I fall down a lot. I’m not particularly graceful; as a matter of fact I think I’m quite clumsy. I tend to slip and trip and lurch my way through life. I’ve never mastered the art of walking in high heels and can often be seen twisting violently to one side or the others, arms flailing for balance, as my heel lands awkwardly. As a matter of fact, I can’t walk on a treadmill without holding on to the side bars because I have an uneven gait. I swerve and wobble and jerk if I’m not holding on. I run into doorjambs. Somehow, I just don’t occupy my space well. I could be voted “most likely to twist an ankle” were there such a category in life.
Meanwhile, it seems that many of my clumsiest moments are when I have an audience of some sort. Last year I was asked to be the keynote speaker at a women’s conference and the sponsoring church asked me to come and give a 3-4 minute promotional “teaser”. If you read my blog you’ll know I can hardly say anything in three or four minutes, so God and I got down to earnest business and He gave me a speech that would last just about that. It covered a thumb-nail of who I was, what I’d learned of God and what I would be challenging the women to consider. My best teaching is when I have my main points written down and then speak extemporaneously. I cannot follow notes that are too detailed or the gift of the Spirit moving through me is stifled tremendously. I know where we’re headed in the message, and the path we’ll take to get there, but I am required to allow God to fill in “how” it will be communicated. This time, however, there was no time for extemporaneous.
So I had this little speech memorized, but because I never know when I’ll draw a complete blank, I had the phrases written down on small yellow note cards, a system that helps me. I was careful to wear a dress that Sunday, so as to be completely respectful of all who would be there. I was introduced and just as I turned from receiving the microphone, my notes all fluttered to the ground. Figures. My audience was the ENTIRE church, not just the women, main Sunday morning service. I was elevated on stage, in a dress, with the need to bend down and pick up scattered cards. Thank goodness for all the modesty-training I received in Christian school! I somehow made a joke and the audience laughed gently as I did the best I could to gather my back-slidden note cards while not ruining my testimony with a quick, precarious flash of flesh. Once I returned to standing, cards securely on the podium, I took it from the top, exactly as I had prepared it. And it came easily, fluidly and powerfully. So many of my speaking engagements have started with some kind of dubious surprise (mics that don’t work properly, lights that blind me from seeing my audience, any number of things) that I didn’t even record the snafu in my journal. I never remember to expect a trip up in the beginning, but it frequently happens. Never you mind, however; we can laugh all we want to at my very awkward human missteps. But because God is the one who has ultimately given me the assignment to be speaking that day, and because I try to prepare with Him to the best of my ability, He never fails to move in the material and put His signature on it. He comes in divine power even as I come in clumsy humanity.
I often feel that I move through my spiritual life in this same fashion, groping along awkwardly in the small lighted spot before me, trying to just place one step in front of the other and never being able to see too far past that next step. Sometimes the surroundings are so blurry that while I can name the stones He has me step on, I can’t tell you anything about the land we are moving through – I cannot see it. It is usually after I have moved through some new place that He finally taps me on the shoulder, turns me around to survey our path and the lights come up so that I can see what it is I’ve been stepping around, over and under. Aha, it finally makes some sense. These seasons can be quite lengthy, however. Sometimes about six months into my newest season, I can tell you the general land we’re in, what part of me I think He is working on, but I cannot tell you how in the world it’s all going to come together into something cohesive. It feels, well, clumsy and awkward.
In the last several weeks, I’ve been able to look back and know even better the name of the land through which I have been traveling, the healing He was forging in the deep places of my being, and the very tangible understanding I wrestled out until it has become mine. When God’s truths are allowed to decimate us, rend our hearts and minds, be consumed and lived out, they become part of us. I think there will be many things I will be able to share here, but for now, let me just say that so many things are coming together.
Early this year, I was invited to lead a new intensive Bible study, beginning in the fall. It would be unlike anything we have done at our church thus far, and it began to look like I would need to write it. I had received an affirmation from God to agree, even though He had not given me a picture of exactly what this would be. I came to realize that I do not have it in me to write a lengthy in-depth study, one that would require five days of in-depth homework plus a weekly message in class – for about 8 months of the year. Then God opened a door, as only He can when He is putting His signature on something, that would allow me to use a learning process I’ve discovered over the years and used briefly in another study with some wonderful women. It is a tool that allows us to learn how to process God’s word, hear Him and see Him in our mundane, ordinary moments, and learn how to walk in rhythm with Him. So that is what the vision of the Bible study will be: How to Walk with God. I am so excited!! And as I’ve spent more time with God about this, and as I’ve felt Him growing the vision and momentum within me, I’ve discovered that God has been preparing me for this very study for the last several years. The primary areas we need to understand to walk with God are areas I have wrestled out in great depth and application over recent years, seasons really, and not just for my own sake. I have struggled to understand these issues in light of other believers’ experiences as well as my own. God has been thoroughly saturating me with these concepts.
Now I’m not saying I don’t have much left to learn on these subjects; I do and I’m glad for it. I love the adventure of deepening understanding and also wonderfully fresh insights. What I am saying is that I have something to offer in these areas, material I have searched out diligently and thoroughly and have taught on in some arena or another. Now I see how vital they are to be processed alongside of one another, and how they may facilitate an easier path of learning for other believers. God not only taught me these concepts for my own walk with Him, and for those with whom I have already shared pieces of this, but now for application in a broader yet more specific process. My path may have felt clumsy, awkward and haphazard but God has carefully planned every step – not just for my benefit, but now it seems, maybe for others, too. September feels a long way off right now, but it’s just around the corner. I can’t wait to see what else He has to show me!