No! No! No!
Ok, maybe I didn’t use THOSE EXACT WORDS in that abrupt way.
Maybe I was a bit more diplomatic.
Maybe I smiled and said something along the lines of “Sorry, but I ‘m pretty busy right now, I have out of state visitors coming”
Or I might have said….“We’re going on vacation and I have to get ready for that.”
Or I might even have said, “I’ll think about it and let you know.”
But, dear friends…. I really did mean “NO”!
I don’t know if I have ever written about this although I have shared it with my dear Bible Study group of ladies.
This happened shortly after we moved to Florida…about 12 years ago.
It is about saying NO to God.
You see, I was tired.
Burnt out as they say.
I had done my part.
Let someone else step up.
I’ve done it all from teaching Sunday School to 3 year olds through high schoolers.
It’s time for me to rest and re-generate!
Nope…Let some one else have a turn.
So ….for months after moving to Florida, my husband and I would slip in the front, (but rarely used front door) of the church and quietly slip to the far back table.
(It has been many years since we had few tables in the back of the church behind the pews)
We were obscure there and as soon as service was over and communion served; we would slip out that same front door avoiding the line of parishioners shaking the Pastor’s hand at the wider back doors of the church.
No, I didn’t want to linger and talk with anyone who might ask if I would join a committee or teach a class.
Let me give you some background.
I love church….but because of jobs, we moved frequently,… there would always be a new church in a new town.
And along with each new church, would be new classes to teach, a new ministry to tackle, a children’s nursery to tend to, a Prayer Chain to arrange, Meals for the sick or home bound, a new choir to lead, a new Christmas/Easter Program to direct…and the list goes on.
As I said, please don’t misunderstand. These are all important and necessary for any church and we should serve willingly.
And Fortunately, upon entering a new church, we would be asked almost immediately to be volunteers; whereas some others might take months or years before being asked to help or volunteer.
And we enjoyed our church families so much that I always jumped in enthusiastically for each task at each new church.
Until I didn’t…. at our last/current church.
Perhaps you remember the story of Moses in the book of Exodus when God told him to speak to the Pharaoh to let His people go.
It began at the Burning Bush.
Moses said “No”…I am slow of speech, Please send someone else.”
Jonah also comes to mind. We all know of his demise.
God said ‘go to Ninevah.’
Jonah said, “No.” and ran the opposite direction and he ended up in the belly of a very large fish.
And the Story of Esther emphasizes the power of God, instructing us that we should help others by using the blessings God has given us.
Friends, I certainly don’t liken myself to Moses, Jonah or even Esther.
But God is very real to me and when He speaks…we,… I, … had better listen.
I also believe God has a sense of humor.
Remember the table in the far corner that we would escape to?
Well, There was a sweet lady at that table ….the table with the same people we sat with Sunday after Sunday.
Her name was Regina.
Regina was not just a sweet lady…she was sort of a self-imposed leader of our church.
So as she got to know me, she started saying things to me like:
“You really should sing in the choir, you have such a beautiful voice.”
“Vacation Bible School is needing helpers.”
“AWANA’s meet once a week.”
“You are so knowledgeable about the Bible, You really should be teaching.”
I always said “NO, “and politely declined.
But Regina did not give up.
She started bringing our Pastor to our table way in the back corner just before the service would begin.
Just to talk.
On one of these Sundays, our Pastor asked the Captain and I if we would consider hosting a new group of people over 50 years old.
He explained we could host at the church’s fellowship hall with a potluck along with a Devotional time and perhaps an entertainment time.
Once a month!
And I said quietly to myself…
I don’t want to do that.
I don’t have the time.
I am not equipped.
That would be too much work.
Meanwhile my inner being was screaming, “What? Are you Serious?
Do you know what that would encompass? Do you know the planning involved?
Do you know the food prep involved?
Do you know the Captain is only home for two weeks out of each month?
Do you know I am for sure over 50 and it is time for me to sit back and let someone else do the heavy lifting?”
In my mind, I said NO!
The Pastor asked us to pray and think about it….and we/I reluctantly said we would.
On the way home from church, the Captain and I did discuss the reasons why we should NOT commit to such a large undertaking.
But that evening, Bible in hand, I turned to Matthew 9:37-38 (NLT)
Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”
Well, we could certainly pray to send more workers…just not me (or us)!
And then I remembered the Burning Bush.
Let me refresh your memory of Exodus 3.
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law and here the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush that did not burn up. As Moses drew closer, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”
God said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out, and I am concerned about their suffering. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
God told Moses to go lead the people.
And Moses said: “Who am I to lead?”
And God said: “I will be with you.”
God doesn’t tell Moses he is equipped to lead.
Because Moses isn’t and it was a very large undertaking.
Actually none of us are equipped.
Many times “the Spirit is willing but the Flesh is weak”. Matthew 26:41
God simply says, “I will be with you.”
And that’s enough.
The same thing happened to Esther who was Jewish and unexpectedly became a Queen.
A decree had been announced by her husband the King (who did not know Esther was Jewish) that all Jews would be killed. Esther found herself in a position to rescue her people, the Jews, from death. But, if she followed through with her plans to intervene, she put her own life at risk because of the laws at that time. Esther was reluctant. At first she said NO. However, Esther’s relative Mordecai told her… “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
God is bigger and more powerful and able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think. Ephesians 3:20
This includes the energy, desire, and willingness…and yes the attitude.
“I will be with you.”
He is larger than a small group of about 50 -75 people at our church gathered together for a monthly time of food and fellowship.
You see, God has a plan for our lives. There are times when God will ask us to do things that are difficult. Can God accomplish His plans without us? Yes. But He asks us to participate in His plans because it strengthens our faith.
I trust Him.
I quit saying No and said “Use me!”
He is with me as He promised.
It is enough.