Friends, I’m going to share some things today that I have never shared publicly.
Years ago, I was a freshman at a very conservative Bible college, and went to a few underground charismatic prayer groups out of curiosity…as rebels do. One of the other girls in the meeting asked if I had ever spoken in tongues. I said that while I believe God can make anyone speak in tongues if he wanted to, the Bible is clear that there should be an interpreter, etc. etc. As for me, I had never seen or experienced it. So she invited me to ask God if he wanted that gift for me.
So I prayed.
And then I spoke in tongues.
I won’t get into the details that experience, as it isn’t the doctrinal focus of this post. A few weeks into this new gift, I began to get panicky. I began to worry what would happen if God wanted me to speak in tongues during a church service. What if he asked me to speak in tongues during one of my Lutheran church services? I began to think of all the improper times and places that one would speak in tongues, and what it would do to my life if I just handed the ability for God to just use me like that. It seized me with fear.
I remember praying one night, in the fetal position, on the floor of my dorm room, asking God to take the gift back. I told him it was too big for me. It was much too big for me.
I’ve never spoken in tongues since.
In nearer history, as I have dealt with chronic pain in my neck due to a car accident, God dropped in my life a grandfather-ly massage therapist who used to be a pastor, and volunteered to work on breaking up the scar tissue in my neck on a weekly basis, for free, as a ministry to me, and favor to his daughter.
I can’t make this stuff up, guys.
One evening, as his wife was caring for little Bjorn during my massage, and he was digging into my muscle, and praying over me, I started telling him this story, and all of the guilt over pushing God away like that I had held onto all these years. He told me in his gentle voice, “Gretchen, you weren’t pushing away the Holy Spirit. You were asking your Daddy to help you. And he did. You offered your burdens to him, and he held onto them for you. What kind of father would do any differently?”
You cannot begin to imagine the comfort those words were.
Fast forward to today.
Friends, I’m working on an online course. That sounds rather bland, but it’s a leadership training course for women’s ministry. It’s for training in individuals to mentor and teach the younger women in the church.
I have had lonely years alone with my kids. I know many of you have too.
I have felt frantic and helpless.
I have learned to depend on God more than I could have possibly imagined.
I have felt angry at the lack of older women helping younger women.
God has turned that into compassion for the crucible that older women have lived in during their young lives. I have seen the lies Satan has told them, like he whispered to me too.
I feel like it all boils down to sound doctrine.
It boils down to the law and the gospel.
This course is me fighting the lies with truth. It’s shining the light into very dark places in women’s lives.
Writing this course has been one of the greatest battles of my life. Why would Satan target all these lies at women for so long. What’s at stake? What’s his strategy?
Right now, the course is written, and I have a lot of logistical/technical things left. Then I’m going to send it off to some friends for feedback, and endorsements. Basically within my checklist, 90% of the things are done. This afternoon, I’m working on arranging slides in the Keynote presentation program, and getting them ready to record. Everything to be on the slides is already written and organized. I’m literally copying and pasting, centering and aligning. It’s not rocket science.
And yet, I was seized with fear.
I’m not afraid of no one buying this online course. I’m afraid too many people will. That’s my raw honesty. I’m afraid this is getting too big. I wrote it because it was the burning passion God put in my heart and it simply had to come out, and…what if he turns this into something too big for me?
I have assembled a team around this project. It’s already outgrown me. But I have still felt the fear. It’s my name on it.
What if my name, and my face, and my beliefs go into the public sphere and I’m dismantled? We see it every day. What if I’m not strong enough?
Friends, I was shaking, copying and pasting. Copying and pasting. It’s getting too close. It’s getting down to the wire. My deadline to finish this is coming.
“This is too important.” I whisper to myself, willing myself to keep going. “Too many young women are drowning. Too many older women have no IDEA what kind of blessing they are missing out on, having a front row seat to seeing God at work like this. It’s too important. This is too big for me, but I can’t stop.”
I went downstairs to get myself some food. Maybe that will stop the shakes, right? I went to my kitchen, and started frying an egg for some good protein. I put on my playlist of praise music.
Worship is a balm. Worship is life. Worship helps me focus on God’s strength, instead of mine.
I thought back to the last 2 months. I thought about how I got here, from my grandpa passing away, to little things like a conversation I had with an old friend last weekend that made my jaw drop and tears flow as I heard how something I wrote 10 years ago is still being used to proclaim God’s goodness today. It’s like my husband agreeing to all this, this time, even though it’s kinda making my house a mess.
It’s like one of my kids coming up to me today, awkwardly saying, “Mom, I know this sounds weird, but I feel like God wants me to tell you something.” (These aren’t words commonly spoken in our home.) “You know how Martin Luther prayed for, like an hour every morning, and he said when he had a really busy day, he would pray 2 hours? It’s like that. It’s like you seem worried you aren’t going to get all of this work done. God wants you to lean in, and spend more time with him. He makes us more efficient when we lean on him through prayer. Don’t skip it.”
It’s like doors opening for places for me to record, and the most perfectly picked weekly babysitter who fit into an impossible family schedule at just the right time and just the right price. Everything about this project is impossible door after impossible door, and sweet, small encouragements that are supernatural in their placement, timing, and sweetness.
I was down in my kitchen, frying an egg, listening to my praise music, and remember all that God has done.
From my mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again to my family
Your blood flows through my veins
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
I am surrounded
By the arms of the Father
I am surrounded
By songs of deliverance
We’ve been liberated
From our bondage
We’re the sons and the daughters
Let us sing our freedom
You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
My fears are drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
And I will stand and sing
I am a child of God.
Friends, I just had some worship there in my messy kitchen, frying my egg. This Lutheran raised her hand and swayed. I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God. God has set these words that have been churning in me for years free. He’s loosening my tongue, differently this time. It is terrifying. He is good.
Believe me when I say, I can’t wait to share this course “Gospel Mentoring” with you. April 30th. We are almost there. Writing this has been one of the greatest battles of my life so far. This is my love offering to you, dear readers.
Because the gospel changes everything, and it’s that important.