This Saturday I attended a women’s conference in Portland called Abundance. I was there with two of my best friends, and I was expecting something exciting from the Lord as I started a new chapter of my life. My husband and I just left our church of 14 years because God has called him to be the pastor at a new church. We are looking forward to what God is going to do!
Just after we got seated in the large auditorium on Saturday morning, I began to fill out a little connection card that was in the event brochure. A question on the card made me stop in my tracks.
“Are you a Bible study leader?”
For the last 3 ½ years, I have led a women’s Bible study at our church. It began with only six ladies and grew to over 30 in my time. Besides being a mom, there is no role in my life that has brought me greater joy and greater awe than being a Bible study leader. It is the most exciting thing I have ever done with the Lord! I loved it.
But it was time to say goodbye recently. I absolutely believe God is calling my family elsewhere. But saying goodbye to people and to ministries that we love is still hard. The ladies prayed over me on my last night to send me out into whatever plans God has next for me. I will treasure that night and those prayers!! Thank you, dear ladies.
But on Saturday while I sat there at the conference and I read this question, “Are you a Bible study leader?” it threw me for a loop. The answer is no. No, I’m not. Not anymore.
Every other time I’ve been asked that question on anything written or in emails from Lifeway Christian Women, I have taken such pride in that role. I get to answer yes to that question! Yes, I am a Bible study leader.
I felt a pang of sadness on Saturday morning as I sat looking at that card and I realized that I can no longer call myself a Bible study leader. I turned to my two friends and pointed out the question. And tears started to drip out of my eyes. I did not expect to cry like that.
My friends quickly reassured me that I would get to lead again. My friend Kim insisted that, “You are a Bible study leader! You will lead again! You'd better mark Yes to that question!” But it felt like a lie when I’m not actually leading. I took some deep breaths and wiped away some tears.
God showed me something in that moment. He reminded me that my value and my worth do not come from the roles I fill. My identity comes from Christ alone. I am His.
Any roles we may fill during this lifetime could be taken away except one: Child of God.
What roles do you treasure the most?
Any of these things can be taken away through circumstances or through the choices of others. If these things were lost, what would remain? What hope would there be of our value if all these roles were taken away?
1 John 3:1a
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Through my sadness God reminded me that the best thing about me is not what I do for Him; it is simply that I am His.
During a morning break at the conference on Saturday my friend Kim texted me. She is one of those people with the gift of encouragement. I am beyond thankful for her, for Leeanne, and for the other close friends I have that can speak hope over me when I’m discouraged.
By the way, on that little card I did mark "Yes" to being a Bible study leader. Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
The next day I was reading Exodus 17 and I loved the story of two men holding up Moses’ arms when he was weak so that the Israelites could be victorious in battle. It made me think of how many times my friends Kim and Leeanne have encouraged me when I am feeling weak.
Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”
So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up- one on one side, one on the other- so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
Do you have any friends who encourage you not to give up when you feel down? If you don’t yet, pray that God will bring you some friends like that. And look for opportunities to be a friend like that!
If you need a friend to bring you hope today and you don’t have one, let me be that person for you from afar with these words: Don’t give up hope, friend!! God has good plans for you. Draw near to Him and wait to see what He will do.
And if you have recently had to let go of a role you treasured, remember that what matters most about you is that you are His. If your children have left home or even passed away, if you have lost your spouse to death or divorce, if you have been laid off at work or if you've had to surrender a leadership position, remember: You are a child of God and there is nothing that can take that away from you!!