Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A testimony of sorts.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, & renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation...Psalm 51

Warning: if you hold strong conservative convictions about a woman's place in the church & vocal ministry you might want to skip this post. This is not about women's ministry as such & I will not enter into a debate on the subject or allow this space to be used for such a debate.

I joke that Quakers were the first modern charismatics. They have always emphasised the personal leading of the Holy Spirit, a personal relationship with God & the equality of the sexes in Christ ~ all reasons why, as a child of the 6os & early 70s, I was drawn towards Quakerism.

The 60s; do you remember them? It was a heady elixir of free love, freedom, & profound spiritual searching outside the bounds of Christianity. God died; the church was already dead. And then the Jesus Freaks burst on the scene. Hot on their heels came the charismatic movement. The face of Western Christianity changed forever.

I lost & found my faith in the midst of this spiritual chaos. Nothing in my spiritual training had prepared me to deal with the charismatic claims. My reserved nature found their extroverted worship distasteful. My curiosity was piqued. If I was truthful I was spiritually starved. I began the long slow process of abandoning knowing about God for knowing God.

For a prolonged period of time I stagnated in the place many Christians falter at in their walk with God, knowing something of Him, yet unable to move forward into a deeper personal relationship. Prayer was a wasteland & a pointless exercise in narcissism. I avoided prayer. Worship was arid but we are told not to refrain from gathering together so I worshiped with other believers & kept my opinions to myself.

I grew, but oh, so slowly & painfully & always with this gnawing hunger that I'd missed the point. Then God intervened, the way He does.

At the time we were worshipping at the only church on the island that held a worship service every single Sunday: very sedate; very traditional; very conservative; very, very small but full of lovely Christians. Dearest happened to be the chairman of the committee as Christmas rolled around & he had all the preaching spots filled for the holiday period & was quietly congratulating himself when the bombshell dropped.

Twenty~four hours before the service was due to start the man designated to preach the Christmas message went down sick. Dearest turned white as he put down the phone. He told me the bad news then said, "Well, it's either you or me & we both know it's not going to be me". Dearest is incredibly dyslexic. He can barely string a written sentence together & even his spoken language tends to be enigmatic & obscure. I wasn't happy but, hey, my degree is in English Lit.,. I can do this stuff standing on my head under water. How hard could it be?

I dragged out all my reference books & cobbled something together. I was not happy. All my teaching said this was a man's job, a man's place ~ but we didn't have a man, not on such short notice. I was totally unprepared for the spiritual onslaught that happens to anyone who steps out in ministry. I was incredibly ignorant.

I delivered my message & thankfully retired to my obscure corner in the last pew, congratulating myself that never, ever again... you know where this is going, don't you? Yep. From necessity the church used lots of lay people & I suddenly found myself on the preaching roster.

Now I have no idea how proper preachers go about organising their sermons but I was in a quandary. I had absolutely no intention of getting up there & sprooking my views on this, that & the other! If I was getting up there then it was imperative I hear from God Himself on what He wanted His people to hear ~ & I had absolutely no idea how to go about that! None. Not a red hot bazooka.

I knew lots; lots & lots of head knowledge. As I've said before I'm not the practical sort so the doing was incredibly problematic & time consuming. It did not help that the church kept saying I had a gift for preaching. It just didn't sit right with me. As it turns out my gift is not for preaching but sometimes, you know, I'm not the brightest spark in the tinder box. So from the time I knew I had a speaking engagement until the time I'd written up my paper I was in serious meltdown. I would, quite literally, scream at God, ranting & raving that He needed to be clear, very, very clear, as in I can't hear you, God, speak up. Shout if necessary. I was desperate. I knew, scripture says so, that those who presume to teach will be judged more strictly so I wasn't taking any chances on getting it wrong. Not if I could help it. I tell you, I'm a woos.

And God was gracious unto me. Each & every time He gave me absolutely clear, unmistakable instructions on what He wanted said. He gave me the scriptures. When I ran into difficulties He made crooked paths straight. He gave me courage when I wanted to run. He strengthened me when my courage faltered. Suddenly I found I had access to the Holy Spirit. When I spoke I knew when I spoke with the authority of the Spirit. He told me how much He loved me. Over & over.

Over time I noticed something. God was on a soapbox. The same themes repeated themselves again & again. Repent. Be thou holy as I am holy. Come out from among them...Um, yeah, I know what happens to God's prophets.

When we began home churching I breathed a sigh of relief thinking I was off the hook. No~one to preach to except the kids & they are used to me. I reverted to the form of worship I was most comfortable with: silent, focused, alive with the presence of God. I lie to myself rather nicely but God is persistent. My little spiritual dingy gets swamped. God isn't silent. His message is still coming through loud & clear: Repent: Be thou holy; Come out from among them because He promised...Afterward I will pour out my spirit on all people. Your sons & your daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men & women, I will pour out my spirit in those days. ~ Joel 2:28~29

For now the word from the Lord is : Wait. Some things I don't mind waiting for...


joyfulmum said...

well, I am not surprised (judging by your many posts on the Word) that you were called upon to preach, I reckon you do have a gift:)

Ganeida said...

joyfulmum: Thank you for letting me know you read Out of the Silence. ☺ It gets zillions of hits but no~one ever comments. I admit to being a tad peeved until Seeking pointed out it is *sacred space*. I get it, but I like feed back as much as the next person. ♥

Persuaded said...

"I lie to myself rather nicely but God is persistent."
There's a lot of truth and wisdom in that statement alone, my dear♥

I've gotta hand it to anyone who can get up in front of people to speak about anything, but getting up and teaching about the things of God? I truly admire that. And I have no doubt whatsoever that what you are sharing is sound and solid and of God. (My praise doesn't get much higher than that, friend.)

Ganeida said...

Persuaded: I did 3 yrs of drama. Excellent for dealing with the nerves. It was never the standing up & delivering that bothered me ~ merely what I delivered. ☺

Thank you for the accolades but *search the scriptures for yourself & see if these things be true.* Now I will go away & glow & shine my halo. ;P

Amanda said...

I will be back to this post, to give it the attention it deserves. Been so busy working lately, and today is no different. I can't wait to drink this in slowly because I always love what you have to say.

(Didn't want you to think your 'warning' scared me off! LOL LOL... just kidding haha)

Ganeida said...

lol Amanda: Just didn't want to offend anyone unnecessarily. Old aquaintances like mamaO know & love me anyway but it can make some people hot under the collar & no point in needless dissent.

joyfulmum said...

Ganeida, I had to check out what "out of the silence" was, I didn't know you had that separate blog:) I actually meant your posts here on "Ganeida's knots" that I read where you've expounded on the Word, that I was referring to:) sorry..... and yes I will check out your other blog too sometime soon! Hope I haven't embarassed you by saying this but just wanted to clarify:)

Amanda said...

God will use whom He choses, to bring forth His Word and message. Who are we to argue with Him? I know many are staunch on the 'women are to be silent' doctrines. I have my own theories and even then they get tipped upside down.

All I know is, He looks at the heart, and it blesses Him to see obedience there, as well as hunger and passion for Him.

He used me to speak His Word long before I was even aware that people took the scriptures literally, about women being silent. In my church that I was saved in, I was taught along the lines of that being the culture of those times and not relevant for today and some other fancy explanation.

I think of Deborah from the OT. I think of the many wonderful women of God throughout the last century, who experienced the power of God and preached under it. God used them mightily.

Ganeida, keep trumpeting the message He gives you. Love it!

Ganeida said...

joyfulmum: Oops. A more careful reading of your comment & I realised you hadn't been on OOTS. lol There is NO obligation to go visit there. I just so rarely get feedback when I think I've got some I go a little loopy, you know...☺

Amanda: I did my own research & went back to the Greek & I have peace about what I do. Just the same I try to be sensitive to the beliefs of others. Phillip's daughters prophesied & I believe there are mosaics on the walls of some early churches around the Medeterrian showing women expounding the word. It is not a salvation issue so I prefer to seek ground we can all agree on.

seekingmyLord said...

I needed some time to think on this one and this came to my mind:

Luke 2:36-38 (NASB)
And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

My thoughts are if this woman had been silent, who would have known she was a prophetess for she never left the temple, where women were to be silent. Surely, this woman spoke as God led her to do so.

The gift of prophecy is not served in silence...humility, yes, but not silence.

Ganeida said...

Thank you Seeking. Anna is a good reminder. I think I needed to hear that.

You are on the home stretch now. Praying good things for you. ♥

Gerry Snape said...

what a great post, I struggle as you may have realised with this thing as I was brought up in the brethern way although dad was Irish church and fairly easy . To fulfill who you are as a woman, but also as the person with the dreams and hopes that come from childhood, without being a harridan, is not always easy. This post and Ember's latest strike many chords in my little heart!!

Ganeida said...

Gerry: Yes, I do understand, at least in part. I wasn't raised Brethren. I will say though, I do not know how anyone could flagrantly ignore the imperative of the Holy Spirit when He starts issuing orders. A better man, or woman, than I am, that's for sure. I understand Jonah's petulance with God but his running from the power of the spirit just boggles my mind ~ far more than anything to do with fish. ♥

Bonnie said...

An amazing post and just what I needed to hear today. We have been under such attack lately and I have really been convicted that we aren't living up to the spiritual demands of DH's vocation. Repenting...because we want to stay in that place of blessing and protection as we seek to serve God. Sometimes I get so caught up in my daily life that I forget that is what our lives are about. Thank you--thank you!

Ganeida said...

Bonnie: Oh girl, how I do sympathise! I have learnt the hard way how the devil does like to attack any work of the Lords & those in ministry have to be vigilant about their spiritual armour & spiritual warfare. You have littlies too & that can so throw a spanner in the works. ♥Hugs♥

Ember said...

I preached for about 25 years, and then I stopped. I still have a call to teach about the Gospel though. So I write books and teach at retreats. I'm glad I did all that preaching, but I can't see that it made much difference, on my case. As someone once said: 'When all is said and done, there's a lot more said than done'. What interests me now is working on getting it honest ang authentic, so that my life preaches. That's so hard to do!