The fretting began early in the morning, soon as my eyes peered open.
Oh, Lord! What will happen tonight? What girls will show up for ETC.? Lord, maybe this new schedule isn’t working. But what are our options? Lord!
Plenty of distractions consumed my afternoon, laying the obsessing aside until dinner time. I subtly checked the sign in book, disappointed to learn only one girl signed the sheet. I was even more certain that no one was coming. There I would be, with a living room filled with my ministry co-labors, and even my personal friend to share her story, and no one to minister, too. So I emailed my friend Linda to tell her not to come. I didn’t want her to waste her time.
Lord, how absurd is this. All this work and planning! What are you doing?
I pouted my whole way home, exasperated, frustrated, and disappointed.
But, Lord! All the preparation, planning, and praying. God, there are hearts ready to share and hearts needing to be touched, but how can we connect them together if they don’t come. God, this material I’ve prepared is good stuff. These girls need to learn about identity and having a mental makeover. I’m not doing this for me, Lord. This is for them! For you!
Pressing on to “prepare the field,” my family joined in to pick up the house, boil the water for tea, slice up the desert, hide away the toys and conquer the folded laundry strewn across the living room.
7:30 pm. Hello, Linda. She never got my email. In the next twenty minutes, my co-labors trickled in as the clock ticked with anticipation.
8:00 pm. No girls.
8:05 pm. No girls.
Lord, what are you doing!!!!
8:10 pm. Well, ladies, grab some tea and let’s go sit down. Maybe we should brainstorm another option since this one just isn’t working. About ten minutes later, we had a few ideas worth pursuing, but too disheartened about the current situation to really be proactive in our brainstorm. Rachel, on ministry partners, was particular sad, as this was her times to step out in faith and share the work God had been doing on her heart this week. Desperately, she urged, “Lisa, just pray for them to come. Like you did that other time.”
Fine. But I don’t think they’ll show up.
Heavenly Father, we give you this night. Thank you for providing this home and for bringing us together. Lord thank you for this ministry and the work you’re doing in each one of us. Lord, we want to reach these girls for you. Lord, we want to share your truth with them. Please, Father, accomplish your work….
…and thank you Lord for knowing the desires of my heart. Thank you for knowing how much I long for flesh and blood relationships with other women, to share our hearts together, to grow in the Word together. Thank you for these women and for providing tonight for maybe each of us to grow from hearing one another…
Voices at the door demanded our attention..
Two sets of beady eyes peered through the glass windows.
Oh my word, Lord.
“Come in,” we nearly shouted!
God, what are you doing?
Knock, knock. Another beautiful child of God entered the room.
Okay, Lord, this is nuts!
And, so we begin our ETC. At 8:30 pm, instead of 8 pm. With three teenage girls, instead of the usual dozen. With five eager women, longing to minister to the next generation, instead of the usual two or three.
Lord, your ways are not ours. We can not understand your mind or purposes. We can only walk by faith.
Over the next two hours, the work of God became more than evident in the gifts He poured forth on us.
Gift #1 ~ We were undone by the testimony of a woman whose life is a true miracle, rescued from childhood abuses, saved by the grace of God, redeemed in her call as mother and wife, and finally determined to fight the battle of an anxiety disorder. She boldly declared before us that she will no longer live slave to fear but will live in the power of God.
Gift #2 ~We were beckoned so see the hand of God at work over a lifetime, in a woman who always knew God as her best friend, but only later in life met Jesus as her Savior. She laid before us the reality of consequences, when we choose other than God’s bed. She confessed both her pain and hope in awaiting the salvation of her husband and sons. She urged us to choose wisely whom we will serve this day.
Gift #3 ~ We were asked eternal questions.
Gift #4 ~ But what if you love God but don’t do what he says?
Gift #5 ~ What if your religion is about God, but not Jesus?
And we answered.
Gift #6 ~ God does not have some exclusive club. He so loves the world. But the gift of his love is found in His son, who on the cross took upon Himself the cost of our sin. His is a gift of such magnitude, that those who love Jesus can’t help but want to give it to others.
Gift #7 ~ And Linda knew where she was coming from, because this was her journey, too.
Gifts #8 ~ And we validated her worth as a woman.
Gift #9 ~ And we challenged her to seek the truth.
Who am I to know the plans of God? Nothing about last night went according to my plans. But it all went according to my desires. To see women connecting together with a heart for the next generation. To be engaged with ministry partners. To encourage teens who love the Lord with practical, relevant truth — she took the handouts home and confirmed this is what she needed to hear today. To reach the next generation whom yet to know my Lord. To be used by God, right where I am to spread the Good News.
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.