The short answer as to why I wish to attend this course is because my Lord has called me to serve Him. At first it was a still small voice, which became louder and louder, quickly followed by a strong desire burning inside me to share God’s word, to encourage and feed others and to lift and direct them on their journey with Jesus.
The long answer takes me back to 2010 – a very difficult year for me. However, through the pain and suffering, a prayer which I had said each and every day, and continue to say, was answered. This prayer was that I should become the woman that the Lord intended me to be, to do what the Lord intended me to do, to serve in the way the Lord wanted me to serve Him.
First though, I had to be stripped of everything that at that time I felt defined me and that provided my self-worth. I had been a man-pleaser and not a God-pleaser. As a result, I was left on my knees. This was a life-changing experience. I prayed through it and I was obedient and consequently God turned around every hurt, He strengthened me, He lifted me, He restored me and blessed me beyond my wildest dreams. God used the pain to transform me, He used the experience to turn my life around and I have never looked back.
During the summer of 2010, I spent most of my time with God. Reading the word and Christian books and of course praying, then praying and then praying a little more. I did not sleep well, so when I awoke I prayed and saying the following scripture over and over again was of great comfort:
I will never fail you.
I will never forsake you.
That is why we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; so I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”
(Hebrews 13 v5)
On one occasion, in a hotel room in Germany, I awoke at 4am and could not get back to sleep. So I began to pray. As I was praying I heard a still small voice. God wanted me to make space in my head for Him, to be creative, to be fulfilled and to serve Him. That was the first time I heard His voice. I was a little confused as to how I could make this space, but I held on to this word. I continued in prayer over the following days, but it was not until I returned home that it became clear what I had to do. The space the Lord wanted was currently inhabited by my work, an all-consuming pressure and weight, which hung over me, constantly pushing and pushing me further and further down. It was a heavy burden which enslaved me and bound me. It became obvious what had to go, so I made an incredibly difficult decision. I decided to relinquish my responsibility as Head of Department in the largest Secondary school in Leeds –a school I had worked at for 20 years and a job I had done for 10 years, a job that had defined me, a job that had nearly destroyed me. I was gripped by fear and I felt it was impossible. I would be losing so much: power, status and of course money. Financially my family would struggle. However, I pressed on in prayer and God told me these were worldly things and that He would provide. After discussing this with my husband, we decided to go ahead. We would change our lifestyle and would get rid of a car. Yet, I still did not know what God wanted to do with this space. When we returned home, we received a phone- call: at three days’ notice we were asked to organise and lead a service at our Church, something we had never done before. The Bible passage on which we were asked to base the service was Hebrews 13 v 6.
The day before I returned to work, I clearly remember lying on my bed, paralysed by fear. I opened my Bible and read this passage:
If you need wisdom – if you want to know what God wants you to do – ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent you asking. But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer.
James 1 v1
The still small voice had answered and I was astounded by the response. God wanted me to preach His word to his lambs. The words of the hymn ‘Here I am, Lord’ came to mind. I asked God to confirm that I had heard him correctly. What followed was a further series of events over the next few weeks which could not have made it clearer that God had plans for me. He wanted me to be a lay preacher and to serve Him in that way.
So, when I returned to work and much to the amazement of my colleagues and the senior team, I immediately relinquished my responsibility as Head of Department. Once I had done this I was free, the weight was lifted and I have never looked back. My decision and the way God has changed me and helped me to conduct myself has been a constant testimony of my faith to my colleagues. One lady asked recently,’ Helen, you are like a different woman, you look ten years younger, what’s your secret?’ I answered, ‘the Holy Spirit.’
I sometimes stop and think: ‘Is this all happening? Does God really want to use me? Can I do this?’ This does not last long and someone or something always happens to encourage me.
As we have not had a Minister for nearly three years now, opportunities have arisen for me to preach and take services at my home church. In order to prepare, I pray and wait and then He gives me the theme, the passages in the Bible and then finally the words, usually very fast and furious, usually at four in the morning. Nothing is from me – it is all from Him and it is all about Him. I think my profile on my blog best explains why I want to attend this course:
Last summer my life changed: it changed, because in the darkness I heard a small still voice. It got louder and louder ... I saw a light and I followed and now I feel I like a starving woman in front of a mighty feast, as I prepare to train to be a Lay Preacher... Do I know where I am going? Do I know where this will take me? No! Am I afraid? No! ... In the words of the hymn... "Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord? I have heard You calling in the night. I will go Lord, if You lead me. I will hold Your people in my heart." Join me on my journey as I follow the light and continue to listen to the still small voice....
So my prayer is to serve and to follow. I have no idea what the Lord has in store for me or what he has planned for me, but I do know that He wants me to preach and I do know He wants me to attend this course. I know I am no longer afraid and I know that I am being changed dramatically and I know I am excited and hungry for more. I feel like I am an empty vessel and I am waiting to be filled. I hope that you will give me the opportunity to attend this course and to satisfy my hunger and fill me with the word, so that I can share God’s love with others through Ministry in the Church.