I did several very exciting things this weekend. Let me list the minutia for you:
- Drove to Detroit all by myself. Did not get lost. (Siri may be responsible for this.)
- Fell asleep for an hour in my minivan. The experience was kind of sketchy– I was an hour early to check in to the hotel, but my head hurt from this sinus thing that won’t go away, so I decided to close my eyes in the back seat while I was parked in the hotel lot. “Closing my eyes” turned into a deep sleep that stole an hour of my life. I woke up disoriented and groggy and a little uncomfortable that I can sleep in a minivan without a pillow or blanket or anything. What am I, a hippy? Weird.
- Checked into the hotel all by myself.
- Stayed in the hotel all by myself. Never in my life have I spent a night in a hotel without one or many family members/friends/random strangers assigned to the room. I had two beds, a bathroom, a TV, and a couch all to myself. It was delicious and lonely. I hated and loved it.
- Ate breakfast with famous people. Well, famous might not be quite the word. I ate breakfast with the other speakers at the conference I was attending, and they all speak around the world and have approximately 1,293 books published. Topics of discussion included travel to Africa to teach the Bible, and also men shaving their armpits before getting into a hot tub. I’ll just leave you with your questions. Really, you don’t want to know.
- Attended a conference with 1,200 attendees. Was interviewed at this conference in front of those same 1,200 attendees.
- Did not pass out during interview, thanks to the wonderful crowd and the amazing support of the other conference presenters.
- Drove back home in the rain, after having dinner with my brother and sister-in-law. Did not get lost or fall asleep at the wheel after an exhausting day.
So, to summarize, God ran me through the list of things I wrote about in my book, Plug My Ears. I was invited to the 1-Day Bible Conference by Our Daily Bread Ministries, and I left my comfort zone. I went in my weakness, my fear, and my distinct understanding that only God himself could qualify me to be included in such an event. I was anxious and on edge for weeks before the event, not at all sure why I was even included. I don’t have a mega ministry or a degree from a prestigious school. I don’t speak to crowds around the world or even small groups in Kalamazoo.
I had nothing to offer this crowd except my willingness to obey God and then talk about it in front of aaaaaallllllllllll the people.
Ohmyword. So many people.
But I sat up there on the stage when it was my turn and I brought everything I had, which was basically nothing but my weirdness and my love for Jesus. I told stories about my small group and how I want to be a dirty hippy who lives in a tiny house.
The crowd, which was mostly African American and over the age of 50, both thought I was nuts and funny. I know this because my brother and sister-in-law were planted in one of the rows, listening to the crowd while no one knew we were related.
After our segment, Sheila Bailey and I were directed to the back where we met with people and signed books. This was mildly hilarious because Sheila B is like a rock star to this particular crowd, she herself being African American and over 50. I had about four people who wanted me to sign one of my books (and three people who brought me books to sign that I hadn’t written– moments of true embarrassment for everyone), while a line formed for Sheila that was about twenty people deep for a half hour.
I decided to chat with the ladies waiting to meet Sheila, and we had amazing conversations. We talked about Detroit and the neighborhoods that are slowly coming back to life, and how they need more small groups sharing life to flourish. We talked about being a female corrections officer in a male prison. We talked about our families and ministries and churches.
It was beautiful. And none of it required an advanced degree from seminary or 1,293 book contracts.
Why do I always make things so complicated? Why do I look for weird proof that I can go and love people, and they can love in return?
I left the church relieved that I’d survived. But I also left filled up, blessed by all the prayers and kinds words and shared stories.
And today I write this from my couch, back in my comfort zone and cookie pants. My encouragement to you is this– if God is calling you to it, go ahead and join him. Don’t second guess his reasons or your qualifications. Just go and meet the people. Share the stories. Join the fun.
Don’t make it more complicated than God himself is making it.
And let me know how it all works out!