‘I’ll take you any way I can get you.”
That was Andy’s response to my wanting to back out of preaching at his recent Senior Pastor installation.
I had agreed months ago, and was thrilled to speak into my friend/mentee’s life on this important occasion. Well, that’s not the whole truth…I was also intimidated to preach at a church whose denomination does not ordain women. And, I was embarrassed to be walking with difficulty, and didn’t want to fall or make a fool of myself in front of these people.
But Andy wanted me to speak, and in his kindness assured me that my voice needed to be heard, regardless of my physical limitations. This church, he also said, had long supported women in ministry, and I didn’t need to worry.
Of course that didn’t stop me from fretting – but one day, while brushing my teeth, the title of the talk (H.A.L.T.) popped into my head, and gave me the confidence I needed to meet with Andy to discuss the service.
And talk about accommodations I needed. Walking up five steps to a stage to preach? Wasn’t going to happen. But preaching from a tall chair on the floor, with my husband helping me walk up the aisle to the front? That would work.
‘It’s hard enough to be a woman preacher’, I whined to God. ‘Now I have to be the one who walks funny too’? ‘I know you can heal me, and will heal me some day in the future’…’why not now?’ I told God. Don’t you love it when someone tells God what to do? I wonder if he laughs.
But Andy opened the door for my speaking, and held it wide open for my imperfect, limpy self to walk through. And God supplied the thoughts and words, and enabled me to speak boldly into this time of transition for my friend and his new church. It’s a cool place; they are good people; he (and his family) will be fine.
I really learned that the grace of Jesus was sufficient for me that day, because ‘his power was made perfect in my weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9).
My friend prayed that I would have fun that day. Through my doubts and fears, because my friend was not worried about a preacher woman who wasn’t perfect, because God was faithful, and the church was responsive to hearing from me and the others who spoke – it was a really good day and people were changed.
The first one who was changed was me.