There is never a time that I presume to teach the Bible that my heart isn’t racing or my armpits squirting. It’s really not so much that I’m scared of the people or being on the stage though that does play a small part. It’s being accountable for what I’m teaching. Being afraid that my thoughts won’t resonate. Ultimately being afraid that in my humanity I’ll just flat out blow it. And believe me, I’ve blown a lot. That particular fear used to cripple me in the voices of self-condemnation when I was finished. “You are an idiot. I can’t believe you said that! I can’t believe you forgot to say this! Why do you do this to yourself when it’s not even necessary?”
At one point I really considered laying down the whole calling until the Lord reminded me in prayer, “Lisa, those accusations are coming to you in third person.” And when I thought about it, He was totally right. When The Voices are in full volume, the thoughts were not me saying, “I am not enough”. It is always YOU are not enough. The Lord helped me to recognize that it was the Accuser inflaming my flesh and using it against me in the form of pride. Now maybe that doesn’t sound like pride but the Lord taught me that if I’m focused on ME either being more than or less than worthy, pride is still present. I had a stronghold of reverse pride and even though it still threatens to dig its claws back into me often, the Lord and I have come a long way in beating it back to the praise of His glory. There is so much freedom in doing what you love – even if I am scared to death – and then trusting Him with the outcome.
All that is back story in telling you that reverse pride reared its ugly head before teaching this past weekend at Oakwood Baptist’s Women’s Day. The reason? It’s the first time I have taught back home in front of high school friends who knew me in life B.C. – Before Christ. I knew several who would be there and because it was my hometown, I imagined I’d be surprised by others due to the size of the church and its reach in the community. Luke and I have been gone for years and in my mind, I’ve always believed the Lord took us far from it so we may actually be free to minister to those who didn’t have some preconceived idea of who we were. It’s the whole ‘prophet has no honor in his hometown’ mentality I suppose. Though the thought never really formed in my mind, somehow I believed I’d never be asked to go back.
I literally sobbed before the Lord because the full circle gravity of the moment wasn’t lost on me at all. Like Jonah I’m sure I cried, “Lord, can’t you send someone else?” But over and over in my spirit I felt Him say, “Lisa, it’s time. In fact, it’s overdue.” But then The Voices started, “They won’t hear a thing you say because all they’ll be thinking about is Old Lisa. They will laugh at you.” I tried to take comfort in knowing there were people there whose hearts were for me. But, the whole thought of being jeered threatened to take me down.
Maybe I’m being too honest with you here but I feel the need to praise the Lord as one who delivers the exact opposite response than the ones our fears set us up to believe is coming. The ones that often cause us to avoid adventuring into the unknown because we live as though the thing we are most afraid of is already a reality. My imaginations already had people laughing at me and imagining how I’d steel myself to protect my heart (definitely Old Lisa mentality) days before we laid eyes on one another.
And it was lies! All lies! And I almost succumbed to them. Had it not been for some special girls praying for me, I would have. Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Satan couldn’t have been more wrong though I’m presuming he knew that already. The day was one of my favorite on record. I met new friends – Lisa Eason and Oakwood ladies, your ministry is amazing. Robert and Carrie, your worship is reverent and lifted my heart straight to heaven. I saw some blog friends from Hurt Road Baptist (love you girls for coming all the way from Atlanta!). I saw friends who didn’t know me when but who have walked many years with me: Cindy, I love you and I needed you there more than you know. And then I saw many of my old friends and acquaintances. Shame on me for allowing myself to think that you would be less than the wonderful women of God that you are. I blame it all on the devil. Dern him.
Here are my friends Diana and Kristi. Our husbands used to be drinking buddies before the Lord rescued us all from ourselves and placed us all in various forms of ministry. (Kristi is the Women’s Ministry Director at Oakwood’s Gateway Campus where this event took place.) Man does God have a sense of humor:
By the way, Diana makes these fabulous bead necklaces with personalized charms. She blessed me with one that is BEAUTIFUL but my camera battery is dead so I’m showing you one from her gallery. (Want one? Leave me a note in comments and I’ll hook you up. OR you can message her on Facebook at Diana Newell Dotson.)
A crowd shot. This church campus takes up the better part of a mall in Ringgold, GA.
Some of my old buddies. Lisa is on the left. We were best friends in high school and I’m so happy after all these years we’ve been able to rekindle our friendship. Michelle is to my right. We were also besties back in the day. Then there’s sweet Wendy. She was actually one of Luke’s best friends since their families used to spend a crazy amount of time together. I’m dying for the two of them to get to see one another. They have the most fun stories. I love all of you and appreciate your encouragement more than you can possibly comprehend.
Thank y’all for allowing me to tell you more stuff than you really wanted to know.
It was cathartic.
Allow me to end with the spiritual lyrics of my boy Jon Bon Jovi:
It doesn’t matter where you are, doesn’t matter where you go
If it’s a million miles aways or just a mile up the road
Take it in, take it with you when you go
Who says you can’t go home?
Turns out, you can.