Two weeks ago, Ryan and I were presented with a really awesome (and terrifying) opportunity at church. Our pastor wanted to talk with the congregation about the church's vision/plan and update everyone on the church's progress with the vision. Someone from the church touched base with Ryan and asked him if we could meet with Pastor Danny to talk about giving our testimonies in front of the church. That's when the butterflies kicked in! I thought to myself, "There is no way I'm talking in front of everyone on Sunday. I'll stand up there with Ryan, and he can do all of the talking."
So we met with Pastor Danny on Tuesday afternoon and shared with him our story...our spiritual background, how we met, what our lives looked like before we started attending Emmanuel, and the impression that the church has had on our lives these past two years. Throughout that meeting, I realized that God was answering one of our prayers. We've really been praying for Him to show us opportunities where we can be the hands and feet of Jesus, and I started to see that this was part of His plan, for Him to use us to hopefully encourage other people at our church. I knew that both Ryan's and my voices needed to be heard, so I agreed to share my part of the story, as well.
I really didn't feel nervous as the week went on, but I think it was probably because I was working so hard to prepare for Noah's birthday party. As soon as the party was over, my stomach just starting flipping and flipping and flipping some more. Just writing about it and remembering it makes my stomach get butterflies. I started to think about the different things we would possibly be talking about and sharing. I have always believed that God helped shape me and my character through the experiences - good and bad - that I've had throughout my life. It kind of hit me Saturday night that it is very possible that He also was going to use my experiences to help touch the lives of others. I started getting really excited about the opportunity we had to share how Emmanuel has impacted our lives in from of nearly 1,700 people.
That night, as my nerves and anxiety started to go haywire, I began praying that everytime I felt nervous that God would fill me up and push away any fear that I had. I really believe that Satan creeps up on us, fills us with doubt of ourselves and fear of situations like this, because he does not want us sharing how God has bettered our lives with people. I kept telling myself that I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).
Sunday morning when I woke up, I felt that fear again and continued to pray to God to fill me up. Noah and I met my friend, Laurie, at church because she, too, was going to share what God has been doing in her life since she began attending Emmanuel at Christmas time. Pastor Danny first had a guy named Andrew speak about how he has been attending Emmanuel for about a year. The incredible thing about Andrew is that he considers himself an agnostic, but he has felt this emptiness in his life, and coming to services every Sunday at Emmanuel has really been answering many of his questions and filling up his life. Andrew's testimony was awesome!
Then Pastor Danny introduced Ryan and me and interviewed us about different things in front of the church. As soon as I sat down and started to speak, I felt so calm and at ease about sharing our testimonies with everyone. God had answered my prayer! I wasn't shaking like a leaf and stuttering...my words came easy, and I truly felt like it was exactly where Ryan and I were supposed to be that day. Then, my friend Laurie got on stage and shared that I had been inviting her to Emmanuel for some time and that eventually she, her sister, and her mom all came to our Christmas service. That day, Laurie prayed the prayer to accept Christ as her savior. I felt so proud of her as she shared her story in front of everyone because her journey is just beginning. She is excited to grow closer to the Lord, and it has been wonderful seeing Him work through her.
After the service ended, several people thanked us for sharing our testimonies and said that they felt encouraged by what we said. They seemed excited to take their next steps in their walks as Christians. It was awesome to see how God used us to help others. It was an incredible opportunity, and I am so thankful that I was able to share it with Ryan. I am proud of the leaders in our church because they share a message of the complete love that God has for each one of us. I used to believe that the benefit of being a Christian was to go to Heaven, but I'm quickly realizing that that is just the tip of the iceberg. Being a Christian and choosing to make God a priority in my life has allowed me to walk with God every single day. I really feel overflowing with His grace, His love, and His plan for my life. I want more than anything for others to feel what I feel because it is the most fulfilled I have ever felt in my life.
If you are interested in watching Pastor Danny's sermon, as well as Andrew's, Laurie's, and our testimonies, you can follow these steps:
1. Download/Open iTunes
2. Search (upper right corner) Pastor Dan Anderson
3. You will see two Emmanuel Church of Greenwood items pop up
4. The first one has a little TV icon...double click the arrow next to the icon
5. Here you will see all of his sermons. If you click on "The Plan Update", you will be able to watch the sermon I wrote about today
There are so many great sermons that he gives that are posted online. A couple favorites include:
A. Image Problem - Week 3 by Pastor Tim Farrant (one of our great friends)
B. Image Problem - Week 4 by Pastor Dan Anderson (it's an awesome sermon about homosexuality)
Feel free to leave comments anytime on this blog, especially if you have any thoughts about The Plan Update. I would be interested to hear what you think. :) Until then, God bless!
Pastor Danny sent us a card this week, and this is what he wrote:
Ryan and Amy,
I just wanted to express my appreciation to you for sharing your story with the church! It was powerful! God used it to encourage people to consider their next step in the growth process. Thank you both for being willing and obedient to the Lord. He is doing great things through you! May the Lord continue to grow and stretch your faith.
Love you guys and thanks again.
The race is going to be awesome! (more about this in a future post)