For the last nine months I have been studying the book of Genesis with the greatest group of women in a neighborhood bible study. I limped into Community Bible Study about a year and a half ago needing a place to congregate, really intending to just get lost in a crowd and spectate for a while after having been heavily entrenched in ministry. Well, you know God always has other plans…you can kick and scream if you like, but once you quiet down, He’ll have His way in the end…you may walk away with stronger legs from all that kickin’ and a need to repent from all the screamin’, though! Today I’m healthy and strong, enjoying a freedom I haven’t known for a long time. I was asked to join CBS as a Core Leader in 2012 and in March of this year during my time at bat for devotion, I shared this little dittie on Trust. Today, I share it with you…
You know, when God has an assignment for you, every force in nature (at times in the form of people), comes against you in order to make you stumble, retreat or even give up. I can’t even begin to properly express how much I have gleaned from our journey through the book of Genesis – how much the lives of these people – their faith, their obedience, their trials, their drama, their failures, their victories has reminded me of my journey with Jesus. I have been Abraham, leaving my home and family to come to California in support of my husband’s dreams; I have been Sarah, longing for a baby, sadly watching as friends around me added to their families while my arms remained empty, overjoyed when God finally said yes; I have been Hagar in my own times in the wilderness, feeling apart from God needing to know that He sees me…He hears me. I’ve been Esau, deceived and lied to and I’ve been Jacob, operating in fear, making plans without first consulting God and then praying for His help.
Most of our failures and victories all surround TRUST. Who you believe, what you believe, where you place your trust and with whom. Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.” But did you know that you can put your heart on lock down where you choose not to trust anymore; you cash in your chips and decide isolation is the best place to be when in fact it’s the most dangerous place to be, for the enemy works best when we isolate ourselves…somehow he talks more and louder and actually sounds believable. It’s in that dark, lonely place that we really get pummeled.
I think WOMAN really is God’s most amazing masterpiece. We are machines….such contradictions…tender but tough; too weak to lift heavy machinery, but strong enough to carry another life and then push it through a key hole. We are healers, nurturers, encouragers, life givers and much more, but we can also be the opposite of anything good and uplifting.
I arrived at CBS as a wounded warrior… bruised, but refusing to be broken. Once again my trust had been breached by women and the last thing I wanted to do was be in the company of women, but here I was in the company of women. After day one of my circle time as I drove home, I said out loud “I won’t be participating. I’ll just sit and listen.” (My way of keeping walls up.) That declaration was followed by a loud “OH YES YOU WILL PARTICIPATE,” rising from within. Huh? Hmm!! I got home and my husband asked me about CBS and I replied, ”I won’t be going back…it’s not for me.” Two days later I was at my desk doing my lesson. As I released my grip on MY will for me, God got to work establishing HIS. You see, you must release in order to receive.
I sat under the leadership of Carol, a dear, powerful woman of God, and as my heart thawed out I witnessed quiet strength in action; I witnessed God’s grace and His gentleness operate through Carol as I, and the other ladies, responded…and yes I opened my mouth – probably more and louder than most. And in my yapping I divulged to someone that during this season I wanted to receive ONLY, so imagine my surprise when I received a call from Carol asking me to pray about whether I would be interested in being considered for Core Leadership the following year. I was honored (while we were on the phone) and as I hung up I was horrified and once again I felt that wall creeping up only to have it kicked down by my husband who quickly responded positively to the opportunity to re-engage. (I wonder if he really wanted me out of his hair already!!)
After praying and seeking God for His will, I felt released to accept the opportunity and waited for the next step, which was a call from Cindy…the “interview!” As I recall, there was only one spot remaining and more than one “lady in waiting” poised to occupy that spot. We had a candid conversation and I remember as I spoke, I heard that still small voice….SCREAMING!!!! “YOU’RE TALKING TOO MUCH…YOU’RE TALKING WAY TOO MUCH…OKAY, YOU BLEW IT NOW!” I felt like I was laying it all out there honestly to her, half hoping that she would turn me away — only to have Cindy push back by saying something like, ”you are exactly the type of leader the women will respond to because you have been through something.” Those words cut through the wall I had built around my heart and jump started my process of healing. That day I had a Jericho experience – that wall came a tumbling down!! I made a choice to position my heart to receive and to trust again.
So what would I have missed had I not turned around and returned to CBS…had MY will been done and not God’s?
I would have missed witnessing grace under pressure; strength in a storm; God’s hand of healing; love in action (with no strings attached); humility; encouragement; support; kindness; tenderness; respect; generosity; sincerity; transparency; unity.
I would have missed experiencing true sisterhood; comfort; a feeling of belonging to something special but not exclusive; I would have missed experiencing unspeakable joy and barrels of laughter; opportunities to connect and engage; to refresh and be refreshed.
I would have missed an opportunity to witness God’s daughters behaving and interacting the way God intends.
I would have missed an opportunity to learn to trust again.
The Amplified version of Proverbs 3:5-6 says it best…”Lean on, trust in and be confident IN THE LORD with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.”
I came across a great quote recently that said, “You could run from your past or you can embrace it and learn from it. You can let it hold you back or you can move forward and have a better future.”
I’m so glad I embraced it and learned from it; that I moved forward to a better future, one which included CBS and all of my beautiful sisters.
Oh and as a footnote…
I knew this was a sisterhood when on Day 1 of orientation, I was approached by another Carol who said “I have panties that match your dress exactly.” “You do?” (What an icebreaker, I thought!) She continued, “Yes, would you like them?” “Do you have them on now?” I asked. “No,” she said as she laughed…”I’ll bring them tomorrow.” – It was then that I knew I was home!
God has a plan and a purpose for each and every one of us, but His plan cannot be enacted until we yield to His voice and respond to His calling in order for that purpose to be revealed. How amazing is our God and how great is the journey. It doesn’t always make sense at the time, in fact it’s downright aggravating, but in the end if we don’t grow weary, if we don’t give up, it all makes sense…every bit of it!
*Community Bible Study (a bible study where many churches are represented by women of all ages and stages in their walk). Find a study in a city near you at www.communitybiblestudy.org/ There are co-ed studies too:) Ours is a ladies only affair….a whole lotta tissue slinging, I tell you!