At the recent InterVarsity conference where I was working, one of the presenters mentioned how the minister’s job is to be willing to speak about God, and also willing to speak for God.
Speaking about God sounds easy. I can talk about God all day.
But speaking for God?
Yet there are such brave souls out there. I have met some of them.
I am part of a nice little community here in Tucson, women who all have young children. We do play group every Monday, pray for each other, chat it up down in the nursery on Sundays and even have our own Facebook group. Recently we have ventured out for some childless time, to enjoy each other without being interrupted by our angelic, yet quite needy, little dears.
Three words: Mama’s. Night. Out.
So a few months ago we were out at a restaurant enjoying some yummy happy hour priced appetizers and drinks and wouldn’t you know it; you get a bunch of moms out of the house, give them a glass of wine and….we’re still talking about our kids!
Somehow we found our way talking about schooling choices as our kids are already at that age or are quickly approaching. This is something that has actually been causing me some anxiety lately as I am trying to decide what to do with my daughter. After spending several hours on the Internet I felt so discouraged by the options available to me, and so belittled by the options that are out of my reach.
I have always been a big fan of regular old public school education. I mean, I went to public school and I turned out just fine. But, the world has changed a lot since I was in school.
And Tucson is a far cry from my small town, upper middle class experience back in Illinois.
And, this isn’t about me.
This is my children and what was good enough for me isn’t good enough for them.
Private, secular school websites advertise how they have an emphasis on math and science (even private preschools. What?!), and will give my child the best education, the most qualified teachers and the most unique experiences.
Christian schools seem like such a safe haven; a soft, protective bubble for my little girl to grow in an environment where she can be taught about God and become exposed to conflicting or harmful worldviews.
Of course we will never be able to afford those. Public school is in our foreseeable future and as I thought about sending my girl out into the world (you know, preschool – the big bad world!) I was filled with fear and worry.
The other day I actually woke up at 4 am thinking about these things. (Truth be told, I woke up at 4 a.m. because as soon as I hit 30 last year, I have to use the bathroom at that time every night. But once I had woken up these thoughts kept me from returning to sleep)
Alright, let’s go back in time to my “Mamas Night Out”.
Here we are, a bunch of church girls, sitting around slowly sipping our alcoholic beverages and tasting each other’s yummy food and talking about schools and our little ones.
Such seemingly important decisions, and there is hopelessness and resignation weighing down our conversation.
And then, Kathie speaks up.
Kathie is in charge of Children’s ministry at our church and has been a huge blessing to my family.
Kathie is great at speaking about God.
But there is a moment in the middle of Mamas Night Out at Brio restaurant in Tucson, Arizona where Kathie speaks for God.
She said, “I was at a point where fear was driving me and dominating my life. I was making all my decisions out of fear of what could happen to my kids. But as Christians we cannot allow fear to be our motivation in decision-making. We are different from the world. We have hope”.
This is a paraphrase, but I do know that the spirit was moving in Kathie’s words.
I know this because she was speaking the truth as seen in God’s Word. It is true that God has given us a future and a hope. It is true that Jesus tells us we don’t need to worry or be anxious. It is true that Jesus has victory over fear and evil and we get to live in that reality today.
I know this because the Spirit gripped my heart. Her words gave me clarity and peace and understanding, like only the Holy Spirit could do.
I know this because I almost shouted out “Amen Sister” which is always my first reaction when someone is speaking for God. (I rarely actually say this, usually I just instead nod quietly in agreement, as I did in this situation)
She wasn’t speaking about God. She was speaking for God. Through His power, right into my soul and my heart and my mind and my life.
Speaking for God is scary.
I need to be rooted, so deeply, in God’s word.
I need to be sensitive to the Spirit.
I need courage to open my mouth.
Even in those moments where my children have frustrated me beyond belief and I don’t think they will ever get it: I must be willing to speak for God to those little hearts.
Even in those moments when the conversation is dominated by gossip, lies and fear: I must be willing to speak for God to hurting women.
Even in those moments when I am at least ten years older and a generation apart from the other people sitting on the Dorm Room floor: I must be willing to speak for God to lost college students.
Even in those moments when I am all alone in my bedroom at 4 am, burdened by stress and anxiety and worry; I must be willing to speak for God, even if I am the only one who needs to hear it.
Ministers must be willing to speak about God, and speak for God.
That is certainly true for my job on campus.
But it is also true for all of us who follow Christ and in all our varying contexts.
We have been asked to go for Him onto college campuses and overseas and into hospitals and public schools and happy hour and cubicles and churches and homeless shelters and play groups.
To be His hands.
To be His feet.
And sometimes, to be His voice.