See that picture…that is me, not looking happy. I had just finished my afternoon session at the ISI Conference in O’Fallon and walked outside to take this pitiful selfie. Of course, there is a lot of back story leading up to this moment.
The trip to Illinois started with 3 cancelled flights and over 8 hours of delays, I almost decided not to go (easy when no planes are landing at the airport you’re trying to leave from) and started to cancel hotel/car reservations. Before I could finish, two friends (who were with me for most of that time) told me (with brotherly love of course) to get my butt on the next plane that lands, that I needed to go and yes, God was STILL in it. Of course they did it from the safety of their car since they left me at the airport.
Thank God for brothers like that.
I got to my hotel late Friday night and got up early to get to the church where the event was (only seven minutes away) and promptly got lost for 35 minutes…yep, another traveling snafu. I was seriously wondering if I got on that plane by mistake and God was keeping me from this conference! Fortunately, I arrived at my destination just in time for a prayer meeting with all the other speakers.
When my session started I was fired up and ready to engage and equip. I knew my session wouldn’t draw a big crowd and I drew about 15 guys…that was OK by me. I have spoken in front of 200 and in front of 20, it never matters to me.
As men came in the room I asked a few questions, made a few funny remakes, typical warm up stuff, but I noticed the guys look sleepy, even tired (it was after the lunch break). Sure enough, when I started one guy was nodding off no more than 5 mins into the session…that doesn’t bother me either, because I just pretend people are agree with me (all the nodding up and down motion). Yet, I could sense that I was losing the group and a tried to shorten my teaching on the fly…although nothing seemed to be working… God was at work.
I shared part of my testimony about the abuse I suffered growing up and how the Father has restored my identity as His son. I talked about how forgiveness is a huge factor of acting like my Heavenly Father and was the key to my freedom. I finished up on time but felt awful about my session (thought I blew it big time).
After the session and the room was clearing, a young man walked up to me and shared how they were once abused and it was great to hear that God could and would restore a life in such a way…they were so grateful to hear that news…they felt hopeful.
That encounter was the reason I came.
The next morning I was still a bit troubled by my performance and God led me to read the book of Ruth… yes, Ruth. Through the story of Ruth, God taught me a lesson about birth and obedience. I was reminded that when you do the right thing, God will birth (bring life) through you. Boaz (whose named means an inward strength) did the right thing (rescuing Ruth) and David’s grandfather was born. Obedience is indeed better than sacrifice.
After reading Ruth, I said to the Father…
“But I failed!”
“But I didn’t”
WOW…talk about a response! My performance had no bearing on His message because it’s His message, His Word and it does not return void. I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and get ready for the next opportunity. He wants me to be available and give my heart over to His purposes…not worry over performance.
I learned a lot about me this trip and I look forward to going to Springfield Illinois for the next ISI conference. I will be a much humbler son this time around.
The truth is that it’s never about me… it’s always about Him… really.
What about…ever feel like you failed God in a big moment?