Nearly five years ago, I launched my sign business, Little Branches. It was an outlet - something creative to do for myself every day. The fact that other people wanted to buy the signs was mind-blowing to me, it was special but it was extra. I never dreamed that God would grow it for the first two years beyond my wildest imagination. I never thought I would wholesale my products or do craft shows or have repeat customers.
But somewhere in the last two years, God has taken my little business and blurred it into ministry.
The lessons for me in this have been HARD, y’all. When God first asked me to use this outlet for ministry, it was very separate in my mind and in reality. It was business and then ministry. I sold signs and I wrote blog posts. I painted and I taught about Jesus occasionally. I never thought of it as a together thing.
When I went to SheSpeaks last summer, a publisher told me that she saw it all together - as one unit. Art, ministry, words, Jesus. It sounded great in theory - but how? I just could not see it that way in all of my small-mindedness.
But in just the past year, God has taken what I thought could never be joined and rocked my world with His orchestrating. He has taken His hand and dulled the activity over the business side and accelerated the activity on the ministry side.
Actually, He has brought business and ministry together for me so there are no longer even sides.
Now, the sign making supports my efforts in ministering to women. When you buy a sign, the money that used to be “extra” now goes to support our website, printables, inspirational art, recipe testing, photograph taking, collaborating and so on.
What I deemed as failure in business I now see as manna. It is just enough to do what He has called me to in ministry.
What I questioned as God’s abandonment I now understand as protection.
Trust is not something that comes to me naturally, but rather it is a choice I have to make day after day. (Sometimes, honestly, it's a choice I don't make).
For an entire year, I questioned everything that was “happening to me” in my little business. I wondered what I had done wrong, I tried to advertise different ways, I attempted to find more people to collaborate with and offer deals alongside. But none of it “worked”. I was spinning my wheels trying to fix it all and driving myself crazy.
But what I was trying to fix, God had already handled.
There was no fixing my business because it was never broken. It was just shifting. The purpose was now different, God’s intention with it was changing and I tired to hold on with dear life to what was instead of letting it all go into what it now is.
Why is it so hard for me to trust a God who has come through for me time and time again? Why is it such a battle for me to take my hands off of things (and people) I love in my life so dearly in order for God to work His way in everything?
Control. I want control. I think that I know what’s best for me. I mean, how could He possibly understand what I want, what I’m going through, what my goals are? But, of course He does - of course He understands more about me than I do! He sees the big picture, the bigger goal, the bigger plan.
He sees the Kingdom version of everything and that should be easier for me to trust than my own simple, earthly plans - no matter how big they might seem to me.
Maybe it is easy for you to trust, and to that I would say keep it up.
But for those of you who have a hard time, I promise you, God's promises are Truth. It isn’t natural for us to trust someone else, let alone a God that we cannot see physically. But what I find helpful, when I’m doubting, is to grab a piece of paper and begin to keep track of all the small and large ways that He has been faithful to me over and over and over again.
Perhaps you are walking through a wilderness season that feels like He's left you abandoned on the side of the road. But He hasn't. He is just working out a lot of other stuff you can't see. Time and time again we see that in scripture people felt abandoned, but at just the perfect time, God does what only He can do. And what we have to do, as strong, believing women, is to cling to the promises of Truth in times of doubt. Cling to the encouragement He has given us in His Word.
Will it be easy or perfect? Absolutely NOT. But the peace that comes from letting go is beautiful. Praying that we can all recognize His perfect plan today - even when we can't see it.