Sometimes we experience moments in life that require us to ponder and process.
I have been living in such a state for the past week. The events of last weekend, my first ever speaking engagement, still swirling around my heart and mind. I had written Here about my feelings regarding the event. (Let’s just sum it up by saying that I was feeling less than confident.) But something happened last Saturday that I still can’t fully process. But then again, can you ever really process God’s extraordinary grace?
Grace upon grace was the theme of the weekend.
I spoke on the grace of God. Grace which delights in using ordinary people to do extraordinary things, through Him and for Him. I had prayed for His grace to flow through me. I was strengthened by the prayers of many who graciously prayed for me and for the women who would be in attendance.
Grace and more grace.
I had spent the night before at my aunt’s house, which just so happens to be the house my grandparents had lived in. My grandparents – two people I adored more than I could possibly express here, and who prayed for me, encouraged me and loved me more than I could have ever deserved. As I snuggled in bed that night, memories of sleep-overs with my grandmother (whose name was Grace) washed over me like a warm bath.
I could almost hear our giggles from those days long ago, which were always eventually followed by my granddaddy’s amused call: “You girls quiet down in there.” Memories flooded my heart, as if hugs were being given from heaven.
In the darkness I reached for my Bible and then turned on my reading light. I read a familiar passage, one I have turned to many times. 2 Chronicles 20:15-17 – the passage I always read the night before doing something that scares me. (I have been reading this passage since my teen years!) I love that the verse says, “Go out and face them tomorrow and the LORD will be with you.” It has always comforted me the night before facing a fear: whether it was a singing a solo, going in for a job interview, moving to a new city, or anything that pushed me out of my comfort zone. The verse has been my go to verse for decades. But it wasn’t until the night before my first speaking event that I noticed something extraordinary about my “go-to” verse. That night, my eyes rose two verse higher:
All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah….as he stood in the assembly.
All this time, reading my comfort verse, I have never noticed that the one speaking God’s words (the words that have held me through some scary things) were spoken by an ordinary man. Not the king. Not a well-known prophet. Not a priest. Just an ordinary guy in the crowd that day.
Powerful truth for an ordinary girl feeling completely unworthy and unqualified to stand on a stage before 200 women in just a few short hours.
It was as if God had hidden that part of the passage from me for that very moment.
Grace upon grace.
The morning of the event dawned clear, bright and warm – warm enough to wear sandals in December! (Plus 1 for Florida!!) We arrived at the church and were greeted by the sweetest and kindest women, each eager to share a word of encouragement. My phone buzzed with texts offering prayers and thoughts. My heart was full.
I took the stage, my heart ponding. And then…..peace.
It felt as if Jesus Himself had stood up and rebuked my fear just as surely as He had the storm.
I spoke to a sea of beautiful faces, many of which belonged to family members I hadn’t seen since grandmother’s funeral. All gathered that day because of grace….God’s extraordinary grace.
The time ended with a video to one of my favorite songs “Be Born in Me.” I had used a lyric from that song in my message,
Lord, I’m just a girl, nothing more. But I am willing. I am yours.
That pretty much summed up my message that day: God doesn’t call us because of who we are. He isn’t concerned with our qualifications or lack thereof. He simply calls us to trust Him and then transforms us by His extraordinary grace.
All He asks of us is to just be willing.
I was honored beyond words by those who came up after to share a little bit of their story with me. It was simply precious.
Then my extended family (and my sweet friend who had surprised me by attending that day!) gathered at my aunt’s house. We reminisced, we laughed, we shared, we loved. A group of people who share little in common other than blood and history. But who love each other fiercely because of that which we do share.
As we stood for an long overdue family photo, it struck me that I was glimpsing a picture of eternity. For gathered there was a group of individuals with different interests and hobbies. We had some from Florida, some from up north, and one who was born in the Ukraine. Represented in the photo are many who were born into the family, some who were brought in through marriage and some who have been adopted in (some formally and some informally!) We had differing political views standing side by side, content to lay their differences aside for the sake of something greater.
We even had gluten-free standing next to gluten-loving!
All gathered together because of God’s extraordinary Grace.
I am still basking in the goodness of God who poured out His grace in such abundance that it left me breathless. I know that the euphoria will eventually fade, but His grace has left a permanent mark on my heart – almost as if He has engrave it there…