This weekend has truly been a crazy one for me.
Yesterday, I preached a sermon entitled “Wombed in the Wilderness” that explored the story of Hagar in Genesis 16, an Egyptian enslaved woman, and her encounter with God in the wilderness. Like Hagar, many of us have a wilderness experience that we go through or it may feel like we’re constantly going through. But the beauty of our wilderness is that when God shows up and finds us, He transforms our spaces of desolation and doubt to places of birth and balance. Only He can bring life and restore life for He is life.
Preparing that message really spoke to my own situation and my own wilderness. And like my favorite – Sarah Jakes Roberts – preaches “It’s time for women to thrive in the wild.”
When I received the message that I was on to preach on Sunday, I immediately tensed up. Yes, I know that God called me to be a preacher, but that doesn’t stop the humbling reminder that God called me and that He is constantly calling me. Each time I speak the Word of God, whether it’s preaching or reading the Word aloud or praying or serving, I am reminded of the 9 year old Wyneisha who told her family in one of her many childhood social justice rants about “how the world should be” that she wanted to become a preacher to tell everyone the real story about who Jesus is. I’m still baffled that the 9 year old me and the 25 year old me are meeting in this new journey ….hey girl. #fullcircle
I laid in my bed Friday night asking God, “What do you have to say to your people? What do you have to say to your women?” When God dropped in my mind the story of Hagar, I was like “ohhh okay”. But I also felt like I wasn’t the one who could present that message – I hadn’t been through enough, I hadn’t lived enough to know how to tell women older than me that they needed to recognize their power. I didn’t have any children, I haven’t experience childbirth, I wasn’t married, and I didn’t have a “family”. I spent most of Saturday second guessing myself and my call and if I could really preach this message – this powerful message the following day. I guess I also had that response because Hagar isn’t a celebrated woman – she isn’t someone that is revered like Sarah, or Deborah, or Jael, or Mary….she’s one of the silenced and ignored women in the Christian tradition.
But then a light bulb went off that Hagar was perfect for the congregation to hear about because so many of us, so many women, have a story like Hagar. We have an imperfect past, one that makes us afraid, ashamed, and alone …and we try to make our wilderness our home because …we’re so used to being in places that drain us and impact us negatively as if we deserve to be there. We lead on the run lives in hopes of finding something new …only to find a wilderness again.
The reality is that we don’t need to hear another story about a perfect, Biblical woman when we haven’t claimed and stood on our own personal stories of pain and perseverance.
There is purpose in our pain. But even more so, there is power in our pain. Not just for us but for our daughters and sisters and cousins and friends…women who suffer in silence and have nowhere to go. Your story is not for your demise but for you to thrive …so others can thrive with you and alongside you. Sisterhood is not just for laughter and joy but for relationship and vulnerability. We should never feel comfortable to just be in worship and not check in on the people right beside us. Are you okay, sis?
Overall, the amount of love and sisterhood that flowed from that message personally impacted me. I know that I will never be the same since I preached that message because I realize that what I’m going through is nothing compared to the promise that God has for me to walk into at the other side. Like I preached yesterday, the theme of wilderness in the Bible is always on the cusp of new levels for that person ..look at the Israelites, David, Elijah, and especially Jesus. Going through the wilderness, expect that you will encounter a new level when you get out. And you will get out …just like God reminded Hagar when he spoke over her and her seed (Gen. 16:11).
If you are reading this, please know that I appreciate all the words and love shown because I know that it is not just you sharing them but its God working through you to encourage me as I journey through this process of becoming. I don’t know the full capacity of the Wyneisha outside of her wilderness experience but I know that SHE will THRIVE …she will birth something powerful because of the God that sees HER.
God, you see me. Thank You for this beautiful and humbling reminder.
Pray for me during this journey….I sincerely need it. Every prayer, every encouraging word, every hug ….it makes my heart smile so much.
Love you all.