She Speaks registration has begun! I hope that I’m going to have the opportunity to meet lots of you in person come July. Also, Lysa is sponsoring a scholarship contest on her blog, so don’t miss a chance to have your registration covered.
Last year, one of the breakout sessions that was the most impactful for me was Cecil Murphy’s session called “Who Would Have Thought”. Cec spoke eloquently and with his gentle, loving style encouraging us that God is in complete control. He gave example after example of books that had “made it” without following the traditional rules. It was a reminder that although ministry is hard work and that there are things to be learned about the nuts and bolts of publishing and speaking, ultimately it is God who is sovereign.
In that same spirit, I am going to share a chapter that I wrote for Marybeth Whalen’s book The Reason We Speak. It’s a reminder that our relationship with God Himself must take precedence over any ministry activity. He truly is our audience of One.
I remember driving down the road with my verbose 3-year-old son riding in the back seat. He had been holding forth for quite some time, and my “listener” was running down. I broke into his monologue with a suggestion. “Anson, sweetheart, why don’t you take a breath and rest a while?” With only a pause for my words, he blurted out, “But Mommy, I don’t like to breathe. I like to talk…”, and he continued his stream of speech. I sighed, chuckled and resumed listening.
Years later, that scene came back to my mind after a dinner with my friend Maggie. I had been listening to Maggie talk excitedly about the work God was doing in her life. She was a new believer, and she was experiencing the transformation of her life with wide-eyed wonder. Everything about her new relationship with God was fascinating and fresh. She emanated joy.
Although I was enjoying Maggie’s passion, I started to wonder, “Where did my joy go?” I too could think of times when I had been consumed by watching and participating in the awesome work of God. I remembered mountain top experiences when I felt full of passion, fire and overwhelming joy. Yet here I was in the midst of one of the greatest times of kingdom building that I had ever experienced, and I felt empty, depleted and downright exhausted. “How did I get to this place?” I wondered to myself. I was teaching Sunday school, speaking and writing with regularity. God had opened doors wide for ministry, but my batteries were running low.
At the end of dinner, Maggie and I exchanged prayer requests. She gave me a few, and then it was my turn. I struggled internally with how real I could be. Maggie was a new Christian. Surely I would discourage her if I confessed to a lack of joy and passion. God’s still voice urged me to be transparent, though, and I found myself pouring out my heart in frustration. “I’m in God’s Word every day as I prepare to teach,” I explained to Maggie. “I’m always praying for the events and women where I’m going, but I feel wrung out and joyless. Please pray for me.”
My sweet, wise friend looked compassionately at me for a minute before she asked an essential question, “When was the last time that you spent time reading the Bible and praying when you weren’t preparing for something? How long has it been since you just spent time with God to enjoy Him?”
Ouch! She had seen through all the spiritual rhetoric right to the source of the problem. Like my young son, I had been so busy talking to God—preparing, studying, delving, interceding, teaching, speaking—that I hadn’t taken time to breathe in a deep breath of His Spirit. I hadn’t taken time to worship God for whom He is, to meditate on a juicy piece of His Word or to bask in His presence. In my driveness to do all for “an audience of One”, I had forgotten to slow down and take time with the One I love.
Please come back next week for more of this story…