I am perfectly happy in cozy clothes in my comfort zone, doing the things I feel led of the Lord to do and content to be right where I am. But sometimes God personally nudges us to “stretch” a little. This happened to me recently where I could not turn a deaf ear to God. I determined that I would not seek an opportunity to step out, but that if He wanted me to stretch, he’d have to somehow invite me so that I’d know He was with me. Shortly after that, I was asked to be an apprentice facilitator at Manorwood. I would have to say that I accepted that invitation with much personal hesitation, but knowing full well that God was the instigator. Never once did I feel “called” of God to lead; it was more of a means to flush my weaknesses to the surface, to deal with them, and to "grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord" (2 Peter 3:18).I’m so grateful for the patience of the women in our small group, as I floundered in this role. After spending some time on my knees before arriving, I felt confident that the Lord would do all the work while I simply yielded, but a funny thing happened once I entered the room…my nerves got the better of me. I started losing that sense of the Lord’s presence, and like Peter who took his eyes off the Lord and took a look at his environment, I felt myself sinking. There was no actual “inner dialogue” other than “Lord help me”, but those nerves just stifled my sense of rest in the Lord. I have a deep appreciation for those who make that role look so easy and natural, but as introvert, it is very unnatural for me.
Over the years, I have learned to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) and yet I was ill prepared to deal with those nerves which seemed to have a life of their own! While I truly appreciated the encouraging words of some of the other women, I was not under any delusion regarding how I handled facilitating. I would best describe my experience as facilitator as “awkward”. I don’t have the personality for it, but I’m willing to make a fool of myself, if it purges me of the remnants of “self” that stir my emotions when I enter a room full of women to do something that I have no natural talent to do. It makes no difference what my life experience is; if I can’t be in a room with my sisters-in-Christ and learn how to walk this anxiety provoking role in the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7,) how will I ever stand before ridiculing persecutors?Sometimes I pick up a pair of stretchy, skinny jeans and they fit, but other times I try on a pair and all I can see is every bump and roll. I’m not able to get the zipper up, but unless I try them on, I’ll never know if they’ll fit, or if there are areas that need work. We should only go where the Sheperd leads us and in that way, we have the confidence that not every path leads to a destination, but it is part of the journey for the days ahead.
Deborah J Claypool