I have not fallen off the face of the earth! But I HAVE been talking with a knowledgeable person about a book. As in, writing one. As in, being a published author. As in, having my face and name on the cover. As in...... Well, you get the idea.
These conversations have been interesting/informative. But this month they got a little scarey; they wanted to see some material. That meant I had to hustle to transcribe a sermon and polish it up a bit. After multiple days of long hours, I finally hit the "Send" button.
That small act felt a lot like hitting the post button for this blog the first time. "What will people think? Will they enjoy reading what I've written? Will it benefit anyone?" And the worst thought of all, "Will they say it's nice only to keep from hurting my feelings?!" Sigh!
Putting your thoughts on paper and handing them to others for consideration can be frightening!
The story below is one I used to illustrate a point in the sermon transcription I sent the publisher. Let me know what you think. And thank you for continuing to check in on Embrace the Grace!
(Please remember this is from a sermon I preached. The story explains why I believe that life is a journey with many twists, turns and decisions to be made along the way.)
This journey is also full of seasons. In Galatians 6:9 we read, “Do not become weary in doing good, you will reap in due season if you do not give up.”
You will reap. Some of you need to jot that down.
Ecclesiastes 3:1, “For everything there is a season.”
The concept of “seasons” is especially true for women. I’ve always enjoyed working with women. Teaching Bible studies; leading prayer groups; planning events; speaking for conferences and retreats. I love it all!
As a very young pastor’s wife, our state women’s director took me under her wing and began to train me. She added me to her team of leaders and I blossomed!
When you combine my work ethic, my delight in helping others and her need for youthful excitement on her team – well, you get the picture. It was meant to be a great situation. But when you allow giftings to get out of balance, they become a train wreck in the making.
I began spending longer and longer hours working on the various projects. Juggling here and there to create time. Sometimes the events required that I be away from home for several days. Frank helped when he could. But most often, I stole time for these efforts from my girls.
“Don’t bother me right now, Sweetie. Mom’s making calls about the next meeting.” “I’ll take care of that later. There’s a deadline for this!” “You just watch this one short movie and I’ll be finished.”
And that was mild. More often, I simply had no reserve energy left for being patient with the most important gifts God had given to me. I smiled and taught and listened to everyone else. I worked to meet the needs of everyone else before offering those same attentions to my family.
After a few years of this, there came a season change. God began gently speaking to me about resigning my spot on the leadership team. I knew His voice. I recognized His nudge.
But instead of obeying, I negotiated. “I’ll ask to be cut back on my responsibilities. The director won’t mind that. I love being part of this team, Lord! It’s a great ministry outlet for me. Surely, YOU meant for me to serve here. You made me a leader by nature. YOU provided this opportunity!”
And so it went. But God saw much further down the road than I could see. He heard my deepest prayer – to have a healthy family. And He knew I couldn’t achieve that on the path I was traveling.
Jacob’s wrestling match with the angel looked a lot like what I was experiencing as I tried to find a compromise point.
“Lord, please! Don’t ask me to give this up. This opportunity may never come my way again.”
Finally, a friend dropped by to visit me one afternoon. I stopped everything in order to give her my full attention. The visit was so unexpected. I knew she must have some serious need that would require my best advice and most intense prayer!
She wasted no time in getting right to the point. “Sheri,” she looked me right in the eye. “I’ve been sent here by the Lord to tell you something.”
It wasn’t exactly the opening I’d imagined; but she had my attention.
“There is something you’re supposed to give up. And it’s important that you do it right away. He hasn’t told me what it is. I just know this is urgent. That’s why I had to see you today.”
Tears sprang to my eyes and began to roll onto my blushing cheeks.
She reached for my hand, afraid she had offended me. “Are you okay?”
“I know exactly what I have to give up, Diane. I’ve been struggling with it because I don’t want to. But this helps me know I must obey. Thank you for taking the risk of talking with me like this.”
My friend prayed for me, then left. I picked up the phone right away and called the women’s director to resign my post. Peace flooded my heart.
For about seven years, I had nothing to do with women’s ministry. It was a quiet; dormant time for me. Not easy at all. But I knew my choice had been the right one.
I didn’t understand about seasons then. I thought I would never serve in that capacity ever again. But remember, obedience to God is always rewarded!
I have now travelled all over this country and to many foreign nations preaching and teaching. I’ve worked with larger groups and experienced so much more as a leader than I could ever have imagined then.
Obedience in that season brought a more bountiful harvest in this season!
(Hope you found some encouragement in this story. I'd love to hear your thoughts.)