Saturday, July 23, 2016

Who Me?

Again, it has been much too long since I have written. God and I have been talking a lot lately about that. For several years now, I have felt God's call in my life to speak into the lives of other women, to share my experiences and hurts and how God has used those hurts to grow me and give me wisdom. More specifically I am being led to more deeply study the Bible and to encourage other women to do the same. 

I have a strong desire to be used by God to help women in general. Most recently, it has been laid on my heart to write a Bible study and hopefully to lead a group of women to study it with me. I am terrified of such an endeavor; utterly terrified. I have told God as much, but He is not letting me off that easily. You see God has this way of stretching us to step out of our comfort zone, out of our "success is assured" zone that we love to live in, and asks our obedience to step into the "they will think I am crazy" or "this will never work" zone. I know that is how He works. I know that He has done this throughout the Bible as well as throughout my own lif; I have been there before. And yet, I still balk at this idea. In fact just a few nights ago, I was wide awake, unable to sleep, and was talking to Him about my fears. I even posted to Facebook a little glimpse of our conversation. 

Here is the facebook post from that night:
My fear: " But what if I put myself out there and not a single person responds?"
His answer:" I'm not concerned about their response, I'm concerned about yours; do you trust me?"


God was pretty clear with me that night, and every other time I have given my sad excuses for being afraid: "Do you trust me?" is pretty much what I hear repeatedly in return. That night, one of my favorite worship songs, Oceans, played in my mind and I knew that I have yet to learn how to truly trust without borders. (My favorite line of the song is: "Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, you've never failed and you won't start now." )

Oceans (Hillsong United)
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Here's a little insight to how our conversation went that night: 

God: " I want you to write a Bible study for women and lead them in it."
Me: "What? I don't know how to write a Bible study!"
God: "I breathed the entire Word into being, you don't need to know how. Do you trust me?"
Me: "I am not a Bible scholar. I haven't gone to seminary. I have no credentials to write a Bible study. I am not a minister. I am not even good at being consistent in my own Bible       study!"
God:"Yes I know. You will have to be more dedicated to my Word than you are right now. Do you trust me?"
Me: " What am I supposed to write about? I don't even know where to start!"
God: "I want you to write a study. Pick something. It is all mine; there isn't a wrong choice.   Do you trust me?"
Me: (then to the real issue - my insecurities) " But God, what if I put myself out there; really pour out my heart and soul and work to get this done and not a single woman responds to me...um I mean it? What if my 'Bible study' is ridiculed and no one wants me to lead them in it?" 
God: "I am not really worried about how other people respond, I want you to be obedient. Do you trust me?" 

At that point I realized how silly I was being. God never uses the obvious ones, he uses the obedient ones.(David, Noah, Esther, Joseph, Paul, Zaccheus, Timothy and so many more!) So, I am taking a giant breath, and I am writing a Bible study for women. I chose Ephesians. I am praying daily and fervently that God will use me and this study to allow me to lead a group of women. I am hoping to either do a ladies' retreat or lead a weekly group, but we will see where God leads. 

The first day I started studying, God gave me a little reassurance through my back porch. You see, we have a squirrel feeder and two bird feeders on our covered back porch and I love watching the birds and the squirrels. I have wanted a hummingbird feeder for a while so my sweet husband, Trey, put one up for me as a surprise about 3 weeks ago. The second day it was up, I posted a status about watching the birds and wishing and waiting for my first hummingbird, but had not seen one yet. Not 10 minutes later, God sent a little hummingbird to see me! I didn't get a picture because those little dudes are lightning quick, but I knew it was from Him. I was pretty excited because I know that once one hummingbird found the feeder, others would not be far behind.

 I watch the birds and squirrels every morning, every afternoon and every evening; pretty much any time I am in the kitchen because we have big glass sliding doors to the porch. It has been 3 weeks and that one solitary hummingbird has been it; not another visit. Every single day, I usually comment about how I hope to see more hummingbirds and they have not yet appeared. 

Then I began studying and sitting every morning at the kitchen table, reading the Word, studying and glancing now and again out the windows in hopes of my elusive beautiful tiny bird; still nothing. God used their absence to speak to me. One day I looked out in dissappointment that the red liquid in the hummingbird feeder had not diminished at all and God said in response to my disappointment: "You've only had one hummingbird respond to your feeder. Do you wish you'd never put it out? Do you want to take it down and throw it away?" Of course I thought, " No! I did have one pretty little hummingbird; surely there will be more! We just need to wait a little longer." I am pretty sure God, my Father, smiled. "Exactly, Stephanie. You are only responsible to fill it up with the beautiful, bright food, and then let them respond. Even if only one responds, it is worth it to me; it should be worth it to you too." 

Interestingly, my younger sister visited for a week recently and guess what she is doing. She is writing a Bible study and getting prepared to lead a ladies' retreat at her church. I felt a teeny tinge of jealousy, but not in a really bad way. I am so proud of her and was aggravated at myself that she obeyed way before I did. The irony is not lost to me that I even remotely felt jealous about her doing something I am terrified to do and it solidified the desire to obey and do what I've been led to do by God. I am sure God intentionally used her obedience to spur me to my own. 

So I am requesting your prayers in this endeavor. I have no idea what I am doing and I am not the most knowledgeable or obvious person to be doing this; I just desire to be obedient. My heart wants to use it to lead a ladies' retreat or use the study in my Wednesday night Bible study eventually. Maybe even my obedience will spur someone else to their own.

 I also want to remind you all that God wants to use the least obvious people sometimes so that the glory is all His. I am so excited now (still terrified, but excited) and Ephesians is really speaking to my heart despite it being a book that I have studied before. If God has been speaking to you to do something, take a breath with me and let's do this together!  I am praying that faith will overcome fear for all of us. I pray that somehow my life experiences and any tiny amounts of wisdom that God has bestowed on me will somehow help another woman in her journey.  

When I feel the fear creep in, I will recite this verse: 

                Psalm 31:14 " But I trust in you Lord; I say, "You are my God!"

And when I hear the voices of my insecurities telling me that I am not worthy, I am not qualified and I am not the right person to be doing this, I will remember this verse and the words of my Lord:

1 Peter 4:11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Who's with me? Do you trust Him?

Blessed more than I deserve,
Stephanie