As we began teacher & staff orientation and training at school last week, we began by each of us sharing our personal testimonies of how the Lord had drawn us to Himself and to the school. What an amazing, beautiful thing to sit and hear testimony after testimony of what God had done in the lives of those around me. This was a great way to start our year!
We also reflected and remembered what God had done to start the school by hearing about its history and its vision. God tells us in the Bible to remember the things He has done lest things are going so well and we are so full of the good things that we forget that He is the One who did them (Deuteronomy 8). We stopped to talk about those “stones of remembrance” (as in Joshua 4) God has given us, while acknowledging that each one is to the praise of His glory, not to us (Psalm 115:1).
How was I drawn to God? The answer was so clear — through His Word and the power of His Spirit. As I have written before, when I began to spend time daily in God’s Word, I began to understand and learn, and over time, He began to change my heart. As He promises in Scripture, He will reward those who seek Him, and He did. In His perfect time, He revealed Himself to me in power, and I found a joy I had never known.
On April 27, 2005, we were concluding Women’s Bible study for the year at my church by having a brunch. At that time, women would be offered the chance to share what they had learned during the study of Mark and Judges that year. We were told in our groups for a few weeks in advance to be thinking about what we might share. I, of course, would never dream of sharing to several hundred women at once, so I never even considered that!
The day of the brunch came, and I woke up early and felt like I was supposed to speak. “But that’s crazy,” I thought. “I don’t speak publicly, and I have nothing to say.” But the sense was so strong, I decided to just go look at my notebook from the study and see if anything jumped out at me. Well, to my surprise, it was so clear exactly what I was supposed to say! There was a prayer at the beginning of the study that I had written, and an answer to a question at the end of the study, and that’s what I was supposed to share.
The gist of the prayer was something like, “I’ve wanted all of Your blessings and benefits and none of Your sufferings, all without seeking you daily and counting the cost. I’ve put other things in front of you, like my kids, TV, our health, and not been wholeheartedly consumed with You. I want to do what You’ve called me to, …” Then the prayer at the end was written as I considered the cycle of sin that the Israelites went through in the book of Judges. I wanted to change the way I lived and do what is right in God’s eyes, not mine, and move forward in faith, not fear.
I wrote these things down on an index card to further consider whether I should really share. God had never “spoken” to me in this way before (not that this was audible, but with this strong sense that I was to do this), so I wanted to know for sure.
As I began making my bed, there was a song I was singing — you know, the kind of thing where you’re singing and don’t even realize you are, but then you realize it and stop to hear what you are singing? I was singing, “Your grace is sufficient for me; Your strength is made perfect when I am weak. All that I cling to, I lay at Your feet; Your grace is sufficient for me.” So I wondered, “Lord, are you telling me that I am weak, but You will be my strength?” Again, I doubted, “no, He doesn’t speak this way to me.”
I went on with my morning. I was supposed to bring donuts to my daughter’s class that morning (both my children attended the children’s ministry that met while the women’s Bible study met). As we drove down the street to Dunkin Donuts, there was a song on the radio: “Give thanks, with a grateful heart; give thanks to the Holy One; give thanks, because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son…. And now, let the weak say ‘I am strong,’ let the poor say ‘I am rich,’ because of what the Lord has done for us; give thanks.” I pondered again this theme of His strength and my weakness. Different song, same message.
I went in Dunkin Donuts, and the same radio station was playing in there, and the same song continued. As I stood in line waiting, listening to, “Let the weak say ‘I am strong,'” I decided I would have to share. This was too convincing.
I went to drop off the children in their classes, and as I did, I turned back to my son and said, “Did you memorize your verse.” He responded, “Yes, Mommy; ‘this is love for God, to obey His commands.'” Aaahhh, that went straight to my heart — “this is love for God, to obey His commands!”
It wasn’t so much what I would share, as much as whether I would just stand up and say it! It almost seemed like a test of my faith — do I really believe Him enough to get up on my feet and speak? I had never had this kind of sense that He was leading me to do something so strongly, and if He does exist and is true, then He could certainly nudge me in this way. I almost felt that He just wanted me to obey Him.
By this time, I had entered the large gathering hall for the brunch, and was starting to feel nervous, but very convinced this is of the Lord. I nervously got my food, and sat down by myself at a table to think. As I did, I looked at the program that was sitting on the table. I flipped it over, and there on the other side was a printed song, Give Thanks! “… and now, let the weak say ‘I am strong‘; let the poor say ‘I am rich,’ because of what the Lord has done for us, give thanks.” Wow! 3 times, same message in 2 songs.
As the brunch began, I knew I needed to stand immediately as soon as they asked if anyone had anything to share. My legs didn’t want to stand — I don’t like public speaking — but I knew it was just my telling the Lord, “I believe You, I want to obey You.” I stood to my feet and with tears read my index card. That was it; nothing earth shattering; I simply said what I knew God wanted me to.
As ladies continued to share, a lady from my small group that year whom I had not seen that morning, stood up at another table. She said, “This is not what I had planned to share, but you know how sometimes, God just speaks to you and you know this is what He wants you to share. Well, I woke up at 3 a.m. last night, and this is what He said to me, well, you all know it, from II Corinthians 12:9-10: ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness….'” Wow! Those are the words to the song I was singing when I made my bed, and God had spoken this to Jan in the night to speak today; I couldn’t believe it!
Another girl shared how it had been hard being a mother; at the end, she threw in the words as she sat down, “He’s strong when I’m weak!”
At the end of the brunch, we all stood to our feet and sang Give Thanks, the song on the back of the program. I was just stunned with this same message over and over. I went through the day pondering it, feeling so blessed. I took my son to afternoon kindergarten, then drove to Starbucks with my daughter to get some gift cards. As we sat in the car in the drive through, I put on a CD that a friend had given me a few months back, a homemade CD, one I was not familiar with, and not of the greatest quality. I couldn’t hear the song that came on, so I just hit the arrow button to jump to a new song. The car was dead silent as I waited for the song to come on in that drive through. Suddenly, it burst out into the car, “Your grace is sufficient for me; Your strength is made perfect when I am weak, All that I cling to, I lay at Your feet. Your grace is sufficient for me.”
I know these are not the kinds of things you can write about and it even make sense to the reader; it was one of those moments God had prepared for me, and I was stunned, in awe. I felt I had nothing left to do but give Him my life entirely. I had known all about Him all my life, but not really even known Him or what He wanted of me. But that day, after hearing the same message 7 times, I knew I needed to believe Him and follow Him fully.
The next morning, I knelt beside my bed, and I must say, I did think, “This is going to be boring” as I committed to give up TV (not because it’s bad in and of itself, but because I was addicted to it!), to seek to know and obey Him and His ways, to read my Bible and study it, and so on.
But the truth is, I’ve never been bored since! I haven’t missed the TV at all. Such joy poured out over me that I had never known in all my previous 35 years! The path of obedience and faith is the path of blessing. When I obey God by doing what He commands in His Word, I demonstrate that I love Him. But I won’t obey Him if I don’t believe Him. That day, I believed God, and by His grace, I pray I will the rest of my days!
From April 27, 2005 on, life has been an amazing adventure. I realized He rewards and blesses those who seek Him, not what He can give. He has revealed so much to me and I’ve experienced things that I never had before. I have found that God does speak and reveal Himself to His people, yes through His Word, but also through the indwelling Spirit! What a gift!
I am humbled to be His child, His servant, that He would save me through Jesus’ shed blood, and I want to live for Him. This is what the blog is really about, proclaiming who Christ is and how He can change a life. He is full of power and might and has done great things! I stand in awe of Him!
3 thoughts on “To Know Him”
It is so beautiful, this mysterious way He has of speaking to us…so individually, so intimately. >>Thank you for telling your story here-it made me happy to hear it again. I’m needing courage just about now, and what you wrote is a great reminder of where that strength will actually come from. Pray that I will both hear and obey.>>Much love to you!
Carolyn,>>I loved this post, especially the part of you relating your own experience to the cycle of the Judges. I had never thought of that before, that is such a good point! >>P.S. I will gladly blog about the book. As soon as I get one! Pass that on!
Carolyn, >Thanks for sharing your heart through these stories! I love those moments when God breaks through all the distractions and allows us to hear His voice in a very real way! And you are so right– He DOES deserve to be praised for this! What a great challenge and reminder!