As most of you know, I spoke at Hope Church Memphis last weekend on the topic of “Hope” during the first week of advent. So, my mind is currently a little fried from preaching, praying, and loving every second of it. Good news, I still have my voice. Guess, that’s bad news for Tommy? I can wear that guy out with some talking;)
Clearly, I’m a little tired and giddy from this past weekend and was on the fence about writing a post this week. But as I was processing this weekend I realized I love hearing the “behind the scenes” stuff. The lessons and challenges that were learned in the process of it all. So I figured I will share my “behind the scenes” from this weekend with you. I mean why not think out loud on social media, right?!
So, disclaimer- this isn’t the prettiest, most put together post. It’s honest, it’s simple, and it’s short.
+ Top 5 “lessons from the lesson”+
#1. Trusting God is exhausting.
A friend of mine said this to me in the middle of her battle with breast cancer. And it has stuck with me ever since. She’s right. I was exhausted from constantly NEEDING to pray, trust, remember that it’s NOT about me and how well I do or don’t do; it’s about God. I was continually having to trust God, trust people, trust the Spirit, trust… everything. And I’m tired. Like really tired. But it was needed, no question. Apparently, I’m not good at trusting or I wouldn’t be so tired.
#2. Messing up makes you stronger.
Most of my fears in life revolve around the “what if.” What if… insert ANY incredibly unrealistic scenario…. and I’ve probably worried about it. And when it comes to speaking on stage I get incredibly nervous that I’ll just mess up. Flat draw a blank or pass out or just forget everything I’ve prepared. I worry about the millions of techy things that can go wrong— my microphone, video, clicker, screen, lights…. You get the point… I worry too much.
& Ironically, in one of the services there was a tech issue. No notes. And guess what… I survived. And somehow managed to roll with it and get a laugh. Oddly enough, it made me stronger. I helped me to deal with a fear that causes me way too much anxiety. So I faced a fear, I survived it, and I am better for it.
#3. Prayer, prayer, prayer.
Really, it makes all the difference. I took to heart Philippians 4:6-7 and was CONSTANTLY praying NOT to be anxious, fearful, scared, nervous… all of it. I prayed hard for peace and confidence and peace some more. & It was overwhelming how much peace God flooded me with. Yes, I got nervous but It didn’t control me. It didn’t overwhelm me. Instead God’s peace did. Side note: It’s also hard work praying all the time. Like ALL. THE. TIME. I couldn’t stop praying I was so nervous. But it changed me. It changed my heart. I was tired from it, yes. But I was better because of it.
I can name countless people who texted before/after my sermons. Who emailed, “facebooked” (yes, that’s a word), called… all of it. That kept me going. It reminded me that these people love me whether or not I have a great sermon. Whether or not I totally burst into tears or flames or become a hot mess on stage… they still love me. And that ultimately reminded me of the God I serve. The God who doesn’t judge me according to how good of a job I do or on whether I choke or succeed. I also saw how God provides for the callings he has laid before us. That the God who called me, will empower me to walk the path he’s laid out. That was an extremely freeing reality to embrace.
#5. God’s lessons are the best & hardest to grasp.
Preaching is an interesting thing. So often I feel like God exposes something within my own soul through the preparation process. Typically, before a sermon I like to spend quite a bit of time praying and thinking about where/what God wants to say and do. And it’s in this time that he challenges, encourages, shapes, and pushes me. And this time was no exception. I became painfully aware of my own “lack of hope” in difficult situations. How I turn to something (other than God) that I can control or manage to help me through these times. Also, God reminded me how I desperately long for more peace and joy in my life but HATE how he calls me to trust FIRST. This was a needed sermon for me.
It prepared me for this month. For the “stuff” this season brings. It helped me to focus on what’s MOST important. So, I am incredibly thankful for this lesson (and opportunity) but I can’t say this lesson doesn’t hurt a little. I’m literally staring at a massive load of laundry that “needs” to get folded while slowly becoming anxious about all of the other “stuff” I want to get done before the girls are up from their naps.
The truth is, I’m in it. I’m fighting, struggling, and clawing my way to stay focused on what matters most this Christmas season.
& So my prayer is this…
+ That God will be my be my source of hope. That I will trust (no matter the circumstances) and as I do, God will fill me with joy and peace. SO THAT, I can then abound and overflow with His confident hope. +
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13, NLT)