I will be a writer, I say to Him. But I don’t need to be in front of people. That’s for people who need attention. That’s for people who need to be heard. I sit at my desk, everyday, a faux sense of humility, up to the roof.
And then something happens. One day, on the carpet of my office floor, I say yes to the surrender. Yes, God, I will speak. Yes, I will go. Yes, whatever you want me to do. There is a mini-breakthrough, when I realize that sin often comes in the form of refusal and I decide not to refuse God, again, despite the fact I still don’t really want to go.
He begins to send me out to speak even more. I begin to get used to it.
Between the speaking (and my everyday home life, too) I write more books. I make those important ministry connections with the right people in our small Christian bubble. Women of Faith emails me to tell me they are interested in potentially having me as a speaker on their stage. And I am happy, because the ministry climb is happening as they tell me it’s supposed to. I am a type A, driven woman, and this all perfectly makes sense.
Thank you, God…you ask me to speak and I humbly say yes and now you explode my territory because I am so very faithful. Look at me. I’m doing it, God, see me doing it,? I ask, like a little girl on a bike in front of her dad, doing tricks.
Months pass, Women of Faith fades into the past without the formal invitation, and I keep speaking, asking God to see me doing it feeling like it’s all just a spiritual favor of sorts…going into all these places and serving all these people and pouring out when what I really want to be doing is staying at home all comfortable and safe, hiding behind my writer desk. I’m doing it for you, God, I tell Him. Remember that, ok?
One spring day while I am in the midst of speaking on the subject of becoming whole, He sends me to Idaho, honestly nothing more than the next place on my speaking list. It’s a beautiful place, and I feel lucky to get to go but mainly for scenery reasons. I have never been to this place and I know right away it is something different because I feel it in my bones. I dismiss it as the mountain air, the vibe of the women, the new and different travels. Nothing more.
I speak. The weekend is beautiful. I know God has been there. The prayer team, an army of dedicated women, has been in my speaker room to pray. They are serious, the coordinator tells me, and I find out it’s true. Prayers like I’ve never heard before. Care for me, way beyond hostess baskets and putting me up in a comfortable room. I cry, thankful God has come. My small retreat room is full of Him.
Too soon, it is time for me to go. My flight calls me and my mind shifts to home. The women want to say goodbye to you first, Lisa, the coordinator says. Is that ok? I agree, and we head out the door and into the elevator.
It is about the time I step into the frame of the open door housing the women in the midst of a session, that the woman up front with the mic sees me and says, Oh, good! Lisa is in the back, ladies…can you say bye to her and thank her for her time with us this weekend? I smile, awkwardly (goodbyes and attention are two things I hate), and stand frozen in the doorframe as my 300 new friends turn, stand and clap. I am floored. Embarrassed. I’ve never had a standing ovation before. I feel small and silly. And then, suddenly, I break.
Tears, the inconvenient ones I never asked to come, show up madly and plunge down my face. I feel loved. I feel cared for. I feel safe, and this is weird and new (because speakers never really feel safe, you know. Our job is to help you feel safe with us.)
And right then and there, standing in the doorframe, crying like a mess, God speaks to my heart:
All this time, you think you are doing this to serve Me and help them, and all the while, I am using the Church to help heal you where they once broke you. I am restoring your faith in the Church at each and every event. It’s a reciprocal healing, Lisa. I’m using this to make you whole.
And I realize. This is all a gift. I’m not the gift. The people are. God’s purpose in this is.
And it changes the rest of my speaking life because I start seeing people as gifts and God as the reciprocal Healer.
Sometimes, the way we do not expect, God uses to heal us.
The finances we cannot figure out…the things we think we give up for Him…the ways we believe we sacrifice to serve: so often, it’s mostly for us.
To think that He goes to such length to save us – often, save us from ourselves – that He will use the very thing we don’t want to be our healer…is a humbling, amazing Jesus reality that most of the time we resist but need more desperately than we know.
Some years after I never got the formal invitation from *Women of Faith, I finally got the courage to ask God why that never worked out.
Because you wouldn’t have ever learned to love people, I hear Him say.
Ouch. But He was right.
I would’ve subconsciously believed I could bypass that step because I had already arrived. I would not have taken the time to look into eyes or cry with people or pray over them in the same way. I would have cared too much about perfect speeches and well crafted ryders and making sure my accommodations were just so because that is what I was used to. I would have thought I was somebody, not in the way we are somebody because of Jesus, but in the way I was somebody more than everybody else.
I wouldn’t have learned to love people like only He knew I was capable.
And you, my friend…it is the same for you.
He knows what you are capable of.
He knows what you will settle for.
He knows how to heal you with the very thing you don’t want.
Thank Him for this, today, and do yourself a favor and let His way be.
p.s. I love you. I truly do.
(*This has nothing to do with Women of Faith or any such organization, whatsoever. You know that, right? God has done great things through great people on those stages because God can do anything through any of us. This is about me, my need to grow and change, and the fact God needed to use a different way to make that happen.)