I've been back in England for three weeks now, spending time with my family and catching up with friends. A couple of weeks ago I had a chance to share at my church St Mary of Bethany in Woking. I came to church prepared to share about Pure Parks and our plans for the project. However, when Steve my vicar saw me before the service he asked me to share during the "Fingerprints" slot in the service. This is a time where people are invited to come up and share with the congregation things that God has been doing in their lives, situations where we have seen God's fingerprints.
To be honest, I kind of panicked. I had nothing prepared and spent the first worship song praying about what to share. I felt God say "singleness" to which my immediate reaction was "nope too personal I'm not talking about that" and then came the reply that someone sitting there might need to hear about it.
So I stood up and talked about the last few months of my life. How although I was excited that all my friends were married and having babies, I had been feeling alone and left behind and had allowed this to pull me from God and distract me from ministry. I shared how recently one of my friends had phoned me and asked to meet to talk. He told me that his girlfriend had broken up with him and he was devastated. During our talking I encouraged him to look to God for his self-worth and identity. Reminded him how God loved him and his security needed to come from that rather than anyone else. And whilst I told him this I was thinking "but I'm not doing that, I'm not going to God for my security and value." God used that conversation with my friend to bring me back to Him, to turn me back in the right direction. He used a situation in which I was trying to bless someone, to bless me. I encouraged the congregation to go to God to know their value and security and to trust Him.
During the next song in church a lady came and thanked me, saying that although she is married and has a son, she realises she is looking to her job and her role as a provider for her son for her self worth, rather than going to God for her value and trusting Him. After the service two other women came and told me that what I said about being single spoke to them, having painfully come out of relationships recently. I still find it incredible when God surprises me with an opportunity to share when I have nothing prepared and then moves through it; I know it's Him and not me. If you feel God prompting you to share something, even if it takes some humbling on your part (it often does), do it. You never know who is there that might need to hear it.
Blessing and encouragement - it seems like a cyclic thing. You try to bless or encourage someone and end up being blessed and encouraged yourself. Awesome.