If you read Part I, you know as I did that there was a God thing going on. When my company moved out of town, I thought my involvement was over. I wasn’t sure what God was doing. It wasn’t long, however, before I got a call and (long story short) I became the VP of the Greater Richmond Chamber and Executive Director of Workforce One ( a regional workforce development initiative). I held this job for three years and then became a national workforce development consultant to cities and states. To say I was busy would have been an understatement.
In my spiritual life I was never more aware of my need for God’s leading. I’d become enamored with the wisdom of God because I knew that I had knelt in the same spot as Solomon, had asked God for favor, and received it just as He had. WHY? What formula had I somehow magically gotten right? If my prayer that night by my bed moved the hand of God and engaged the power of God, I wanted to stay right there. My ears were pricked if the word wisdom, understanding or knowledge showed up in conversations, a lecture, a sermon–anywhere/anytime. I made scribble notes of verses and quotes and stored them in my PC as soon as I could transcribe them. I also started noticing the 7’s in the Bible and started recording them.
Then on a very ordinary Wednesday night I showed up in a small room at church to meet with a group of ladies for Bible study. They informed me they didn’t have a teacher but wanted to study Proverbs. AH! Proverbs. Well, it didn’t take long before I was sharing what I’d been learning, so they asked me to teach the class. There was no way I was taking on teaching a class; there just wasn’t time. But I had another idea; I told them of my interests in the book and some further research I wanted to do. They agreed to join my efforts and we became a research team. Each week I’d make assignments and they would come back and share their findings. The Word began to unfold itself right before our eyes and it became the most exciting Bible study I’ve ever done.
Several weeks into this effort, my pastor calls and asks me to come in to see him. Of course, I thought I must be in trouble. He assured me that was not the case. It seems his wife was in our group and came home on Wednesday nights excited about what we were learning. So, he just wanted to hear it from me. With a deep sigh of relief, I began to lay out before him what we had found. He sat back and said, “That’s amazing! Most people think Proverbs is a lot of great, but mostly disconnected, thoughts and sayings. But you have found a framework for it that ties it all together. In fact, I think it is probably a framework for all of Scripture. There’s not much written on Proverbs. I think you should write this book.” I was still breathing a sigh of relief that I hadn’t done anything wrong, but book writing? Well, it just wasn’t anything I had an interest in. And for sure I didn’t have time for something like that; I didn’t even have time to teach this class. So I dismissed his comments.
As I walked into class on Wednesday night the girls were all abuzz about me writing a book. It seems the pastor’s wife had shared his thoughts with them. I tried to quiet their enthusiasm because there just really was no way I was going to write a book. Over the next couple of weeks, they continued to press me about it. We were signed up to attend a women’s conference in Lynchburg, VA. They insisted that we should all pray and ask God to reveal to me at the conference if I should write a book. I assured them we didn’t need a conference or prayer. I wasn’t writing a book. I didn’t know how to write a book, I didn’t want to write a book, I didn’t have time to write a book. But they were not to be discouraged. Finally, I agreed to at least pray with them but warned them that it was going to take an audible voice from God for me to entertain writing a book.
We arrived at conference on Thursday afternoon and had sessions that evening and all day Friday and until noon on Saturday. Each time we gathered they couldn’t wait to ask me if God had shown me anything, and I was just as eager to assure them He had not. When we took our seats in the balcony for the final session, Stormie Omartian was the keynote speaker. We were really looking forward to hearing her. She had ten minutes to answer questions that had been submitted and about 45 minutes to speak. The first question she drew out of the box was, “How did you know God wanted you to write a book?” She began answering the question and about 30 minutes later she was still answering the question. In frustration she threw up her arms and said, “I know you see me looking at my watch. I’m trying to figure out how to stop answering this question and transition to the material I’ve prepared for you today. But I’ve never felt such a pressing of the Spirit of God. I know there is someone sitting in this room whom God is calling to write a book. Maybe you came with your women’s group praying whether or not you should write a book. All I can tell you is that your audible answer from God is YES!”
Well by this time my heart is beating about a thousand beats a minute, and I’m beginning to sink in my chair. She continued, “Now I know you are sitting there and your mind is racing with all the reasons why you shouldn’t write a book: ‘I don’t know how to write a book,’ ‘I don’t have time to write a book,’ ‘No one would read a book by me,’ or ‘I know nothing about the publishing industry.’ There was a man in Scripture whom God called at a burning bush. He gave God similar answers. Let’s all stand and read Exodus 4:14 to see how this made God feel.” So 3,000 women stood and read “And the anger of the Lord burned against him.” She continued, “Do you want the anger of the Lord to burn against you?” My heart whispered a very quiet “No.” She continued, “Then you must. . .MUST. . .write this book.”
Silence fell across the room as everyone looked around to see whom God was calling. She continued, “Now I don’t know who you are, but you know who you are. . .and more importantly, God knows who you are. Write that book.” And with that she asked the women to bow their heads as they stood to pray for the one God had just called out. I was dumbfounded. But apparently I had just told God I’d write a book. There was some brief negotiations with God: He would have to show me what to write. I’d be faithful to study, but He would have to guide. More importantly, it was His job to get it published and to do with it as He pleased.
That session was thirteen years ago and I’ve been studying and writing ever since. After all, you wouldn’t just throw something together over the weekend on the wisdom of God. To this day I still grapple with the concept that I, of all people on earth, would presume to write about the wisdom of God. In desperation, I found that same sweet spot on my knees before God, humbly begging Him to show me Himself and His wisdom. Well, James promises if we ask God for wisdom He will give it abundantly–He will hold nothing back. All I can say is that while I am sure no one can fathom the depths of His wisdom, He has opened my eyes to amazing truths about Himself. Two years ago I thought I was done and could put the final period on a book about the wisdom of God. But He said, “Not so fast. Wisdom is only one of my powers.” This led me into a deeper study of Him and His powers. Now I understand how they work together. Now I understand why I tapped into those powers when I found that sweet spot on my knees before Him.
When Jesus healed the lame man He told him in John 5:8 to rise, take up his bed and walk. This is a beautiful analogy to what God wants from us once He has healed us from our sins. He wants us to get up and get moving–to walk in power; power that He gives to us. I can assure you it can be frightening, while at the same time exhilarating, to walk on new legs.
When Jesus showed up to teach the fishermen, He told them they would need to launch out into the deep and cast their nets on the other side. In other words, you are going to have to get out of your comfort zone, go further than you’d planned, and do things His way and not yours. They were tired, but at His word, they launched the boat. And we all know the story: their nets were soon filled and breaking. But that’s not the end of the story. They brought back the largest catch of their lives and they just walked off and left it and their boats. They quit their job and walked away from their boatload of fish (which would have been a lot of money) to follow Jesus. And those smelly, drably dressed, unsuccessful fishermen became His disciples and the pioneers of our faith. Is God calling you? What does He want to do through YOU? Are you ready to find out? Get out your notebook and write that question at the top of the first page. Pray over it as we study together. God created you for His kingdom purposes. He wants to reveal them to you and to use you. And, I believe once you see Him and His power, you’ll walk away from the temporal and pursue Him as never before. If you are lucky He won’t ask you to write a book, but I know He has something very special in mind for you. It’s something you cannot do without Him. He can’t wait to show you, so get ready!
Well, I’ve written the book, but why wait for it to be published? Let’s begin unpacking what God has shown me. In my next blog we’ll start with a quick reminder of who God is and how He works. You won’t want to miss this one because it is important to understand who He is and how He works if we want Him to work through us.