I used to watch prominent Bible teachers and sit in awe of their amazing ability to understand Scripture, tie verses together in such a way that they made sense and came to life, and connect with women on a personal level. I felt such a burning in my soul to be like them. I wanted to be so filled with Bible knowledge that it oozed out of my soul and spilled over to bless others.
The only problem was that I didn’t know that much about the Bible, I had nothing whatsoever of value to add to any conversation, and the idea of standing in front a group of women terrified me.
Needless to say, I struggled with my desire to speak and teach and the feeling that I lacked anything of value to say. But God is so amazing in how He works. He didn’t place a desire in my heart for no reason. Instead, He planted the seed and then gently guided me through developing it. What I had no way of knowing at the time was that God was going to use the next 15 years to bring me through some of the most difficult times of my life. Those experiences would be when I leaned on God THE hardest and got to know Him better than I ever had before.
I learned that God’s strength shines brightest when I am at my weakest (2 Corinthians 12:9), I learned that God has a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and that He will use every part of my life –struggles and all — to glorify Himself (Romans 8:28). It was when I looked back at those struggles that I saw God’s hand in it all. I saw the times He led me and all the opportunities He placed before me to lean on Him. And through those experiences, He gave me my story. My story — my life — is really all about Him.
I realized that the reason those Christian teachers connected so powerfully with their audience was because they were able to relate to God through personal experience. They knew God in an intimate way because they had relied on Him to sustain them through difficult times.
It wasn’t until 15 years later, after several heartaches that brought me to my knees, that I had a greater understanding of God’s love, His grace, and His mercy. It was during those times that I had nothing but Him that I gained a voice. As I reflected back on the ways He navigated me through loss and struggle, I clearly saw the beautiful story He wove together. That story is my testimony. As I relied on His Word to teach me and bind together my wounds (Psalm 147:3), His Word filled my mind and the scriptures came to life. And as I shared with others what God brought me through and felt the connection that only the Holy Spirit can create, my fear of sharing with others vanished.
Before I knew it, the dream I had so many years before and the longing of my heart was being fulfilled. Not only was I standing in front of women and teaching about God’s Word, but I was also sharing my story and how God was in every part of it. God is fulfilling every part of the the desire I had carried for almost two decades.
What about you? Do you feel a burning to know God and to serve Him? Do you long to know Him better? Perhaps you aren’t longing to teach or speak, but maybe there is something you have been yearning to do in service to Him?
Lean on Him. He desires to fill us to overflowing with His love. Any seeds He plants will be watered and cultivated until they bear beautiful fruit. He will not place a longing in you heart if He does not intend to follow through on it.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
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Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
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-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
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