I recently had the opportunity to speak to a group of 20-30 youth, I wasn’t exactly thrilled since I have never spoken to a group like that before. Now speaking isn’t necessarily new because I’ve spoken at board meetings and small bible studies surrounded by friends but as far as a group of people I don’t know well……. to share something that God has placed on my heart, it was a first. It all came about because the week before I found myself sitting in the back of the sanctuary as one of the leaders was giving the lesson and God began to press upon my heart to share a lesson I had struggled to learn that was along the same lines of topic being taught. I went home and spent 3 days just praying about it and asking God what it was exactly I was supposed to share. I knew the point and I knew the story I just wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to say it. I am a writer so I’m used to planning out everything going down on paper and if I don’t think it sounds like what I’m trying to say I can always go back and reword things. Speaking however is completely different and once a word is spoken there is no taking it back. You can try to explain and maybe the listener will understand but maybe they won’t.
Sunday morning came and I found the courage to ask the leader if I could share. The response was put together an outline with supporting scripture on the topic you would like to share and get back with me. I went home thinking more about what I should say and the possible verses that would go with it. After some prayer I came up with an outline and scriptures to go along. I wouldn’t say that I was nervous, I was just curious where God was going with this. I didn’t think that I was qualified to be speaking and wasn’t sure how I would be received. I also wasn’t convinced it would all come out the way I wanted it to either. I have this problem that when I get in front of people my mind freezes and I can’t think straight so most of the time I don’t say much. At a board meeting I’m usually just giving facts on a situation and it’s nothing personal. This was different and knew that by sharing I had the ability to speak into the lives of others. I didn’t want to say something wrong and negatively affect the lives of these kids. My purpose was to share a struggle I’ve had in my own walk with God in hopes that it might encourage them and perhaps bring freedom to someone.
The night came and I thought I had realistic expectations of the evening. I knew it wasn’t going to come out the way I wanted it to and I also knew that it might be an epic failure. I did however know that it was what God was asking of me and that he would give me the words to say. I also knew that he could take anything I said wrongly and fix it. This was for God and no one else,….. so really no matter what happens it was in his hands.
I started with this prayer.
I come before you tonight and thank you for all of the precious souls you have brought here tonight. I thank you for the opportunity to speak to them and that you would soften their hearts so that might hear and see the words that are spoken. I ask that you give them understanding and that my words might glorify you. I pray also for your protection over us as we go home tonight and as we go through the next week. I ask this all in Jesus name Amen.
After that I’m not really sure what I said. I know what I intended to say and I know at some point I froze and wasn’t sure where I was at or where I was going. I prayed and just let go of every expectation had.
What I tried to say was that just because I’m now a Christian doesn’t mean I’m never going to make a mistake again. I used to think that if I was truly a Christian it meant that I would be given the ability to do the right thing all of the time. Because that didn’t happen I was constantly asking Jesus into my heart. I thought that somehow I must not have done something right if I kept screwing up. I would hear of drug addicts and alcoholics who would change in one day. I used to think that because I couldn’t just change at the snap of my fingers like they did, that something was wrong. What a lie the enemy told me. I knew all of the sin in my heart that I struggled with, we all have it and we all struggle with it. Most of us hide it from everyone afraid to tell. We are afraid of the judgment, afraid we have somehow not done something right. The truth is……being a Christian doesn’t mean we won’t struggle with same sins but rather we are forgiven and free from them. I guarantee you will still struggle but the battle is won and the world will take every opportunity to tell you of all the negative things that you are. You can listen to the world and believe what it tells you or you can listen to God. You can’t just know in your mind what the scripture says you are. You have to believe it. For the longest time I knew in my head what God said I was, but I didn’t believe it. The world was constantly telling me all of these negative things about me and because I could see it myself it was so easy to believe. I knew that God said I was beautiful, smart, and funny but to the world I also knew that I was ugly, stupid, and worthless. I always told myself that it didn’t matter what the world thought of me because one day I would be in heaven where the truth was and I would be free. What I learned after years of struggling is that it’s not enough to just know the truth of what God says of me. I can be told a million times that God loves me and that he says I’m beautiful, but that didn’t help me believe because that was not how I was treated. Not even by the church.
1 John 3:16
This is how we know what love is….Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, and we ought lay down our lives for our brothers. Dear children let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth, this then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and this is how we put our hearts at rest whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts and he knows everything.
I had been told by people and read in the bible over and over how special I was to God but what I didn’t experience was that truth followed up by action. It wasn’t until someone actually took the time to show me by their actions that I truly began to believe the truth in God’s word. This is why it is so important that our actions match the words out of our mouths especially since we all know actions speak louder than words. What are your actions telling the people in your life? How can you show the person next you that you love them?
Below is a little something that I read to myself when all I can hear is the world telling me how bad I am.
Daughter of the King
Listen to yourself
What are you saying?
Did you screw up?
Do you think you are stupid?
Are you crazy, fat, ugly or worthless?
You would never tell anyone…..would you?
You hide it inside
Ashamed of the truth of who you think you are.
Is it really you?
Do you hear it?
There’s a faint whisper
What do you hear?
What is it saying?
You’re the beautiful daughter of a King
It gets louder
Louder every time you hear
Louder with each word
Till it SCREAMS and you can no longer deny
Deny who you are
Smart, Sane, Beautiful daughter of a King
Not just any King
The King of all kings
He has claimed you
You are his
To him you are smart, sane, beautiful
Perfect just the way you are
Precious daughter of the King
I know I’m not perfect and I also know that everything didn’t come out the way that I wanted it to that night. I do know that I was obedient to what God asked me to do and that I did it to glorify him. I also think some might think it was an epic failure or so I heard. What I didn’t expect in all of this is that God would give me the opportunity to walk out what I just shared in my own life. The test came just 15 minutes after I finished. The world telling me I was wrong this time it was even in words. I had a choice what was I going to believe?
I curled in the stairwell and prayed searching for the truth in the words I had heard. I went home that night and a friend prayed with me asking God to please convict me of anything that I may have shared that was wrong and if not to please show me clarity in the situation.
I woke up early the next morning to go for my run and while I was out God began to speak.
Didn’t you just speak on not listening to who the world says you are but to who I say you are?
Who do I say you are?
I am your beloved daughter.
Did you get up and speak because I asked you to?
Yes Lord I did
Then your motive was pure and you were obedient to the calling I gave you. I am the one who determines if it was a failure, not those other people.
There is a lesson here. You didn’t exactly do as I asked. You did what you thought they wanted not what I asked of you. You took your story and tried to teach it. That is not your talent. Your talent is telling stories whether it be in writing or speaking. Follow my son, did he teach? Or did he tell parables?
He told parables!
Monica, sometimes our epic failures are simply to show us what we are not good at, so we can discover what we are good at. You my darling, are good at parables, don’t try to teach, let the lessons come naturally through your story and they will be more meaningful to your audience.
I’m sure there are people in my life who might read this and judge me harshly and I don’t care. I used to, but I’ve given up caring what anyone in this world thinks of me. I know my savior is tucked safely in the core of my being, breathing life into each beat of my heart. I will say that it is easier to believe what God says about me when the church backs up those words with action. But even if they don’t, I’ve learned to believe in the truth of God’s word and its through his grace that I am able to extend forgiveness to those who have hurt me.