I need to be faithful to do what God calls me to do. Courage to follow where God leads comes not from knowing the task or what lies ahead but from knowing He is always with me and never changes. God gave Joshua his task - lead the people into the land they will inherit. Joshua faced a huge job with many challenges. Yet God told him not once but multiple times be strong and courageous rather than being afraid, terrified or discouraged.
I believe God has called me to the task of being a storyteller, whether in writing or orally. He has added a desire to mentor, coach and help people find their voice, tell their stories and improve their communication skills. I do not know what it all looks like but it has been unfolding for almost a dozen years. Some days there seem to be more questions than answers. God's unchanging presence is the one constant throughout the years.
My journey as a speaker began in 2008 when a group of ladies asked me to be their retreat speaker. I taught a ladies Bible study at church at that time but to venture beyond this comfort zone caused much fear and trepidation. I knew God wanted me to be faithful and courageous and go where He led even though I could not understand why me. I obeyed and learned many lessons as I prepared. God provided affirmations to let me know I had listened correctly to His plans.
I longed to learn more about being a Christian woman speaker. I followed others who were further along the journey and gleaned helpful information. I sat in on workshops, took on line courses and read books to soak up as much knowledge as possible as I prepared for whatever adventure God had planned in the line of speaking.
One common thread in what I read and listened to included finding out your niche market. I should answer questions like, Who was my audience? What was the topic I was an expert on? How should I let others know I was available to speak? The negative, internal voice shouted, "You aren't an expert in anything!" Then it added thoughts like, "Who do you think you are to say you are a speaker? You don't know anything about target audiences or marketing yourself."
I reread the Bible story of Moses at the burning bush in Exodus chapter 3. I could identify with Moses when he argued with God about not being able to speak eloquently and questioning whether the Hebrew people would believe that God sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt. Yet God never asked Moses to do anything on his own strength but rather be obedient and trust God for everything he needed to accomplish the job God called him to do. I needed to remember that and be faithful, trusting God for courage.
I had always loved teaching children but now God had opened a door with ladies ministry at church and speaking at a ladies retreat. Why the change? I did not know. More speaking engagements have dotted the years between then and now. They have included all ages from children and teens to adults. I have spoken in churches, camps and schools. None of the advice about niche market or ages seemed to apply.
I questioned whether I heard God's direction clearly. God whispered into my heart, "Don't look at the venue or the age. When I open a door just walk through it. I will give you the words to say."
It flew in the face of the advice of those who had traveled further on the journey of being a speaker and yet I must continue to trust God as the ultimate authority.
My writing journey began ten years ago. For years I had stuffed my love of writing so deep I had
With the help of some wonderful Christian writers who offered help, encouragement and critique I finished the book. God has provided affirmations through comments of people who read the story and told me what it meant to them, how God had spoken to them and how it has been shared in more places than I can imagine.
I have continued to write, although for years I called myself a reluctant writer. My grandson told me that sounded negative and I should quit saying it. He encouraged me to branch out into writing fiction and not just non-fiction. I said no but he persisted. My husband, a niece and other family members joined the conspiracy to push me out of my comfort zone and into uncharted territory. A granddaughter told me to learn to write poetry and asked me to go with her to poetry workshops at our local library. I enjoyed the time I spent with her but poetry pushed me even further out of the writing comfort zone.
God has worked in my heart so I quit calling myself a reluctant writer. Some non fiction stories, one short piece of fiction and two poems are now part of my publishing credits. This has helped affirm that I have listened to God's direction even if it is hard and not what I expected.
There are times I feel an urgency to write and help others share their stories too. But there are times the entire process overwhelms me too. However, I know God is faithful. He has a plan even when I do not understand what that might be. He only asks that I am faithful to do what he asks me to do and not be discouraged or fearful. He supplies the words and the courage.
The speaking, writing, coaching others and teaching workshops to such a variety of ages flies in the face of conventional teaching by other speakers and even writers. I wonder how it should all fit
The questions still pop into my mind. They still make me wonder and wish for a map of the road ahead. But I know that everything fits under the umbrella of storytelling. God asks that I tell the stories to the next generation of His faithfulness and His love. I know God opens doors and when He does I pray I will be faithful to walk through it and trust God to supply the courage I need for the adventure of a life of telling stories in whatever form they take.
This week, month and year I pray I will be faithful and obey whatever God asks me to do as I remember Joshua 1:9 applies to me to.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Carol Harrison, B.Ed. from Saskatoon, has published one book, Amee’s Story, and has short stories in over a dozen anthologies. She has a passion for sharing stories from real-life experiences and God’s Word to help others find a glimmer of hope and a glimpse of joy.