I’m continually amazed by how God seems to call upon us to minister to others when we feel we have the least to give. Not only does He use us in powerful ways when we feel like we have nothing to give, but in turn He refreshes us, revives us, reveals His plans to us, and meets our own needs in the process.
I’m reminded of this example in the Bible. 1 Kings 17:10-16 (NLT) says,
“So Elijah went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the gates of the village, he saw a widow gathering sticks, and he asked her, ‘Would you please bring me a little water in a cup?' As she was going to get it, he called to her, ‘Bring me a bite of bread, too.’
But she said, ‘I swear by the LORD your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.’
But Elijah said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the LORD sends rain and the crops grow again!’
So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days. There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the LORD had promised through Elijah.”
Last weekend we had our Tennessee District Women’s Conference. It was powerful. Three hundred ladies worshipping together, drawing closer to God together, and He showed up in all His glory; what a blessing it was to be a part of the “Fierce Conference.” The week before the conference had been incredibly busy for me, and the three day conference was busy as well. Before I could even get home from the conference that weekend I realized I was coming down with a cold…great.
The cold knocked the wind out of me, and literally landed me on the couch for a whole week. I was miserable. Add the let down that comes after every amazing conference—I don’t like let down, maybe cool down is more appropriate—and I was down for the count.
Well, I thought, maybe I could get some writing done since everything else had come to a halt. I was hoping to at least get caught up on my blog. (Yes, I’m aware that I’m terribly behind. Please forgive me.) So, I tried to write but I couldn’t put two sentences together to save my life. I had a really bad case of writer’s block.
I prayed, I read my Bible, I did daily devotionals, and still nothing inspired me to write. With my deadline for my second book looming in the distance, I began to feel even more anxious. What would I write? Will I ever have another inspired thought in my life?
When I was at the women’s conference, there was a common thread that was woven throughout the entire event. It was the simple but compelling admonition to, “Tell your story!” We all have a story to tell. Writing my first book was fairly easy to write, because I simply told my story.
This morning when I woke up I had a message from a pastor friend. He wanted me to listen to a video of him sharing his testimony, and asked if I could tell him if I thought it was book worthy. After listening to his story, I encouraged him to write the book. I explained to him that his testimony would be a great help to other pastors going through the same thing. He was thrilled and thanked me for encouraging him to write it.
Later in the afternoon another pastor friend messaged me and asked me to listen to one of his recent sermons. As we began to talk about the topic of his sermon, he began to share some of the things on his heart about where he feels God has him in ministry right now. You guessed it, I told him he should write a book. He asked me if I thought the timing was right. As the Holy Spirit impressed it upon my heart, I told him, “Yes! Now is the perfect time. Write the book while you wait for your next assignment!”
Now, in my current state of writer’s block, desperation, and lack of enthusiasm for writing my own book, I still managed to pour into and encourage two other ministers to write their stories! I didn’t really feel like I had any encouragement to give, but I strongly believe in the power of sharing your story. I have seen what God can do with us when we choose to be transparent, and simply tell our story. I have seen how God has used my own story over and over again in ways that I can’t even begin to comprehend. Our stories are powerful, and we all have a story to tell.
People will gladly pick up a book that deals with the same issues they are going through. It’s confidential. It’s non-confrontational. They can read the pages, and feel like someone else understands them without even talking to that person. They can learn from the mistakes of others, and make detours to prevent those mistakes in their own lives. They can be encouraged just by knowing they are not alone. We always have something to give, even when we feel like there is nothing left. We have a story.
So many times, we feel that we are running on empty. We may feel tired, burned out, sick, or depleted. But God loves to pour into us and through us when we are emptied of ourselves. The widow thought she had just enough oil and flour for one more meal for herself and her son. But when she shared with Elijah, it became more than enough!
God can do more with nothing, than we can do with everything. Don’t ever think you don’t have something to contribute. You always have enough to be a blessing to someone else. Tell your story, and then encourage others to share their stories.
Now, do you know what happened to the rest of my day? After encouraging others, and telling them the story of how I wrote and shared my own story, I was inspired to write again. When we give from the little we have, God provides. And… This is how we fight our battles!
Rev. 12:10-11 (NIV)
“For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;”