November 4, 2004
Lord, at life group last night ____ gave us “homework,” to put down on paper our greatest desires, longings, dreams… visions, I suppose. We talked about how those things can change over time as we go through growing experiences, as we gain wisdom and insight, as we grow to hear Your voice more clearly, and long and strive more and more to be in Your will and purpose for our lives. I know that refining of vision also occurs on the church body level as well as on the individual level, as we grow in Christ, as we are willing to let go and let God work things out in His ways, His timing, His will. Yet I think that if the original vision of a church (or an individual) was from God truly, it won’t change – at least the underlying principles and the main direction will remain firm, though our perception of how those foundational things will “work out” must come to yield to God’s perception, God’s plan and purpose which is always right and perfect and unchangeable. I think that is right, or at least in the right direction? Lord?
So I don’t know. I have my “vision statement” from a couple years back. But the thing about it is that it contains “restrictions” that I still feel have been placed on me more by other people than by God’s Word, restriction based on being a woman, particularly. And on being in the role of wife and mother, the whole “barefoot and pregnant by the kitchen sink: know your place!” syndrome. And yes, even now I am struggling with the whole submissive wife concept, although I do believe that God is working a great work in my husband’s life, and that one day soon his leadership position over me will be from more of a godly love viewpoint. Maybe that time will come finally when I actually relate to him with a godly love viewpoint myself!
The thing is, I feel strongly that God has called me to preach. I have attempted to fit into people’s expectations by changing the word “preach” to “teach,” by limiting the scope of ministry to women and teen girls. The thing is, it is possible that might be God’s plan, and if it is God’s plan that’s fine with me. But I know that in writing out my “vision” in the past, I’ve put those restrictions there because people told me I had to. The basic thing is that I know what God has called me to – to preach. When He first called me to that, it was so clear. And that clarity has remained despite all the foggy stuff people have strewn in my way.
Before people had a chance to do that, I just joyfully started taking the opportunities God sent my way. I gave “preachimonies” in churches when the pastor was away, I did special speaker engagements for Women’s Aglow, and Student Wives meeting at Bible College, and Women’s Ministries meetings at churches, and preached on “womens” Sundays in churches. I didn’t worry about who the audience was. I just got up there and preached the message God gave me. And people’s lives were changed. My messages were taped (unknown to me) and ended up being copied and distributed. By the end of every message I gave, people would be weeping and seeking God.
But then people said, “You can’t be doing that!” So I pulled back. I taught Sunday School, ran kids’ clubs, talked to young people one-on-one or in small informal groups; and always, even though there were “successes” and people would say that I really have a “gift,” I have always felt that I have been living under a “quenching.” I have even feared to consider the possibility that God has given me a gift in this area, instead coming up with ideas of “administration” or similar gifts. And then, also, I started having trouble with my kids in their teens, and I was constantly badgered by a “voice” in my head telling me I was a failure as a mother and parent, and as long as I was having any trouble with my kids I could never be a preacher. But even then I was invited to speak at womens groups! And did!
If God only wants me to preach to women and children, that’s okay with me. But I know what God put on my heart… to preach, not just to teach (and yes, I am a good teacher, but that’s not the vision, the calling, the dream, the desire and longing God has given me). And I have preached, in those early days before people starting saying, “You can’t!” to groups that included men, and God worked. I do think God has a special plan for me with women, but at the same time I don’t think He wants me to be under the bondage of “man’s ideas.” Well, the details of God’s call to me are up to the Lord, because the vision is from Him!