“Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
Have you ever felt insecure or inadequate about performing a job God has given you to do? I sure have! Have you ever made a mistake that you wanted to hide or maybe felt like a failure and wondered if you would ever be able to get anything right? I’ve done that plenty of times too. I recently learned, though, that despite all of our sometimes botched efforts and poor choices, God does His best work with imperfect, mistake-prone people. I would like to share with you a recent revelation I had regarding this truth.
A few weeks before Mother’s Day my friend who is also our Special Needs Coordinator at church texted me and asked me to speak at a Moms’ Day Breakfast for our Special Needs Ministry. I’ve had dreams of being a speaker since I was young and have wondered for over 20 years if those dreams would ever come true. Without hesitation, I excitedly said, “Yes!” and knew immediately what I would speak about. I had been preparing to write a blog titled “The Deep Water” that I posted a couple of weeks ago from the story in Matthew 14 where Jesus walks on water to the disciples who are in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. Much like special needs moms, the disciples were alone and afraid……until Jesus miraculously came to them walking on the water. I sensed that the timing of my upcoming blog post and my friend’s text asking me to speak was being orchestrated by the Holy Spirit, so I decided I would just expand the blog post a little more and make it into a half-hour talk for the breakfast.
As I set out to write, because I’d had the material in my head for years, the ideas came quickly, and I had it written in a day. I then asked my friend Melissa if she would mind looking it over for me. Melissa has been a speaker and author for many years. She is wise, seasoned, and I value her opinions. She said, “Of course.” I told her my talk was on the passage from Matthew 14 and that I was going to read the passage at the beginning of the talk and then basically break it down verse by verse. I then asked her when she talks, if she reads entire passages and then talks about the passage verse by verse. She replied, “No, I usually don’t do it that way. Oftentimes when speaking about a topic, I use Bible passages from all over the Bible.” “Hmmmmmmm,” I thought. “I may not be doing this right.” So I then asked another speaker friend of mine, Jennifer, how she does it. She also said she doesn’t do it that way and does it much like Melissa does.
Well, needless to say, that sent me into a tailspin. My mind froze, and I thought, “I don’t know how to come up with 30 minutes of material and talk about something and just throw verses in.” Thoughts then began racing through my mind like: “I can’t do this. I’m not qualified to be doing this. I don’t know what I’m doing. Pastors do this. They read scripture and then dissect it and teach. Who do I think I am? I haven’t gone to seminary. I’m going to make a fool out of myself!”
So I apprehensively sent my talk to Melissa, and she relayed back that she would read it and get back to me in a couple of days. Well, a couple of days came and went, and I began to climb the walls. My thoughts grew more anxious as I waited, and I checked my email multiple times a day looking for her response. It took all the self-control I could muster not to email her with the hope of nudging her along, but eventually I resolved that Melissa was doing me a favor, so I needed to be patient and not push her.
I then received a text from her stating that she had had a migraine for days and would be getting to it shortly. So I waited a couple more days with my anxiety increasingly growing, and then finally the much anticipated email came. I braced myself as I opened it. It read: “So powerful, Kelly! Very Holy Spirit led! There really isn’t much I would change.” Oh my goodness! I was relieved, and all my anxiety melted away. Her encouraging words were exactly what I needed to hear to keep going and stand up and speak with confidence.
But after receiving the positive feedback, I also began to think about what was going on inside of me and why I was so insecure and anxious about my preparation. God brought the story of Moses and the burning bush to mind.
In Exodus starting in the third chapter, the Lord called to Moses from the midst of a burning bush and told him He was going to send him to Pharaoh that he may bring the children of Israel out of Egypt because He had seen their oppression. Moses was insecure about his speaking abilities and didn’t feel qualified. The Lord then said to him in Exodus 4:11-12, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord. Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
I then thought about my method for planning a talk. I have a natural bent to want to read a passage of scripture and then dissect it apart verse by verse, and this bent seems to be a little unusual for someone who hasn’t had any formal training. “Why do I always want to do that and where did that come from?” I thought. It didn’t take long before God reminded me of a Bible study I have been in since I was in my mid 20s.
Travis and I, when we were young and newly married, were invited to be in a Bible study with some people from our church. We have attended that study off and on now for over 20 years. All of the people who attend are older than us, and they are very wise and knowledgeable about the Bible. Most times during the study and especially when I was young, I just stayed quiet because I didn’t feel like I had much to offer, but all the while I sat there quietly under their teaching, I was drinking in their wisdom and knowledge and learning how to study the Bible.
When they first began studying together, they started in Genesis 1. They met every other week and slowly made their way through the Bible chapter by chapter. At the beginning of each night of study, they started by reading the chapter and then dissecting it apart verse by verse. After thinking about these things, it didn’t take long for me to realize that’s where I learned to read scripture and study it verse by verse. That’s what I’ve been doing for over 20 years, and that is what God has been teaching me. It is my default button and what feels most comfortable to me.
Memories also came to mind of when I was a middle schooler. The summer before my seventh grade year, I developed an eating disorder that I struggled with for years. It was so out of control that during my senior year of high school, I went to treatment to help me learn to manage it better. Day after day while in treatment, I was taught to stop and think about how I was feeling and then to write and express those feelings in a journal. Even though that wasn’t one of the more pleasant times of my life and oftentimes was something I wanted to hide and cover up, God still worked it for my good and used it to teach me how to express my thoughts and feelings.
I also remembered court reporting school. During court reporting school, I developed a love for the English language that I never knew I had. I was enamored with words, punctuation, spelling, vocabulary, and sentence structure. But upon graduating, I only worked as a court reporter for a year, and for many years I felt like I had failed and was embarrassed because my schooling seemed like a waste, but all the while, without me knowing, God had plans to use it later in my life for my good and His glory.
All of this Bible teaching from my past along with my successes, embarrassments and failures, God is now using to tell TJ’s story and to help others and point them to Christ.
And this is the way that God works in every one of our lives if we surrender and bring our past to Him. Sometimes God is teaching us in ways we won’t understand until later because we can’t see the bigger picture. And even though we’ve made what may seem like life-changing mistakes, our mistakes are not too big for God. We are never too far outside of His reach that He can’t turn us around and make our paths straight, and we can never mess up so badly that He can’t redeem us and use us for His purpose.
Because you see, dear one, God, in his great love for us, takes our accomplishments and the messy areas of our lives and weaves them together to create a beautiful story, and it’s not just any old story. It’s His story….the story He’s writing about us.