Today's blog post is by guest blogger, Kathy Schwanke, a speaker, author, teacher, and mentor who desires to encourage women to live in the LIGHT of God's love & truth.
by Kathy Schwanke
Is anything more powerful than a woman’s willingness to be available to God’s people?
My mid-thirties were some of the darkest days of my life. I was floundering in a pit of anxiety and depression. People who loved me did not understand any more than I did what was wrong with me. With little help or hope outside of my faith, I sought freedom through attending a Christian women’s conference.
As I gathered stories from the workshop presenters and the keynote speakers, I was strengthened not only in my own hope for deliverance but in the ability to share the stories with other women God put in my life who needed encouragement.
God graciously delivered me, though more gradually than I wanted, from the darkness of my flawed thoughts and fears. In the midst of my healing, He put women in my life who needed mentoring.
It is amazing how God will heal you by calling you to serve Him with the gifts He put inside of you.
God had made it clear years before that I was an encourager. While sitting with friends at a retreat, the speaker was expounding on the gifts of the Spirit. As I listened intently, hoping to discover mine, my friend Lisa leaned over and whispered to me with words that felt concrete: “That is YOU!”
The gift she was referring to was the gift of encouragement. Since I already resonated with the list of qualities of an encourager, the words of my friend sealed my gift in my heart. This served me great confidence to respond to the Holy Spirit’s leads in reaching into women’s lives.
So, when I was still a shaky servant at best, God put a young woman in my life who had gotten victory over anorexia but was in a battle with depression.
I began to experience the ministry of encouragement working through me by the power of the Holy Spirit. I filled up on His word, and morning by morning, Jesus gave me “the word in due season” to sustain the weary. He also gave me an immense love for prayer.
Besides the Christian conference, God led an older woman to invite me into her home every Tuesday morning. As we met, and I voiced my battles to her, she would refute the lies with truth and pray with me.
What I had received, I was blessed to freely give.
Through listening, sharing stories, reading scripture, and praying for my young friend, she continued to gain victory over her depression. She was enabled to stand up in her identity in Christ in the midst of her intense longing for a husband. The Lord gave her the man we prayed extensively for as He kept her heart fully His. They currently have four children and serve as missionaries in Alaska!
Recently, I was experiencing an intense spiritual battle; pressures mounted in my life and discouraging thoughts weighed on me. In the midst of the stress, I composed a note and pasted it into texts to several friends. PLEASE PRAY!
My friend, Nancy, happened to be sitting with her Bible open to Philippians 4, and sent a voice-memo prayer. She prayed the scriptures over me. I was able to listen to the prayer several times, and each time, I felt a new level of peace returning.
I shared that story with three of my friends the next morning, testifying to the power of prayer, and specifically how Nancy’s prayer ministered to me.
The following day, one of those friends shared with me that she had been led to send a voice-memo prayer to a friend who had reached out in need, “just like your friend did for you!”
It occurred to me at the moment that the telling of my story actually served to mentor another woman in prayer.
Questions for Reflection:
How have women impacted your life with prayers?
How have women impacted your faith with affirmation in your gifts?
How have women’s stories ministered to you in trying times?
How willing and available are you to stop and pray for a sister in need?
Are you consistently sharing your God-stories with others?
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