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Bobbie Houston lives to help women overcome what prevents, contains and limits them. Her book reflects her passionate belief that God is ready to equip a generation of awesome women. Women who live by conviction. Women who live with such resolve that nothing daunts ...
Bobbie Houston lives to help women overcome what prevents, contains and limits them. Her book reflects her passionate belief that God is ready to equip a generation of awesome women. Women who live by conviction. Women who live with such resolve that nothing daunts them. Women who know how to partner for success, and women who are committed to painting their world with such color and dynamic that others just can't help but say... "I'll have what she's having!"
People need your story! Never be tempted to limit "Once upon a time ..." to only fairytale settings. Once upon a time, you were planned, designed, conceived, and arrived on the planet in the perfect timing and purpose of Almighty God. God has his story, the greatest ever told, but every single human being who has ever walked this earth and breathed its sweet air also has a story.
Life is a journey. It has a beginning and an end, and everything that happens along the way becomes your story. Unfortunately, many people fail to travel within the safe parameters of wisdom; therefore they end up with a tale of distances traveled that is less successful and fulfilling than was intended. This may have been through personal choice or ignorance, or it may have been imposed on them by circumstances beyond their control. Others, however, enjoy a smoother journey because they framed their lives with the more successful principles of right living. Whatever the scenario, your story-your experience-is valuable, and it has the capacity to make a difference in this world.
All of us have negative things to deal with in our lives, but once dealt with and overcome, these negatives become powerful tools that can bring inspiration, healing, deliverance, and restoration to others. For example, insecurity was a major negative that contained me for a long time; however, I know that my story (or my testimony) of overcoming this insecurity has been a source of blessing to others, giving them courage to also overcome. Those who know me well have watched and thought, If Bobbie can do it, so can we!
Become a Source of Inspiration to Others
I want to encourage you to reflect upon your own story. Dare to believe that your past, your present, and yes, even your future, can actually bring inspiration to others.
King David, a man whose heart leapt within him because of his powerful relationship with God, wrote, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple" (Ps. 19:7). I love these verses. As I understand them, the "law of the Lord" is the Word of God, which paints wisdom across your journey and experience. The "testimony of the Lord" is the wonderful story of God at work in your life-it is strong and sure and bears testimony to God's amazing grace at work in us. And "making wise the simple" is the revelation and reality that your story can bring wisdom and life to the people you may meet along the way.
An incident comes to mind that illustrates this perfectly. A number of years ago I was a guest speaker at a women's meeting-a meeting that was hard work at the time but now is humorous upon reflection. The meeting was held in a hotel tavern on a Friday evening. The manager promised our host an undisturbed function room, but when I arrived, this gathering of lovely Christian women was sharing the room with the equally lovely but somewhat intoxicated Friday night patrons. Nothing but a flimsy partition separated us from the loud music, smoke, and pub atmosphere.
I must confess, when I walked in and surveyed the scene, peace and serenity were not my portion! Negativity and panic momentarily gripped me, and I found myself silently mouthing to God, This is not going to work! But the meeting was handed over to me, and I began. Now because of the level of volume from behind the thin partition, I had to raise my voice to be heard. Well, the louder I went, the louder they turned up the volume. My "highly anointed" passage from Isaiah was contending with music from ... would you believe this? ... Phantom of the Opera! The louder I got, the louder the Phantom got!
And then, to cap the night off, the table of delightful ladies at the very rear of the room was rudely "brown-eyed"-mooned, that is-by a bunch of men obviously under the influence. I must admit, I am glad I didn't witness that bizarre moment, and I take my hat off to those poor women who endured the opposition that was happening at the back of the room during the meeting. However, God is good (all the time!), and the message miraculously got through. But what I remember most about that evening is the lovely woman who approached me afterward and told me her story.
She had lived a very restricted life and had not been given a lot of opportunity. She had not been given the choice to be educated, had made some wrong choices, and consequently experienced feelings of inadequacy and uselessness. But somewhere along the line, God got hold of her (or rather she took hold of God), and she made some positive choices, deciding not to remain in this defeated state. In her late thirties, she went back to full-time study and was heading toward a career in welfare. Her dream was to help those less fortunate in life.
What I find delightful about this woman's story is that her tenacity and courage to change her circumstances had given her friends to do the same. This woman could have stayed contained, but she is now a leader among women, giving courage and strength to others to do likewise.
I have a friend whose "Once upon a time ..." story greatly inspires me. She is a spirited, talented young woman with the hand of God richly upon her-a woman whom God is using magnificently to point people all over the planet to him.
Her passion for life and her passion to serve God are all consuming, and even a little intimidating. But I know Christine's story-her background, her obstacles, her abuse, and the enemies she has confronted-and how she has defeated those things to become who she is today. When Christine shares her incredible story, women are inspired and realize that if they have had any excuses for not standing up and becoming the women they were created to be, those excuses are shattered.
This young lady has every reason on the planet not to achieve, yet because Christ is in her, he is the hope of glory in her life, and Christ is the grace that has picked her up, healed her, and set her on course. She has risen above and plundered every excuse. Hers is a testimony of true inspiration and true leadership-it is a story to be shared and shouted from the rooftops.
The reality is that you also have a story to tell! Perhaps it is just beginning. Perhaps it has been a long time in the making. Perhaps you've shelved it because it has become too hard or difficult. Be encouraged. As I said before, dare to believe and even become excited that your story can bring hope and encouragement to others. This is what leadership and the kingdom of God are about.
God's nature is to give. His first priority is to bring life, hope, and encouragement to us. His desire is that we then will carry that same life, hope, and encouragement to others. I believe God smiles when he observes us living our lives with this same unselfish spirit of generosity, so that wherever our little feet take us, we are freely giving to others all that we have learned along the way.
Before his own conversion, the awesome apostle Paul was a radical zealot who hated God's people and sought to harass or murder them (Acts 9:1). He got fabulously saved, showing that there is hope for the very worst. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he penned much wisdom and instruction to you and me, often likening the story of life to a race.
Never Alone in the Race of Life
In the letter written to the Hebrews, we are encouraged that we are definitely not alone in our race (Heb. 12). Life positions us with people who are either running alongside us, in front of us, or behind us. I am sure if Paul or any of our forerunners could speak to us now, they'd be like big brothers. They would possibly say it like this:
"Girls, listen up. You are definitely not alone in this race of life. For starters, we are all watching you from heaven. I know that's a wild concept, but it's true. Now, if that isn't enough to make you feel secure at night, Jesus (the awesome One who is the Author, the Source, and the Finisher of all our individual races) is watching too. Does that connect in your brain? Jesus is watching! Does that make you feel better?
"Heaven wants you to run the race well. Want some advice? Lose the sin-it messes everything up. Shake off the stuff from the past. Jesus paid a big price so you could do that. Also, set your eyes on the finish line. However, do not forget you are supposed to do a few things along the way. Become Christlike, become true daughters, and gather people as you go. Heaven goes crazy when you bring people to Christ. And this is really important-run with your eyes open and watch out for one another, because we do not want anyone to miss out on heaven's megaparty. We are all madly excited about it. Have you sent your RSVP yet? In the meantime, get good at all this stuff. Wise up! Take note of everything, and we'll watch you bring heaven to earth as the twenty-first century unfolds."
My imagination runs away with me sometimes; I hope you can cope with it! Nevertheless, here are the actual verses from Hebrews 12 (the Amplified Bible version, not the Bobbie version, although I have inserted some comments in parentheses below). They are very good, so do not skip over them. (Hey, we all get tempted to skip or skim the Bible bits, but the Bible bits are the best bits-they're the bits that change us.)
So then, brace up and reinvigorate and set right your slackened and weakened and drooping hands and strengthen your feeble and palsied and tottering knees (can you imagine running the race of life in this condition?),
And cut through and make firm and plain and smooth, straight paths for your feet [yes, make them safe and upright and happy paths that go in the right direction] (strong, happy paths that have people saying, "I'll have what she's having"), so that the lame and halting [limbs] may not be put out of joint, but rather may be cured. (These are the people we are supposed to gather along the way, because of our awesome testimony.)
Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord. (This is an amazing challenge. I think we should all take notice.)
Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God's grace ..." (very, very important-keep your eyes open and watch for everyone running in front, behind, and alongside you so that no one misses out on God's grace and answers) (Heb. 12:12-15, with my comments in italics).
God passionately wants our "Once upon a time ..." to be a success story. He wants us to "run our race well" so our success and victory can be a blessing to others. In this journey of life, God would have us all participating. No one is supposed to be sitting in the grandstands, observing, criticizing, or asleep. No one is supposed to be sitting muddied and hurt on the sideline. We are all to be pressing forward, understanding that Jesus Christ is the individual prize for all of us. The above verses tell us that the Lord would have each of us gathering as many people as we can along the way. The word of our testimony and the power of our story is what will win them over to the abundant life Christ has for us all.
And may we never forget that there will always be those ahead of us. They are in front not because they are more gifted or talented, but simply because they are further advanced in their journey. Our attitude, as followers, should always be to cheer them on and encourage them, showing that we are following hard on their heels. Then of course, should we find ourselves in the lead, our attitude is that we would be wise leaders to those following us. Leadership is very much about carrying a story marked with integrity and stewardship.
Perhaps you can think of people alongside you who are inspirations. If so, fantastic! Or perhaps you may feel like you have no one in your life like this. Do not be discouraged; just keep reading, because God's desire is to connect you with a multitude of people from whose lives you can glean.
Excerpted from I'll Have What She's Having by Bobbie Houston Copyright © 2008 by Roberta Houston. Excerpted by permission.
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