For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began. 2 Timothy 1:6-9
Tomorrow I leave for a conference. Proverbs 31 ministries offers the She Speaks conference every year for Christian women speakers and writers. I am a teeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeny, tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiny bit SUPER.EXCITED. My bag has been packed in my room for over a week, which was kind of because we were going on vacation and I did not want more chores to do when we got home, and also kind of because I have tried on a LOT of outfits for the conference and I did not want to forget which ones rocked.
I love teaching the Bible. I mean, no, really, I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE it. A lot. The first time I spoke was 5 years ago. I taught at the women’s retreat at Vanguard Church. I was nervous, but also confident at the same time. I cannot explain this, but I somehow could feel it in my bones that it was going to be, like, totally my thing. Maybe the years of pausing in my quiet times to preach mini sermons into the still morning air was a bit of a clue. Perhaps you do not do that. As I type, it occurs to me that stealth preaching might be super weird. I remember the feeling I had as I held the microphone for the first time that weekend, speaking Truth from God’s Word to a room full of beloved, godly heart-friends at that retreat. Those moments were transforming. Speaking Truth out loud pulled me up into the throne room in pure worship, creating a space for me to offer to my King what I believe I was truly born to do.
Since that night, I have taught the Bible many times in joy and pain. Three and a half years ago, God stopped my mouth for a season. Read about it here.
The tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. James 3:6-12
It has been a season of intense breaking and rebuilding. My character, relationships, affections, circumstances, hopes and expectations have been agonizingly sifted and carefully reformed. I look back on the wounded woman I was 5 years ago and I weep at her transformation. Whether that woman was gifted and called is not the point – she was broken beyond the healing of anyone except a healing Savior. We all are. And in her giftedness and her brokenness, that woman, today and yesterday, longed for nothing above the glory of her King. In His unfathomable grace, He stopped me from teaching His word in an unworthy manner. Praise you, Lord.
Now, I feel Him beckoning me to open my mouth again.
And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Isaiah 6:5-8.
I feel waaaaaaaaaaaaay more terrified now than I did 5 years ago, because now I know how much is at stake. Let not many of you become teaches, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. James 3:1.
I am afraid I will fail again, afraid that people will not believe in me. I am afraid for the spiritual attack on me and those I love. I am afraid I will suck.
But I can’t not do it. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:29. And to be honest with you, I have missed teaching. I love it. I am chomping at the bit to study and teach God’s Word again. Something inside of me has withered and shrunk away as mine & the Lord’s attention have been on a deeper place, but it is not gone and I long to nurture that part of my heart again.
So here are some things I am doing right now to pursue my Dream:
1. Going to the She Speaks conference. While I am there, I will participate in a speaker evaluation group. I will speak and be critiqued. (In my mind’s eye, I see Randy, Simon & Paula sitting behind a desk – “Your delivery is too flat.” “Why are you wearing red shoes? This is THE BIBLE!”)
2. Also at the conference, I will meet with two publishers to present a book proposal about……
3. I am researching and writing a 10 week Bible study about the dwelling places of God revealed in the covenants in the Bible. It is a totally rad and transforming truth from God’s Word that has impacted me in my personal study over this past year. I am praying for an opportunity to walk through God With Us with a focus group in order to refine it and make it better. More on that later…
4. I am writing a blog. You are reading it. Would you consider subscribing to In Search of Sanctuary and recommending it to your friends? Blog subscribers/followers make a difference in marketing analysis as publishers consider publishing a writer’s work. The business side of publishing and speaking is actually pretty cool. I’m digging it.
So, my dream is simple, but big. I dream about teaching God’s word on a regular basis, at Vanguard Church (my home church which we love love love) and beyond. Whether the Lord accomplishes this dream on a small scale or a big one makes no difference to me. I can keep my mini sermons up during my quiet times if I need to! I just want to teach His Truth because it matters. It has saved my life. It is manna in the wilderness, a record of His shining, redemptive love. There is nothing like His Word with its piercing insight and tender wooing. I have literally loved my Bible to pieces. It is tattered, stained with fingerprints, spills and tears. It is the lifeline for those of us who ache for a way through the broken crags of chaos and confusion. It is a beacon of hope, a simple yet depthless mine of treasure. To be able to speak its a truth with a voice of hope would be a gift too precious to release.
That is my Dream.