Sunday, September 12, 2010

Everything to Offer

Last Tuesday was the first night of my new ladies' Bible study, an intensive study of John's gospel. I've been looking forward to it for weeks, and especially to studying chapter 1. As you may recall, I had such an amazing revelation about that chapter during my last Bible study--about Jesus and the Word being one, and about how that Word is the same power that created the universe.

So far, the study is living up to and even exceeding my expectations. Last night Bill had a hockey game, and after I'd tucked Allyson in I had the house to myself for awhile. As I sat on the floor of the TV room and worked on my homework, the Word again came alive to me. This time what moved me most was the account of the first disciples meeting Jesus (John 1:35-51). I was struck by how He called them by name and said, "Come.... Follow me." And they did exactly that. They dropped everything and followed Him. The other thing that they did was to tell others about him. I loved Philip's words: "Come and see."

I tried to imagine what it must have been like to see and recognize the Messiah in the flesh. There in the quiet of the night, I felt that Jesus was calling me by name, saying "Come and see! Follow me."

One of the study questions asked me to mark my spiritual progress on this continuum:

I decided that I am just to the right of "trust." I definitely recognize Jesus as the Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Over the past few years, I've learned to trust Him like never before. But I don't think I've truly followed Him--followed Him out of my safe, comfy life and into the plan that He has for me.

I knelt there, with my forehead on the carpet, and professed my faith to Jesus. "I want to follow you!" I prayed. "Please make me strong enough and teach me to hear your voice so I can obey. Help me to let go of everything that stands between you and me. And show me the opportunities you're giving me to tell others about you, to urge them to come and see."

I immediately thought about my upcoming shift in the prayer room this morning. What a great place to share the Good News with hurting people!  I prayed then that God would prepare me for whatever needs I would encounter.

I prayed that again over breakfast, and again in the car on the way to church. When I got to church, I went straight to the prayer room, where I hoped to spend some time alone with God before the first service ended. I was disappointed to discover that the room was in use and that I'd have to wait in the volunteer check-in room instead. Now I know God is everywhere, and I can pray anywhere, but there's just something so soothing about that prayer room. Plus, I really wanted to be alone. I tried to pray in the other room, but too many people were coming and going, and I found myself feeling anxious and unprepared for the task ahead.

I lurked outside the prayer room door until everyone filed out, and then I hurried in to enjoy that last five minutes of solitude. I sank thankfully into a plush chair and started talking to God. "Why do I feel this anxiety in my chest? I know you are with me, but why do I feel afraid? I've got nothing, God. I need you to give me the strength to pray with whoever needs encouragement today. Help me to rest in you. Let your peace rest on me now."

Breathing deeply, I was just starting to relax when one of the other volunteers walked in and asked how I was doing. I groaned inwardly. The last thing I wanted to do was talk to someone. I needed to steep myself in prayer!

I decided to tell the truth. "I'm doing okay, but today I'm feeling anxious, as if there's going to be a really big prayer request and I won't know how to respond. Today is just one of those days when I wonder why I'm here. I wonder what made me think I was right for this job."

"Why do you say that?" he asked.

"Well, it's just that... I don't know. There are some people who have a gift of prayer, of faith, and they pray with authority. I don't think I really have that."

"I think you're very good at praying with people," he said.

"It's because the Holy Spirit reminds me of scriptures, and I just pray them out loud," I explained. "That's His job, you know: to remind us of everything Jesus taught us."

"So why do you feel like you're not right for this job?"

"Well, I usually get so nervous. I don't know who will come in or what requests they'll have. Sometimes people have such serious requests, and I feel like saying, 'Oh my gosh! What are you going to do??'" I put a hand on each of my cheeks, my eyes open wide in a pantomime of shock.

We both laughed out loud, and he said he understood how I felt. Just then, the other volunteer for the day came in. At his quizzical look, I repeated what I'd said about my reaction to some requests. The three of us laughed together, and I concluded, "But God always gives us the words, doesn't He?"

The tears of laughter were still in my eyes when the first man came in. Sure enough, his request was A Big One, but I felt perfectly calm. One of my memory passages came to me right away, and I prayed part of it over him. But then I began to pray some things that I hadn't planned to say at all, and I felt that trembling that gives me a compelling sense of urgency and yet total calm at the same time. I thought of a scripture I'd recalled during my Bible study homework the night before, and I also remembered a couple of Psalms that seemed to apply.

I'm not sure exactly which part of the prayer moved him, but when I said amen, the man grabbed me by the shoulders and kissed my cheek! "Wow!" he said. "That was amazing. That was exactly what I needed to hear."

Tears filled my eyes, and I pulled him into a hug. I went into the second service rejoicing, and every worship song held a special meaning. When we sang about soaring on wings as eagles, I really felt that I was flying. To quote the man in the prayer room: "Wow!"

It wasn't until later in the day that I really grasped how God had answered my prayer in such a delightful and unexpected way. What I'd wanted was to be alone so I could prepare myself, but instead he sent a friend to make me laugh. All of my anxiety melted away in just a moment of laughter, and I was covered in peace just as I'd asked. And though in my own eyes that first request was huge, to God it was nothing. I didn't have to feel ready; I just had to be obedient and make myself available.

This afternoon I spent a couple of hours with my sister Amy while Bill and the kids were at the baseball game, and we had a good talk about it. I told her how I feel I'm not gifted in the area of faith, and how I think that's more of her gift. "I think my gift is encouragement," I said.

Amy reminded me about the church being a body that's made up of many parts, with every part being essential. "God doesn't need a person with lots of faith--he needs someone who is available. That's you. You're there, and you're being obedient, and God can use the gifts he gave you." That was the second time in two days that someone had reminded me about the body having many parts, and I've decided to take that to heart.

I'm going to stop deciding what I think I'm good at and focus instead on being obedient. It's not about me anyway. I really don't have anything to offer anyone. But God... God has everything to offer.



Victor S E Moubarak said...

"I'm going to stop deciding what I think I'm good at and focus instead on being obedient. It's not about me anyway. I really don't have anything to offer anyone. But God... God has everything to offer."

Amen. I pray that this is so.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

I love this post and I love Victor's comment. I struggle daily with my gifts. "what are my gifts? I must have them, but what are they?" I should let my questioning God about it so much go. Just let it go and focus on His plans for me. Geeze, I bet if I do that and just yeild to His will in everything...He will then have the opprotunity to show me my gifts or rather I will be opened enough to seeing them. Hope my rambling makes a bit of sense :) You guys are so straight on, it isn't about us, it is about Him.

Sarah said...

Thank you for your prayers for me and my family, Victor! Keep it up!

Gentle, I will pray that God does open your eyes to see your gifts. You are a beautiful child of God, a Gentle spirit. I'm thankful to have you in my life.

Victor S E Moubarak said...


I pray you will allow me to comment on what Gentle has said.

Our gifts from God are many and varied and we are to use them to glorify Him and for the benefit of others. These gifts may be intellect, ability such as playing a musical instrument or being good at sports, or anything. Even having a sense of humour and making people laugh is a gift.

Gentle, you should not struggle to identify your gift. It could be as simple as just being you ... and very important that is. Some people are a special gift by their very presence. Just being with them brings happiness and peace to others.

I pray for you Gentle that you will soon know you're a great gift. What we are in life is a gift from God. How we use our life is our gift to Him.

Thank you Sarah for allowing me to comment here.

God bless.

P.S. I hope Gentle gets to see this.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

May I quote please:

"I actually saw the light bulb go on in Gentle's brain. After a moment's silence, she said, 'I know how to sew. And this might not be such a bad idea.'

"One of the things I love about Gentle is that she excels at craftsy projects, and she's so creative and talented with making things.

"By bedtime, she had emailed a link of her own and a picture of some patterns she wanted to try.

"Now Gentle is a very busy mom of a toddler and a preschooler, and she's also very organized. So I figured there was no way she'd be able to head to the fabric store on such short notice. But she was fired up!"

These are just a few gifts identified by Sarah.

God bless you both and your families.

Sarah said...

God bless you, Victor, for your wise and kind words. You are so right about Gentle. She is very gifted indeed, and her very life is a gift.

I loved how you said that what we are is a gift from God, and how we use our life is a gift to Him. What else could we possibly give Him? Beautiful.

Gentle said...

How could I possibly sum up my feelings in writting for you to understand the extent of how you have reached me.
I have struggled for so long with this. loving and trusting God, but some how feeling left out of the gift giving area. Not knowing how to serve Him, because I didn't know what He gave me to use. I have spent all morning crying after reading your comment. After all this time, one little comment cleared it all up and I feel free from my own bond. God really has gifted me in ways I may not know. I expected to have this little organized list written down in front of self centered I was. I never thought that by just "being me" could be enough and that thought and realization has warmed my heart in such a profound place. I know God is searching my heart at this very moment and rejoicing as much as I am. Thank you for your kind words and the light you have let in. This is truly priceless. How could I ever thank you. God bless you every second of every day. Thank you.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

I am sorry Gentle if I upset you. Just trust in God and He will show you the way how you can serve Him and others.

Praying for you.

Sorry Sarah for taking over your Blog.

God bless.


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