(Welcome back to Carol Cox, who's guest blogging in Judy's stead this month.)
Little did I know that Gumby would one day become my role model.
I have to admit, I like structure. In my writing, I’m a plotter. On our travels, I’m the one charting our course on the map. I make lists so I’ll remember what needs to be done from day to day. If I had my way, things would move along at an orderly pace and go according to plan.
But God has a habit of turning my life in unexpected directions when I’m not looking, sending me into Gumby mode.
I went through something like that this past week. Seven days ago, I was happily working on last week’s blog. The biggest challenge ahead of me was deciding how to decorate a book table I planned to set up at a women’s retreat on Saturday, where I looked forward to making new friends, selling a few books, and enjoying a girls’ day out with other ladies from our church.
All that changed with an early morning phone call from the retreat coordinator. One of the five scheduled speakers had to step down due to health issues. Could I fill in for her? I promised to pray about it and call her back in an hour.
Have you seen the studies that show more people have a greater fear of public speaking than anything else in life? More than heights, mice, or spiders. For many people, fear of public speaking even tops the fear of death. And for most of my life, I was one of them. Sure, I’d done the obligatory oral reports and speeches in high school, and I had plenty of chances to speak in public during my 4-H years. But I sure didn’t enjoy it.
For all that time, my default answer to a question about speaking to a sizeable gathering would have been an automatic no. But this time, I agreed to pray, sure the Lord was going to confirm that having someone—anyone—else speak would be a better choice. Instead, He whispered yes. And I felt a Gumby moment coming on.
So there I was, committed to developing a talk on self-control (a topic I’m all too familiar with from the “have not” side of things). To be given to 350 women expecting a dynamic message. And only four days to do it in.
It’s funny, but that short notice turned out to be a good thing. Trying to pull everything together on such a tight schedule meant I had to concentrate on the job at hand and didn’t allow me the luxury of having time to panic. Instead, I found myself clinging to the Lord, reminding Him that I was doing this in obedience and asking Him to guide my steps.
As it turned out, the talk ended up being a blessing all around—to the coordinator who needed a speaker, to the women who heard it . . . and to me. Following God’s will meant bending in a new direction and finding unexpected joy.Clinging to Him. Abiding in Christ like a grape branch abides in the vine. That’s how our lives bear fruit for Him. That’s how we bloom and grow . . . and bend.
I still like the idea of having things all mapped out. But if we cling too tightly to our own plans, we miss the chance to enjoy some of God’s divine surprises.
What about you—has God been stretching you lately? Bending you in new directions?