First off, today is my man's birthday. Happy 34Th, Babe! I am thankful for you and so honored to be your wife!
Ten days ago, January 1, 2011 (See, today is 01/11/11, then it was 01/01/11...anyway) I had the extreme privilege of sharing my testimony with the Seniors group at our church, known to us as, The Elderberries. For months, I have felt called to share what our merciful Lord did for me during a traumatic season of my life. Actually, I think I have felt lead to do this for over a year now. Within the last year, I have prayed about how to go about this. I have prayed that the Lord confirm to me that it was His will, lest I do it of my own accord and without His blessing.
Throughout the entire year, He showed me time after time the importance of telling one's "story" to others. First, I wrote about it on this blog, entries I have since deleted, but may revise and repost in the future. Then, I typed it out. All 9 pages of it. I read it aloud one day while home alone, and it took 30 minutes! I then submitted the written testimony along with a letter of explanation to my pastor. It was in the middle of summer when our church is normally packed to overflowing with little ones participating in one ministry after another. I had even told him in the letter not to worry about getting back to me till things had died down.
Finally, right before George and I went to Gatlinburg, (was that in October??) I wrote him another letter stating that I realized I had been disobedient-or putting off what God was wanting-by not scheduling an appointment with him sooner. The day after we were scheduled to get back from Tennessee, I went to the church to meet with him. We decided on a few ministries within the church where I could get my start.
So, before long, the leader of Elderberries approached me to schedule a time for me to come. Between us meeting, and the actual event, I set to work on gathering my thoughts. I quickly threw out the 9 page thesis that I felt most of those gentle, elderly souls would fight to stay awake for, or maybe gladly use as a time to get a little snooze in, and I started fresh.
My original plan was to tell much of my life leading up to this specific season I mentioned earlier. I had included my salvation at age five, my first day of kindergarten, leaving home after high school, quitting college and moving home, all the way up to my mother-in-law's passing the year prior to this specific life-altering, God-glorifying, blessed, faith challenging event. As I reviewed all that I had written, I felt like someone on one of those old movies or cartoons who begin at the very beginning......for example, "It all started on a warm day in October, 1978..." I could see heads nodding and eyes slamming shut at the mere thought of it. I needed to skip all that, and get right to the meat and potatoes.
Throughout this time, God was revealing many things to me. I may find a scripture that spoke what I wanted to say, or a poem in one of my devotionals, or a similar personal experience detailed in a Christian living book. I was taking notes on just about everything. Occasionally, I would sit at the computer and type out my latest find and add it to the folder containing my collection. I would practice while I was in the shower. (If George was home, I would simply mouth my words, otherwise, I would speak out loud.) As I was talking, I would think, "No, I don't need to include that." Day after day, I would cut out even more, taking it down to as small a time period as I could.
By the time the "big day" rolled around, I had scratched it all. I still had my typed quotes and scriptures, but I had axed any sort of plan for what I was actually going to say. My outline was appropriately tossed in the garbage, and my heart opened to prayer. Throughout the course of the nerve-wracking day, I made a continual, simple plea to the Lord. "Father, I just want You to use me." At one point, I even said, "Lord, I am taking these quotes and scriptures with me, but I have no intent of using any of them, unless I fell Your prodding."
We arrived late. My nerve-o-meter shot to the top and belted out a panicked alarm in bright red. We had left the house an hour and fifteen minutes before the meeting was to take place. We had intentions of hitting Sears, but it was already closed due to it being New Years Day. So, we headed out for the church, putting us there at what we thought was 30 minutes early. As we turned into the parking lot, we saw a sea of cars. Huh? What is going on? My loving husband tried desperately to console his early-bird wife, but I got a little snappy, and almost to the point of tears.
As we walked in, I felt undependable, unreliable, and a little aggravated that I wasn't actually those things, but had more than likely appeared to be to this group. "They probably thought I bailed!" I told George as we stood in the foyer shedding our coats. He kept saying, "You didn't know. It's not your fault." I kept debating, "But they don't know that!"
We eased in, and already self-conscious, I was now a tad miffed. What a way to be when you are wanting to speak on the grace and mercy of your loving Lord! I pulled aside the leader's daughter to ask what was going on. She informed me that they'd moved the time to 4pm instead of 5pm for the winter months. She realized that I had not been informed of this, but lovingly reassured me that all was well, and the time had been filled with food and music, and there was still time for me to share my story.
O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Psalm 118:29
God, in His perfect love for me knew that I would not be best suited to sitting for an hour waiting my turn. Normally, a patient person, when my nerves are all wired, I am a person of action. My passive personality gets aggressively tossed to the side, as my assertive, determined and somewhat bossy characteristics take over, full-force. Being nervous ain't no place for sissies. When your that crazy on the inside, and you still have to maintain control the outside, let me just say, a little bossiness can be tolerated.
So....we were there ten maybe fifteen minutes, before it was my turn. Honestly, that was a guess. I have no idea how long we were there, but it was long enough. (and that is no reflection on the gathering or those gathered-just my desire to get on with it) Fortunately, the Lord enabled me to use our tardiness as an icebreaker, and a humbling reminder that He is in control, and this is all on Him anyway.
I don't remember what all I said, and I used a few of my typed scriptures, but I think only one of my quotes. I was shaky at first, and I got emotional at times, but I felt the Lord working through me. Somehow, he fit all of the pieces together to clearly get across what this servant of His was so desperately wanting to convey. He blessed my heart. Not only did He bring me through the trial of which I spoke on, but He then blessed me again by being able to share it with others.
The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.