This year I was asked if I would be a "table leader" in training - my wonderful friend Debbie sent me an email after our first team meeting saying that she felt the Lord wanted me at a table this retreat. Well, at first I was completely taken back...."me a table leader?!?! No way!" I sometimes struggle (well, I often struggle) with feeling like I am not equipped to testify with regard to the Lord and the word of God...I can not quote scripture and I am certainly not a biblical scholar...I know what the word says and I know God on a very personal level - but I am not eloquent in how I pray or speak about God, I don't have the knowledge that the other ladies have and as weird as it is for me it makes me feel insecure sometimes in sharing. This is a odd feeling for me to have...because those that know me - know me to be bold, know me to a leader and know me to speak my mind....but none the less that feeling was there. I sometimes find myself wondering if some of those that knew me before I surrendered my heart, having knowledge of me then, think of me as a hypocrite now ....I wonder if because they knew me before if my speaking of the Lord so loudly turns them away from Christ??
Now in the past 2 1/2 years the Lord has pulled me out of my comfort zone many times - sometimes using my gifts to lead in areas I was not necessarily comfortable, and other times taking me down paths I would have never chosen on my own. And each time He takes me into a place of His will and His choice and I follow I am amazed and in awe of the blessings that come. I know first hand that His plan (many times the opposite of what I would plan) is much bigger,and so much better than my best imagined scenario. Having this knowledge means I want His best always...not mine! So I returned Debbie's email and said basically "I am happy to serve wherever I am needed." In the coming weeks it was confirmed that I would serve in a new role this time on the team...I would be a table leader in training - Yikes!! :)
I prayed as I drove to the retreat - asking that I would be equipped and I would be a reflection of Him and His love, that I would not be seen that He would be seen in me. Secretly I was so afraid that I would totally blow this and worried I would be a huge disappointment. At the retreat I spoke out to the Lord - He first was very clear with me that I am NOT a disappointment to Him...that was a lie! And then he revealed another lie that I have been buying into and that I needed to let go of - He said to me, "Samantha, I want you to tell OUR story. Be bold" He then led me again to my life verse (He had shown me the verses twice on Friday)
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and I will bring you back from captivity." Jeremiah 29:11-14
So I did just as I felt led by the Lord - I shared my heart with some amazing women. At different times I was able to share personal things with some of the ladies...I shared somethings that not everyone in this world knows about me - some of these things I am less than proud of and some are things that have brought me a lot shame and regret. But I was also able to share the joy and the love of Christ, I was able to talk about things in my past and share and use my story with God, my transformation to minister to and speak into the lives of women. God used my stains, and my ugliness to shine His light, to show as example how His grace saved even me.
So as Saturday night comes to a close....the Lord took me to the heart of that ugly lie that was trying to take root in me. He revealed that I did not need to fear His plan for me. He knows me so well, so much better than I know myself. And I guess sometimes I am slow in understanding what the Lord is showing me. :) I have struggled with fear for over a year....I have been walking with the Lord, I have been obedient and trying to stay in His will and I have been fearful, sometimes very fearful. I asked for prayer with regard to this fear about a year ago...and it got a lot better - but it didn't really go away completely...it would rise up from time to time. I was able to get it under control, I was able to manage it and keep it at bay...but it was there. But not anymore...that is done! Praise Jesus!!!!
Saturday as I sat by the lake reading my bible, talking with the Lord and He led me back to Jeremiah 29:11-14....I still had not wrapped my head around it - but in my bible next to the already highlighted words I wrote in black ink "my life verse" - I have always found comfort in this promise, it speaks into my heart in ways I could never fully explain...I have read those words over and over and over the past few years....and now they mean so much more (I can't believe that it possible but it is true). This weekend as I was ready and in His perfect time, the Lord set me free and brought me back from captivity from a lie that was trying to keep me from Him and His plan for me.
I write all of this tonight not to boast - I write this to encourage - God has a plan for each of us. God can and will use you, your life, your story with Him to accomplish His great purpose. He will in fact work ALL things together for your good. But it is completely up to us if we will allow Him into our hearts and lives, if we will truly follow Him even when it feels awkward, vulnerable and is scary. His plan is much bigger and much better than the best we could imagine and believe me friends He does in fact have a PLAN!!