Friday, March 28, 2008

In The Hot Seat

My internal organs quivered, my heart beat erratically and I perspired like a man.The occasion? My husband and I shared our testimony with our bible study group Wednesday night.

We just recently joined this exceptionally funny (as in ha-ha) group of Believers and almost immediately felt very comfortable in their company. Comfortable, that is, until they asked us to share our “stuff”. This group of couples had all shared their journey of faith with one another before we became members, which was evident in their obvious closeness and genuine concern they had for each other. Now, to get to know us on a deeper, more spiritual level - to understand why we believe what we believe - they wanted to hear our testimony.

We’d like to think that we have been transparent with our struggles, particularly if the difficulties we’ve experienced can help another in times of trouble.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)"

Anything we have overcome has been by the grace and love of God, and it brings us joy to give Him the glory for any provisions, any comfort, any direction He has given us. There have been many instances where John has been able to relate to a patient better because of his own experiences. There have been many occasions I have been able to offer a friend an encouraging word because of my struggles. Our journey, while at times difficult and confusing and overwhelming,only has purpose and meaning if it can help another while furthering God’s kingdom at the same time. If our story can’t be used for others, then the trials, the anxieties, the worry would have all been for nothing. Frankly, our arduous life absent of a Divine purpose would have resulted in an existence without any signifigance or any real hope.

So, I don’t mind using my “stuff” if it will comfort another.

But, to do so in front of a group of people, folks who I am just getting to know, who may not necessarily need the type of encouragement I can offer, who might hear my story and maybe think that I am some sort of freak show, is a different thing altogether.( I think I may start to perspire again.) I don’t mind speaking in front of a group and have done it often, but the primary material presented has not been about my mistakes, my struggles, my life.

Even so, we did it. I squirmed some, stuttered some, and sweated some. But the words came out easier than I thought and the story told didn't send the others into a catatonic state. There weren’t looks of horror, gasping was kept to a minimum, and no one shook their head in disdain. Our friends listened, nodded their heads in encouragement and simply understood.

While our struggles are personal, and not always lovely, I realized that everyone has a story of their own that leads them to that place of whole hearted belief and total dependence. I worried that my own history, mistakes and all, would cause others to run from me as fast as possible. But what really happens, if you allow your faith the chance, is that your history becomes HisStory and just maybe, those listening, will run to Him as fast as possible as a result.

So, that’s my story. And as corny as it may sound - I’m sticking to it.


elizabeth said...

I have not had the pleasure to meet you in person, but I attend the same church as you. I am in a Tues. morning bible study with people that you know and ultimately it was through their blogs that led me here to you.

I had to comment to tell you how great the words you said, "history becomes HIStory." I have never heard, so true. Thank you for sharing this as it spoke to my heart.

I look forward to meeting you somewhere other than blog land.

Joni said...

Thanks for your comment. I look forward to meeting you, too!

wendymom said...

From one "group" member that heard you speak Wed. night, your HIStory is awesome. God has taken care of y'all in a way, that no other could. I love how you said there have been times when you literally felt God's presence around you. I also love you sentence "Frankly, our arduous life absent of a Divine purpose would have resulted in an existence without any signifigance or any real hope." That is a beautiful way of putting it, and I couldn't have said it any better myself. Check out the scripture that Georgia Mother wrote me today, it applies to your story as well. Love you girl, you did a great job.

Joni said...

Thanks. I also appreciate the email you sent. It was a calm and encouraging word right when the storms of doubt were starting to swirl around in my head.

Anonymous said...

So proud of you, Joni! Mary