Friday, March 6, 2015

When We Get Stretched

Photo: Ambro

I don’t know about you gals, but it seems that many of the things I’m asked to do—stretch, stretch—aren’t exactly in my line of expertise. For example, I’m not a public speaker. I love doing things behind the scenes, even coaching others, but public speaking? S-C-A-R-Y! I get physically ill when I have to speak to a group of people. (Literally ill, emotionally wimpy. Think dying inside and you’ll have it about right.) I’m not a soloist, pianist, or actor. (That’s putting it mildly!) I’m just not naturally gifted in those areas. Of course, a missionary woman is supposed to be able to do all those things—and well!

Are you ever asked to:
  • Supervise 50 children for two hours each night for four nights in a row?
  • Provide food for the 150 people expected to attend the banquet?
  • Organize crafts for vacation Bible school?
  • Plan special music for the upcoming evangelistic meetings?
  • Draw the backdrop for the church Christmas play?
  • Design literature on your computer?
  • Keep the nursery—with five infants and six toddlers, and only one helper?
  • Write a new gospel tract—in Swahili, Urdu, Italian, or Cantonese?
  • Give the keynote address at a ladies’ meeting with six area churches attending?
  • Bake and decorate sheet cakes for the church’s anniversary celebration?
You get the idea. We’re often asked to do things—or we need to do them because there’s no one else—that are totally outside our “talent zone.”

We respond, “Okay. I’ll be glad to,” while shooting a prayer heavenward, “HELP!”

And, that’s exactly where God wants us.

He wants us to have to depend on Him, because that way, He gets the glory. If everything we did in ministry were right up our alley, then we’d just charge ahead and do it. There’d be no prayer for help. We might not go to God at all.

So, the Good Lord stretches us. He presents us with challenges that keep us looking to Him.

Sometimes, we’re afraid.
  • What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee (Psalm 56:3).
  • When Jeremiah was afraid, the Lord told him, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth (Jeremiah 1:7-9).
Sometimes, we need to be reminded of God’s faithfulness.
  • God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:9).
  • Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
Sometimes, we need to find joy in serving God all over again.
  • Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing (Psalm 100:2).
  • And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24).
We need to remember that our help comes from an infinite God. He never asks us to do what we can’t do relying on Him.
  • My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth (Psalm 121:2).
  • Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jeremiah 33:3).
Whatever we end up doing, it’s through Him and for Him. All glory and credit goes to God.
  • He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:31b).
  • That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians1:12).


So, what about when we flop?
I don’t know why, but sometimes our best efforts are met with some pretty whopping failures.

  • The cake you were supposed to decorate breaks into six ugly pieces when you flip it.
  • The backdrop for the Christmas play falls over, right in the middle of the play, and the crowd howls with laughter and claps.
  • The craft you’d planned to take three nights actually was done in one session—by seven-year-olds.
  • Your gospel tract in Swahili doesn’t exactly make sense to Swahili speakers.

We’ve all had our flops. (Some of mine have been soooo bad you can’t imagine!) So, what do we do when our best efforts fail?
  • Go to the Word and pour your tears and heart out to God. Get comfort for your soul. Listen to what God has to say to you. Be silent. Take time. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. . . . Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:1, 10).
  • Ask God to examine your heart and motives. If you have any sin of pride, confess it and forsake it. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).
  • Remember, even if it looks like a failure to you, it might be okay after all. Your guests may never have guessed that the parfaits started out as a broken cake. The Christmas playgoers may have needed a laugh—and they might never forget that play. It might actually have had more of an impact (pun intended) with the falling scenery than without. Who cares how long it took to do the Bible club craft? And, you’ll learn from your Swahili mistakes. Every year, your language skills get better. It’s all okay. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty (1 Corinthians 1:27).

For it is God which worketh in you
both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
(Philippians 2:13)

God bless you, dear sister, as you watch Him do great things through you!


Charity said...

This was soooooo good! Thank you!

Susan Abbett said...

Thanks for these reminders! I think we have all been stretched. Most recently, for me, I have to learn to do a LOT on the computer and I am not at all great with computers. Then someone asks you to do it, there's no one else, so you say Sure, and then HELP! Thanks for your honesty!