There were so many more things that happened at Urbana and I just don't have enough space or time to write them all out. But, something incredible did come out of one of the many things that God laid on my heart during that conference.
After my encounter with the Holy Spirit (see previous posts for more on that story) I felt like God was continually putting it on my heart to speak. I didn't know how...or where...or when. But, I just had this constant feeling that He was going to be asking me to speak.
As I studied Acts I began to realize how many times it talks about people speaking boldly for Christ after being filled with the Holy Spirit and I continued to feel God laying that on my heart, "You will do that, too."
"Okay. Mhm. Whatever you say, God."
Maybe I shouldn't have been so sarcastic...
I was driving home several weeks ago to surprise my family. I love my two hour drives because it gives me uninterrupted time to just spend in God's presence. I was chatting with God about the upcoming conference being held at my church (Grace Christian Fellowship) and I was telling Him that I didn't think I would go this year.
I felt like it was going to be at a bad time.
It was more for a younger age demographic.
Eh, just not for me this year.
And when I got done telling God my plans, He let me in on His,
"You're going to go and you are going to speak in a revolving door session." (revolving door sessions are where four speakers each get seven minutes to speak before an air horn goes off and the next person comes up to speak.)
I chuckled and chalked that thought up to a miscommunication between God and I.
Surely that was just a passing thought.
Surely they had already planned out who their speakers were going to be since the conference was only a few weeks away.
Maybe God meant next year....
A few hours later I got online, only to find a message asking me to speak in a revolving door session for the upcoming conference.
Welp, I guess God knew what He was talking about after all!
So, obviously, I agreed.
And then I began preparing.
Little factoid about me: I love to write, and I've been told time and time again that I do well at it. I can write speeches that have you in tears or in stitches, or, on a good day, both. I say that not to boast, but just to give you some background in the fact that writing and delivering speeches has been a gifting of mine.
So, I began preparing.
I sat down to write out an incredibly well put together speech that would captivate the audience.
But, every time I went to put my pen to paper I was taken back to Acts and all the stories in which people were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke boldly without any preparation or forethought.
This nagging feeling started to creep up into my heart, but I tried to brush it aside.
"God, I could do a really good job with this if You'd just let me prepare!"
"But, then who's power would you be relying on? Yours or Mine?"
This wasn't going as planned.
I sat down a few more times throughout the next few weeks, trying to plan out what I was going to say...but every time I did I heard God tell me simply, "Just let Me speak."
I wrestled with Him a little longer before finally relenting.
"God, I won't plan. You can speak. But, please...just give me words so I don't stand up there like a fool with nothing to say."
And that He did.
It came to the morning I was supposed to speak and I looked at my empty journal.
"God, I don't doubt you...BUT, I'm just going to jot a few thoughts down on this page in case I get up there and don't have anything to say."
So I wrote down a few notes and tried to piece together what I was going to say.
I was a little nervous to say the least.
Going into something like this unprepared was just not me...but I think that was the point.
Just before the revolving door session began, we worshipped to the song Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin.
If you haven't heard it...you need to! Click here to enjoy it.
The lyrics started to resonate in my heart:
I know who goes before me.
I know who stands behind.
The God of angel armies is always by my side.
The one who reigns forever.
He is a friend of mine.
The God of angel armies is always by my side...
In that moment God flooded my mind with a vision of angels pouring down the walkway to the stage and then covering the stage with their light. To my left stood General God who looked at me and said, "I've already claimed this stage for you. You have all you need and nothing to fear."
Okay, God. Let's do this.
My turn came, and I took the mic with nothing in my head and a few words scratched out in my notebook.
I took the stage, sat my things down....and I silently shot God a prayer, "Okay. I'm ready for your words."
And I began to speak...and speak...and speak some more.
I'm pretty sure I could have gone on for hours.
At one point, I looked at my notebook to see if I was saying anything I had written down and it was simply gibberish.
So, I just kept moving my mouth and praying that God would keep talking.
And I left the stage.
And I couldn't believe God's goodness.
As I watched it back a few days later I couldn't help but think,
Man, that was good...but I could have said it better and more powerfully had I prepared.
And then God spoke to me through scripture.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 says:
When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power.
So, I'm learning to lean on the power of the Spirit and not on my own gifts and abilities.
I think there will come a time in which God is going to use my gifts to enhance the work of the Spirit, but I've relied solely on myself for too long and it's time to be completely dependent on Him for a change.
So, I'm learning to get out of the way.
I'm learning to let Him work, speak, and do as He pleases...and, unfortunately, it's not always the most comfortable route.
But, I guess God never promised that dying to oneself would be easy or pain free.
He did, however, promise that it would be worth it.
So, each day I die to myself a little more.
And, let me tell you, it's a painful process.
But, it ends in a beautiful victory of a Spirit filled daughter of God.