I have just finished putting together a talk I plan to share in 3 days with the women's Sunday School class I lead. I would love to hear any input you would like to offer...
Sunday School – Jan. 25, 2009 - Sharing My Story…Shining His Light
Once upon a time there was a little girl who grew up going to Sunday School and trying to be good. As she grew, she was confirmed, taught SS and fell in love…with basketball. The game was her life – when there was nothing to do, she was playing the game or watching it. Her life revolved around the ball. Though she had some success on the basketball floor, there were struggles elsewhere. The girl felt like she wasn’t good enough and often cried herself to sleep.
Though times were lonely, life continued on. She went on to college and the love her life went with her. She continued playing ball, but even though that goal was reached the sadness still was there. It grew when she suffered a career ending injury the end of her freshman year. There wasn’t just sadness, but frustration too as she wrestled with the “Why’s?”
Again life goes on and eventually it seemed she found an answer – “why the injury? It helped her make a decision - with her playing days behind her, it made sense to pursue a career in teaching and coaching. Before graduation she had a chance to practice her future role and found joy in the path she had chosen. And confirmation that some of her Bible study teammates were right, there was a reason for her injury. She could now reach out to her players when they were hurt.
With this new found knowledge days and months continued to pass – she had landed a real job, was teaching her own class and coaching her own team. Goals she had set were now being met, but yet there was still something missing. She thought, “maybe it’s the love of my life” – basketball wasn’t the same and as classmates were married, she wondered if she’d ever even date! The times of loneliness added to the sadness that had never really went away. The feelings of despair only increased as she hide her pain from others.
The sadness was bad enough, but feelings of failure pushed her deeper into the pit that was already there. By September of her second year teaching depression had taken over. The little girl who had never quit on the basketball court was ready to quit in the game of life. One Tuesday night she came home from coaching a volleyball game full of frustrations and feeling of no value, so she pulled out her journal to write some final thoughts. She sat on her bed scribbling, sobbing and shaking, so much so that everything she’d tucked in the book fell out.
The thing that caught her attention was a thank you note she’d received a week earlier from a parent of a girl she had coached. This mom thanked her for encouraging her daughter thru an injury and for being a bright spot in her life. The words were enough to shake her up a bit more – she then reached for the phone instead of her keys and called for help rather than going on a ride that would end it all. Her Wartburg teammates were right, there was a reason for the injury, it helped save her life.
The girls parents came, listened and offered their help. She was diagnosed with depression and the medication helped, but the real cure was soon to follow.
One day she was home alone in the apartment when she picked up her roommate’s book, I Kissed Dating Good-bye. With one date on her resume the girl knew she didn’t need any help, but still she read on. And as she did she began to understand the reason for the loneliness – it wasn’t because basketball was taken away, it wasn’t because her little sister was getting married and she’d never had a boyfriend, it was because she really didn’t know Jesus.
As she read about Him being the first love in her life, she remembered things – kind faces, encouraging words, Billy Graham on TV, Pastor Tim’s talks at the summer barbeque she always enjoyed, genuine love from others (some of you sitting right here) and she knew she wanted what they had – Him. So one day as the 90’s were slipping away that little girl prayed to receive Christ and committed to living her life for Him.
Well, as you know the little girl is me and if you’re wondering “is there a happily ever after?” – yes and no. There have been numerous joys – no more depression medication, 3 months later I went on my first date with a prince named Job, 7 months later we were engaged, 8 years later we have 3 children, the list goes on. But this walk with Christ hasn’t always been easy – the change in me and my priorities hasn’t been accepted or understood by some and as God calls me out of my comfort zone there’s plenty of moments of doubt, but still I wouldn’t trade where I am now with where I was then.
Like I said God put it on my heart to share this, does that mean you need to do the same? No! And I’m sure some of you are relieved to hear that answer because trust me I’ve been there, but God has moved from there to here, so never say never. To give you a better picture of where I was – I remember the first SS class I came to in this church, the adults met up stairs, we watched a video and then they had us count off and get in groups to pray. Let’s just say I was instantly sick – I honestly don’t remember if I said anything out loud, but I do remember Chris Back prayed for me specifically and God just touched my heart with that. And now 7 ½ years later, I’m praying out loud with the men’s class standing on the steps.
So I guess a few things I’ve learned – shining our light makes a difference - we never know what big thing God can do with our little things. Sometimes it’s big things in the world and others it’s right here in our own church. As we think about how to shine in the community let’s not forget how we can do that right here too. Maybe it’s sharing your music, maybe it’s an encouraging note, a call to say hi or maybe it’s sharing your story. Just ask God to show you and when He opens the door, walk thru it.