2009, so far, has been one of the most blessed years I have ever experienced. I have seen God move in powerful ways!
This year will also be characterized in my memory as a year of keen testing. At least a half dozen times, since January, I have basically said (in the words of Jeremiah) "I will speak no more in His name!" And I am not the sort to say things like that lightly. In fact, I never in my life even considered keeping spiritual things to myself until this year! Falling silent had never crossed my mind...
My husband said something the other day that gave me considerable pause. He remarked that the Pharisees took even the words of Jesus, and scrutinized them in the most literal sense possible, torturing and misinterpreting both the intent and the meaning of them. That same spirit still has the same agenda, and will attempt to intimidate a son or daughter of God, using that person's own words against them! This was eye opening revelation to me!
If you have ever had your own words interpreted with an unrelenting, literal exactitude (and thereby had your own words MISinterpreted), if you have experienced being analyzed to the hilt, word-by-word, without an ounce of compassion, and then your own words thrown back at you....you have encountered an age-old tactic. It can be intimidating. The religious leaders did exactly this to Jesus. He disregarded their intimidation.
After Tim said those things, I confessed to him how very close I had come in recent months to making what would have been a fatal choice to stop writing about the gospel...to cease effusing to everyone who listens, about the work of grace that has mightily changed my life, and has restored me, even in this season, from a very dark place.
To write, for me, is not some way to react to opposition. Rather, to write is to communicate where I stand regardless of who agrees or disagrees. Writing is how I process, nothing more, nothing less. I write whether anyone reads or they don't read. Those who write for a hobby or a living will know exactly what I mean. I don't truly know what I think about "it" until I write about "it", whatever "it" may be.
But to have fallen silent would have been a reaction. Had I shut up, then I would have been reacting! I would have also ceased being the woman I have always been. Which choice would have been a "fleshly" reaction to the pressure? To continue writing? Or to stop? To continue to write would have been to remain consistent with my own gifting and with who I have been, almost since birth. This line of sanctified logic is how I ultimately discerned that the enemy had been trying to intimidate me into silence...a silence that almost seemed wise. It certainly would have been easy.
But, by the grace of God, sometime this past early-summer, I chose to not react to the pressure. I chose to remain consistent, and to continue being bold and courageous - consciously choosing to pay whatever price must be paid to remain faithful to my own passionate convictions, which are the result of hours and years of careful study. I chose to support my husband's word ministry with my own brand and style of word ministry, and continue to echo the truths of the gospel he is so passionate about.
It occured to me that to boldly and vocally support the church leadership I serve under has always been a chief characteristic of mine. I have been a part of two churches in my life - the church that sent us out, and the church my husband and I currently serve. I don't just say that I don't hop churches....I have actually never hopped a single church. Not one. I supported the pastor of the church that sent us out to plant, and I was unrelenting about it. I supported him publicly, and made my disagreements with him fully and faithfully private. Back in those days, when there was any friction, no one had a clue but Tim and I. And we never left over a single disagreement, and some of them were momentous. I understood my pastor's responsibilities and burdens. I was always vocal in "backing his plays". I felt it was important. If you think it was easy....well, you just don't know a thing! To leave would have been the easiest thing in the world. But we stayed. I stayed.
Why change now? Just because my husband happens to be the pastor this time, does not make things any different. I support leadership. That is how I roll. To suddenly become just another jaded church member, full of (educated and respectable) complaint and criticism, because my husband is now the pastor, and I don't want to look like I'm being self serving....well, that would have been nothing short of the fear of man.
Once I put it in the light - once I told my Tim how very close I had come to quitting altogether, how close I had come to not speaking anymore about the gospel or the grace of God or the profound things God has been doing in me....as soon as I relayed these things to Tim, I heard the still small voice of God, clear as clear can be, say to me, "Pick up your Francis Roberts book. I have something to say to you."
(Francis Roberts book "Come Away My Beloved" - such a dear old classic!)
I opened it up directly...directly and instantly...to this, entitled "Speak The Truth" ~
"I say to you, don't be intimidated by anyone, but speak forth my Word, even as I give it to you. You have written freely and fearlessly. Now speak in the same way. Your spoken word must be brought into conformity with the work I have done within you. This, you need for your own personal sense of unity. This you need for your own strength.
You are not trying to please me, but trying to please men. They will detect the inconsistency, for in one way or another, the truth will break through. If you cannot bring yourself to speak the truth without apology, then speak nothing.
Let the life and witness of Jesus be your guide. If you are willing to emulate His honesty, I will come to your aid and give you wisdom, so that your answers may be not only true, but forceful. For you wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against an unseen opposition of satanic forces. These may at times be arrayed against you even through your dearest friends, and you may have to reply even as Jesus did to Peter on one occasion.
Set not out on a mission to convert the world to your convictions, but rather hold your convictions inviolable against the forces of opposition. I will be with you, and will keep your mouth. Trust Me."
Could it be more clear? God still speaks, in the moment, to His children! May we each one be faithful to take what we "hear in secret" and proclaim it from our own "housetop"!