Every so often in our lives, God does a new thing. It’s highly probable that we won’t understand at first, and we might find the process difficult. Here’s my story. I tell it in hopes that it will encourage anyone who’s either sensing a change coming or in the midst of change and not yet seeing things come into focus.
I’ll break my story into four parts. I suspect that your story will share the same components.
Nearly three years ago, I seriously wondered whether my speaking ministry had ended. When I looked at my upcoming itinerary with its empty dates, I felt a variety of emotions, but mostly I struggled with feelings of not being “enough.” I felt washed-up, too old, and overlooked.
But then the Holy Spirit spoke truth to me. He encouraged me to stop navel gazing and instead, cast my sights on God. After all, wasn’t He the One who designed the plans for my life even before I was born? Was He not aware of every detail concerning the speaking ministry He’d entrusted to me? And was it not His prerogative to do with it whatever He deemed best?
The answer to all three questions was a resounding, “Yes!”
I opened my clenched fist and released my speaking ministry as I’d known it. “Here it is, Lord,” I prayed. “Take it and do with it whatever You want. It’s Yours.”
Over the next months, God changed my woe-is-me attitude to one of expectancy. I prayed for direction and committed to not making any major decisions about speaking opportunities and writing projects until He gave clear guidance. Meanwhile, I went about my life, busy with other ministry opportunities at home and overseas.
Eight months passed. One August morning during my devotions, I sensed the Lord direct me to Psalm 34:4,5—“I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me, freeing me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.”
I read the verses, and one word popped off the page and into my heart. Radiant. Then I sensed the Lord say, “You will begin a one-day women’s conference. It will be called “RADIANT” and the theme verse will be Psalm 34:5. The purpose will be to draw Christian women into a deeper walk with Me so that they might experience transformation. This endeavor will be a team effort.”
Long story short, I invited Heidi McLaughlin and Kelita Haverland to join me. I’d traveled with Kelita doing World Vision Girls’ Night Out tours several years prior, and she’d recently moved from Toronto to a city only a half hour from my home. I knew her testimony of overcoming abuse, betrayal, and more would resonate with many women. Besides, she was a musician and comedienne, and her skills could lend themselves beautifully to a one-day conference.
Heidi lost her first husband suddenly many years ago. She’d successfully navigated widowhood, single parenting, remarriage, and the blending of two families. Again, many women would relate to her life experience. She’d also taught women’s Bible classes for years.
Both women agreed, and we formed the RADIANT team. We developed our byline to reflect our purpose: “Creating a Deeper Life.” We produced business materials, keynote sessions, breakout sessions, and a conference schedule. We also became an official ministry of International Messengers Canada with a goal to take a team of women on a two-week mission trip to Eastern Europe annually.
Preparing to launch RADIANT took me nearly a year and countless hours behind-the-scenes. As I worked, I thanked the Lord for clearing my itinerary so that I could focus my energies on this endeavor. I no longer felt like a “has been” because I now recognized God’s sovereignty over my calendar.
God left us in awe when two donors committed $25,000 to cover startup expenses and help pay for operating expenses. And He continues to leave us in awe as He opens doors for RADIANT to minister to women in Canada.
Last weekend we drove to Taber, Alberta where nearly 110 women joined us at the Evangelical Free Church for the fourth RADIANT event. What a joy to meet them, pray with them, worship and laugh with them, and to explore God’s Word together. We look forward to partnering with two other churches in March 2017, one in Alberta and the other in BC. We’re about to enter dialogue with a couple other churches as well.
When I recall those months of wondering what had happened to my speaking ministry and waiting on God for direction, I admit it was a painful time. And yet, it was a time when, as I opened my clenched fist, I learned to surrender and trust the Lord in a deeper way. Remembering that His designs for my life were drawn up before I was born helped me learn to rest. So did acknowledging His lordship over every detail of my days.
I have no idea what the long-term future holds for RADIANT, but I do know that God has it covered. That’s not to say there’s not a lot of hard work involved, but we needn’t strive. He’ll lead us one step at a time. Like the old chorus says, “All we have to do is follow.”
How about you? Have you ever experienced a time when God did something new in your life—when you wondered, waited, worked and then watched Him do something beyond your wildest expectations? If so, please share with the readership here. We’d love to hear!
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