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Posts Tagged ‘preparing talks’

A couple of weeks ago, I began preparing two talks for an up-coming teaching morning. The first took many more hours than expected, but, after changing my approach entirely, it seemed I was getting there. The second came together quicker—yet I felt a little uneasy about it. I knew they would still require more work, but at least I now had something substantial on paper.

This week, I began checking the first of these talks again. But as I reached the second page, I became very confused. My notes did not seem to tie in with the accompanying power point presentation I had prepared. What had happened? I seem to have ended up with all these extra points in a strange order. I began crossing out one whole section—how could I have possibly have got it this wrong?

Finally, I stepped back from it all to gain some perspective. Then in a brief moment of clarity, I noticed the heading on the section that seemed so confusing and out of place: ‘The enemy brings doubt and confusion.’ (!)

You see, these two talks are about spiritual warfare and spiritual discernment, about what Scripture says concerning the enemy and what we can learn from this for today. No doubt I should have been ready for the confusion that ensued, but I’m so thankful God graciously opened my eyes to realise what was happening.

Then that night, I had a vivid, disturbing dream. In front of a huge crowd, I was given some music on the spot and asked to play the piano accompaniment as everyone sang. I tried my best, but it all fell apart. Then the master of ceremonies called up someone else from the audience who took my place and played it perfectly, as I stood there in great humiliation.

This time, however, I realised the enemy was up to his old tricks of trying to tap into my pride and my fear of being judged inadequate in some way. I quickly decided that, rather than wallowing in embarrassment, I would ask God to deal with the whole situation.

Later that day, as I again looked over these talks, I began to feel so much doubt sweeping over me. Was what I had prepared really suitable? What if I had completely misunderstood what the women had asked me to do? What if I offended those present with my material? Eventually, I woke up to what the enemy was trying to do. He was heading straight for that self-doubt in me that has been such an issue in the past, trying to make me feel as if I had nothing of worth to share with anyone.

I wonder if you, like me, sometimes forget we are in the midst of a battle each day as we try to stay true to the Lord? In Ephesians 6:12 we read:

Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Yes, the enemy is real. But so is God. Yes, the enemy is strong. But our God is stronger! One day, as Paul tells us in Philippians 2:10, every knee will bow at the name of Jesus and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord!

I can’t wait. How about you?

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This past weekend as I looked at my diary, I realised I will be delivering about a dozen different talks over the next three months. I am not complaining. In fact, I’m very much looking forward to giving each one and meeting so many different people along the way. I feel blessed to be able to do this—but it does of course involve a lot of preparation, which means a lot of concentrated time, effort and prayer on my part. To do that, other things need to fall by the wayside if I am not going to fall apart in the process!

I am a writer and a speaker. But sometimes the order of those occupations has to be reversed. Over the next three months, I will definitely be more of a speaker than a writer. But after that, it seems I’ll be more of a writer than a speaker again for a while. Now I love preparing talks for different audiences. I have been trained in this area and naturally enjoy teaching and sharing in a public setting. But I am an introvert at heart, so most of all, I love writing in the quietness of my study. I enjoy the whole process of immersing myself in creating a new manuscript, becoming lost in the story and finding myself in a completely different world.

So what does one do? I have come to the conclusion that I basically need to trust God more—to go with the flow, taking hold of whatever God-given speaking opportunities come to hand and making the most of each one to share God’s love. And when those speaking engagements dry up for a time, then again I go with the flow, retreating to my quiet study with a satisfied sigh as I hopefully lose myself in another storyline.

In all this, I am beginning to realise more and more that God can not only be trusted but also has lots of wonderful bonuses along the way for us! This past week, as I have thrown myself into preparing two somewhat difficult talks to get my head around, I discovered God was there right in the midst of it all, blessing me in an amazing way. As I delved into Scripture to find out more about these topics, I found myself yet again in awe of God’s heart of love for us. I needed to check many parts of the Old Testament as well as the New, from the beginning of Genesis right through to Revelation, and as I did, it opened my eyes to God’s utter grace and amazing loving-kindness to us flowing right down through the centuries to this day.

In Jeremiah 31:3, we read some words the Lord spoke to the people of Israel in past years:

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

This is certainly what I see as I look back over these past few days and note the way God has fed my spirit and strengthened my faith. While in my heart of hearts I might want to be writing, God simply smiles on me and blesses me right where I am.

Who wouldn’t want to go with the flow and enjoy the ride with such a loving God?

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