I have a dangerous habit—late-night, in-bed reading. Some nights I’ve opened a book as one sort of person, and when I’ve gotten up the next morning, I’m an entirely different one. Why? Because God has used someone else’s words to convince me I’m not who I thought I was.
Last night I went to bed an honest woman. This morning I got up a thief. I blame my author friend Connie Cavanaugh, for my sudden decline in character. In the chapter titled “Shame” in her new book, Following God One Yes at a Time, she tells this story:
When Connie was expecting her first child, she and her clergyman husband, Gerry, were flat broke. Someone had given them a well-used crib, which she painted, but she couldn’t do much with the mattress. Lumpy, torn and saggy, it didn’t seem a fitting resting spot for her precious newborn—even after she scrubbed it, duct taped it and wrapped it in a new blanket.
Around that time, the church Connie and Gerry served in hosted an event that required them to billet a team of youth. They bedded them down on new foam mattresses loaned from a sister church. Mattresses Connie realized would be almost a perfect fit for their baby’s crib.
Before the mattresses were returned, the infant’s crib had a firm new mattress, just a few feet shorter than the borrowed ones. Yes, before installing one in her daughter’s crib, Connie had sliced a few feet from its bottom.
“I’ll glue the end piece on and return it just as soon as I’m finished with it,” she’d rationalized. “They’ll never miss it.”
Then came the call: “Are any of the mattresses we loaned you still there?”
Burning with shame, my friend said she’d look around and call back. While she was “searching” God gently reminded her of what she had to do: simply tell the truth.
“Taking the lid off shame to let in God’s light results in the growth of beautiful things,” Connie says. Thirty-two years later, the woman to whom she confessed remains one of her dearest friends.
After grinning over that chapter last night, I shut out my lamp and headed for sleep. Before I got there, something happened. Three images came to mind: a phone, a shelf, and a water hose. We’d found those things in some of the rented houses and parsonages the Preacher and I have lived in. Since they were there to be used, we used them. We also adopted them, sort of, because when we moved, they moved too—one by accident, the others by intention. Which makes me (for shame) a thief—oh, and a liar too, for pretending they were mine.
God’s light gets under my skin too. And like Connie, I realize I too must let it in—one yes at a time.
Cya. I’m off to begin (again) making an honest woman out of me.
Say yes to God. It’s dangerous too, but very beautiful.
A treat today…a blog interview with Connie Cavanaugh about Following God One Yes at a Time, just released by Harvest House Publishers.
K. Hey Connie…I loved your book! Stayed awake reading it–wrote a column about it..and, you’re the first interview I’ve added to my Sunny Side Up corner of the web. For my readers…what’s this book about?
This book tells you how — one simple, immediate, possible yes at a time – to do what Jesus commanded when He said, “Follow Me.” This is “following God for dummies”; it is a simple way for ordinary Christians to follow Christ through the maze of our complicated lives.
Q: You begin by saying “God has a dream for every believer.” Could you explain that?
God does have a dream for every believer. In fact He has many overlapping, interlocking dreams for us: some big, some small; some lifelong, some seasonal; some manageable, some seemingly impossible. When His dream looks like a mountain we can’t climb, because we lack faith in ourselves and in Him, we think:
- This dream is too big; I don’t have what it takes.
- The process looks so complicated; I don’t even know where to start.
- The finish line is so far away; I don’t think I can go the distance.
- I’ve tried before and dropped out; I must be all out of chances.
- Is this God speaking or my own wishful thinking?
- People like me don’t get to do these things; I’m not worthy of this.
Q: Are these the barriers you refer to in the book’s subtitle Overcoming the Six Barriers that hold you back?
Yes, the biggest barriers to following God are internal, not external. It’s not situations, circumstances, tragedies, crises or even physical limitations but it’s things like fear, guilt, pride, shame, comparison, and doubt that hold us back from pursuing the dreams God has for us. Following God one yes at a time is about how God breaks down His impossible dream into manageable steps and once we begin to follow Him in faith, because He loves us, He sends us proofs that we’re on the right track.
Q: God sends us “proofs” when we follow Him? What do you mean by that?
Even though we talk about a God who is alive and personal, all Christians occasionally feel like He is remote and invisible. Once God gets us to say yes to His dream and begin following Him, He knows that we’re going to be battling doubts and fears so He sends us proofs that we heard Him correctly and we’re on the right track. These proofs are little assurances that we pick up in a number of ways – through our daily Bible reading or hear in a sermon or through music or circumstance or pretty much anything that God chooses to use. He’s not limited in the ways He communicates with us. These “proofs” are His way of encouraging us not to lose heart but to keep following.
Find Connie’s book at most Christian booksellers and online bookstores. If your local bookstore does not carry it, they can order it for you. It is also available at these links:
Barnes and Noble http://productsearch.barnesandnoble.com/search/results.aspx?store=BOOK&WRD=following+god+one+yes+at+a+time&page=&prod=univ&choice=book&query=following+god+one+yes+at+a+time&flag=False&ugrp=1
Chapters and Indigo