“Bring them to me, Lord,” I prayed in a sanctuary full of church family. I was still sitting with my head bowed while everyone else stood and sang along to the music. “Lord, use my writing as a way to bring souls my way so that I can tell them about you….”
My prayer evaporated. Tears stung my eyes as my words to God halted. I couldn’t go any further.
Because I knew I was lying to Him.
I pictured a scenario of being at a book signing of my very first novel, and someone approaching, questioning my faith. “So, tell me why I should turn my life over to God,” I imagined them saying.
And I saw myself freeze.
Sitting in the comfort of a toasty warm church surrounded by souls that also claim to belong to Christ, it was so easy for me to tell God that I would go to the ends of the earth for Him, that I would do anything He asked of me. That I loved Him and wanted to lead others to him, both Christians and non-Christians alike. That my writing belonged to Him, and that it was all FOR Him.
In the setting of life outside of my church building, those same prayers were weakened and shot full of holes. As if having a brilliant spotlight pointing directly into my heart, I realized then exactly how selfish I really am.
My hands began shaking and my palms were sweaty.
“Go,” I felt His strong, quiet voice say. “Walk to that altar.”
Immediately I rationalized against it. I was probably just experiencing an emotional moment. There was no one else there kneeling, the song would probably be short, and I would be exposed in front of the entire church to be stared at. I could feel the curiosity of everyone that would be watching, as if they were thinking, “She must be having some serious problems if she’s doing this again.”
Again – because I was just there last Sunday, kneeling in a gray dress and tall heels that made standing back up awkward and treacherous. I did it anyway, because God had asked me to.
“I already did,” I begged God. “Last week. Just like you asked. Please don’t ask me to do it again. I’ll just be up there all by myself, and this time probably won’t be able to hold back the tears. It’s embarrassing to weep in front of a huge crowd of people. You know I don’t cry gently, Lord. I ugly-cry worse than the ugliest of ugly-criers.”
“Go,” He urged.
I waited a moment longer to see if the music would end so that I would have an excuse to stay where I was. Instead, the music played on.
I slipped out, and with my head down, shuffled to the front as quietly as possible, hoping no one noticed. I picked the corner edge of the altar for kneeling because it was the only place partially concealed in the shadows.
There, on my knees, my hands shook even harder. “I’m here, Lord. Just like you asked. Now what?”
“Just stay,” He whispered with overwhelming love. “Talk to me.”
So I did.
I begged His forgiveness for my shallow, flimsy faith that, when spoken about aloud, appeared so strong. For listening to the lies of fear rather than obeying Him. For ignoring Him. For not trusting Him. For being selfish when He asked me to give, go, and do. For drowning in doubt instead of walking, head up, in the confidence of His power, presence and promises. For taking glory that didn’t belong to me. For … everything.
I felt so alone and exposed in my vulnerability – like those pesky dreams that you’re in a crowded public place, only to look down and realize you’d forgotten your pants.
It was in that moment that I felt two people approach and kneel, one on either side of me.
I glanced to my left to find a man I greatly respect, who together with his wife, taught my son’s Bible study class last year – a gentle soul with a powerful spirit. I glanced to my right and saw the closed eyes and moving lips of one of my dearest friends, a woman that I deeply love from the bottom of my heart. As she gripped my hand, the love emanating from her washed over me.
That’s when I crumbled.
“They don’t know what a failure I am,” my heart cried. “They have no idea what a weakling I am, and how much fear I feel over the things you’re asking of me.”
“It doesn’t matter,” I felt God say. “They’re here. This is what I wanted you to see. You’re not alone. You never will be.”