(This post was written almost a year ago. It’s been updated for 2023.)
It’s not surprising for me to wake the first morning after a writer’s conference with a “dream” book title in my head. It happens after Priority conferences as well.
Here’s the title I woke with this morning: Hey Girl! Find Your Pulpit and Preach It! Hmmm . . . I stretch and think that sounds like a book I’d want to read.
Sunlight slips through and around the curtain panels to excite my spirit and give me energy after two days of travel and hotels that didn’t deliver what their billboards advertised. “Thank you, Lord, for my comfy bed.” My eyebrows pull hard to lift my eyelids so that I can greet the day.
My husband, Roger, was grumpy, weary and ready for Heaven before we’d unloaded the car last night, so I feel the need to check that he’s still alive. His eyes are open, but I wait. Good. He takes a long breath and lets out a longer moan. Neither of us speaks. He’d been the driver and baggage handler for the trip. You Illinois gals who have gone to Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina (as a driver or a passenger) know all about the Appalachians where the interstate curves, climbs and falls like a carnival ride.
We made it home without incident. No milk, juice, eggs, fresh produce or bread. I need to get to the store. But first, I sit at my computer to document a bit of that Ridgecrest “high” and to save that title: Hey Girl! Find Your Pulpit and Preach It!
Great book title. Don’t you agree? The focus scripture could be: ‘“For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.’” Jeremiah 29:11 (NET).
Four chapter titles are in my head within five minutes of waking. I roll over, and wouldn’t you know, five more chapter titles surface.
- You Have to Preach. (If you want to make a difference.)
- God has a Pulpit in Mind for You. (And it’s like no other.)
- There’ll be Detours. (But God won’t waste your time.)
- Found My Pulpit. Can’t find the Congregation. (Are you still facing the choir?)
- Is Preaching for Girls? (Yep. Check the definition.)
- What’s My Sermon About? (Finally. The right question!)
- Sounds Like a full-time job. (It sort of is, but with the best perks and paycheck.)
- I Messed Up. (God didn’t call you to perfectionism.)
- But . . . I Can’t Find the Restroom Without at Least One Friend. (Funny. Oh, how God loves to use funny.)
Now that I see the bulleted chapter titles on the screen of my computer, I wonder. Is this a book God would have me write, or is this an outline of what I need to be living?
“Practice what you preach” rings loud in my head. “When was the last time you led anyone to Jesus?”
The backspace key taunts me, “You and your grandiose ideas! That heavyweight title is for a writer who can sell tens of thousands of books. How many have you sold?”
I recognize the haughty voice as the coach of our opposing team, yet I’m tempted to delete the last hour’s work and go grocery shopping. I’ve already allowed the enemy to speak his losing strategy into my heart and brain where, at the very least, he will rob me of time.
“So what,” I answer. “Not today.”
I go to the living room where my Bible lays open at the place where Solomon asks God for a discerning heart. (1 Kings3:7-15). The story teaches and encourages the lowly of heart.
Lord, you know I’m not the soul-winner the chapter titles of this would-be book imply. Yet my life is good and I am blessed because you wake me in the mornings with thoughts of how much you love me. The enemy taunts and points to my weakness. He humiliates. You humble. You’ve had to rescue me from detours, and you’ve cleaned my nasty messes, yet you allow me a “pulpit” and a “congregation.” What other god would forgive me those things and then give more besides? It would be better for me to spend the rest of my days inviting hurting people, one at a time, into gospel conversations than to write a book with a catchy title so that a million Baptist women might be momentarily inspired. I want my readers to be more like you, Jesus. Not more like me. Keep my ears tuned to your voice. Give me a heart like Solomon’s and help me put it to good use. Amen.
So now I’m wondering. Have you forgotten? Or have you followed up on that thought or idea you “woke” to because of something you heard at Priority 2022? Have you taken a detour from the road God had you on? Are you distracted by tourist traps and the tempting promises on billboards placed strategically by the opposing teams coach? Maybe you’ve seen the curves, climbs and falls on the road ahead, and you’re tired of driving. Like me, just thinking of a carnival ride makes you dizzy.
Never before in the life of Illinois Baptist Women, or in my life, has the need been more urgent or the call been more clear. Never before in my life have I been more equipped. And never before have I been surrounded by a community of women more ready to find a place to plug in, serve and support. I hope you sense that too.
Don’t let the preaching scare you. It’s as simple as telling your story and making sure you don’t leave out the part where Jesus was your hero. It’s as easy as saying to someone, “I’d love to hear your story sometime.” It works! It really works.
I may have hesitated or missed 90% of what I felt God wanted me to do since last spring, but my oh my, He showed me some of what God can do with my measly 10%.
Hope to see you at Priority 2023. I’d love to hear your story.
“Hey Girl! Find Your Pulpit and Preach It.”
How are they to call on one they have not believed in? And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of? And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How timely is the arrival of those who proclaim the good news.” Romans 10:14-15, (NET).