“That sounds like a God dream,” my best friend said to me after I told her about a recent dream I had.
“I know,” I said. “It felt important. I woke up feeling really encouraged. I just wish I could see what was written on those papers!”
Just over a year ago, I started leading a Women’s Bible study at my church. I saw some women in my life who wanted a deeper understanding of the Lord, so I said yes to God and began leading.
It was hard work for me, mainly because of my insecurities as a leader and my fear of looking foolish. I prayed like crazy before each meeting. I sighed in relief like crazy after each meeting. It was exhausting. But God kept showing up, and I knew I was pleasing Him with my willingness to be brave.
One Wednesday afternoon last fall, as I prepared for that evening’s Bible study meeting, I felt the typical nerves, dread, and then resentment. I thought, “Why did I ever agree to this? I'm so afraid! This is too hard!” But I realized I didn’t have the option to quit, so I decided to tackle the fear instead. I was sick of it! I got on my knees and prayed aloud, “In the name of Jesus, I pray against the spirit of fear! Get out! I'm done with you! I claim courage and peace in the name of Jesus!” And then, I felt better.
That night, only a handful of ladies made it to Bible study. And guess what happened? I had fun! There was time for them to share some of their stories. They opened up. They expressed how much they were learning. They told me they appreciated my leadership. That night, it wasn't scary for me. It was wonderful.
Not a coincidence.
After that, I started to like leading. I still got nervous. I still worried I wouldn't know all the answers. I'm just an ordinary girl who really loves Jesus. I'm not a Bible scholar or anything. But I had learned I just had to pray that God would show up. I just had to surrender to His Spirit, knowing that what would happen during our Bible study meeting had little to do with me and more to do with God. The God who created all and sees all. The God who can do anything. He's got this.
And then, somehow, with that focus each time, I found myself looking forward to Bible study. It was thrilling for me to hear from the Lord through the teachers on our study videos, and also to see what He was teaching the ladies! I would leave afterwards feeling amazed. Blessed. Grateful. Energized.
And I often had ladies tell me God was speaking to them through the study. I. Loved. That. And I can tell you, being used by God to do important things for His kingdom is addicting! I realized how much joy was filling my heart in seeing these precious women drawing closer to God!
And I had a stunning thought. “I think I love women’s ministry. I could see myself doing this full-time. I could see making a career out of this.”
How in the world did this happen??
It happened because of God.
God bestows incredible blessings upon us when we obey Him. The rewards of surrendering to Him are beyond measure. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Matthew 16:25
My life is better than it has ever been, and the reason is because I live in surrender to His leading, and because in doing so, I find deep joy.
One of my favorite Bible study teachers is Beth Moore. We did her Breaking Free study in the fall, and her passion for Jesus and for seeing women live in victory through Christ is so inspiring! She's one of my heroes.
I recently read her book Audacious. She said her personal mission statement for the last twenty years was: “To see women come to know and love Jesus Christ.” But recently, God challenged her to tweak it slightly: “To see all women come to know and audaciously love Jesus Christ.” I love that! I have the same desire!
Some days, though, I feel weary. To always be giving of myself and not always seeing the immediate rewards. I know I'm investing in eternal things, and that I am doing this for the Lord. I often hold onto this verse: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9. But it’s challenging at times.
We do have an enemy. He comes to steal, kill and destroy. A couple months ago, in a moment of discouragement, I heard this is my mind, “You aren't cut out for this. This is exhausting. I don't think you have the patience.” I know, it was the enemy! It really caused me to doubt.
And then I had a dream.
I dreamed I went to Beth Moore’s house. I sat down with her in her room. She smiled at me like we were kindred spirits. I met her dog, Queen Esther, whom I had mentioned in one of my blog posts. And then I told her I felt called to women’s ministry. And I asked her a question.
I asked, “But what do you do when you feel discouraged?”
She smiled knowingly at me. She understood. She reached over and picked up a pile of little papers. A messy stack. All different colors. Lots of them crinkled. She said, “These are all of the things I've collected over the years to give me comfort whenever I get discouraged.”
And I felt hopeful. Lighter. And then I woke up.
When I told my best friend about it, she said, “That sounds like a God dream.”
And I told her I wish I could've seen what was on the little papers, though!
Later, when I wondered why God didn't let me see what was written on all those scraps of paper, I suddenly knew what was on them. Success stories. Joy moments. Women whose lives were changed by the Lord Jesus through my willingness to lead.
And I knew who my first scrap of paper would have on it. A woman whose faith I had seen deepen over the last year. Someone who had opened up to me, allowed me to pray with her, had attended Bible study and church regularly because of a hunger to learn more about God, and who had decided to publicly declare her commitment to Jesus Christ in front of the church. She isn't perfect. Not one of us is. But she seeks Him. She is faithful. She doesn't give up. Yes. She is beyond beautiful to me. She makes me love my Savior more. I see Him teaching her, and I see her confidence in Him growing. And through that, He teaches me that I am where He wants me to be. That I was right to obey Him in leading Bible study.
I decided I'd write these stories on little pieces of paper, like I had seen in my dream. I thought I should get a special little box to put them in. One day, I was praying about getting started with my notes of encouragement to myself, and I thought I didn't really have extra money right now to go buy a little box. And I prayed, “Lord, if You want me to keep these little notes to comfort myself in women’s ministry over the years, then have someone buy me a little box. Like a cute little keepsake box.” And suddenly I remembered, someone did.
For my birthday, about three months ago, one of my Bible study ladies had given me a little keepsake box with a Bible verse on it. At the time, I really couldn't think of what I would use it for, so I put it away in my closet.
Wow. I had just prayed that someone would give me a box…and then I realized God answered my prayer before I even prayed it! Amazing.
So I rushed to find it! I worried that maybe it was lost by now.
But I found the box.
And I got a little paper. And I wrote about my dream. And then I added my first encouragement story. And I put the little paper in the box and closed the lid.