Monday, July 07, 2008

From Stranger to Friend

"I Found Joy in a Big God" Part Five

It was shortly after 7:00pm on Saturday, August 6th, 2005. I had just finished the most delicious dinner provided by the Renaissance Suites Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina, when a petite gal approached the microphone to share God's Word with a room full of ladies. The session was titled, "Speak Lord, I'm Listening."

Opening up God's Word, the speaker began to share truths unearthed through the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10:38-42. Challenging us to live in the 'hear' and now, she took the word 'listen', and using it as an acrostic, guided us through six steps to sitting attentively at the feet of Jesus.

With each truth conveyed, my heart beat quicker. This was the message the Lord had sent me cross-country to receive. God began doing a new work in my heart. Through her gentle delivery, John 11:44 came alive. "Take off the grave clothes and let (her) go." God was beginning to speak freedom over my life, and He was releasing me from the chains that bound me.

I have never forgotten the message shared that night, nor the one through whom it was delivered. Now, here I was, three years later, attending the same Conference, and Saturday night's speaker was none other than this very same gal. One thing had changed though. This time I would sit in her presence, not as a stranger, but as a friend.

Earlier this year the Lord had very strongly impressed her name across my heart and I had responded to His call in obedience. God had called me to commit to pray for her and through a mutual friend we were able to connect.

As I sat now waiting to hear the message God had written for her to share this year, my heart overflowed. This time her message was titled, "Beyond the Shadow of Doubt" and I was eagerly anticipating all that God would say to me through His faithful vessel. I was not disappointed. She opened His Word with assurance. She spoke His truth with genuine love. She shared, not as one who lived a text-book Christianity, but as one who has met Jesus face-to-face and knows the challenges of walking with the Lord, as well as the surpassing greatness of His glory. She may be small in statue, but she is mighty in His power. Her message had God's anointing. My pen couldn't write fast enough, as again God used her to speak the language of His heart.

Renee, thank you for infusing my life with hope. Thank you for allowing me the honour to pray for you and your family. Thank you for the verses of encouragement you sent my way when fear threatened to strangle all faith. You didn't just send scripture, you personalized God's Word calling me to see that His promises applied to me today and His Word is alive and active. You challenged me to dress in His armour and prayed victory over my life.

As I've had the privilege of getting to know you, I see a very real woman who has discarded masks for authenticity. Your sweet and quiet manner welcomes my timid spirit and I know my thoughts find safety with you. I love your heart. There's no false pretense. No cover-up. You share your doubts, concerns, passions, joys, successes and failures and let me know I'm not alone.

I'm so glad I was with you Sunday morning when I found God's Word spoken over my life. That was so exciting!!! (I'll be posting about that another day!)

Your smile is contagious. Your heart so precious. Your friendship a treasured gift. I love how you already believe I'll be back next year! So, I won't say goodbye - just see you next time.

Love, prayers and hugs,

PS. For those of you reading this today, would you pray for Renee and her family. They are facing some challenges, but we have a God who hears and answers prayer.
"On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many." 2 Corinthians 1:10-11


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Glad you're back. I'm in a lather over here regarding some changes I'm making on the blog. Pray for me as I try and navigate my way through them.

Can't wait to hear more about your trip.


Paula (SweetPea) said...

Glad you are back and that God blessed you with this sweet friend.

Look forward to more.

tiggerdaisy said...

I'm so glad you are back! I've missed you!

Great post! You are such an encourager!! I know it will touch Renee's heart in a positive way!

Prayers and Blessings!

Runner Mom said...

Hey, Joy! It's good to have you back. Hope that you enjoyed your vacation.

Renee and her family are in my prayers as well.

Awesome post, my friend.

Marilyn said...

I've been looking forward to July 7 so I could start reading your blog again after your vacation! :)

Enjoyed todays post. Actually I guess I thought that you had never been to the She Speaks conference before this year. Was a surprise to hear you had been in '05. Guess the subject just never came up when we emailed.

Looking forward to hearing more.

God bless,

Sita said...

Joy, I'm feeling like "Mara' today and appreciate your care for your friends. It hurts so much. I pray that Renee would know the power of "El Shaddai" today as I have prayed for myself as well. You have certainly known Him by this Name. Thank you for sharing.

Lelia Chealey said...

Very sweet post Joy. Renee is a very special woman of God. That must be a criteria for being a P31 speaker! I love her true heart for God. It beats so loud & clear for Him. I loved her talk Saturday night at She Speaks. One I too will never let go of.
You are real special too Joy and God has great plans for your life as well. Oh weird...I have a radio station playing on my computer and they are playing a Proverbs31 clip and Renee is talking about getting along with difficult people. Okay, anyway thanks for sharing this post.

Renee Swope said...

Girl you made me cry!!! What an honor to read such beautiful words. You are such a gifted writer!!!!!! And such a beautiful friend!!!!!!!

Okay, after I finished crying, I smiled and laughed as I read how you described me as quiet. I have seen that word used a few times to describe me in some She Speaks re-caps on blogs. My husband laughs, too, 'cause I am not so quiet at home :-).

Either I was sleep deprived or God has done a work in my life over the past 21 years. I used to be so outspoken and opinionated in a not-so-Godly way. I had to get my words in! I had to be heard!!! No one described me as quiet, but I think God is showing me something that brings Him glory and I just gotta brag on HIM!

For years, I have prayed that He would give me a quiet and gentle Spirit. That He'd take my passion and make me slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to share my opinion. As I read your words I was blessed to see His Spirit described in me. Thank you friend!!! Thank you so much for sharing our story and helping me see more of His story written in my life, as well!

I am going to print off your precious gift of encouraging words to read as a sweet reminder of God's faithfulness and calling on my life.

Thanks for using your gifts to serve Him and all of us. Huge hugs and blessings your way!!!!!!!!!!!


Pamela (MrsJoeB) said...

Saturday night at She Speaks will not be forgotten will it? You are a blessing too friend!!

In His Races~Pamela

Melissa said...


The way you use your words to share, build up, teach, and encourage is amazing to me! I could not agree with you more about Renee. I was blessed to spend some time with her today. Even though we work together, we rarely get to sit down together. Today we did and it was so nice.

Thank you for writing and sharing such kind words about our sweet friend Renee.