Today I had a big decision to make. It had many layers to consider. It led me to question my own heart.
I am scheduled to preach at our church next week. A couple of months ago I was give my assigned passages: Psalm 109-115 and Acts 13-16. When I read through, there were lots of little things that stood out but nothing major I felt to focus on. So I’ve been reading them almost daily every day the past couple of months and praying for God to show me what He wants for our church family. It wasn’t easy or fun. But the journey has been deep and good. And I feel God has spoken and I am excited!
I landed on Acts 15 with a little side journey through Psalm 111. I felt drawn to talk about the “things we do” as Christians and why, in a Faith that clearly says we are not saved my our own efforts, God asks us to do things. It’s a fine balance that humans really struggle with. Different people lean towards different ends of the spectrum in accordance to their personalities, histories and journeys. But both ends do exist: In our Faith we do nothing, and we also do a lot. God breathed vision in my heart about the why of what we do. I am excited to share.
My personal circumstances have been beautiful metaphors for the topic. It seems so timely. I am actually happy to be currently wearing a heart monitor. It’s a great metaphor that I’m excited to share. I’m actually okay with being suddenly without work… even though that work was crucial for paying for my medical treatments. It’s a perfect illustration for the main sermon point I feel God led me to. I’m okay with the many other weird things going on in my life these days because I’m seeing the point of the sermon being worked out in my own life. And that’s the only way I like to preach… from the depth of the journey God has led me through. If I haven’t lived it, I don’t like to teach it!
I am genuinely excited to share next week.
Our Pastor called this morning to say that an incredible mentor pastor from our local area has offered to come and share with our church family. This mentor pastor has been pivotal in my personal journey. I LOVE his wisdom and insight and passion for Jesus. The date he is available for our church? Next Sunday. Our awesome pastor gave me full power of choice. He asked me to pray and hear from God who should preach next week.
I prayed. I heard “rest.” I asked, “Rest and not preach? Or rest in the process of preaching?”
My heart went through the pros and cons. Then I called my amazing husband.
My husband is incredible. Honestly, he is the most amazing human I’ve ever met. Strong, influential, powerful, wise, intelligent, sincere, deep, stable, gentle, kind, patient and loving. Oh so loving.
In his Bible reading and prayer today he felt God talking to him about being refreshed. One of the passages he read this morning was Psalm 107.
He also turns deserts into pools of water, the dry land into springs of water. Psalm 107: 35
He said his heart resonates with the word, “rest.” We have been feeling so stretched lately. And he knows how intense I need to be the week before teaching. It just so happens that he has a few days off in the week ahead. The first time off he’s had in a long time. We could actually have some quality time together. That sounds like pools of water in our desert season!
But, he said, Psalm 107 also says: “Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!” He is a huge fan of me using my gifts. He loves when I preach. He supports me either way.
And so I share my fear with him: I don’t want to cop-out. I don’t want to be unfaithful. I don’t want to walk away from an opportunity God has invited me to be part of. I want to be faithful.
His response is still hovering in my heart: “You are not in any way unfaithful.”
God spoke through my husband today. (Again.) A word of love and identity. I message of truth and life. And peace has become my clothes today.
I desire to be good. I desire to be lovely. I crave to be a true daughter of God. I just want to give all that I am for His use. Today I feel God answer and affirm these desires of my heart. He sees me. He knows me. I am loved by Yahweh.
_ _ _ _ _ _
I am not preaching next week. My pastor graciously accepted my answer. He really had given me full opportunity to choose either way.
I’m looking back now at the journey of the past couple of months and it is not for naught.
I’m not sure I’ll ever share this sermon that’s grown in my heart. I’m a firm believer in hearing from God for each message. In my 10+ years of preaching I’ve only repeated a handful of messages.
I always go through deep personal transformation through the sermon preparation process. It used to be non-stop when I was preaching weekly at a youth pastor. Now the journey seems to be longer and deeper as I only preach every now and again.
There is a feeling of joy in the intimacy of this message that may stay unspoken.
Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. (Luke 2:19)
Today I am grateful for the journey of preparation. I’m grateful for the trust of our Pastor. I’m grateful for the affirmation from my husband. And I’m grateful for the days of rest and refreshment ahead.
Looking forward to today and every day. May I ever be available and faithful to be used or not used by God as He sees fit.
In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets—some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing. (2 Tim 2:20-21)
How is your journey? What is God speaking to you these days?
Want to read though the Bible with me? Today’s readings are: Psalm 107; Acts 11:19-30
The passage that stood out to me was: He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! (Psalm 107: 29-30) // What a blessing is the stillness God brings to me life.