Many of you know that this is the farewell year for Women of Faith. I’ve watched from a distance with a sadness in my heart. I’ve only attended one Women of Faith conference. One. But to say I walked away changed, well that is a bit of an understatement.
Earlier this week my friend Deidra Riggs shared her Women of Faith Story. She talked about her first time attending, and how God called her in that moment. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It was like reliving my story.
I’m not certain that I’ve shared this story. I think I felt a bit like how can I share that without sounding a little too big for my britches. But Deidra, well she gave me courage. Not for my benefit, but for the gals who have sacrificed weekend after weekend to minister to those of us sitting in the arenas with hearts longing for more. I feel like God nudged me and said, share… you all need to share. Share so that these women can read again and again how they have impacted lives. Share, not because Women of Faith asked you too, but because I asked you to. And so today, I share. Not in pride, but in obedience.
Many of you know that my career used to be pretty important to me. I was climbing the corporate ladder, and achieving what I had always wanted. I married the man of my dreams and moved to his hometown. On the outside, things looked pretty darn good. However, on the inside I struggled in major ways. I didn’t feel like I fit in with many of the women in “his” hometown. I was different, career orientated, focused and intense. I ended up in a bible study with 9-10 other women and began to feel my way around “new” friendships.
It was 2003 and part of our bible study group decided to head to Women of Faith. I had commitments at the office and wasn’t able to go with them. At the very last moment, one of the other gals called and we decided to make the trip late and surprise the girls. I went, not expecting much other than a weekend with the girls. You see, I was desperate of relationships.
I remember sitting in the stadium that Saturday morning. A gal had just shared the story of her husbands drowning, and began singing the old hymn “it is well” acapella. I looked around the room and remember feeling like I wasn’t sure that I fit in. In classic Jen fashion, I closed my eyes and just began to sing. The Holy Spirit was so upon the room that worship seemed the only thing to do, and I let myself get lost there for a moment.
I’m not certain that I had ever heard the audible voice of God before. I can tell you that I haven’t heard it that clearly since. With my eyes closed in worship, he was calling me. “Jen, this will be you some day. You will be the one up in the stadium in front of the women sharing. I want you here. Trust me.”
If this hadn’t been such a holy moment, I’m certain I would have laughed. Instead I wept. I stood there, with tears streaming down my face. The girls, well, I think they assumed it was from the message or the music. Little did they know what had just transpired.
How do you just sit down after a moment like that and pretend that nothing just happened. Tears came steadily throughout the day, and I knew that I knew that God wanted me to speak for his glory. I had absolutely no idea how to get from point A to point B in that, but there was no doubt in my mind what I had heard. I didn’t share with the girls. How could I? It is such a big assignment that it was (is) overwhelming. And I was the girl in the group that knew the LEAST about the bible. I couldn’t help but shake my head and say, well God, you’ve got a lot of work to do with me. At the same time, I knew that I couldn’t ignore it. And thus began my trek to attempt to be a Christian Speaker.
To say that it has been a hard road is an understatement. I have felt so ill prepared and overwhelmed. I’ve questioned repeatedly if I was cut out for this or if I was sure that this is what God meant. The one thing that has remained constant is that I knew it was the audible voice of God that day. He has reconfirmed me several times, but not in the power that he did that first day. Many days I still ask myself if this is really what he asked me to do.
I’m not a nationally known big platform women’s speaker, but I’m stepping out in obedience when God calls me. I’ve invested time and energy in working on my skills and especially on listening for the Lord. And I trust him. I trust him to use me in whatever way makes sense in his plan. I’ve been able to walk along some incredible women, and have found a new joy in life. He’s rearranged my life in such a fashion that I’ve been able to focus on first things first. He has allowed me to lead COMPEL, which was birthed out of the Women of Faith movement. I don’t write any of this from a pride standpoint. Please hear my heart! My point is, I think there are a number of US out there. You know, those of us who were moved and changed, and yet didn’t speak it out. Didn’t share it. Mostly because it seemed a bit to BIG for us to imagine. Are you with me?
Although I’ve only attended one time, the Women of Faith group changed so many things in my life. I’m eternally grateful for their obedience. When God calls you in a big way, it isn’t easy to step out, but they did. And I’m a life they have helped change.
How about you? Are you a life they changed? I’m challenging you to share your women of faith story. How did God work in your life through their ministry? Lets all share. Let’s put our stories out there and trust that the Lord will lead them to them at just the right time.
And let’s all show up. This is their last year friends. Our attendance can be our applause. Seriously. I’m going to make every attempt to go again this year. To show up, and praise Jesus for these women. And in the process, I’m going to trust that God continues to move like only he can. He works on his own time table, in his own unique way, but he’s faithful to his promises friends.
If you’re going to try to come to the final women of faith, check out Deidra’s post here. She is able to offer $20 off your registration. We all like a good deal right? Use her code DRIGGS20. (you’re welcome – wink wink!)