Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Sometimes What He Speaks Is Not What We Expect

Late Saturday night, I sat down and wrote my evaluations for my group. I tried hard to find something to critique them on but it was difficult. Like a proud mama, I thought they had all done wonderfully and struggled to find something to tell them they could work on. But they didn't come to hear all good things, so I owed it to them to praise them but also give them tips for polishing their speaking.

One of the ladies had used Jeremiah 29:11 as the verse that she was talking on. When she stated it, I sort of internally rolled my eyes and thought to myself, "That's a tired verse that everyone quotes. Come up with something more original." So that was my feedback for her (said in a much nicer way, of course). After all, I have learned from writing devotions that people want to be introduced to a new verse that they have never heard before, not the same old same old. So I felt perfectly justified in my comment. But I have to admit there was a check in my spirit as I wrote it.

So on Sunday morning our group sat together as we listened to the morning message, presented by Renee Swope. And guess what one of the verses she used was? Here I was telling one of my group members not to use that verse and one of our very own was using it! I gulped internally and wondered if God was trying to teach me something. I thought about my bag holding the evaluations... and the words written on one of them.

After the message, we had a chance to go up to the cross they had set up at the front of the room and receive a promise from God-- verses printed on little cards that were laying at the foot of the cross. As I walked, I asked God for the perfect promise for me. A promise that would speak to where I am right now and the issues I am dealing with. As I reached for the card, I felt God saying to me, "That one right there. That one is for you." I picked it up and walked over to the side.

You guessed it. Jeremiah 29:11 printed big as day. God gave me a promise indeed-- but He also taught me a lesson. How dare I get immune to the power of any one of His verses! How dare I think it's overused, unoriginal, and tired? This is His Word I am talking about! I couldn't even focus on what the verse was saying as I absorbed His admonishment. He had just put me in my place as He is so faithful to do. I am learning there is still so much to learn.

After the session was over, it was time to hand out the evaluation sheets. I saved this girl's sheet to last and asked to speak to her privately. As I handed her the sheet, I told her this story. I apologized for what I had written and told her how wrong I was. I never intended to share it here, but this morning I felt God leading me to. She Speaks is about hearing from God and learning what He has to teach us. I am grateful for the wakeup call He issued to me on Sunday morning. And I am proud to say that Jeremiah 29:11 is His promise to me:

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, Plans to prosper
you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

For more posts about She Speaks, go to
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Bonita said...

I love your humility.

As I'm reading other blogs about the weekend the one thing I detect is that everyone seemed to have a humbling experience of some sort. That was definitely true in my case and I'm so relieved to know that God wasn't singling me out for a good dose of humility.

Love that verse, by the way!

Jen - Balancing Beauty and Bedlam said...

Marybeth - that story really spoke to me, but more importantly, you have just modeled true humility...thanks.

I, too, wish we would have had more time, but it was fun connecting for the tiny moments we had. ;)

Danielle said...

Oh, how amazing our Father is. I too, like many others, got a good dose of humility at She Speaks. I love how our Creator knows when to hit us with it and when to gently speak it into our lives.

I loved sitting in on your 'class' What Every Speaker Needs To Know. It was so helpful and thought provoking. One thing that really stuck with me was when you said... Don't get to busy with striving that you miss out on what God has.

If I take my whole weekend experience and put it all together, that in a nut shell is what God is saying to me. I've been so busy striving, that I've missed out on what God has for me.

I've begun blogging about some of what God showed. If you would like to take a moment and see... I'd love it!

P.S. I purchased The Reason We Speak and cannot wait to start reading it!

Sandy at God Speaks Today said...


What an awesome story. I love it. I felt the same "rolled eyes" response at another moment in the conference, which ended up being a spiritual highlight for me.

Blessings sweet sister,

BTW, you looked beautiful this weekend. I didn't get a chance to tell you personally, but you really did.

LeeAnn said...

Don't you just love the Lord and the fact that he loves each one of us so much that he takes the time to talk to us individually. He could not have spoke to you so clearly if you Marybeth, had not been ready to hear him.

I'm personally going through a trial period in this season of my life and am waiting for the Lord to speak clearly to me his direction for me. Your story today, gives me the hope I needed to know he still has plans for me and that I better believe and be ready to hear from him today.

I love your blog. Thank you for being so real.


LauraLee Shaw said...

I love your authenticity! My weekend was full of lessons like these, and I know they'll come out in a story here or there. I wanted to find a way to meet you, and I never did, but you were a blessing nonetheless. Thank you for your commitment to this beautiful ministry.

Arlene Grimm said...

Thank you for sharing this post...thank you for admitting that God can use any verse at any time to encourage one of His Children. I appreciate that you do share with us your struggles...Love reading your blog.

Lysa TerKeurst said...

All I can say is wow. What an amazing string of details for God to arrange to make sure you got this message.


So proud of you for pulling your group member aside and talking honestly to her.


Oh Dear said...

I have noticed when I read and a familiar verse comes up, MANY times, I skim over it. I too realized that is GOd's WORD- living and active. I could not possibly read it enough!

Tim and Tammy Nischan said...


You are so precious! I love you so much! What a great story!

God was soooooooo amazingly present this weekend, wasn't He? Wow! I just love how His Word speaks so loudly and clearly when we are open to hearing and soaking it in!

Your humility makes me even more thankful to call you "friend!"

Much love!

Oh, and thank you for introducing me to Tammy (from Charlotte). I know we will be friends for our entire lifetime. And God will redeem both of our losses.

Have a great rest of your week!


PS I emailed our entire group and yours came back undeliverable.....I'm wondering if I wrote your email address down incorrectly. If you can send me a quick email sometime, that would be wonderful! :) Love you!

B His Girl said...

Wow...sometimes we know not what we are doing! This verse will always be a treasure. Just go buy the magnet and put it on your fridge. God is smiling at you. He has plans. You look beautiful in your pictures. B

Melissa Milbourn said...


emily said...

Marybeth, I just love this post. Thank you for sharing it with the masses. I loved meeting you this weekend. Thanks for your support in the back of our little bloggy session :)

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

I don't know anything about She Speaks, but it sounds like some very valuable lessons were given -- and learned -- there. Your story is great. God does take charge some times!

I had a similar experience a while back. I was angry with a visiting priest who had embarrassed a priest I loved. So, I wrote an angry 3-page note, but as I sealed the envelope, I got a strong "nudge" that this was wrong. So, I cut it to one page and made it much softer. It was too late to mail it that day, so I took it to work with me that morning. Waiting for me at my office was an employee who was supposed to be on a business trip but had delayed his departure because he felt he had to tell me something although he had no idea what it meant. He knew about the letter to the priest, but nothing more. He did not even know the priest. He told me that for some reason he felt he should tell me not to send the letter because the priest was weak. That seemed odd; the priest was tall and large (but not fat). How could he be weak? It did not make sense but the message took me back enough to re-write the letter one more time and cut it to one paragraph. As I was about to put it in the envelope for the third time, the phone rang. It was the priest! He wanted me to go to the chrism mass and pick up the oils for our church. He mentioned that he would not be there, which is strange because that is when the priests reiterate their vows. I asked why: He had an appointment in a nearby large city to determine whether his cancer (none of us knew he had cancer) was operable!

God not only speaks, but sometimes God ensures that He gets the last word!

Proverbs 27:19 said...

Mrs. Whalen it is good that you did share this story. We all need to share all of the ways that God has put us back into our place. It's very edifying.

I attended 'She Speaks' and was bothered a bit that I did not get to meet you because I wanted you to put your signature in my copy of, "for the Write Reason."

I purchased it back in April or May when I registered for the conference. Lysa, Mary, Glynnis and Susanne all kindly signed the first page of their stories.

So next year I'm keeping my eye out for you! :)