Trust in Action

Last Wednesday it was my joy to speak to a group of senior citizens at a church in the Midlands. Because each speaking engagement brings its own unique challenges, I always seek the Lord’s guidance to be sure it is his message I am delivering. This was actually a return engagement. It is one thing to be invited to speak to a group; but to be invited back is the ultimate compliment to a speaker!

The first engagement brought with it great spiritual turmoil as I struggled to know the mind of the Lord. The leader of the group had asked me to speak on a Thanksgiving theme. After I spoke, she wanted the members of the group to be willing to come forward and say publicly something for which they were thankful. After much prayer, the thoughts finally gelled. I remember printing off my notes and rushing out the door for the trip down. There was no time to review the notes, do the usual tweaking and settle the message within. For the drive, I played a music tape that always blesses me. By the time I arrived at the church, I had been blessed, encouraged and strengthened. I breathed a final prayer “Lord, help!” and entered the meeting hall. God was gracious, he was faithful, and he filled my mouth with words that elicited the desired response.

This return engagement was booked several months ago, so I have had time to mull over a topic that I thought might resonate well with older folks. I entitled this presentation “Keeping the God Focus.” Once again I struggled to get the outline on paper despite months of running various thoughts before the Lord, but I left with three solid points that I could develop with the Lord’s help. I was not alone for this drive. I believe my companion for the trip was ordained of the Lord, but having another person in the car did not allow me the additional focus on the presentation. Nevertheless, I found myself frequently breathing a prayer to the Lord and entreating his help to clarify my thoughts and to help me deliver his message once again.

What I learned from both of these experiences is that our trust in God never goes unrewarded. In fact, I was specifically challenged by the Lord to let him prove himself in both of these situations. Had I felt fully prepared, knew word-for-word what I was going to say, the temptation to trust myself, my preparation, my gifts would have been strong, and my message would have fallen flat. God expects me to prepare to the best of my ability according to the gifts he has given. However, it is at the limit of my ability that I must trust him to speak through me and accomplish his purposes.

I was reading this morning from Jesus Calling and saw the author stated my thoughts much more clearly: “If you live your life too safely, you will never know the thrill of seeing me work through you.”  God wants us to risk walking outside our comfort zone so that he can show himself strong in our behalf.  That is trust in action!

The Lord be praised!

For the Love of Speaking

Today I did something I love.  I participated in a training session for newly elected officers of Toastmasters clubs in the upstate of South Carolina.  It was my mandate to instruct those officers who will be responsible for the educational goals of the members in their respective clubs.

Toastmasters International is the world’s largest organization for training in both communication and leadership skills.  I have been a member since 1994.  When people ask me why I am still a member, I tell them very simply – for the love of speaking.

It is a well-known fact that most people would choose an IRS audit over having to give a speech in front of a group.  I am not one of those people.  Something magical happens for me when I step before a group to speak.  It does not matter that I did not sleep well the night  before, nor does it matter that I feel inadequately prepared.  The energy in that moment of “taking the stage” propels me through whatever the speaking situation might be, whether I speak to a Toastmasters club, a ladies group, or a large gathering.  I just feel so in my element when I am speaking, presenting, or training.

While I feel competent to develop presentations on a broad range of topics, the subject that brings the most joy is sharing my personal testimony of God’s grace in my life.  My journey through cancer is a remarkable testament to the sustaining power of God, and nothing brings greater delight than telling of God’s working through this dread disease.

Last fall I shared my testimony in a rural church in Pennsylvania.  Afterwards a lady came sobbing and asked me to pray with her as someone very close in her family was dying of cancer.  As I prayed and entered into her grief, she told me what an encouragement my story was to her. Continue reading