On Monday, I has the privilege of speaking to the Portknockie ladies guild. It was my first time to attend a ladies guild, but what a fun day it was. As it was my first time, and Portknockie is such a wee village, I will admit that I had fairly low expectations for attendance and engagement. Boy, was I ever wrong. These ladies take their guilds very seriously, and that was so refreshing.
I was invited to this event last fall, so I’ve had plenty of time to come up with my message and I didn’t really feel any sort of pressure or nerves as the date drew closer. I had intended to use my thoughts on the Lord’s Prayer (the podcast I did in January, for Radio Free Buckie) as it was a pretty easy message from a fairly well-known passage of scripture. Last week, as I was looking over my notes and praying about my time with the ladies I felt the Lord was leading me in a different direction than the one I’d planned to go in. In fact, I felt it was pretty clear he wanted me to scrap the Lord’s Prayer message entirely and talk about fear instead. What?!
As I was praying about the afternoon and looking over my notes, 2 Timothy 1:7 kept coming into my mind, “He has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but one of power, love, and self-discipline.”
Seriously?! Who was I to talk to anyone about not living in fear? I’m the kind of person who loves the adjectives, low-risk and secure. I don’t dislike change like many people do, but I don’t really fancy the idea of high-risk anything. Bungie jumping, parachuting, swimming with sharks, fear factor kinds of things that get your adrenaline pumping are absolutely, 100% not for me. I like certainty. I like organization. I like well-planned, well-thought out endeavors.
In the end, the Lord won, and I ended up talking about how fear is a liar. The kind of fear the Enemy whispers in our ear makes us focus on ourselves – on our intellect, gifts, skills, talents, as well as our shortcomings, anxiety, envy, pride, jealousy, fear, low-self esteem, and our past failures, and keeps us from fully relying on God to step in and shine through us. This kind of fear makes us plant our feet in the sand and say to the Lord, “I will go this far, and no further,” because we cannot control or manipulate the outcome. In our own strength and intellect, we cannot guarantee a win. And that’s the point.
Satan absolutely does not want you and I to be reliant on God to accomplish His purposes in this world. If I only allow myself to be used by God to the extent that I can accomplish the work on my own intellect, gifts, skills, and talents than I’m able to keep all of the glory for myself, and that’s not how God works. He works best through my weaknesses – in the times when I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that without Him and his intervention, there is no way that I can do what it is He’s called me to do.
Without Him, I am not going to be able to talk to that person about Jesus. Without Him, I’m not going to be able to serve effectively in this ministry he’s given me. Without Him, I’m not going to be able to love people like he loves them. I’m not going to be able to be the kind of encouragement, or teacher, or prayer warrior, or life example He has called me to be. And that’s exactly what our Enemy wants from us – for us to be self-reliant, mediocre Christians who look only within ourselves for the ability to get things done for Jesus. Because he knows that when we act in our own power, on our own intellect, within our own gifts, skills, and talents we will be far less effective for Jesus than we would be if we’d just say, “Yes, Lord, whatever it is You want me to do, I’ll do. Where ever You want me to go, I’ll go. However You want me to serve, I’ll serve.” And then for us to fully trust in Jesus to show up and show out when He promised he will.
What about you? Has the Lord asked you to do something specific, and you’re pushing back because you know its way outside of your comfort zone?