the energy to do it." Do you realize that 14 out of the 27 books in the New Testament have been attributed to Paul? Yet Paul still called himself the least of the apostles. Even though Paul felt unworthy, he still knew who He was in Christ. He knew that he was called and that he was set apart. And he was going to live the rest of his life being used by God whichever way the Lord chose to use him. He was well aware that it was only by the grace of God. Through the years I’ve had my doubts about my calling. They’ve usually sounded something like this: Why does the world need another author/writer/blogger with so many books and blogs out there? And why in the world am I writing when it feels like everyone else is already writing about the same topics? The truth is there are people in my circle of influence that aren’t in your circle. God wants to bless them, and He wants to do it through us. It’s about God wanting to use regular people like you and me to be a light in a dark world. Here’s the good news I want you to take hold of today: There’s room enough in this world for everyone’s gifts. We should never feel threatened when someone else writes the same thing as us; on the contrary, we should see that God is threading a theme among His people. Whatever you are being called to today, don’t feel the need to get man’s approval first. Don’t wait until someone’s opinion of you lines up with what you think God is calling you to do. Know who you are in Him and be confident in the calling He has placed on your life. So go. Go be the runner, speaker, blogger, author, ministry leader, mountain biker that God has called you to be. And stop apologizing. And stop trying to convince people of the reasons why you are who you are. Your gifts are going to go much further when you realize that they’re not from you and are not about you, but they exist to encourage, to inspire, and to be a light. All for the glory of God, my friend. And in that gifting of yours, as you step out, you encourage others to step out, and I promise you this - You will feel God’s pleasure. Here’s your permission. Go shine! I mean, who are you anyway? Honey, you are a child of the living God!
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About Celeste Barnard

Celeste Barnard
Celeste loves to encourage, challenge, and inspire women to be their best brave. She is very transparent in her writing and speaking. She shares about the struggles and pains of her own past in order to help others realize that we serve an awesome God who restores and redeems. She recently self-published her first devotional, Reflections: 31 daily devotionals.

14 comments

  1. Great post! I struggle with the same thing…this strange desire for permission. Thanks for sharing!

  2. So true.. love how you worded this…”stuck between labels”. And great analogy about the power being off and not knowing because you needed to hit the switch. Yes! realizing ‘who’ we are empowers us to step out into what He’s called us to do. Thank you not only for reading & sharing your thoughts on this!! Be Blessed… Be BRAVE!!

  3. Gah…. Here I sit with tears….AGAIN!
    Wow! Just beautiful Celeste. It’s awesome, the way God uses you. Thank you for this.

  4. Celeste, thanks SO much for sharing! I can’t tell you how much this resonates with me!! Very well said!! I will be blogging next week on this very thing as a blog tour post for “The Cure for the Perfect Life.” It’s called Selective Service. I hope you will check it out. Standing shoulder to shoulder with you on this one, sister!

  5. Sabrina Phillips

    Celeste-

    I loved this! A couple chapters in my life have just recently closed and I’ve been scared to even attempt to start the next ones due to the lies running around in my head! Thank you, very encouraging and timely! Blessings! Sabrina

    • Sabrina- thank you so much! I’ll be praying for this new season in your life. I know it’s a little scary not knowing what this next chapter looks like, but I know God will guide & direct you. Praying that as new doors open, that the Lords voice would be louder than those lies running around in your head. And through each brave step you silence the enemy!! Love you! #BeBrave #NewSeasons #He’sgotthis

  6. Celeste God has placed so many gifts in you it’s exciting to watch things unfold. You are a gifted author/writer, I loved this post. What a great reminder at any point in our life to silence the enemy with I’m a child of the Living God honey who are you?
    Loved this! Keep stepping out – I love you and your a tremendous blessing to many.

  7. Celeste, I really enjoyed this!! I had never considered this topic before, but as you described it I thought to myself that it is so true. We have so many labels for things and the labels almost hurt progress instead of help it because we feel unworthy to be a “cyclist, writer…” and then therefore we get stuck between two labels instead of seeing who we are in The Lord, with all of the strengths he gave us to be used for Him. Unlabeled in the world’s labels. Labeled instead, as you say, a child of God! Not letting semantics and culture keep you from seeing yourself as God made you!!

    The other night we had a thunderstorm here and the power went out. I sat in the kitchen at bedtime waiting for it to turn back on so I could start the dishwasher as it typically comes back on in 30 minutes or so. I sat on the floor reading from my iPad, waiting and waiting for the lights. Then I got a text from my husband saying – The lights are back on! I didn’t know because the switch was off. The power was there but I still sat in the dark. It made me think… As Christians how often do we sit in the dark thinking that there is no power or lights when all that we need to do is just flip the switch! And just like you said – realize who we are in Christ! Not wait for permission to be who He called us to be! Realizing He has called us and has and will equip us for good works!

    I’m sorry for the long comment! I just enjoyed your post!!

    🙂

    Erika Pfluke

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