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At least I hope part two, I hope this isn't longer than that!
My homiletics prof divided studying, writing and delivering a sermon in small, easy to digest chunks. It was very 'beginner' oriented. I'm sure the seasoned preachers in the group were insulted. (I've learned though, that while a sermons may seem the same to those listening, each preacher writes much to his/her personality. Much like the writers of the bible. God worked through their personality to write the bible. Anyway.) I went through finding a text, studying, outlining, scripting and then finally delivering. My prof added pain by video taping every step. Joy. I have most of those steps and have watched them, once, and cringed the whole way though. But what's funny is that the actual sermon I cannot find, was not video taped, so I have no record of actually preaching it. That's ok. That's not the point.
I got to the day I was supposed to preach. I was a wreck. There were three other people who had to preach theirs. We were the only ones in the class, because the other pastor/preachers were able to video tape theirs while preaching it in their church. Kay. Another day in the life for them. But for me, this was totally out of my comfort zone. My BFF had to give her sermon and so did another classmate who was not already a pastor. I could tell they were all nervous too, which made me feel a little better about the whole ordeal.
Then my turn came. And it's funny, each time I go to preach my heart rate reaches an insane crescendo that can only be equated to a herd of wild horses galloping across the prairie (with the same cacophony of noise in my ears as well!). I get nervous, for sure. But then, right as the first words float past my lips, my 'self' is removed and God takes over. It is not me speaking the words and the nervousness slips away.
That first sermon was a life altering experience. It started a fire in my belly, that when I've described to other preachers they know what I mean. It also unleashed a deep desire I didn't know was there. I enjoyed it. I loved it. I was blown away by the feeling of the Holy Spirit moving through me.
When I was done, I sat down and we had a break for class. I just sat there, in a daze, trying to take in what had just happened. My prof came over to discuss my sermon and asked me what I was going to be doing with my education. At first I thought it was because he was saying I had no business being in the pulpit, but another classmate said, no, it's because you have a gift not often seen in young women.
After that experience, I still really struggled with having this desire and being a woman in the pulpit. I asked God to confirm that call, so that I could make sure I was hearing Him right. I was asked on several different occasions to speak. I only spoke at one of the requests, but that spoke to me that God had called me. There was no denying it anymore.
Then I graduated, got married, continued in my job and subsequently forgot about my call. I'm not sure what I was figuring, maybe it was for a long time from now, maybe it really wasn't what I thought it was. I know for sure I didn't' know what my new husband thought about it. So I squelched it. I got pregnant with Nadia and really thought that was it. I put it in the back of my mind. It wasn't for this time of life. Later. Much later. I also read a book, called the Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson. It reads much like The Pilgrims Progress. The basic premise is that God writes a dream for everyone. The dream gives the person life because it is the abundant life that God has planned for the person. But the dream isn't easy. There are roadblocks, monsters and obstacles to overcome. And at one point the dream is given back to the dream giver and there is a grieving over it. But the main character eventually gets his dream given back to him after he realizes that it is not really his dream, but the dream givers. And he goes on to actualize his dream. It was a good book, but it didn't really do anything for me at the time.
I had had a talk with Andrew about my call but I wasn't really straightforward with my questions. I beat around the bush and so I didn't get the answers I really was looking for. I was afraid of what Andrew might say or think of me. I would've rather been in the dark with the whole thing, than to be hurt. And I think he didn't understand the parameters of my call either, to be fair.
I had my daughter and life was consumed with baby, husband finding a job, later moving and then having another baby. My call was always in the back of my mind, for sure, but it was like a small, poorly labeled box on a bottom shelf of my mind. Sometimes God would bring a gentle reminder, but I told Him (mistake) that this wasn't for this time. I had babies for pete's sake and couldn't speak, plus I didn't have the support of my husband. I couldn't do anything outside of what he wanted, right? Besides, where would I speak? I couldn't just walk into any church, could I?
And then, a few months ago, God whacked me upside the head. Andrew had a sermon based on 2 Timothy 1, called Rekindle The Flame. Verses 6 and 7 were particularly impacting to me:
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.I thought it best to post my husbands notes to his sermon. The Lord spoke through him to, in essence, give me a boot to the head. The following are copied from my husbands sermon that day:
In the word translated “stir up” we have repetition, life and fire.When these words reached my ears it was like God was telling me "Kathryn, I've given you a gift, if you don't use it, you will loose it. Let Me decide when you should use it." That hit me. I didn't want to loose any gift given to me by God, much less this one. I really enjoyed preaching. I needed to talk to Andrew, and pronto! So that night I discussed it with Andrew. He told me that yes, he saw a gift, and yes he supported me. Wow! That's exactly what I needed to hear from him. I talked to my BFF and she too supported me. And then it was up to God to give me a time. He used one of the ladies from the church, she asked me to preach for our women's sunday, unbeknown to her what had transpired between God and I. Well, that was it. I couldn't deny it anymore. I felt like the gift had been given back to me. It was humbling.
So when we read “stir up” think rekindle the flame, relive the lightning. Again give life to the fire.
A fire if left go will eventually burn itself out. A blazing fire is warm and gives light around it. We can lay in front of a fireplace or cook smores around a campfire. And if we don't add any wood, by morning the beautiful fire may only be a few coals. And it can be a lot of work rekindling that fire.
If you have a wood or coal furnace. You want to keep the fire going.
God's power can flow through us. His love can flow through us to others. His wisdom sharpens our minds.
But these things will naturally fade if we do not focus on tending the fire in us.
God will not empower us if we ignore his commands. God will not channel His love through us if we ignore His love. God will not teach us if we ignore His word.
I started studying and the writing of the sermon flowed. It felt so natural. And the actual giving of the sermon went so well. It was just like the first time. My husband told me, before I delievered the sermon "If I know you, you'll be sad it's over, you'll be hungry to do it again." And he's right. I can't wait to do it again. I am so hungry to be used again.
Right now I pray for a pure heart. I pray for a pure mind. I pray for a pure attitude in all of this. I'll be honest, it would be so easy to become puffed up about this. But I don't want to become like that. When that happens it becomes about me. And that's dangerous. This is His work, this is His church, this is His word. I'm just honored and blessed to be even considered to do work with Him. What a profound place we are in when we can work side by side with our awesome God! I am humbled that He would use me for anything! I am so flawed! I am so selfish, so me me me. How He can use a character like me is amazing. No, it's grace.
So that is my story. I am grateful to have shared it with you.