Women scare me to death. Let me teach children or share my testimony before 1,000 people. No problem. Put me in front of a dozen ranging females, though, and my legs get wobbly.

Could it have something to do with the outrageous expectations of modern-day women’s meetings? It seems the formula is as follows:

  1. Find a dynamic speaker who makes us laugh and cry while drawing closer to the Lord.
  2. Coordinate the food, music, decorations, games, prizes, and crafts around a cute theme.
  3. Designate responsibilities for each area, letting everyone give her input and be involved.
  4. Invite ladies and ask them to bring their unsaved friends.
  5. Add a dash of prayer so that God will bless it.

As a rookie at coordinating ladies’ Bible studies, I am learning how all this works…and does not work.

You see, for our meeting in March, many things fell through at the last minute. Our music and craft leaders both decided they were not going to come…and failed to tell me…which I found out through the grapevine the day before the meeting. Thankfully, I had an extra craft on hand, and we could sing a capella. There were some unpleasant surprises the day of the meeting too, but I viewed it as a learning experience and vowed to do better the next time.

I started with prayer. Then came the idea. Another missionary knew a lady in a nursing home in our town. We could visit her! “Service and Encouragement” would be our theme. Wewould make cards! We would be challenged with a message! As the sun shone overhead and the birds sang, we would walk to the nursing home, brimming with joy as we put our theme into action! IT WOULD BE GLORIOUS!!!

So, perhaps I was too excited about revolutionizing our ladies’ meeting, but I got on the stick. I prayed and prayed and prayed. Not the Please bless this meeting variety, but the literally-on-my-face version as I asked God about each detail. I invited ladies online and in person. Most did not reply, and some had prior commitments, but several agreed to come and to invite others. After putting our baby to bed at night, I stayed up late crafting homemade cards to use as examples. A couple weeks before the meeting, the lady at the nursing home said she was not going to be up to visitors after all. We checked into visiting other nursing homes, but to no avail. I kept praying, Lord, please do what You want with this meeting. What should we do? We decided to continue with the craft and the message, and then have a small fellowship time at the end. This little change would not deter us. God had a plan!

The day before the meeting, we cleaned our house, rearranged the furniture, put down tablecloths, hung decorations, and bought more craft supplies. A few more ladies informed me they had been called in to work and could not come after all. We were dwindling like Gideon’s army, but that still left six or more of us. We prayed for God to lead while we pressed on. Another ministry commitment kept our family out until midnight, but I finished frosting brownies at a quarter to one in the morning, and we were ready!

The next morning, the phone started firing off another round of cancellations. When the smoke had cleared, the only person who was still coming was the speaker. As much as I would have loved her message, and as much as she might have loved my brownies, we were not up to a one-on-one shindig. We postponed the meeting.

So what went wrong? I looked at my empty chairs (which made me sad) and my pan of brownies that we now had to eat ourselves (which did not make me sad), and I felt peace. I had prayed more about this meeting than any other. I am my hardest critic, but for once, I had nothing bad to say to myself. I looked around and said, “God, here are the chairs, the food, the craft, and my house all rearranged for this. All that was left was to plug in the glue gun. I did all I could do.”

God had a reason. Maybe it was to work in me. Maybe it was to work in someone else. Maybe I will never know. Since then, I have done the only thing I know to do. I have kept on praying and I have kept on working. Women still scare me, but I am trusting God to fill my empty chairs and save their empty souls in His perfect time.

© 2013 Thrive.

Questions to Consider: What is your typical reaction when the ministry events you plan don’t go well? How do you fight the temptation to follow a formula and then “add a dash of prayer for God to bless it all?”