"Have I Not Commanded You? Be Strong And Courageous. Do Not Be Afraid; Do Not Be Discouraged, For The LORD Your God Will Be With You Wherever You Go." Joshua 1:9
Never before has that verse meant more to me, than it does right now.
I know it has been awhile since I have been here.
I get your emails just checking in, as well as the messages on Facebook and I appreciate you all very much.
It has been a long month since I last checked in. A month filled with changes, growth, smiles, as well as tears.
My first 2 classes are done (I received an A in each class *smiles*) and I am 3 weeks into the next 2 classes.
Between school, work and everything in between I haven't been able to find the time to get on here and share like I used to, however, I will try to be better about it.
As I knelt at the Altar during morning service this past Sunday, head down, hands clasped in front of me, eyes closed; Scared, fearful, more nervous than I have ever felt in my entire life, almost sick with worry, hoping I wouldn't start crying, feeling so tense that I was sure if someone said "Boo" to me, I would literally crack, praying that He would take all the emotions running through me and replace them with His peace, I felt 2 hands on my head, one on each side and then a voice in my ear...
I didn't even have to open my eyes to know it was my Pastor.
He knew, just as he always does, when he was needed without being asked.
He knew the emotions swirling within me, because he had already been in this exact moment.
This past Sunday at 4pm, I preached my first official sermon. Those of you who are on my Facebook already know that and you also know how nervous I was lol.
I thought I was going to go in there, speak for 20 minutes and then go home....
What I didn't know was that it was a whole service, complete with the choir, programs, ushers etc...
As I did when I was the guest speaker, I was put in my Pastors' office and since I knew there was an awful lot riding on this (more about that in a minute), I was very anxious and literally shaking in my seat.
I sat there for about 15 minutes as he did what he had to do, in and out of the office and then M and R came in along with him and it was time for prayer.
Since praying out loud is still a huge thorn in my side that I haven't been able to remove, I was grateful he didn't ask me to lead it.
Then onto the outside area (but not into the Sanctuary yet) to pray with the choir, where he says to me that if the roles were reversed, he isn't sure he could do what I was about to do.
~ Side note, Thanks for making me even more nervous, Pastor W. ~ :) :)
As the choir heads out, he speaks with our pianist and then it is our time to go out.
I head to the center seat as instructed (yes, his seat once again) and he takes the seat next to me as the choir starts singing.
Let me just say, our choir rocks....
I absolutely love listening to them and I was so happy they were there on the program.
Next up is prayer and another song selection, which by the way was beautifully done and makes me cry every time I hear it.
You can listen to it here if you so fancy. :)
Then my Pastor is the one who introduced me and he had me in tears by this time.
Let the people who know me (outside the Church) that I was in another family, that they loved me and accepted me.
That it wasn't up to them to question who God choses to bring His word and for the ones that came "just to see" he said he would pray for them.
He read 2 Timothy 3:13-4:7 to me, making it known that I was to speak life into the people of God, never death.
He spoke for a few more minutes and after a few more verses from the choir, it was my time.
The Scripture that was laid on my heart 2 weeks ago was 2 Chronicles 20:2-7 and while I wouldn't have specifically chosen this Scripture, God had other plans.
I was told 2 1/2 weeks ago that I needed to do this, I wouldn't have a lot of time to do it, however if I didn't get it done, I would have to wait another year (due to the structure of our Church).
He also gave me free reign from the Bible, to preach on anything laid on my heart, and quite honestly I was hoping for a nice Psalm or a cool Proverb or perhaps even something out of Revelation, but Chronicles?
Good thing I just finished my Old Testament class lol.
So I prepared a sermon based on fear as well as sacrifice and I will post it here in the next few days.
I took my place behind the pulpit, started reading and I kid you not, the microphone did almost the same thing it did before...
I just had to laugh as my Pastor came up and kept tapping it, finally it stopped with the awful feedback and we proceeded.
I took a deep breath and started over.
While watching the DVD, I can see my nervousness shining through, there were areas where I was tongue-tied and I fidget with my hands (last time I was told I needed to stop speaking with my hands, so I was trying to keep them at my side).
When I was about 3/4 of the way through, something happened within me that literally took my breath away and you can see it as I am speaking.
I am struggling to catch my breath and speak at the same time.
That all-consuming love I felt last time, (when I had finished speaking) overtook me and it is so powerful and so filling that you just want to laugh and cry at the same time.
I finished in tears.
I took a step back and as my Pastor came back into the pulpit, (he had been sitting in the pew watching) I could see he was in tears as well.
He spoke for a few more minutes and called me down to the front and then called everyone up for hugs and such.
He reminded everyone that there was a Church conference the following night at 7pm and informed me before I left that I was to be present.
The Church conference was to hold a vote, on whether I was to be able to move forward.
In order to preach in my Church, the congregation votes to allow you to move onto the next step and I was even more worried about this I think, than anything else.
I knew that my sermon had a lot riding on it and I put so much pressure on myself that last Wednesday I was actually sick just from nerves.
As I left the house last night, due to Daylight Savings Time, it was almost completely dark.
There were clouds rolling in and breaks in the clouds where you could see the moonlight shining through.
As I got to the stoplight at the end of my street, I put some music on, rolled down the window, stuck my head out for some fresh air and looked up...
The clouds were breaking and almost directly above me I saw the most incredible sight...
One break was shaped into the form of a heart and right beside that break, was another break and it was shaped into the biggest Cross I have ever seen.
"Wherever you go" those were the words I heard as I looked into the sky.
My heart was pounding like crazy.
I picked up my prayer partner (I know you are reading this and you know I love you lots) who was sick and feeling wretched but still wanted to cast her vote.
We got to the Church, I sat in the very back until my Pastor came in and called me to sit in the very front row, back towards all who would be voting so I couldn't see a thing, except the pulpit I had just stood in front of less than 24 hours before that.
I could feel the burn behind my eyes and the whisper of the voice telling me "You will never make it."
We opened with prayer as well as a reading from Scripture.
He made sure they all knew who I was and then spoke about why we were there, what they were required to do.
He asked for a motion on the floor, and once he had that, he asked for a second...
He then asked that all who were in favor to please stand, I stayed seated...
He looked at me and asked if I was against myself and I said I didn't think I was supposed to vote for myself lol, he said you aren't, but I want you to stand.
So I stood and then he said I want you to turn around and see who has your back...
I took a deep breath and fighting back tears I turned around, to everyone in the congregation standing.
This Sunday, I will be presented to the Elders of the Church and I will let you know how it goes.
I’d Like To Look In The Mirror, Without Hiding My Eyes
I’d Like To See What You See, Why You Think I’m Qualified
To Speak For You, O God, Most High