My prayer had been Isaiah 6:8 “Here I am. Send me!” I had great visions of serving the Lord – perhaps on a cruise ship ministry in the Caribbean. I was looking forward to doing the Lord’s work!
It was quite evident that God didn’t share my vision when I received the call from Ministry Development asking if I would serve on the Stewardship Committee as chairperson. Stewardship? What happened to the sunny Caribbean? I knew then God had a sense of humor. I could imagine Him saying “Well, Ellen, it’s not a cruise ship, but it is stewardSHIP!”
I agreed to pray about it, knowing there were people more qualified than me to serve in that area.
My greatest fears were:
- I don’t like public speaking. AT. ALL. I would have to stand in front of the congregation to present the quarterly financial reports. I felt so much like Moses: “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though You have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled. Lord, please! Send anyone else.” (Exodus 4:10, 13 NLT)
- There was so much I DID NOT KNOW: the procedures and processes of the committee, how the different committees interact, etc.
After much prayer, I decided to step out in faith and obedience, and agreed to be the Chairperson. About a month after I made the decision, I read Isaiah 42:16:
“I will lead the blind by a way they DO NOT KNOW, in paths they DO NOT KNOW, I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them and rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, and I will not leave them undone.”
The Lord was telling me He would take care of me, and lead me through this area of service. I was in awe! O Lord, You would guide me? You would make darkness into light for me?
And then, just when I was becoming a bit more comfortable as chairperson, I found out I would have to present a motion to the church regarding the sanctuary renovation. The motion would state that if not enough money was raised in our capital campaign, the church would take out a line of credit. Debt. Our church doesn’t have debt. It could be a major point of contention in the congregation.
Now it’s time for a confession. I am a closet drama queen. To say that I was in a panic at having to present this controversial motion would be an understatement. My stomach was in knots. What do I say? How do I present a motion like this? I prayed over it in agony every day.
A week before the presentation, the Lord brought this scripture before me:
Luke 12:11-12 “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
My prayer that morning was “Lord, I know I’ve got to walk this by faith. But I’m praying You will give me the words BEFORE the very hour I have to get up and present the motion!”
The Sunday of the presentation was a busy one, which was good. I didn’t have a lot of time to dwell on making the motion. Getting dressed that morning, I went over all the information regarding the renovation. The money we had…the money we needed…the capital campaign we were planning. EVERY piece of information I had, I reviewed that morning. I tried to think of any and all questions the congregation might ask me.
Suddenly an odd question popped into my head: What if we can’t collect 100% of all the pledges we receive? And just as quickly, an answer popped into my head: We will take a percentage of the pledges we receive, say 85%, and use that as a “good” or “collectible” number for estimating our sanctuary renovation funds.
Once at church, it was back-to-back activity and meetings: 9:00 a.m. greet, 9:15 Sunday School, 10:30 Worship Service, 4 p.m. New Members class, 5 p.m. Prayer Ministry meeting, 6:30 p.m. MOTION BY THE STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEE. I was beside myself with nerves. I remember praying throughout the day, “Lord, this isn’t about me. This is about You and bringing glory and honor to You.”
Finally it was time. I was scared spit-less. (You know, when your mouth is so dry you can’t even make spit?) Voice shaking, I presented the motion. I held my breath as I waited for questions.
First questioner: “How much money is needed for the renovations?” I gave the answer, thankful that I knew it! I watched as the second person came forward to ask a question. I know her, she is a sweet woman. Kind of off the wall a bit, but very sweet. What on earth could she want to ask? You never knew what might come out of her mouth.
Question: “What happens if the pledges cover the amount we need, but we can’t collect on them?” Oh my. OH MY. That was the question and answer that just “happened” to pop into my head earlier. I had an answer! And it was a good one! Now, I know the Lord blessed me with brains, but NO WAY could that answer have come from me. That was His answer to me, in the very hour I needed it!
The enormity of what happened didn’t hit me until 3 a.m. I awoke overwhelmed by God’s love, grace and mercy. Overwhelmed by how He answered my prayers and provided for me. Overwhelmed that through His Word, He promised He would give me an answer. And He did! He did that for me.
Even though I didn’t get the cruise ship ministry, I experienced God and His lovingkindness. I experienced His answered prayers and promises first hand.
That’s better than the sunny Caribbean any day!
Photography by John Chauvin
Linking up today with Tell Me a True Story!