It's the smallest town I've lived in, but home to one of the greatest forces of impact in my life. Cedarville University in Ohio was a shock to my system when I left the DC metro area of Northern VA to attend as a student. I met Jeff there, and we were so challenged, discipled, mentored, and fed there. We began married life there after college, I taught school there, and we returned there years later to serve on staff at the Church, before they sent us to Asia as missionaries. We came home there when the Lord drew us back to the US and were received with open arms and love again. Sitting on the porches and pews and walking down the sidewalks are dear friends of ours whose lives are woven into ours.
Early in July I got a call from a young woman who was in our Cedarville youth group years ago, a friend we walked with through years of growth and out onto the foreign mission field. God has pulled amazing strings in the life of this treasure of a gal, and she was to be married to an Australian man near the end of July. Remember, God was working out lessons in CONFIDENCE throughout my month of July, as I traveled here and there and back again. I used to sing a lot, and my heart is still full of music. My sweet friend called with a request as we drove to the beach for a family vacation ... she wanted me to sing in her wedding.
That might not sound as "big" to you as it did for me, but it was "big" for me now. You can read the story of my voice change here. It's not so much the quality that changed, but the strength. Our time as missionaries in Asia forever changed my voice, and I have lost the freedom to sing with strength I used to enjoy. It makes me nervous to let someone depend on me in an event like ... a wedding. :/ I don't ever want to be a distraction. I love my dear friend, and I trusted the Lord would give me the voice for that moment, as He has before. Maybe it shakes my confidence, because I don't want to embarrass myself, especially if "success" depends on me. But does it?
I won't make you wait. I'll tell you that I sang the song (Be Unto Your Name), and Beth was married, and I pray the Lord was honored by my part in it. What a joy to see God's hand in it all! It was not the best I ever sang, but God gave me the voice for the moment, and it was so sweet to offer a song again. The song says, "Highest praises, honor and glory be unto HIS name."
Throughout July I was meditating on Philippians, written by the man who was given a thorn, a reminder that he was dependent on God for every iota of his confidence (2 Cor. 12:7). I still pray the Lord will fully restore my voice one day, but I've accepted that it may just be "my thorn," my reminder that I am dependent for every breath on the Lord. Nothing comes out that He doesn't enable. I know that now. Real confidence comes in spite of our thorns when we can say with Paul, "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord" 2 Cor. 10:17-18. Only in the Lord. Otherwise, it's a flimsy confidence. It's a theme Paul repeats in the Corinthian letters and in Galatians, a key to REAL CONFIDENCE in the Lord, instead of in our changing and unreliable qualities, like a voice or a body or a mind or a skill. Read Paul's amazing testimony here about how he prayed for his thorn to be taken away (I've been there), but he got to the place where he could rejoice!!! about his weakness, so Christ's power could be demonstrated through his life. Wow! I want to be "there," but I can't say I'm "rejoicing" yet. I'm getting there.
The more I rest in God's power over my thorn, the less power the thorn has over me. I am CONFIDENT in HIS ability and power, His perfect authority and provision, instead of hoping I can "pull it off" in the best way or at the right time.
From Corinth to the Cathedral to Cedarville ... God put the spotlight on where REAL Confidence is born, and He often used Paul's pen to draw out the words for me. But July didn't end in Cedarville. I have more to share as the week wraps up. I'll hope you'll join me!
Has God given you a thorn that keeps you mindful of your dependence on Him? Are you rejoicing yet that when you're weak, then you're strong? One day at a time, sweet friend. I'd love for you to share it with me, and let me "give" you a song in return.