I had a moment today in the car after PWOC that I feel compelled to share with you all in hopes that it would encourage you to follow God wherever He calls you to serve.
I’m sure you have heard the adage, “God equips those He calls.” This is another one of those stories.
For as much as I enjoy and researching and writing, you might assume that I enjoy talking about my faith and that would make me a natural at leading a bible study. The way I write about my prayer life might give you the impression that I would have no apprehension about bursting into prayer out loud in front of a group of people. Well, you’d be wrong on both counts!
Speaking and praying in front of others is a great source of apprehension for me. For a couple of years now, I have been resisting facilitating a bible study at PWOC because I really felt very ill-equipped and uncomfortable being responsible for a group of women who would be looking to me to lead and guide their class and speak in front of them or even pray out loud with them. I tried to convince myself that God needed me to be studying up instead of standing up. I convinced myself I had little to offer and that I wasn’t worthy or capable of being “in charge” of a small group. I kept telling myself I’m better off behind the scenes, making necessary things happen without a mic in my hand.
Last semester, I had several women praying for me and about what role God waned me to fill in PWOC. The more I prayed about it myself, the more I felt God leading me toward stepping up my involvement in a new area of service. But I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t ready. Have you been there? In that place where you can feel God tugging at you to do something, but you just don’t feel qualified?
On one morning when I was particularly on the fence about deciding to volunteer to facilitate a study I happened to check Facebook before I got out of the car and a friend had posted a quote by Amy Poehler that was basically a kick in the butt from God just for me:
“Great people do things before they’re ready… Doing what you are afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that – that is what life is. You might be really good.”
I really want to be “all in” on this ride called LIFE. I want to experience all God has for me while I’m on this earth. I want to say YES to Him and His call, to fully embrace the words of one of my favorite hymns: “Here I am Lord, Send me!”
So, with sweaty palms and almost shaky knees, I approached the Spiritual Life chair that morning and gave her my e-mail address. I prayerfully researched and considered all the studies that remained unclaimed at that point and selected two 6 week studies that I was drawn to for vastly different reasons. One I thought I really needed to do myself and the other because I felt like I was living out much of what the book was about.
Still terrified, I ordered both books over Christmas Break so that I could read and start preparing before meeting my class. With just a couple of days notice I was called to speak to the entire body (over 100 ladies) about my two classes. I was basically supposed to be a recruiter to fill the seats in my room. I prayed a lot about what I was to say. I wrote out a script and edited it and practiced it and edited it some more. I asked God to bring just the right ladies to me and to keep me from throwing up during my “speech.” Guess what? He came through. I was so relieved that my studies each had about 10 ladies to sign up… a good number, but not overwhelming!
I was really looking forward to the facilitator training, hoping I would glean some great insights on how to serve in this role. Up until then, I had witnessed many amazing women of God facilitate studies and I knew I would be attempting to fill some gigantic shoes. But training was cancelled for weather the first week and I was unable to attend due to a family commitment the next week. So, I started the first week of the study untrained and scared but determined to allow God to work through me. I wish I could say that that “peace that surpasses all understanding” had crept in and released the knots in my stomach, but it just wasn’t so…
And then due to a scheduling mix up, I didn’t have the DVD player in my room that first week to show the accompanying video which left me with 30 extra minutes to fill. I can hardly express to you how inexplicably terrified that made me. But then a sweet lady asked if perhaps we might all share why we had chosen the study…it was a little nugget from God. He was letting me know He had my back!
Today was our third session and driving away from post, I had this sense of overwhelming peace and love and gratitude pass over me as I realized that today I didn’t worry about speaking in front of the group or about how I would guide the discussion or keep it on track and I prayed out loud in front of a group of women without apprehension. I realized that I am enjoying a multitude of growth and blessings in this one act of obedience to The Lord. By His power and equipping, I prayed without fear or stammering and steered our discussion with what felt like His wisdom. I don’t know if the other ladies have any idea what a great victory I am having in His name or not.
Maybe to them my prayer was nothing special. Or perhaps they didn’t get any great spiritual insights or inspiration from anything I said. And I’m not entirely sure it matters. It could have been some other lady perhaps someone with more elegant speech or more Godly wisdom or a better knack for keeping the class on topic in that seat today, but because I chose to step out in faith and prayer and trust God to lead me, it was me. I was there and He was with me. I am blown away by the magnitude of God’s power to change me when I give Him an honest chance.
Of course I pray that God will give me wisdom to share with the women in my study, that I would bring some measure of value in my experiences and talents, but the lessons I am learning about His faithfulness in this experience are invaluable to me.
The rest of Amy Poehler’s quote says, “You might find out something about yourself that’s really special and if you’re not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself.” Had that been included in the facebook post, I might have found myself discouraged once again, believing the lies Satan uses to keep us from being all God intends for us to be. Satan tells us we aren’t good enough, that our past has tarnished us, that we can’t be special, that we are too broken to be of use or that we aren’t strong or brave or wise enough to be great. God tells us that we are His, that we are loved without condition, that we are made whole and new and clean and heirs to the Kingdom by the sacrifice of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.
If we live believing the lies of the enemy we will forfeit any chance we have at being great in the life God has prepared for us!
I have learned more about God than about myself in taking this leap of faith. God is already there in those good works He has prepared for us to do. He is waiting to take us by the hand and show us how to serve one another in love. The words of Joshua 1:9 couldn’t be truer than they are in this lesson for me as God whispers, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” He is WITH ME! No matter what. That makes me yearn to go where He leads.
I want to bring His light to the world. Here I am Lord, send me!
I want to speak His Word to the world. Here I am Lord, send me!
I want to prepare a feast for the world. Here I am Lord, send me!
I want to hold His people in my heart. Here I am Lord, send me!
If God is calling you, are you prepared to listen and obey as Samuel did in 1 Samuel 3? Is God tugging at your heart, pulling you toward something He desires for you or away from some harmful situation? Are you giving Satan a stronghold by believing his lies about your ability to follow God’s prompting? Or do you turn to the truth of God’s Word to define your worth in His Kingdom?
God is with us no matter where we go, but sometimes fully understanding that requires us to be obedient and follow Him where we may not have a desire to go. Sometimes we have to obey before we are ready and then have the faith that He will prepare and equip us for the task He has called us to according to His own schedule.