I met a lovely lady the other day. A kindred spirit, of sorts. She’s a prolific writer, like I dream to be. Fearless like I’d like to be. A gregarious soul in contrast to my introverted spirit. She jumped up and down when she learned that I’m still married to my first love because her first love gave her the children and grandchildren for whom she lives. We hugged on that connection.
Our free spirits danced as we shared our thoughts on poetry and performing. Standing before an audience as I share the innermost nuggets of my soul is frightful, and I told her so. She immediately commenced to planting seeds of courage inside of me. Her words were uplifting, and I felt my soul stir.
Introverts like me rarely have that sort of experience. We close ourselves off to most people. We guard our hearts, hiding behind our shields of self-preservation. It’s safer that way. But this lovely lady found herself in my presence for a reason. I see purpose in every occurrence. Nothing is by happenstance. And, I told her so.
The conversation shifts
At first, I thought her purpose was to coax me out of my protective bubble. God was using her to speak to me about no longer hiding my light under a bushel. But then I realized there was a much greater purpose for her presence. I wouldn’t call it a test. I would say it was preparation for what’s to come. And, although I am prepared spiritually, I realized I’m not ready verbally.
This lovely lady had been able to see my purpose and nurture it in a matter of minutes, yet our foundations clashed. My thoughts became jumbled when she began to challenge the greatest Love I've ever had. The love I have in my heart for the Lord is the compass that guides my life. So when I heard words that I can barely write sliding across the lips of someone I had just opened up my home and heart to, I was disillusioned, and somewhat speechless.
Jesus is a what?
The artful words I normally use escaped me. The analogies and testimonies I usually share clogged my thoughts like a traffic jam, and my mind was gridlocked. How could God have chosen her to speak such encouraging words, knowing she would also denounce Christ to me? In the same nurturing tone she had used throughout the conversation, she said, “Jesus is a trick." It was jarring. It cut me deep. I was wounded, and could barely speak.
It’s difficult to dispute someone when they deliver their viewpoint with such care and concern. So, I tried to express my view in the same nurturing tone. I could hear myself speaking, but the words were not mine. “Blue-eyed blonde Jesus is a trick, but not the real Jesus. Be careful because what you’re saying is a deception of the devil. I know Jesus is who He said He is because my life is proof of that. I searched the Scriptures for myself and everything in it has come to pass.” But, my words were of no effect. After all, the Scriptures which I revere were just written by men to control the masses, she said.
Here's what I know for sure: Jesus is the Love of my life! And, I told her so. But, it became clear that kindred spirits we were not.
Jesus is the Son of God!
God knows how much I love Him, and how much I adore His Son. If He sent her to me for a reason, what could that reason be? Maybe God allowed me to have that conversation in order to prepare me for the opposition that comes against those of us who love Him. Not only must I come out from under my bushel, and burst my protective bubble. But, I must prepare myself to open my mouth and speak up for the Love of my life.
In the seed-planting phase of our conversation, before it shifted, she was coaching me out of my stage fright. “You can do it! You just have to get in front of a mirror and practice," she said. "Practice speaking. Look at yourself. Listen to yourself. It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside. What matters is what’s in your heart. Speak what’s deep in your heart, and your audience will receive it.”
It wasn’t until later, after we parted ways, that I realized her words weren’t about performing spoken word (lowercase w) on a stage before an audience. That may have been her purpose, but it wasn't God's purpose. He allowed me to open my heart for a stranger just long enough to receive His plan for taking my faith to the next level, and speaking His Word (capital W) with confidence and boldness.
In order to properly prepare for the purpose He has laid out for me, I need practice! I need to stand in front of a mirror, and practice speaking my faith out loud. Listen to myself. Then have the confidence in knowing that what is deep in my heart will be received. God wanted me to hear that, even if He had to use an unlikely vessel to deliver that message.
This reminds me of what Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi: "For your fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
So, I'm not the one who has to perform. It's not under my own strength that I stand. God has been performing a good work in me all along, and continues to do so. All I have to do now is stand up, under the strength of our Love, and speak. Look at God!