Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made: Our times are in His hand Who saith "A whole I planned, Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!" - From "Rabbi Ben Ezra" by Robert Browning

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Time to Speak, and a Time to Refrain from Speaking

As I was leaving church this morning, my pastor surprised me by asking me to take the service next Sunday, to preach or teach, or go as the Spirit leads me. Without a single heart flutter, I calmly told him, "Okay, but the last time I was asked to speak in a church (5 years ago), I developed stomach flu and laryngitis and had to cancel. I'd say that was a clear message that I wasn't supposed to speak. So, we'll see what happens this week."

As a younger woman I would have leaped upon this opportunity like a hungry tiger. Back then, I had so much I wanted to share about God and the word, and all that He had and was teaching me. I was more than anxious to share everything I knew with anyone who would listen. The problem was, no one wanted to listen. That was difficult for me to deal with back then, but with unchecked enthusiasm I kept looking for anyone who would hear me.

I ministered in many ways to many people over the years. The situations were almost always spontaneous. I'd meet someone in my day-to-day activities, and I could sense they needed something, a word, an encouragement, a shot of hope, a jog of their faith, or even a few dollars. I'd listen to them, take it into my heart, and I'd respond from the word of God. I didn't "quote" scriptures to them. I'd share the word in a way I could tell they could receive. Yielding to the Holy Spirit, I'd tell them what I thought God wanted them to hear. Always, my goal was to help them put their eyes on God, so He could remind them what He is able to do.

I ministered in many ways to many people over the years, as I said, but, except for the one time I got laryngitis, I was never asked to speak in a church, to a ladies group, to a Bible study, or to any other gathering of God's people. So, am I unhappy about that? Was I ever angry at God for not providing an opportunity for his faithful servant to speak?

Though sometimes unhappy, and frequently dismayed, I was never angry at God. If you know who He is, and what He does, it becomes impossible to get angry at Him, because we know that God offers us every good thing. He isn't out to punish us, or trip us up, or make us earn His blessings. He simply offers and gives good things. He is faithful in His love to us. It's the choices we make that move us through the realms of good and uh-oh; and in both places, especially the uh-oh realms, He is with us, covering us with His grace to comfort and strengthen us, and bring us through whatever that uh-oh is. He is also educating us through those experiences, and if we look closely, we'll see that He is also giving us gifts we did not expect.

I completely believe, as the word says, that my steps are ordered by God. Now, that's if I'm keeping my eyes on Him! So, if my steps are ordered by God, then I will always be where He wants me to be; and I will always be doing (for the best part) those things He wants me to do. God didn't want me to speak to any groups all those years ago. He didn't want me to speak five years ago. But He did want me to speak to individuals, and minister to them whatever they needed while I was with them.

When we trust the Lord, when we keep our eyes on Him, he will take care of everything else, and he will complete His will for us.

Next Sunday, we'll see if it's time for me to talk.

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