Are You Ready? How to Remake the World Around You in Love
I’ll never forget the phone call I received from my friend, Erin, after an experience she had in one of our local consignment stores in Northern Kentucky. On an ordinary day in 2006, Erin was shopping when a teenage girl entered. Erin noticed her looking at the formal wear and also took note when she asked her foster mother if they could purchase the dress for her prom. Her foster mother had to say no because it was an expense they just couldn’t take on at the time. So the girl asked the clerk if they could hold the dress while she figured out how to pay for it. The clerk responded that, unfortunately, that was not store policy. They couldn’t hold the dress.
As Erin watched, she felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to approach the family and offer to purchase the dress. She spoke with the foster mother, who agreed to let Erin purchase the dress for them. Before they walked out of the store, the misty-eyed teenager turned to Erin with a huge smile on her face and said, “I’m going to look just like Cinderella!”
Erin called me on her way home from the consignment shop that day, bursting with joy. She was so amazed and full of excitement she could barely get the words out. You see, Erin had been praying for God’s love to fill her. She had been telling God that she was available and ready to be used by God for God’s purposes. Because she had been praying, she was alert and ready to say yes when the opportunity to serve someone presented itself.
After Erin responded to that call of God in the consignment shop, something powerful happened. She described it as a fire burning inside of her. She knew that there were more girls like the one in the consignment store who wanted so badly to attend their proms but who didn’t have the resources to go. That thought broke Erin’s heart. Not simply because they couldn’t go to their prom but because they might somehow feel less valuable or less worthy because of their circumstances.
As Erin considered the best way to help, she decided to ask each of her friends to buy a dress that we would give away to a girl in need. But as she continued to pray and ask the Spirit of God to guide her, an idea of something greater started forming, and a vision soon formed that had structure and sustainability. As Erin shared her new vision, people responded.
In March of 2006, we held the very first Cinderella’s Closet event at our church. Young women in need showed up to our church and received everything they needed to attend their proms. We served 116 young women that first year. Since then, hundreds of volunteers have donated items, worked at events, and contributed their talents to the cause. They’ve shown thousands of young women the love and grace of God as they’ve pampered them, shown them and their families kindness, and given them everything they needed to go to their proms in style. But, as Erin says, it’s not about the dresses or the shoes or the jewelry. It’s about letting the young women who come to Cinderella's Closet know that they are loved and that they have sacred worth.
Since 2007, Cinderella’s Closet has grown to be a nationwide event, with churches all over the nation using Erin’s model to host their own Cinderella’s Closet events at their churches. Who knew that such a beautiful ministry could come out of one little “yes” to a call that came in the most ordinary of places?
And because she was ready and alert to the Lord, Erin recognized the call of God in that little consignment shop. She had no idea what was ahead or how God would expand that one act of obedience into what it has become. At that moment, it wasn’t about doing something big. It was about being obedient to serve someone in love. God took Erin’s obedience and grew it into the beautiful ministry it is today.
This is what becomes possible when we open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit and make ourselves available to Him. The Spirit of God works within us, according to the gifts and passions, and loves God has placed in our hearts, and stirs us to join God where God is at work in the world. You may never start a huge ministry like Cinderella’s Closet, but you can trust that God will expand and multiply every act of obedience you do in love.
So, how can you be ready to move when God moves? First, ask yourself, “What is weighing me down or preventing me from being ready to move when God moves?” Let go of any unnecessary baggage. Forgive the people who’ve hurt you. Practice simplicity and generosity. Resist the urge to worry. Instead, trust God even when you can’t see the way forward.
Second, pray regularly for vision and wisdom and make yourself available to God. Regularly ask the question, “What is the invitation here?” Don’t just go through your days distracted and self-absorbed. Be open. Look around. See people and really listen. Choose each day to take action when you sense the nudge of the Spirit on your life.
This is how we grow the Kingdom of God. This is how we embody the holiness of Christ and make an impact for the kingdom in our little corners of the world. How is God calling you to respond? How can you say yes to God’s call on your life today? May you be filled with and empowered by the Spirit of God to remake the world around you in the love of Christ. Rooting for you today, friends.
(To learn more about Cinderella's Closet visit cinderellasclosetnky.org)