I filled in at the pulpit again today. It was the first time I had filled in since making my decision to go into ministry. Where before I was just plain terrified-nervous, today I was a different kind of nervous. As I sat there waiting to start the service, looking out at my church family (wow, there were a LOT of people in church today!!!) it occurred to me that these people, many of whom have become dear dear friends, would be seeing me differently today. The other time that I filled in it was just me... just a person in the congregation filling in when Pastor was away. Today it was me...a future pastor that was speaking to them. In 7 weeks I go before them for a special church conference to ask for approval for candidacy. They will have the opportunity to vote on whether they think I should move forward in my journey to becoming a pastor. And as I sat there waiting to start the service it occurred to me that if I totally botched it, they may very well say no that day. It threw me off a bit, and made me very nervous. After the children's time (which did NOT go well) I took a breath, looked at the pocket rocks that GOD gave me this morning, and said a quick prayer. It worked, the sermon went well (other than that I need to slow down more!)
Pocket rocks. Yeah. So I have written about my pocket rocks before a few times. About how GOD picks them for me (I pray before I pick them, close my eyes and take the ones I feel Him 'pulling' me to). Here are the ones He picked for me to day:
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in CHRIST he is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come.
Isaiah 41:13 For I AM the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, "do not fear, I will help you"
Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.
Isaiah 40:31 For they that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.
(and the best one...)
2 Timothy 1:1 GOD did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and love and of self discipline.
So today, before I even got nervous (well, before I got really nervous)... my Heavenly Father gave me words to hold in my heart that would remind me that I am a new person in Him. No more am I to be a nervous, fearful person. He reminded me that I didn't even have to be afraid, because he will take hold of my right hand and help me! He will show me the path of life HE wants me to take, and fill me with joy on that path! He will renew my strength, even when I am running a race that I do NOT feel qualified to run! And most importantly... He did NOT give me a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self discipline!! And He wants me to use that spirit to share His love with His children! What an amazing glimpse of His grace and mercy! What an amazing pouring out of His love.
Our God is so amazing, it takes my breath away. I am feeling stressed lately...just some things that are weighing on my heart...nothing too earth shattering. But the stress of it has taken its toll on me. Yet, even in that stress, I can still see His fingerprints so clearly. It amazes me that, even when I am not feeling at my most joyous, even when I am feeling the weight of stress so heavily that it is almost tangible... HE can and does still use me somehow. He can and does still give me enormous shares of grace and mercy and strength.
Heavenly Father, thank You for standing next to me today, for holding my hand and helping me speak of Your love and grace.Thank You for my church family who supports me and loves me and gives me feedback to help me keep getting better, so that I can serve You well. I love You my GOD!!! In Jesus' name, Amen.