Obedience Is Worth It
We sat around tables conversing about how to plan and execute our church’s upcoming women’s event in the midst of a pandemic. Like many other things in 2020, there were mixed emotions over this beloved annual event being online for the first time.
I was the new one to the group. These ladies had served together for years, and I had only recently been invited to serve alongside them. I planned to mostly observe and learn from them as they were more experienced than me. As ideas were thrown around, the plan for several women in our church to share their stories, rather than paying a keynote speaker for the event, emerged. While the women around the tables discussed which ladies they thought might be a good fit for this event, something deep in my spirit began to change. The day prior I would have absolutely cringed and refused out of shame to tell the masses of the hospitalizations and life altering diagnoses I was living with. But as I sat there, something in me just knew that I was to be one of those women. I quietly and secretly wrestled the Lord while appearing to be engaged in discussing other women. It was the strangest feeling - I knew I was being called to do this and that calling was so intense that obedience became my goal over bowing down to the shame I was used to living in.
I felt like Moses who said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent — either in the past or recently or since you have been speaking to your servant — because my mouth and my tongue are sluggish.” The Lord said to him, “Who placed a mouth on humans? Who makes a person mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say” (Exodus 4:10-13).
I felt inadequate, insecure, unprepared, embarrassed, and weak. And the truth is, I was all of those things and really still am.
When I could no longer stand the overwhelming sense that God wanted me to speak, I leaned over to the woman next to me. My heart was racing and my stomach was in knots. I did not want anyone to know anything about my mental health. I didn’t even know if the friend God had divinely placed on my left knew I had ever been hospitalized, let alone 3 times. I whispered something to her about if she thought it would be too much if I shared my story about being hospitalized. I honestly don’t even know what came out of my mouth to her because I was so in shock at myself. She wholeheartedly affirmed me and her gracious response became a turning point in my life. She could have winced and thought mental illness may be just too taboo to talk about at a church event. She could have quieted me down and just said something like hmmmm, not sure. But no. She enthusiastically gave me the confidence to follow what God was clearly leading me to do. With an insecure voice and emotions that felt like they were going to take me out, I mumbled something hopefully intellegibile to the ladies about my story and that I would be willing to share it because so many are struggling these days. Not one objection came my way. And the rest is history.
This online community, the book I’m working on, the women who reach out to me that I am blessed to encourage, the purpose in my suffering that keeps me going......none of this would have happened had that one church lady responded to me negatively. I needed affirmation, and God knew it.
Hear me now. If God is stirring something in your heart, obedience is always worth it. Faith over fear, friends.
To the church member who might be divinely used to give the struggling believers the confidence that their voice matters: your response can speak life or death to their budding ministry.
To the mentally ill believer who feels too inadequate to ever be used by God: I’m completely inadequate too. I struggle. I doubt. I cry. But dear “Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world — what is viewed as nothing — to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one may boast in his presence. It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us — our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption — in order that, as it is written: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).
If you are in the dark today, please hold on. I often think what I would be missing out on today had I given up on life even one day prior to that divine appointment around those tables. There is purpose for your life...great and beautiful purpose. Let that truth give you eyes of hope to look to the God who does more than we ask or imagine