Tag Archives: hearing God’s voice

My burning bush

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’ And the Lord said to Samuel: ‘See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle.'” 1 Samuel 3:10-11

A dear friend used to tell me “sometimes God gently pokes you with a stick and sometimes he has to knock you over the head with a 2×4.”

Believe it or not, I’ve been praying for the 2×4 lately. I’ve felt like I just wasn’t seeing the subtle hints and nudges, so my prayers had turned to down-right pleading with God to spell it all out for me. Stone tablet, burning bush, angel, a giant hand writing on the wall…any Old Testament method of communication would be awesome, as long as it was loud and clear.

After waiting months for a clear sign and not seeing one, I decided to start bargaining with God. “OK, Lord, if you make this happen by such and such date, then I’ll know this is what I’m meant to do. But, if you don’t, then I’ll take your silence to mean I’m not really supposed to do that thing.”

Pretty arrogant of me, huh?

And so, this is how the last 6 months or so have been — struggling between the call I knew God had laid on my heart and my inability to accept that it didn’t look the way I thought it should. Or at least that it wasn’t happening as quickly as I needed it to.

Did you catch that? It wasn’t happening as quickly as I needed. Because I have been, in fact, making it more about me than about God.

“I want to serve you God and do all of your works, but if you can please just make it fit into this perfect little box I have envisioned, that would be awesome! And if it doesn’t look like this box, then you must not really want me to serve you in this way.”

I can so clearly see the absurdity of it now, but for the last several months I was completely blind to my self-seeking.

Thankfully God had enough of that, and this weekend He whacked me with that 2×4. But in His awesome, gentle and loving way, it didn’t feel like a blow to the head so much as a message poured straight into my heart. My burning bush came in the form of the She Speaks conference.

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This was the second year in a row I’ve attended She Speaks. Last year I learned so much and walked away feeling confident of my calling. But now here I was, a year later, and that calling wasn’t really manifesting itself the way I’d imagined and I was starting to question the direction God wanted me to take — starting to wonder if God had really placed me with a calling or a hobby.

Over the course of two days I attended multiple key-note addresses and workshops, all with completely different speakers and topics, yet I kept hearing the same message over and over again: when God calls, He determines the when, the where, and the how. All you need to remember is Who, (and it ain’t you).

As I was faced with questions like:

“Would you do it for one?”

“Are you testing God or trusting Him?” and

“Do you want to be a woman who chases after God, or after goals?”

I could no longer pretend that I had been seeking only God. The “who” in my plans had become me and not the One who had called me. I was completely wrecked, but in all the right ways. In all of the necessary ways to wake up and choose a different path.

1 Samuel 3:10

God had to call Samuel four times before he was ready and listening. Maybe I can learn something from ol’ Sam and stop at two. Or maybe I’ll mess this up again and forget Who this calling is about. I honestly don’t know. But one thing I have learned for certain is that God doesn’t stop calling just because we’re not listening. As the fabulous Lisa Jo Baker said to me this weekend, “God is forever second chances.”

I’m thankful for this second chance to follow His call, and I trust His plan is so much greater than anything I could map out for myself.

Because when you know whose you are, the when, where and how are just minor details.

When God Calls

This post was part of the #LiveFreeThursday link-up at: http://tsuzanneeller.com/2015/07/30/completely-wrecked/

I am a writer

“Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” – Ephesians 3:20

I pulled into an open space in the large parking lot, turned off the ignition,  took a deep breath and let it out slowly. As I got out of my car and started to walk toward the doors of the large convention center, where I would join 800 other women, I prayed silently. “Here I go, Lord. I don’t know why exactly you brought me here, but I will be fine with whatever happens this weekend. Even if the message is that I’m not ready, that’s fine. I will be OK with whatever lessons you want me to learn.” And then, just before I reached the doors, I heard His reply: “Why do you put limitations on me? Do you think that I cannot do great things with you? Do not doubt my power and my purpose for bringing you here!”

Oh.

Wow.

Yes, Lord…message received!

With shoulders back and head held high, I walked through those doors ready for what lie ahead.

That was the beginning of two amazing days at the She Speaks 2014 conference. The conference is designed to train and educate Christian women who feel called to use their gifts to write or speak. Whether the desire is to lead a women’s bible study or speak to a stadium of women, to write blog posts or best-selling books, She Speaks is for “women seeking to live out the unique calling God has placed on their lives.” I first heard about the conference two years ago and was completely gob-smacked about the idea. I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but God was already working on my heart and preparing me.

Having just finished grad school in May, I had absolutely no intention of going to the conference this year. But a series of events that were so perfectly aligned they can only be credited to Godly intervention, led me here to Concord, NC and this convention center, with a book proposal in hand. You see, not only had God made it so I could attend the conference, two weeks prior to leaving I was notified that I was eligible to have a meeting with one of the many publishers that would be at the conference.

The first day was an equal mix of inspiration and education. It was intimidating to be there by myself with all of these women. Despite God’s loud-and-clear message to me on my way into the convention center, I looked around the large ballroom before the opening session and thought, “how do I possibly belong here? I just started my blog 4 weeks ago! I don’t have a platform or a big following. My degree is in marketing, not theology! Why do I think I’m even qualified to be a writer?” I was sure that all 799 other women were way more experienced and qualified than I.

I sat down at a table of other women; we made polite introductions, discussed where we were from, etc. Then I was caught off-guard by the next question that came, “are you a speaker or a writer?” Say, what? They are assuming if I’m here I must already be one of these? Oh gosh, I really don’t belong. “I’m, uh, um, an aspiring writer,” I say as my neck heats up and my face flushes. The other women smile and nod.

The rest of the first day I went from session to session, furiously taking notes about the ins-and-outs of a successful book proposal, and the process of turning ideas into a book people actually want to read. I was awe-struck and inspired to hear from NY Times bestselling authors like Shaunti Feldhahn (For Women Only), Jerry B. Jenkins (Left Behind Series, and a bazillion other books), and Lysa TerKeurst (Unglued, Am I Messing Up My Kids, etc.) and I tried to just be a sponge.

She Speaks 2014 - Day 1
Day 1 of She Speaks 2014

At the end of the day I went back to my hotel room to make some last-minute changes to my book proposal based on the day’s learnings. My appointment was at 2:15 the next day and I was really starting to get nervous. By 10:30 p.m. I called my best friend in a panic. I still doubted what I was doing there, I doubted my proposal was any good. Heck I doubted if I was even ready to be putting together a proposal. What were my qualifications to be writing a book? But my dear, sweet friend talked me off the ledge and reminded me that God put this on my heart for a reason. He paved the way for me to attend this conference for a reason. He got me an appointment with a publisher…for a reason. It was time to put away my doubt and fear and trust God. Then she prayed for me while I sat on the other end of the phone with tears in my eyes.

The next morning I woke up early, showered and dressed, and arrived at Kinkos the moment they opened so I could print out the revised proposal. The morning’s sessions were amazing. Renee Swope talked about letting go of fear and self-doubt (boy did I need to hear that message). I met more women, and we talked about our reasons for being there. Everyone was incredibly friendly and genuinely interested in hearing about my proposal and blog. But as the day inched closer and closer to that 2:15 appointment, I felt the butterflies creeping in again. At lunchtime I grabbed my food and sat at an empty table. As the the room started to fill up and I continued to sit alone I felt increasingly uncomfortable. Then a woman walked up and asked me if the seat beside me was taken. I welcomed her to sit and we introduced ourselves. Her name was Joy. (Sometimes God is so obvious, isn’t he?) Joy and I talked about many things — our call to write, our “day jobs”, our children, various places we had lived. I don’t remember exactly how the conversation moved along, but suddenly Joy said, “You are a writer. God put that on your heart and gave you the skills you need. You have to own it.” I just looked at her for a moment, at a loss for words. Then I finally said, “I don’t think it was an accident that you came and sat beside me.”

She Speaks 2014 - Day 2
Day 2 of She Speaks

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The meeting with the publisher went well. Really well. Of course I won’t know for a few more weeks if my proposal will get passed on to the next phase, but whether this publishing house chooses to publish my book or not doesn’t really matter because it’s not the end of this journey. It took God telling me three different times over the weekend before I really got it. But I know that “God’s power is at work within me and is able to do far more than I would ever dare to ask or even dream of— infinitely beyond my highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” (Ephesians 3:20)

I know that He put this desire on my heart for a reason and He is not to be underestimated.

I know it’s not about my words, but about the word.

I know that I am a writer.