Almost four summers ago, I decided to attend and lead a table at the women’s summer bible study at the last church I attended back in Phoenix, AZ. They picked Beth Moore’s Daniel study. I loved it. I have fond memories of going through the book of Daniel, not only delving deeper into the word of God, but connecting deeper with the women at the church I was new to. It not only nurtured my relationships with God and people, it was a leadership growth opportunity. I volunteered to lead a table of women, some older and some younger, in fostering conversation & praying for them. Through that, I got a taste of what it means to “shepherd” a small flock. I had an awesome experience, so naturally I signed up the next summer of 2014. When the spring of 2015 rolled around, I noticed no announcement for that year’s summer study. When I started to think about it, the gal who would lead those studies in the past wasn’t going to our church anymore. I assumed other women who had helped out the prior year would be administrating it, but I reached out to the pastor of community just to make sure. He responded that no one was currently stepping up to fill that position. I was surprised. So many women I had talked to around church were counting on that seasonal study, and nobody decided to take the initiative? I prayed and thought over it. I led a table a couple times, do I have the ability to oversee the whole program? I had my doubts, so I e-mailed the gal who ran it before. She gave me some tips and pointers that were really helpful and the push to just do it! She made it seem so easy. I tried not to overthink it, and I replied to the pastor that I was willing to step into that gap and fill the role. Little did I know how much I would enjoy that position, and God would use that opportunity to awaken the love I have for women within and outside the church.
I remember being really nervous that no one would show up to the study. I remember thinking when over 100 women showed up to the first week that no one would show up for the following. God proved me wrong over and over again. I learned to trust God with the details, to just show up and be faithful, and realize none of it depended on me. I remember in the orchestrating of the study, networking and researching for table leaders at the church, I learned women’s names and put their roles and gifts next to them. Not only did I realize how intricately beautiful, talented, and gifted every woman in the church is, I had a renewed appreciation for God’s details in creation. Furthermore, it enhanced the truth that God’s divine calling is placed within each one of us. I was humbled. I recognized what an honor it was to lead the women at our church. There were so many other women qualified for the job, yet God chose me to do it.
As I read through Paul’s conversion story in Acts, and his letter written to the Galatians, I am encouraged. If God can call a man like Paul, formally known as Saul, to minister and preach to the very people he tried to relentlessly and violently oppress, then God can use a simple girl from the desert in the southwest who has no idea what she is doing. He can use you, at whatever age, ethnicity, gender, or industry you’re in. We’re all called to usher and live the mission of the gospel on this earth. Paul said it best about himself, “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach…” (Galatians 1:15-16a). I’m pretty sure he is writing on behalf of all us. We are all called to present Jesus. Who will respond like Saul (who became Paul)? Who has any more of any excuse? He could of said, “No way, God! I have too much shame from all those people I killed, tortured, and terrorized.” Instead of giving into those thoughts and fears, he uses his very weakness as leverage to convince Jews and Gentiles to believe in the salvation of Jesus Christ. How’s that for inspiration? We have no reason NOT to live the good news. Really. We must obey the call to be God’s messengers here on earth, in whatever capacity we are able. I’m still discovering exactly where that place is for me at this point in my life. For now, I am taking it wherever I am. Whether I am helping out a neighbor, reaching out to other parents I interact with at events and activities for my son, or just being God’s love to my family.
What are the excuses you use to dodge God’s calling to be the image of Jesus wherever you are?