Last week at our church, Gateway Franklin, Patrick and I were asked to participate in the Advent celebration. To do so, we had to prepare a 2 minute speech on how God has answered prayer in our lives, then read a few scriptures and light the candle that represents Joy.
I joyfully agreed and came up with different examples of how God has answered prayer in my life! The night before I was to speak, I see-sawed between sharing a personal story of submission to the Lord by moving to the front of the church to be prayed over when walking through a difficult time (Blog Post: The Power of Prayer) and a sweet story of God’s provision of shoes while on a Mission Trip in the Dominican Republic (Blog Post: #SensabaughMissionmoon with Soles4Souls) I finally landed upon sharing the more vulnerable story of the two because it 1.) Also involved Patrick and 2.) Also involved my church and the positive impact it continually makes upon my life!
The morning we were to speak before our church, the enemy attacked us as the enemy would attack a couple who was just a little nervous to stand and profess their faith before their church. He saw our weakness, aimed and fired. He caused stress and contention in our home. He caused me to nitpick, and he caused Patrick to get angered. Things we would normally brush off, were brought to the surface and suddenly impossible to ignore. The devil did a happy dance as a lump formed in my throat and I was nearly brought to tears with not even 30 minutes left before I was to get up and speak before our congregation.
While at church, the Lord calmed me, and as I sang “I will always need you Jesus” during worship, I felt God prompting me to prove it…I felt Him urging me to trust in Him instead of the paper in my hand. I heard words in my head of what He wanted me to say…but I didn’t say them.
When I got to the front of the church and saw a packed house of faces that I know and don’t know, I chose to trust the tangible words written on the paper in my hand instead of the intangible words of faith that God was filling my heart with.
As I sat in the sermon, I couldn’t help but think time and time again how many more lives I could have touched if I would have just chosen to step out in faith and trust in the Lord! When Pastor Charlie explained that “the opposite of joy is fear and a heavy sense of anxiety”, I felt convicted. Where was my joy I was proclaiming?! I felt even more guilt when Pastor Charlie mentioned that “joy prevails if we have a dependence on Christ instead of our own abilities”. I could barely hold my head up high when I heard Pastor Charlie say that “we don’t experience the joy of Christ if there is no movement of faith to interact with the person that we’ve been told about”…it wasn’t until I re-watched the sermon that I saw the irony in this statement that in the moment made me feel so low. I may not have said what God was filling my head and heart with, but I did speak about the power in movement of faith!
My heavy heart began to lighten when Pastor Charlie told a story from Isaiah where Ahaz responds differently than how God instructed him to. Pastor Charlie reminded us that “Christ is so immense that even when we don’t make the right decisions, joy comes. Even when we don’t have the faith sometimes, to walk out what God puts before us, there’s still a nevertheless…”
Nevertheless – Pastor Charlie explained these words as meaning “what happened beforehand is not powerful enough to shut what I’m about to do down.”
The sermon ended with Pastor Charlie admitting tears at my share before inviting our congregation to move forward and be prayed over. God did use me! It may not have been in the way that He was calling me to be used, but He used me because you see, nothing doesn’t matter. He uses all of it!
So, I may not have shared what I felt God urging me to share last week, but there’s still a nevertheless…I may not have shared these words last week, but nevertheless, I’m going to share them this week!
In my mind the Holy Spirit would have filled me, and fearlessly and faithfully, I would have said…
“I have prepared in my hand a single time that God has answered prayer in my life. I could read it to you today, or I could step out in faith as an example proving that God continually answers prayers in my life. Amen? Patrick and I got into a fight this morning, in fact, less than 30 minutes ago! I prayed to God, “Please, give me the strength to be able to stand before our church and speak in your name!” and here I am!
Question, why wouldn’t the enemy try to attack us and our marriage, knowing that we are to stand here before all of you today? Of course he wants to attack us! I nitpicked. I told Patrick he couldn’t wear jeans to church when we are a part of the Advent ceremony. By the way honey, I saved you from showing up in the same outfit as Pastor Charlie, you’re welcome! **waits for laughter to end at corny but well played joke** Snidely, I added a jab that Patrick’s jeans weren’t even his “nice” jeans, and they were a wrinkled mess! He hastily changed into a pair of old khaki pants that I believe he spitefully put on knowing they were too big for him. I urged him to change his pants for a third time and that’s when the words came. We weren’t being an example of God’s love. I don’t know about Patrick, but I felt awfully unworthy to be standing up and speaking on His behalf in mere minutes. But are we ever worthy? Do we ever not sin? Does God not continually answer our prayer of “Please forgive me?”
We can joyfully stand on the truth of knowledge that the enemy will attack and cause us to sin, and God will continually forgive us when we ask Him to…is there any more joyful answered prayer than that?!
In the coming year, I want to urge all of you to write down your prayer requests. At the end of 2017, I want you to look at that list and be amazed at the amount of times that God answers your prayers! In the little requests and big requests, I’m confident you’ll find that more often than not, God answers when we ask! So keep asking, and I promise you, He will keep answering!”
Maybe one day I’ll get to that place where I can spontaneously switch the script in Jesus’ name. I pray that I do. But I’m not there yet, which proves, there are still prayers to be answered. So I’m going to keep asking, and I faithfully believe He will answer!
Be Blessed + Be A Blessing