Every year at our Conference Christmas party, we have a devotion. One of our esteemed pastors gets up and for twenty minutes tells cute “happily-ever-after” stories about happy children at Christmas and warm puppies and milk and cookies for Santa. We all smile, clap politely, then go home.
Until Pastor Stacey Hilliard was invited to speak.
Our 2007 Christmas party speaker was Pastor Stacey Hilliard. He’s the African American Ministries Coordinator for our Conference. He’s a very dignified black brother from Greenville, NC. During the week, he’s a police detective. But in his “spare time” he’s a pastor.
Pastor Stacey read from Luke… When Gabriel comes to the virgin Mary and says, “You’re going to have a child.” But Mary, being a virgin, says, “How can that be? I’ve never been with a man.” And Gabriel says to her, “It’s not about you. It’s about what God can do in you. And He is going to do this in spite of you.” And Mary says, “Okay. If God will do His part, I’ll do mine.” (Sarah’s Paraphrase)
Pastor Stacey said this: Some of us are right this moment pregnant with the things of God. We are conceiving them even now. And they are bigger, greater things than we could imagine that God would do through us. We may look at God and say (like Mary did), “But God, how can that be? I’ve never done this. I’ve never been to school for that. I don’t know what I’m doing.” But God is saying, “It’s not about you. It’s about what I can do in you. I’m just looking for a willing womb. You’re willing and so I’m going to do this thing in spite of you.” As Nicole C. Mullens says, “God doesn’t call the qualifed. He qualifies the called.”
Now, being pregnant isn’t easy. First of all, in Mary’s case, she lived in a time when legally, they could call her a whore and stone her. If God didn’t do this thing in her and for her, then she could die. And for some of us, that’s the case, too. GOD has to do it, ’cause if we try to, we’re going to die. Second of all, when you’re pregnant, you can’t rest. You can’t get comfortable. God keeps you stirred up all of the time, preparing for that child to come. And thirdly, when you’re pregnant, you get stretch marks. But that means that God is stretching you. Growing you little by little. It’s not a comfortable or pretty process, but it’s necessary. And you’ll NEVER be the same.
I don’t know about you, but this is something I’m going through. And I know of a lot of other people going through similar things. One example from my life is how I’ve got an English degree, but God has put me into a job where about 1/4 of my job is bookkeeping. And recently, about 3/4 of my job has been bookkeeping. That’s not naturally where my gifting, talent, skill, passion, or enjoyment is. But I know that God’s teaching me something through the painful stretching, growing process.
Every Christmas since I heard Pastor Stacey’s message, God brings it back to my memory and I began to ask Him all over again to search me to see what else I’m “pregnant” with. We as individuals and as the church are headed into a season where God wants to birth some things in us and through us. He wants to use us. He wants us to make a difference in our world. It’s time to stop sitting around, doing nothing. Life is NOT a spectator sport. The late Tommy Tyson said that life “is a framework to make Jesus known.” How am I doing that?
I challenge you to join me in the maternity ward. Let’s seek God and see what He’s birthing in us. Let’s grow together. Let’s get stretched together. And let’s have understanding and mercy for each other while we go through this process. Let’s STOP living “the same old, same old” and start really living!
What are you pregnant with?