At least they prayed…
How many of you have ever been to Women of Faith?
How many of you have heard of Thelma Wells? Also known as Mama T.
I had the awesome privilege of hostessing Mrs Wells when she spoke at E-Women in Tulsa several years ago. This woman has a mothering spirit so strong that I wanted to crawl into her lap. I listen to her when ever I can. God uses her in wonderful ways. Rejoice greatly oh daughter’s of Zion.
This talk was recorded on Mother’s Day at Trinity Church in Cedar Hill Texas this year. I hope it blesses you as much as it did me.
To learn more about Mama T, you can check out her web page HERE
It is important to have friends you can be 100% yourself with. I have those. We try our best to be there for each other whenever we are needed. Life happens sometimes though and our friends are not always available. Those are the moments I take to God. Sometimes he sends me someone, and sometimes it’s just us. He must have known I needed an angel this week.
Well, not literally, I don’t think anyway. I can say one thing, they did not come in the neatly wrapped package I usually prefer (ie well known to me and female.) They are part of a group I am in and I believe they use a nom de plume. People I trust know them and therefore I talk to them on occasion.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that blind trust is a sin and we don’t discuss anything deep or too revealing – safety rules and all – but we do talk sometimes, mostly about comedy, sometimes about faith. I like the whole no preconceived expectations aspect of that and I enjoy talking with them. They know more than I and I love surrounding myself with people further down the path. It’s how I grow.
I also set boundaries because they appear to be male. I’m not above temptation and will not replace things I should tell my husband with a stranger. There is no lure in that for me. I’m in ministry to serve God. Even so, I am fully aware of my own potential pitfalls and watch for those slopes. The fact that He (meaning God) can even use me astounds me sometimes. I don’t want to mess that up.
I find it interesting how willing we are to let down our masks with strangers, more so than with friends. While I reveal a lot here for you, I do strive to keep the private out of the personal. I only share that which I think might benefit someone else because we are not alone in our daily struggles. Some things are universal. While it is true there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, not everything is everyone’s business nor do I wish to glamorize sin.
I’m a sinner saved by Grace, through faith. No more. No less.
Even so, I caught myself telling him things I don’t typically share with people in my comedy group. Like how I wasn’t raised in a church. I don’t talk about that. Must have needed to.
I caught myself wanting to know who they really were and even tried to trick them at one point. The Holy Spirit tweaked me on that one and I apologized. I finally gave up the ghost. I believe that God puts people in our lives for a reason. This weekend I needed a prayer partner. I was genuinely upset about something and had requested prayer for a person. I failed to explain that I was on the ceiling myself over the situation but somehow talking with them calmed me down.
Ministry can do that. So many people are hurting in this world and I’ve yet to find a channel or way to listen to their hurt without drowning in it myself. I never want to become so cold-hearted that I feel nothing when someone shares pain. Even so, balance is good.
I needed someone to talk to and this person was there and I appreciate that.
Truth is, knowing me, as much as I’d like to believe I’d be fully myself I’d probably try to impress them with my brilliance or baffle them with my BS and neither sounds satisfying.
God gave me an ear to listen, and heart to hear and prayers when I needed them most.
Not knowing who he really is, keeps God’s face ever before me. — And for that, I am thankful.
“I will not wish thee riches nor the glow of greatness, but that wherever thou go, some weary heart shall gladden at thy smile, or shadowed life know sunshine for awhile. And so thy path shall be a track of light, like angels‘ footsteps passing through” — Words on a church wall in Upwaltham England
“I’m tired of hearing how our mission start isn’t growing because of space. Space isn’t the problem, it’s the people running it. If we had people who knew what they were doing running our mission start this wouldn’t be an issue.”
I hate voter’s meetings. Don’t get me wrong, I think they are important. I just don’ t like participating in them. My least favorite part is the people who feel the need to verbally disapprove of everything they are not running themselves. They are the arm chair quarterbacks on ministry: quick to call the plays and criticize the outcome but slow to get out of their chair and get their hands dirty.
It took everything I had to not jump up and shout “That’s a lie! Our church plant IS growing. We have more kids than we have room for. We’ve outgrown our space and need something more permanent, so how can you say something like that?”
Oh, I had all kinds of words in reaction to theirs, but I’m afraid very few of them are appropriate.
The fact that no one else believes them and most everyone supports our little mission start did not matter to me. All that mattered at that precise moment was this person’s words. And I got angry.
I am not a very loving person in the face of comments like the one posted above. I am one of the people they don’t approve of and I have to fight the impulse to not fight fire with fire. At times like that I have to remember to stay calm and pray. I’m a hot tempered redhead who feels the unrelenting need to defend myself at all times. I’m getting better and staying quiet, but my heart hasn’t matched God’s yet and I have to will myself to keep my mouth closed.
Which brings me to the second part of my new memory verse.
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
This isn’t my battle to fight, it’s God’s. By remembering that it’s His fight, we can be gentle with others. We can keep Jesus present in our mind, thoughts, heart, and prayers. We don’t have to be anxious. We do need to pray and HIS peace will be ours.
This particular couple speaks out against everyone in church, not just us. They’ve chased away more ministry leaders/volunteers than I can count. They hate change and they won’t leave. I’ve heard it said that the hurt leave, but the mad stay. That is very true.
It’s warfare, in more ways than one. They are Christian, and they are hurting. Remembering that helps me to not take them personally.
So.. we have two steps now in this dance I’m learning.
1. Praise God in all things.
2. Stay calm and PRAY.
What battles are you fighting today that would be better turned over to God? Can you praise him in it? Can you stay calm and pray? Can you feel His peace when you let go?
When was the last time you ran to Christ? Was this morning in prayer? Last night? Last week? Last year? When was the last time you felt his strength, love, or peace? Is the Name of the Lord Your strong tower?
There was a time, when I felt so lost and so alone, that I would run the mile and half from my house to my church and climb to the top of the slide tower at night. Breathless I would sit and be still in the only thing that gave me peace. The presence of God.
The parking lot was dark and the church was locked. I wanted God and this was as close as I knew how to come at the time. From my retreat tower I could see both my church and my pastor’s house. They lived in the parsonage next door back then. I always stayed in the tower and never knocked on either door.
If people knew what I was doing on those lonely and scary nights, they never let on. Which is a good thing I think. Because back then, if people had known exactly how scared and how out-of-place I truly felt, I don’t know how I would have reacted. I might have been too embarrassed to come back.
My first year in church as an adult was a year of uncertainty, hidden-ness and change. I was afraid of people, afraid of my self, and mostly afraid of God. I still thought God could only be found in the concrete and stone structure sitting at the end of that parking lot. I certainly didn’t feel him anywhere else and on days where I longed to be near him, I literally ran to him – or to at least the place I felt him last, my church.
It all sounds kind of silly now – running to a playground slide tower in the dark of night hoping to find God. But is it really? The Spirit knows what the mind cannot comprehend. Out of absolute broken need, I was led to a physical tower, nurtured and comforted there by God, until I learned what Scripture says in Proverbs 18:10. “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”
Honestly, I didn’t know that passages then. I only knew that I was weary and heavy of heart. I needed safety, I needed rest. So, I came, I ran, I drew as near as I possibly could under the cover of darkness. Out of breath, hurting, and needing more than I even knew, I sought Him with everything I had and I didn’t realize the symbolism behind my actions. Somewhere in the stillness of the night, in my playground tower, his banner of love covered me in all my sadness, fears, insecurities and sins and gave me peace. He became my refuge, my strong tower against the foe. (Psalm 61:3) I ran to Him, and I was safe.
As I’ve grown in Him, I seem to have developed a me do it kind of attitude. Ever been there? I’ll take care of it God. Thanks anyway. I wonder what he thinks about that? In some ways today, in all of my knowledge and growth in Christ, I think I’ve forgotten how to be that young desperate women, hungry for God – literally running to HIM, to his tower, for strength and safety. I can’t help but wonder if he doesn’t miss her like I do. I no longer live a mile from my church, and besides the swing set with the tower is long gone. But that doesn’t mean I can’t run to him. He isn’t in the brick and mortar – or in the wind and waves of life. He is in you and in me through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We need only to call out his name – and know that we are safe.
Father God – Thank you for that young women, lost confused, and alone – who desperately sought you out in the only tower she knew to find. Thank you Lord for meeting me there. Forgive me for those times I’ve traded that tower for ones of my own making, and forget to run to you when darkness falls. Your name is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe. You are my strength and my refuge – and you Lord know my name. Amen.
Written by Deana O’Hara, 2008 For Redemption’s Heart.
“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let your prophets and fortune-tellers who are with you in the land of Babylon trick you. Do not listen to their dreams, because they are telling you lies in my name. I have not sent them,” says the Lord.”