Teacher As Student

Saturday Night.

Saturday Night.

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. Like you, I’ve been busy. I’ve enjoyed two vacations in the last six weeks, a rare variation in our yearly schedule. I’m training for a 10K. I had the unusual privilege of preaching five services at our church on Mother’s Day weekend. Remarkably, while speaking, I didn’t even mention Mother’s Day. Instead, I spoke from a passage our pastor assigned me from his sermon series in Ephesians, entitled Blueprints.

In the process, somehow the Lord used my lesson to teach me a lesson. I think the experience illustrates a passage in Ezekiel.

In Ezekiel 3: 10 you’ll find some of the most profound words in the Old Testament. God says to Ezekiel, “Son of Man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself. Then go to your people in exile and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ Do this whether they listen to you or not.”

My sermon came from Ephesians 1:15-23 and includes Paul’s specific prayers for the Ephesian church. When I first read it, I’ll admit feeling a little disappointed. It wasn’t exactly rife with inspiration. I doubt I would have chosen it as a preaching passage.

I spent a week reading the whole book of Ephesians, and the passage as it appeared in nearly every translation. I outlined. I underlined. I cross-referenced. Then, I began to write. When I finished, I went on a dive vacation. Every evening while the other divers went out on their night dive, I re-read and worked on my manuscript. I felt a lot of pressure to do my very best.

Some men in our congregation were concerned about having a woman preach. Back at home, I felt completely pummeled by the few men who wrote to our senior pastor explaining that because it was wrong for a woman to teach men, they would not allow their families to attend the service. I was so beaten by the opposition that I had to ask not to hear about any further “letters.”

I needed focus. I asked for prayer. I cried some. I got angry. I felt misunderstood and unfairly judged. I battled fear and discouragement. The week before Mother’s Day was one of the hardest I’ve known. By the end of it, I just wanted to get it over.

And then I realized that I had not yet fully absorbed my own message. Those three prayers, to know God, to know my place, to know his power had meaning in that week. When I know God and his nature, his purpose, his love for me, I cannot allow the disapproval of men to diminish my value. When I know my place in the kingdom, I can use my gift freely and without fear. HE is the only one who can judge my performance. When I know that HE works through me, I can let go of the crazy responsibility I feel for the results of my service. Spiritual results are God’s business not mine; it is his power working through me that achieves anything at all. “Without me, you can do nothing,” Jesus reminds us in John 15.
When I began applying my own words to my own situation, I felt a new sense of freedom. What a coincidence! (Yes, I am tongue in cheek!)

As it turned out, I was able to do my very best. Was I as good as Lucy Swindoll or Patsy Clairmont? Undoubtedly not. But I was the very best Bette Nordberg I could be. And my brothers and sisters in Christ have been kind and supportive beyond words.

How many of us would benefit from living the words we preach? How about you? Have you had a moment when your own lessons came back to change your life?

 

 

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4 Responses to “Teacher As Student”

  1. Lynetta Says:

    What a powerful lesson! I’m going to print this and keep it on my bulletin board to read again and again. There wouldn’t happen to be an audio file of your sermon somewhere? I’d love to listen to that as well.

    Kudos to you for pushing through and following God’s call even amidst the opposition. Very inspiring.

    • Bette Nordberg Says:

      Thanks Lynetta. There is no higher honor (in this world of disposable words) than to be printed out and kept. Thank you. This was a hard won lesson for me. Fear wanted to keep me sitting on the sharp point of anxiety (not my usual hangout). Only God’s truth can get you off that pinnacle. Thank goodness for the Truth!

  2. Laura Spencer Davis Says:

    That’s wonderful insight, and so true. Proud of you, Bette!

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