Yes, I KNOW that this is aimed at women in ministry, and I KNOW that I'm a guy, but this story written by Rev Dr Jeanette Krige really inspired me...
I wrote this some years ago, but share it with you in connection with women finding their gifts.
"I lie asleep on the hard ground with my head on a thin pillow. I feel comfortable most of the time, until I move my head, as I must do from time to time. That is when I feel it. I tried to ignore it, to hope it goes away, but it is there. It has been there for a long time. It seems to grow bigger and more uncomfortable and I wonder how much longer I can bear it. It is hard. I think it is a stone, but how can that be? I have never known any women with these stones.
I lie awake and think about it. Then I turn and fall asleep. I forget for a while, but whenever I stir, the discomfort returns. It grows. There seems to be no return to comfort, but I still drift off into a troubled sleep.
Of course the hard lump wakes me up again. Of course I have to face up to it. It just won't go away. I am confused. Some people tell me I am mistaken. "These are not for women." Others just laugh. "Are you trying to be a man?" Some try to encourage me to reach out and take hold of the stone and bring it out into the light, but I am afraid. I am deeply influenced by the ones who tell me I am wrong. Am I making this up? Maybe it is not a stone at all, but something else? I start trying to find all kinds of other things under my pillow, hoping they will satisfy me and leave me in comfort again, but the stone is still there.
I start to wake up. I am finally going to deal with this. While my hand moves under the pillow, I still have fear and questions. What if this is wrong? What if this is really not meant for me, a woman? What if this is something that will harm me and my family? Am I strong enough to face this?
I don't fully understand. There is something deeply mysterious about this stone.
I start talking to the great Stone Mason more and more. The Stone Mason talks to me through a book, but those who say I should not have the stone at all, use the same book. This troubles me. I study this book more and more. One day the Stone Mason sends a messenger, a woman. She tells me about stones, beautiful stones other women have found. With fear and trembling, I confess that I too think I have a stone. She tells me she will talk to the Stone Mason about this. She is gone for a long time. She seems to be such an important person that I really don't expect her to even remember me when I see her again, but she does. She flings her arms around me and asks, "What have you done about your stone?"
At that moment I hear the great Stone Mason speaking. I must act immediately.
Of course it isn't easy. Dealing with stones never is. Some started jeering when I announced my intention to take the stone out. Some friends left. "That is no job for a woman. Go and cook and pour tea. Leave that to the men. Who do you think you are?"
I can tell them, I know who I am, a woman, a person made to serve the One who gave the stone in the first place. It is painful to deal with this stone. I notice other women have been hurt and bruised. I must risk it. I can do no other. I have hidden this stone too long. The Stone Crafter offers to help me. Together we can do it. I must simply reach for the stone, allow it to be washed and allow the light to shine through it.
At first it is dirty and doesn't look like much. Gradually the washing and chipping away reveals that this stone is a beautiful diamond. It is starting to shine brilliantly and reflect the light. Each cut is painful but necessary in the overall pattern. It isn't finished yet, but what a beautiful gift!"
Blessings to you and all colleagues. Let us celebrate our unique gifts and realise again that it is by God's mercy that we have this ministry and let us focus on some of the positive wonders of being able to minister. It is all too easy to just see the negatives.
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