About 3 weeks ago, our church, Fayette FUMC, had a Sunday night worship service. It’s led by the contemporary praise band and they have one of these types of services about every 6 weeks or so. I had heard about these ‘Worship Nights’ since we had arrived in Fayette, and was so excited about it. But not only was I excited to attend it, I was asked to help sing with the band! And if you know me at all, then you know this little ‘Mary’ heart loves a good worship service!
The praise band at our new church is incredibly talented. Every musician, every vocalist. I am very honored and humbled to even be asked to be a part of it. But being around such talented folks can also make you feel super inadequate. One of the main lead vocalists, who has become a great friend to me here in Fayette, looks like a real-life Barbie doll! So she not only sings beautifully (one friend of mine said she sounded like Kari Jobe!), she looks beautiful. The other girl that was singing that night is a girl who is a high school senior and is cute as a button. To top it off, she can hear and sing harmony to any song you give her. Her voice is pure and has the sweetest little country twang to it. I could listen to her sing all day long. And then there is me. Kinda of short and stocky, plain looking, with a simple voice. I definitely felt inadequate standing between those two gals and our worship leader, who has a fantastic voice as well. But I do have a heart for the Lord and love Him more than anything else, so that’s what I focus on… especially when those insecurities start to creep in.
We were about halfway through the worship set, and this old girl was getting HOT. Again, if you know me at all, you know how very hot natured I am. After leading worship for a normal Sunday morning service, I look like I’ve played a basketball game!! You can imagine what I looked like after a 2-hour worship service!! Needless to say, I was hot, and not the good kind of ‘hot’! 😊
Back to the story – I was hot, and I kept messing with my hair. Picking it up off of my neck for a few seconds, and then laying it back down. I needed to pull it up, but I didn’t want to. Why you might ask? It’s because I didn’t want to look ‘ugly’ or ‘unkempt’ next to my girl praise band partners on the stage! Absolutely ridiculous right!? In my mind, I was like, “At least keep your hair down and look somewhat presentable!”
While we were fixing to start the next song, this sweet little boy, who may have been 4 or 5, came up to the stage and gave me a ponytail holder! His mom must have noticed that I kept messing with my hair, so she gave it to him to bring to me. It was so sweet. I thanked him and immediately pulled my hair up. I wish I could find him again and thank him (and his mom) for the spiritual lesson he gave me as well.
As I sat there pulling my sweaty hair up into a messy bun, I could honestly hear the Lord ask me, “Now was that so hard?” I laughed, because I knew exactly what He was getting at. He knew I didn’t WANT to pull my hair up because I was feeling so physically insecure. But God knew what I NEEDED, and provided it for me when I didn’t even ask. Sometimes (actually, ALOT of times!) we need His help. But we just don’t want to accept it.
As I lay in bed that night after the service, I remembered a sermon Scott preached back in October 2015 at GracePoint (our last church). He was preaching a baseball themed sermon series called ‘World Series’. This particular sermon was called “Accept the Help”. I went back and found some of his notes from the sermon.
Accept the Help – Pastor Scott Smyth
What about when life has you at 3-2 or even at 0-2? So many of us have been there and some are there now. We are standing in the batter’s box with all the pressure in the world on us to make something happen. We’re not thinking about the best outcome. we’re simply guarding the plate, trying to make something good happen when all around us it seems like only bad results will rise. We are desperate for relief.
And we need to look to the coach. What is it that God is signaling in to us from the dugout?
Hebrews 4:14-16 in the Message says this:
“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”
Take the mercy, accept the help. Our coach, the Lord, is telling us to take it. To endure, to persevere, to hold on and rest in his care. I’m there for you, take my grace, take my mercy, lean on me. I know the desired result and when relief is going to come. Take it.
And what do we do? We know God has never let us down. We know that all we have tried to do with our own hands has failed us. But we shake off the sign. We try to step up and make something happen on our own. It seems like we never learn.
In the movie Bull Durham, a young pitcher has been parked with an experienced catcher in order to get ready for the major league. They have been having a great game, a shut out late into the game. When the catcher gives the signal, the pitcher stops relying on what has been working and instead shakes him off, asking for a different pitch. The catcher talks to the batter and says “can you believe this guy is shaking me off? A no hitter and he is shaking me off. Well get ready, here comes the old number 1, fast and down the middle. And when you speak of me, speak well.” The batter, now knowing what is coming, hits the ball out of the park.
We often shake off the sign coming from the Lord, don’t we? It sounds wrong to sit and take it, to allow God’s mercy and grace to wash over us. We don’t take it and rest in Him because everything inside of us tells us that we have to get busy and make something happen. So we shake off the sign and do what feels right, only to see it fall apart right before our eyes.
Are you watching a portion of your life slip into chaos? Have you been trying so hard to make something happen that you are shaking off the signs and refusing to take the mercy? Are you standing in the batter’s box in life with an 0-2 count and feel like you just can’t catch up with the pitch the enemy is throwing you?
Stop. Rest in his grace. Take the mercy. Accept the help.
Just like Scott said, the Lord is always there, ever-present, wanting to help us. Sometimes He helps us without our asking, like with the little boy who brought me the ponytail holder. Sometimes He’s waiting on us to call out to Him. But we need to be brave enough to look His way. We need to be brave enough to ask.
I recently had to ask someone for help. I had to swallow my pride, swallow my fear, and vulnerably ask. If you’ve read my blog or known me at all, I am constantly fighting the weight battle. I lose some, gain some… it’s a non-stop see-saw in my life. I lose weight when things are going good (like vacations or church events to keep me busy), and gain weight when things are going badly (when my mom died or we move churches). But I have to get a hold of this. I’m tired of the see-saw. If I don’t, I could easily end up like my mom, who passed away way much too young (age 56).
So as I mentioned earlier in this post, my new friend is a Barbie doll ☺ She’s probably going to kill me for calling her that! But she teaches exercise classes at the local gym. She also eats healthy. We have talked about teaching a women’s small group study together at the church to focus on physical health and spiritual health. We’d have 30 minutes of exercise, and 30 minutes of study/accountability time. She’s super slim and trim, and knows about being physically healthy. And I heard God tell me to ask her for help.
I didn’t want to…. for several reasons. First, I’m independent. I don’t really want to ask people for help about things that I feel like I should be able to do myself. Second, I’m the new pastor’s wife. I should be helping her, not the other way around!! And lastly, I knew she’d want me to go to her gym classes and I heard they are TOUGH!!
But I took a deep breath, and with all the bravery I could muster, I sent her a text explaining that I needed some help and would she be willing to help me. And of course, she said she would. She didn’t even hesitate. She texted me some info about the gym. She also told me about some apps to help me track calories. Step One – asking for help – done! I checked that off the list!
But asking is not enough. Asking for help is not where it ends; it’s where it begins. After you ask, you then have to accept. Accept the help. Hear their solutions and advice, and then put them into action. And although I tried to come up with many excuses to not go to her class, I still went. It’s called ‘Sore to the Core’, and that’s exactly what it is! I couldn’t do all the exercises (yet), but I did do modified versions of them! And like Brandi said so many times, “doing something is better than doing nothing!”
I have gone to her class twice now. It’s hard, I’m not gonna lie. It’s kinda embarrassing for me, because there are many exercises I can’t do (yet). But I know it’s going to be the exact help I need. But asking for and accepting help are necessary for me to make a lifestyle change in my life. I can’t do it by myself. I’ve proved that for about a decade now. I believe Albert Enstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” By old Al’s definition, I’m insane! So it’s time to do something different – it’s time to accept the help.
But this doesn’t just apply to physical things. Like in part of Scott’s sermon I inserted above, we have full access to Jesus, who came to earth – fully man, yet fully God – therefore He knows the struggles we face. He knows our weaknesses and temptations. And because of His great love for us, He wants to help us. We just have to accept it.
Zephaniah 3:17 is one of my favorite scriptures. It says, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” I usually focus on the last part, where I imagine the Lord singing over me. I have even written a blog about it! Here’s the link to that post:
Tuesdays with Sarah… Sing over Me
But recently, I have focused on the first part. The part that declares that the Lord is with me, and that He is a Mighty Warrior who saves! In my mind, I have this image of Jesus just sitting on the edge of His throne (or maybe my couch, or my bed, or my office, or my doctor’s office) waiting to jump to my aid. My Mighty Warrior ready to save! And believe me, I need some saving!
Scott and I like to go on little road trips and explore small cities. Well, he might not like to go, but he appeases me and goes. The girls have no choice, so they are along for the ride. We recently went to Hamilton and ate at an O’Bryan’s Steakhouse. It was nice. Nothing too fancy. There was one in Huntsville that we had been too before, so we thought we’d try it out.
While there, Elsie picked up a glass bottle Heinz 57 ketchup. She tried to pour the ketchup onto her plate, but was having problems. She is extremely independent and strong-willed and bright. All of which keep her from asking or accepting help, especially from her mother who knows nothing ☺ She said something like, “Isn’t there a way that you can hit the bottle and make it come out?” It wasn’t an exact question, but it vaguely resembled one. So as I began to tell her and tried to show her, she would have none of it. “I got this, Mom”, is what she said as she kept trying to do it her way. She would not accept my help. The ketchup finally did come out, but it took a long time and it came out in a giant clump on her plate. If she had only let me help, she could have learned something new and not have ruined her french-fries in a flood of ketchcup!
But isn’t that just like us? We know we need help. We vaguely ask God for help, like Elsie somewhat asked about the ketchup. But right when the answer was coming, she took things back into her own hands to solve. Or maybe we look towards God, like Scott mentioned above in the baseball analogy, looking for the sign for how to swing, but then we wave Him off. Thinking we know better than He does. I think personally, I think I like it when God just makes it easy, and gives me exactly what I need without me asking, like the precious little boy who gave me a ponytail holder!
So whether you are in need of some physical help, as I was (and still am), be brave and ask for help. If you are in need of some spiritual help, the same applies. Be brave and ask for help. Ask the Lord. Ask your pastor. Ask a counselor. Ask a friend. But remember, the asking is just the beginning. Accepting is where the power is. Accepting is where the change happens. Accept the help.
Goodness gracious what a blessing it was to worship with you at worship night. God’s presence and unfailing love was so heavy. As I watched you so freely worship and praise HIM I was overcome with emotion and felt my little Church of Christ arms raising to the ceiling!!!! 😉😂 And from one hot tamole to another I never leave home without a hair tie so Jabe and I will always have you covered on worship nights!! And to say that I’m a little excited for the upcoming Bible study with you and our beautiful inside and out Barbie would be the understatement of the year!!! God bless you!
Oh Beth, I’m so glad to now know who gave me the ponytail holder!! Please tell Jabe I said thank you very much! And I’m so thrilled to hear about your own worship experience that night. I’m loving your ‘Church of Christ’ arms comment! Made my day! God bless you, too!!
I love you “Say-hey”….thanks for sharing your heart, insecurities, and battles so that we all may learn and be blessed from them! I’m so proud of you….of course you know that….or should! : )