How blessed I am to have met, Marilyn Nutter, while teaching at The Billy Graham Training Center near Asheville, North Carolina – two years ago. Our hearts connected over loss of loved ones and our friendship grew in those moments of sharing. Marilyn has a sweet way about her, making others feel valued and I felt like a life-long friend, quickly.
In January, I reconnected with Marilyn at the Billy Graham Training Center while key-noting Taylor’s First Baptist ladies retreat. After the weekend was over, Marilyn kindly shared her thoughts about how God had spoken to her through my teaching material. I invited Marilyn to be a guest blogger and her post went live immediately after retreat. Because Marilyn’s experience touched so many hearts, I wanted to make sure no one missed out on the blessing!
So, grab a cup of coffee and snuggle in, friends. Be sure to leave your comments for Marilyn after reading her words of wisdom.
Can God Use a Cloak and Dishes to Speak to You?
I went to our women’s retreat with purpose. I was looking forward to a restful time at the Cove, enjoying friendships, and having conversations by the fire. I wanted to hear our speaker, LaTan Roland Murphy, share the nuggets of God’s truth that would apply to me.
As a member of the women’s ministry team at my church, I prayed for every woman who registered. But my prayers also included something deeply personal-I asked God to unmistakably speak to me. My oldest daughter prayed the same for me. I wanted a “rhema word”, something that could only be for me to direct my next steps this year. My word for the year is intentional. What would He intentionally say to me?
He answered in two obvious ways, but I need to give a back story to appreciate the magnanimity of His words to me.
For the past few years, I have served as a facilitator for the Grief Support for Spouses group at my church. Lately I felt a nudge that my participation was ending. I prayed and discussed it with a couple of people, asking them to pray about my decision. In December I had an answer and told the leader I wouldn’t serve in March for the new session. I believed I needed to move from ministering to those with raw grief to encouraging widows further along in their new season. In a way, I removed my widow’s cloak from covering my head, to wearing it for the warmth of encouragement on my shoulders. Though it is not my identity, widowhood is part of what I am, and God uses that to reach women in the same journey.
On another note, years ago, my husband and I were at an outlet buying everyday dishes. I wanted a set of white ones so I could use any color accent for tablecloths, seasons, centerpieces, etc. He was attracted to a set with color. It would be limiting, but I deferred to what he wanted. Last week, at a major after-Christmas sale, I saw a set of white dishes. I bought them. Before I left for the retreat, I unpacked the boxes and put the dishes in the dishwasher. They’d be ready when I returned.
LaTan’s theme was assuming your position. “Where has God placed you in your season?” she asked.
At the final session of our retreat, she used an example with a woman up front as a model, of moving a cloak from her head, to a new way of wearing it on her shoulders. I stopped taking notes and thought about my conversation with LaTan the previous night, when I shared removing my widow’s cloak in Grief Support and moving to a new place of ministry of encouragement. She went on to say we often need to intentionally change garments or wear them in a way fitted a particular life season.
God answered my intentional prayer in a unique way. LatTan’s message of assuming your position using my illustration of a widow’s cloak, was God’s message for me. I knew He was confirming my removal of the cloak to move forward in a new area of ministry.
God speaking to me regarding the cloak was enough to gain my attention and I thanked Him for His answer. However, He did not stop there. During the conference, LaTan sang the 2007 Point of Grace song, “How You Live (Turn up the Music)”. https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/pointofgrace/howyouliveturnupthemusic.html
The lyrics convey the message of living life, including using the good dishes. There is no disrespect to my beloved husband, but the dishes represent my living in a different season. Proverbs 31:12 says, “She brings him (her husband) good, not harm, all the days of her life.” One of the ways of bringing my late husband “good” is by thriving, not merely surviving. That moment also confirmed my intentionality and purpose.
Intentionally praying and intentionally positioned to listen, God intentionally spoke to me through a cloak and dishes to assume my new position. Who would have thought He would have answered in this way?
BIO: Marilyn Nutter, of Greer, SC is a contributor to magazines, on-line sites, and compilations. She is a Bible teacher and speaker for women’s groups and grief support and serves on the women’s ministry team at her church. In her life’s seasons, she has met God’s faithfulness and clings to Lam. 3:22-23. Look for her blog at www.marilynnutter.com to find extraordinary treasures in ordinary and challenging days.