It was with great expectancy that I boarded a plane on a Thursday morning. Me, and 2 of my friends, made our way to hot and humid Orlando, Florida along with 4000 other women from around the world. We all arrived to be participants in The Women’s Gospel Coalition conference from Friday June 27th to Sunday June 29th. In anticipation of teaching from well-known preachers like John Piper and Tim Keller, I was hopeful that learning from the entire book of Nehemiah would teach me something new and invigorating. I longed to hear from God.
The 10 months leading up to this conference were full of stress, dashed hopes, and struggle. They weren’t necessarily dark months, but they were hard. Appropriately I had taught a bible study on the book of James and found great comfort in chapter 1:2-4 which says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.” The trials of these months were good for me. They were helpful. Yet, I was so relieved that difficulties seemed to be ebbing away from me. And as I came out from the fog, I found my eyes stubbornly set on Jesus and my heart strengthened for the future. I knew God had something for me at this conference.
Kathy Keller, Tim’s wife, opened the teaching on the book of Nehemiah. I like her. She is feisty and smart and peaceful and respectful. She loves Jesus and she loves His word. She spoke about the historical context of the book of Nehemiah which focuses on the people of Israel rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem as they anticipated release from captivity in Babylon. She also spoke about the prophetic context showing that God had said He would send His people into exile. He also said He would take them out again. Then she said something that I haven’t been able to shake for the past 10 days. She said, “The promise had begun and then it stopped. It seemed like complete destruction was about to come BUT GOD always does exactly what He says.” God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the words of His servant spoke right to my heart. “I always do EXACTLY what I say. Remember.” Kathy Keller continued on and concluded her talk by pointing out that Nehemiah was an ordinary man but that didn’t matter. She said, “God’s people do not need to be culturally or politically powerful to do God’s will. GOD will accomplish His will.” This theme was reiterated throughout the weekend.
This theme of God doing what He says and accomplishing His will is not new to me. I have believed it for many years. I have seen Him accomplish many things I have prayed for. I have heard Him through sermons, bible study, meditation on His word, quiet retreats, stories of others, and in so many other ways. Yet He knew I needed to hear this particular thing again. Emphatically. Repeatedly. To be honest, I’m crying while I write this. In His compassion toward me He chose to let me hear the very thing I needed to strengthen my heart and my soul and my mind. He extended grace upon grace.
Yet, it is important to remember, that this grace upon grace, as spoken about in John 1:16, is ultimately about Jesus, as all scripture is. I believe whole-heartedly that God was speaking to me as His beloved daughter that He remembers the things He has promised me. I also believe, whole-heartedly that He has fulfilled everything I need, and then some, in the person of Jesus. As John 1:16 says, “For from His fullness, we have all received grace upon grace” (ESV). This is why Jesus says in The Sermon on the Mount, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” David spoke of this in Psalm 37 when He said, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (We tend to focus on the desires part a little too much.) Paul says, “Since then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” Colossians 3:1. And just to drive the point home, Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, LOOKING TO JESUS, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God.”
From the 93 pages of notes I took in my journal over the course of the conference there are about a million other things I could have focused on. Nevertheless, that one statement from the very first sermon of the weekend is what God keeps reminding me of. He is always faithful, even when we are faithless. He is always who He says He is. He is always consistent with Himself. He is the only One who lives up to His own standards. In the end, this was the theme of for me. It is also the theme for you. God does EXACTLY what He says. In fact, He has already done it. His name is Jesus. As 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”
Laura is a Registered Nurse who is a Regional Educator for Fraser Health. She has been attending Westside since before the beginning. She teaches Bible Study, coaches Community Group leaders, and plays on the worship team.