“Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit’ says the Lord Almighty.” - Zechariah 4:6
It was the during the Spring of 2004 and I felt this gnawing on my heart. I was standing in a tiny country church. It was the kind of church that looked like it should have been on an episode of “Little House On The Prairie”. Quaint. Small. Wooden benches. It was the type of church where everyone knew one another’s name and you could bet that the pastor was coming over to your house for Sunday dinner. It was also where I was about to speak to a group of teenagers and I felt like God was getting ready to change up the message that I had prepared for the evening. And I was a bit panicked.
I was on staff for Master’s Commission, an intense discipleship program for college age students. We’d begun the school year mid-September and since that point I had been the one our director had chosen to do most of our speaking engagements. I’d been in front of numerous youth groups, a couple of youth camps and even a few youth rally’s sharing the message of Jesus. I’d performed skits with my teammates - some silly, some serious. We’d poured our hearts out in worship, prayed over kids, and shared the amazing message of Christ to hungry hearts. It’s what we craved to do and for that year we were living that dream.
So why was this night any different than the others? I had remembered spending a number of hours praying over the message I felt the Lord wanted me to deliver. I’d researched quotes and stats and funny anecdotes. I’d poured over my Bible and referenced verses and chapters. I was ready to go. So while the rest of my teammates were playing games with the kids before the service, I took a few minutes and went in the sanctuary to pray. And it was then I felt God telling me he had a different message. It was like a bit of a punch in the gut for this girl who likes to be organized and prepared down to a T. I thought that perhaps I wasn’t hearing the Lord correctly. Surely he wouldn’t switch it up minutes before the service. But why would he not? I think he was trying to teach me a lesson on dependence. On him. And not my preparation.
The apostle Paul told us to ‘be prepared in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2)’ and in those moments I was learning what that meant. I grabbed another staff member who was also one of my dearest friends. We prayed over what I was feeling the Lord was saying and we both agreed that what I was feeling was right. So our teammates played a few more with the youth group and I jotted down a few things that I felt the Lord saying.
I can’t remember what it was that I said that night. It wasn’t me that was speaking. That night I could feel the power of the Holy Spirit speaking through me and I knew that it was not in my strength but in his that I spoke. Verses came out of my mouth. I hadn’t prepared for this message but God was giving it. And it was incredible! At the end of the message I gave an alter call. And not one person responded.
I turned the service back over to the youth pastor and sat down on one of those wooden pews. I began to question myself again. Had I really heard the Lord? Why had no one responded? I almost felt a little sheepish. Until I heard the youth pastor speak. With words of authority and a voice of compassion, he looked at his youth group and said, “Why didn’t any of you come up here? Mandi just read your mail.”
And then he went on to bring the message home. God knew that those kids needed to hear what was said that night. I had no idea what the students were going through or had any clue as to what they were facing. But God knew. He knew exactly what they needed to hear in a way that I could never have imagined. He spoke to those kids through me. It wasn’t by might. Or by my power. But by his power. And it was then the kids started coming to the alter. Only two were left in their seats. It was such a powerful time at that alter. There were tears. There was healing. There was power and transformation. And then there was joy. True joy.
They say that public speaking is the number one fear of society. But for me, speaking words of life over an audience is pure joy. There is a sweet surrender in my spirit as I lay aside my agenda and follow the Lord’s direction as to what he would have me say. I’ve spoken to audience as small as a handful of people to groups in the hundreds. And in those few moments, it’s a laying down of me so that He may be glorified. I’ve come to know that is one of the giftings that the Lord has chosen to give me. Am I eloquent? By no means. I’m more of a stuttering Moses - but in his strength, I am made perfect. And it is through that strength I have seen lives touched and changed. Not by my might. Nor by my power. But by his spirit.
In those deepest parts of my heart, I long to speak to groups. Women’s retreats. Youth camps. Youth groups. Conferences. It’s this longing that I can‘t shake. It’s that God-shaped dream inside of this heart. But I must admit, I don’t know what my next steps are. I trust the Lord to make them clear in his time. I had heard of She Speaks Conference months ago and looked into going. Financially it is not within our means this year. And though there is a tract just for speakers, where you can learn how to develop a great message, understand what makes a message memorable, delivery techniques and what I’m most interested in learning - how to increase speaking engagements by using proven marketing strategies. These are the nitty grittys that I’m dying to learn. It’s my heart’s cry! Even typing these words I just get excited.
You see, this post has been my application for a Cecil Murphy scholarship to attend She Speaks. The conference is for women who want to be speakers, writers, and Women’s Ministry Leaders. There are a hundred other gals who are dreaming of being selected to win one of three scholarships. I pray that the right women are chosen and I trust that God has those women already selected. I’m excited for my chance to be considered for a scholarship. And you can have that chance too! If you are interested in attending 2010 She Speaks please just follow this link and it will take you to the She Speaks site. Or, if you are interested in applying for a scholarship, please click here. You only have until tomorrow - Friday, March 26th - so hurry!
Be blessed my friends! Thanks for taking a few minutes to read ya’ll! Love you much.