“Humble but Gracious moment”
by Mrs. Sterling O’Neill
God was about to remind me once again about His card and the beauty of community in a time
of grieving and growth.
Recently, sitting in a “team development” training meeting, I found myself mysteriously
frustrated after two days of delicious, edifying training. However, on this day, it seemed I
couldn’t understand or connect to anything. Why, and why now?
Was it my learning processing differences kicking in?
I tell myself, “Sterling, just listen you will get it. Don’t panic! If you panic then you will not get
I didn’t want my brain to shut down and not allow anymore information to get in so I had to stay
calm. But, as I looked around at all the attendees in the training, it seemed everyone was getting
it but me. So I continued to tell myself,
”Sterling this is okay! You can ask when we all break, they won’t mind.”
The group was small and informal and by the third day we were feeling pretty comfortable with
each other. My feelings, however, were turning from hopefulness to frustration and fear. Ever
been there – finding yourself in a conversation with yourself?
“Yes, but you know how you learn”
“But I’m getting behind.”
No matter how much I consoled myself in dialogue with myself, the tears came. How humbling
can this be?!
Again I ask myself, “Why is this happening to me now? Maybe, because Jim and I had been
on the road since the end of May after moving out of our home of three years and one more
challenge was icing on the cake? Maybe because our last daughter of four children just
graduated from high school and will be going off to college soon which makes us Empty
Nester’s? Maybe because once again after 3 years we are changing jobs and starting another
one, pioneering a new initiative for equipping the next generation for God’s Global impact?”
Of course we are excited about our work with next gen leaders and feel God has prepared us to
date for this very next step! We have been involved with young people for over 18 years now.
No doubts about that but a transition nonetheless.
“Maybe because Jim was away for a few days developing partners and this was the first time in
three months of intense ministry that we had been away from each other?”
Not sure which one it was but I did know that the first two days even though I was sitting in the
meeting tired, I was excited to be learning a new skill. I could see it as a tool that God could use
me, to help possibly further His kingdom in the lives of others. It brought such joy to my heart.
I was soaking up the fellowship that came with the interactions as well. One minute thanking
God and the next minute, on this third day, whaling up with tears in frustration as to why I
wasn’t getting this, however, perplexed me! It just didn’t make sense. Often we can’t put a timer
on our emotions!
Before the session started on Monday, we had to take tests that talked about us. How can we
help in team development and evaluate testing results for others if we first had not done it
God in His grace was allowing me the opportunity to slow life down, to look inward, to look
to Him and at the same time learn a new skill in community with other believers. With all the
changes and transitions in my own life, along with the learning disability, it was all doing a
number on my emotions, and I couldn’t figure it out yet but I knew God was up to something!
“God what are you trying to teach me?”
I was familiar with transition. After all, we’ve moved 20 times in my life of 32 years in ministry,
13 of them were lived in Asia.
“But now Lord, do you have to do it now in front of others?”
“Can I learn the lesson of whatever you are teaching me another time and in another way?”
“Lord this is embarrassing, I need your help.”
Call out to ME with confidence for in your time of need I, the God of mercy who knows all
will give mercy and grace to help you, (Hebrew 4:16), God said.
No matter how much I told myself, no matter how much I spoke the truth in my life I was losing
the battle – at least in my eyes! I just wanted to scream, run, get alone and cry, get it all out of my
system, get composure and then come back. But, if I left, I would get further behind! The group
was small and if I left it would draw more attention to me and I didn’t want that either. Can you
see my dilemma? So what I did was just sit there and try to suck it in and fix it myself!
Do we often respond that way with our own lives? We justify we are okay and we can fix it
ourselves! We assess what the reasons for our dilemma and then attempt to blow it off as if it is
something small that no one will understand or we should be able to tackle this one! We reason
we have been Christians for a long time. We have been through this before We can do it again.
We know the truth so we try and try again but the issue just doesn’t seem to go away or it gets
worse. What is lacking? What are we missing? We tell ourselves and find ourselves more
discouraged. Ever been there?
We often speak truth but then try to fix it ourselves. He wants us to humble ourselves before
Him as we speak truth into our lives. Are we trusting and thanking Him for every situation?
God whispered, “I give grace to the humble and resist the proud. I promise I care so you can
cast all your anxiety on ME.” (Hebrew 5:5 and 7)
God does care and works best in community. God used one person, who saw my dilemma.
She left and brought a box of Kleenex tissues, placing them on the table. She was kind enough
to provide them but not draw attention to me.
I decided it was all out and I needed help! I better just face the music, so I reached for the
tissues. Now the whole group knew!
“What’s wrong” the leader said? The tears could not be contained. “I am at a frustration level
and can’t seem to get it. I am sorry for the tears. I seem to cry more when others notice” I
said. The leader was gracious and said, “My wife gets that way too.” I felt God’s hand of grace
through this man’s words as I humbled myself.
Guess what they did. They all came around me and laid hands on me. Prayed for me! They
didn’t judge me or ask me to explain, they just prayed for me.
Then they asked how they could help me. I got one piece of information which explained the
whole thing! It only took one piece of information to clarify which changed the whole equation.
It took someone noticing and reaching out to me, someone praying and my whole spirit was
changed. How simple is that?
Isn’t that the same way with our walk with God? Difficulties come, we feel like an island unto
ourselves-alone! We grieve!
Satan tries to send lies and tell us we are alone. Telling us to suck it in! You can do it! You can
fix it yourself! You don’t need anyone.
Yes we need to speak truth to ourselves! The truth of the Cross! – we also need to humble
ourselves before God, trusting and believing it!
But, often, I forget it also needs to be done in community. Not to condemn us but to come along
side of us to encourage us.
Hebrew 3:13; 10:24 says “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still
called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, and let us
consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” We need accountability!
2. How can I pray for you? or Let me pray right now for you.
4. How can I speak words of encouragement and words to build up
Who is your community? We need to be walking with each other on the journey. Some are
ahead of us, some with us, and some behind us but we need each other.
Am I doing that with others? Am I reaching out to others this way?
Am I humbling myself before God first and then allowing others to come around me to
encourage me?
How was the rest of my day? The rest of the day was encouraging! After I heard the
information and understood it, I was encouraged to practice it on someone else. I got it! I am
thankful I was restored! I came away stronger rather than condemned and defeated, thanks
to a community that cared! Now I want to continue to go out and do that with others.
Thank you God, for that Humble but Gracious Moment to remind me of the Beauty of
Community in Christ, during this special season of life. You bring us what we need just when we
need it.