Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When the Real Hindrance is in Thinking Something is a Hindrance

I spoke at a women's retreat over the weekend. Funny that after all this time, I was asked to do so. (More on that later.)

I was happy to speak, because they wanted to hear my personal testimony and about the pure water ministry I represent. "Easy peasy," I thought. I had a speech outline already prepared and perfected from a previous event, and my testimony? Piece of cake. The theme of the retreat was "unhindered", so somehow I would work that in.

I then spent the next three months looking for that well-written and transitioned outline in my spare time. I prayed to God asking for mercy and favor in finding it, but to no avail. When that failed me, I tried in vain to reconstruct it from memory.

Two weeks ago, it finally dawned on me that perhaps God didn't want me to deliver my well-polished speech. Maybe God was purposely keeping it from me because He wanted something new.

Okay then, let's do something new.

And then I got sick -- shivering uncontrollably with fever and certainly not able to function for several days. Plus, a field trip I had coordinated for a group I work with was moved to the week of the retreat instead of the month after. And in between time someone's father died, so the dude was off preparing for the funeral and ministering to the family, while I was alone with kids who were cranky from all the rain. They either needed me to read with them or needed me to keep them from antagonizing each other. And the list goes on...

So a thought occurred that often comes to me at times like that... "God, why is this so hard?" For years I wanted to speak at women's retreats. For years I felt confident and able. "I don't anymore, so why now? And if You want me to speak now, why aren't You smoothing the way for me?"

In a moment of divine lucidity I realized that maybe God had a purpose in even this. Maybe doing what people need me to do is the preparation for what I am to say.

So I went with it.

I refused to yell at my children and demand my quiet, uninterrupted prep time. I calmly redirected their attention off each other and into healthier pursuits, again and again. I washed the dishes that nobody else had time to wash when I was sick. I set out clothes the kids could wear to the funeral so the dude wouldn't have additional stress with me not there.

I read every book needing read and listened to every book needing listened to. I had every conversation that needed had in an unhurried fashion. And tired as we were at the end of a long day, we read our Bible devotional, lingering there with Mary and ignoring the screams of Martha. Right then and there I could teach with my actions that we don't put God aside when we're busy.

And that's when it hit me.

I look at too many things as hindrances; when really, they're holy moments. I'm standing on holy ground right here, where Jesus says what I do unto the least of these I do unto Him. This is my act of worship.

Getting away is good sometimes, but I don't need to get away by myself to concentrate when He's speaking to me right here, right now, right in the middle of it all -- telling me to be still and know that He is God, and to quit worrying about writing out a message when the message is right in front of me.

After everyone was asleep, it took me 5-10 minutes tops to type out notes for everything I needed to include in the message.

I realized that when I ask, "God, why is this happening?" I'm asking the wrong question. Instead I need to ask, "Ramona, why might this be happening? What is God saying through all of this? How does God want to transform me through all of this?"

And the best part of all? That message resonated with people, despite my lack of a polished presentation. No, not quite, let's try that again... Because of my unpolished presentation, people could hear from God instead, and I could give Him all the glory instead.

And my original notes? I found them Friday morning as I was packing to leave! I'll probably never use them again.