By Hazel Percy
A couple of months ago, I felt the need to reconsider my priorities, before God, about how I spend my time. I live in the UK and have had a leafletting job for the past year or so now, which, as you can imagine, is physically tiring. For several months last year, I was delivering 2000 leaflets a week, which involved me walking 9-10 hours a week. Around November time, I reduced it to 1000 per week. Plus, once a month I do an additional leafletting job for a friend, which means that during that week, I do even more walking. Also, as some of you know, I stutter and currently use a more demanding than normal way of breathing for speaking called ‘costal breathing’ (as taught by the McGuire Programme – for people who stutter). It helps to keep my diaphragm moving freely, even when there’s fear or anxiety present. Another factor in all of this was that in February, my family and I moved house. And, as I am the main painter/decorator in our family, that was a third physically demanding ‘thing to do’ which I had on my plate. As you can see, I needed some clarity from God about how I should be spending my time and energy. I only have so much in any one day!
About a month ago, as I was going to sleep, I had a ‘dream’. It was no ordinary dream. I felt like I was in a state of being half awake and half asleep. I’ve never been hypnotised, but I imagine it might feel something like that. The ‘dream’ was really vivid and immediately after it, I woke up. It was of a round, glass bowl of thick, yellow liquid (like custard) which was being poured out. And as it was being poured out, God was pouring more into the bowl. It seemed to me that God was saying that He provides what is needed. I was also reminded of a Christian book I’d read several years ago called ‘There is Always Enough’ by Rolland and Heidi Baker. I wasn’t sure what to make of the dream at the time, so I put it to the back of my mind.
As I brought ‘my priorities and how I spend my time’ before God a few weeks ago, I believe He said to me to focus on the ‘being’…………………and He would work out the doing’. Meaning, that I needed to focus on my relationship with Him, and to’ be’ as far as I was currently able, the confident and ‘real me’ in everyday life; something which has often been hidden away over many years. And He would tell me what He wanted me to ‘do’. I was reminded of the story of the Centurion’s Servant in Luke 7:1-10. Like the servant who always obeyed what the centurion asked him to do, all I had to do was to be obedient to what God asked me to do – knowing that He would equip me to do whatever that was. But I still wanted more clarity as to the detail!
Following on from this, the ‘need to reconsider my priorities’ became more defined. It became an inner conflict between ‘what I believed I had to do’ and ‘what I wanted to do.’ This simmered away in the back my mind for quite a while, but then came to the boil a couple of weeks ago. What I felt I had to do was my leafletting job, to help provide income for my family. Apart from the physical effort involved, this job involved me spending a lot of time alone, most days (as does the decorating). What I wanted to do and what I also felt I needed to do, was to spend a lot more time each day talking and interacting with people and to regularly push out my comfort zone; two areas which I believe are very important, to move away from stuttering and towards a greater ease of speaking in everyday situations.
I just couldn’t see a way out of this dilemma between ‘having to’ and ‘wanting to’. I felt trapped, as though I was being pulled in two directions in my mind. It was as if I was being forced to have a lifestyle which was going against moving towards the life of freedom, which I believe God wants me to have.
Something else which was playing into all of this, what that in March, I started giving talks to various church groups about how God is helping me to overcome stuttering – something which I believe God asked me to do many months ago. As I’ve been giving these talks, I’ve experienced like never before, how different my life could be, without stuttering. For whenever I give these talks and completely give myself over to God, trusting Him to help me, I have no problem at all speaking, as I share my story with these groups – speaking for 20-30 minutes at a time. In fact I thoroughly enjoy doing them, because at those times, I feel most alive, and am expressing the more confident and ‘real’ version of me. I.e. the person God created me to be.
When things ‘came to the boil’ with this issue, a couple of weeks ago, I sent an e-mail to Bob (Bodenhamer), expressing this inner conflict going on in my mind; as he has been working with me during recent months, to help me move forward with my ‘thinking’ in relation to stuttering. At the time, I didn’t know he was in hospital, and that his own needs were far greater than mine! When I found out about his situation, God gently reminded me that although He often brings other people alongside us, to help and support us at various stages of our lives, sometimes we have to go it alone – and come to a place where it is just ‘us’ and ‘God’. For ultimately, it’s what He says that counts the most. And so I spent some time speaking with and listening to God, using NLP. I needed to know the way forward – and urgently!
Dissociated, I saw an image of adult Hazel in the presence of Jesus, high in my field of vision. She was grey in colour, feeling withered, lifeless, down, head bowed. She was dragging a big net behind her, which contained leaflets, paintbrushes, her children and her husband. As if they were all her responsibility and owned by her.
Jesus said to her: “These are not your responsibility. You do not own them. I have given them to you for a time. They belong to me. You do not have to drag this big net around with you.” Then the Hazel in the image asked Jesus, “What is my responsibility?” Jesus said, “To love me and to show my love to others.”
I asked Jesus how the Hazel in the image could change from being grey to more vibrant and alive. He said to her “Let go of the net. It is not yours to carry”. Then Jesus said to ‘me’ who was looking at the image: “She needs my Holy Spirit flowing through her. It is blocked by all her ‘activity’, her ‘busyness’, her ‘weariness’. My river of life-giving water will supply all her needs. She needs to learn to trust me more. I can do amazing things if only she will let me, instead of holding on to those things she doesn’t need to hold on to. I will provide all her needs and those of her family – in abundance and in ways you don’t expect. I am the God of surprises. Don’t underestimate what I can do. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Nothing is beyond me. Nothing is too difficult for me. I am the God of the impossible. I make the ‘impossible’ possible. I make a way where there is no way. Through the forest – I know the path ahead. Follow me, trust me. I know where I am leading you. Somewhere good and beautiful, where you will flourish and be all that I created you to be. I did not create you to be ‘grey’ but to be vibrant and colourful and alive. Attractive to others so that others can see me through your life.”
I had a sense that I had too limited a view of God’s ability to provide. And that He is bigger than any leafletting job (or, in fact, any of our concerns at all). He is well able to provide in other ways. His ‘bank account’ is far greater than ours! I also had to acknowledge that the self-limiting beliefs I currently hold about what jobs I can and cannot do, due to stuttering, are not necessarily true (though that is still a difficult area for me!) And so I believed it right to reduce the hours of my main leafletting job even further, to only about 2 ½ hours per week (which is virtually nothing), and to trust God to provide for us financially, as a family, in another way. I knew that this was what I needed to do, and had a real sense of both peace and total confidence that God would provide for us in the future.
Several days later, Bob, having come out of hospital, replied to my e-mail. Part of his reply was:
“Let the Lord “surprise” you with what He has for you in the future.”
Now, here’s what happened next. My husband has had a job the other side of London for nearly three years now, which has meant him commuting across the city most days on buses/trains, with the journey taking maybe 1 ½ hours each way (which has increased since we moved house). Then he’s had extra traveling as part of the job itself. It has been such a strain on his health, and consequently on the rest of our family. We have been praying for a transfer so that he can work closer to home, almost since he started that job, and trusting God with it all. But it has been a trial. Well, last week he received an e-mail, saying that he is being re-located to an office much, much closer to home – starting this week! Which will mean a lot less traveling and therefore a lot less travel fares…………… which means significantly more ‘take home’ pay for him, and the rest of our family.
As God said to me, and as Bob indicated………. God is a God of surprises. And He has proved Himself faithful, yet again. As I was obedient to what I believed God was asking me to do, even though, on a human level, it initially looked like a further reduction in income, He made it up to us almost immediately and has provided for us in ‘another’ way. I now believe that that ‘dream’ I had about the bowl, which I mentioned earlier, was indeed from God – reminding me of His provision.
God is far, far greater than our problems. Even when we don’t immediately see answers to our prayers, He is always working in the background, for our good, in His way and in His time. We don’t always get the answers we expect and sometimes our patience is tested…………………. but God knows our every need and is always there ready to speak with us and help us through every stage of our lives.