Interestingly, the two sessions at last weekend’s She Speaks conference that grabbed me the most were practically bookended – one the first night and the last speaker of the weekend. Completely different in their message, God was using these sessions to tuck away ideas, encouragement and even conviction into my soul.
This verse from Esther has been one that has resonated in me for a long time. Esther was the first Bible study I ever took part in and I can honestly say I have never learned so much as I did during that time. I felt like a sponge, taking in knowledge and truth in a way I didn’t know was possible. In this week after the conference, this verse has bubbled up in my heart and seemed to be grabbing for attention. So I re-read the story and it certainly seemed to fit. For reasons only my God knows, He set in motion a series of events that paved the way for me to go to She Speaks. As a grateful recipient, my job was to see what He had to say to me through it.
Cecil’s talk was titled “Who Would Have Thought?” He engaged us in a discussion about some incredible examples of books that have reshaped conversations, opened doorways and enlightened on subjects – books that for lots of logical reasons should not have been successful, yet somehow were. The underlying current of his message was that as a writer, you never know what God will do with you and sometimes He will use the most unusual people.
This really struck a cord with me because sometimes I wonder what it is that God has in mind for me. Yes, I consider myself a writer. But to what extent I am an expert in any given subject or an authority on some unique life circumstance, I’m not really sure. But, in Cecil’s message I found encouragement. Because God uses those with a willing heart and teachable spirit to accomplish His purposes – through the mechanism that He chooses. And really, it’s not about me or my expertise – it’s what God is doing through me that matters. That, could also be the story He wants to tell.
Sunday morning was our last official session. Proverbs 31 speaker and writer Karen Ehman was presenting. Her talk was titled “First Love.” Oh boy did she deliver. How often are we caught up in the daily dealings of life, our ministry, even the temptations of the “shiny things” that we forget our first love – Jesus – is the center of it all? Karen’s talk was highlighted by a key verse in Revelation, Rev. 2:5 which says, “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
As she unpacked the verse for us, many aspects convicted me. The hardest pill to swallow was the challenge to memorize Scripture. For whatever reason, this is not something I have been able to do well. I can “quote generally speaking.” But, as I have learned as I have faced attacks over the past few weeks, generally speaking isn’t enough to cut it. Speaking God’s truths from God’s own words are powerful and give an advantage over the enemy and his attacks. But even more than that, don’t I love my Jesus enough to write His words on my own heart?
Tears were running down my cheeks as Karen choked out her own words through them. I knew exactly what she was saying and it felt like I had been ripped open. My takeaway from the session was this – we must never lost sight of our passionate pursuit of the person of Jesus.
I left that morning challenged yet feeling loved. Because while the truth hurt, the grace that flowed in that room was real. The Proverbs 31 team was there to minister, pray with or just extend a hug to anyone who asked. This journey is wildly exciting. Knowing that I’m taking it with other women who share in my struggles and my victories makes it even better.