My promises to God were empty. My prayers were a reflection of my guilt and shame. They were offering up my will, not listening to His. Over the course of two and a half years, God prepared me and changed me.
God said trust. I said, I would much rather have another word to focus on this year. That word insults me…who am I to trust? Gradually, through scriptures, God warmed my heart to the idea that trust does not come easily to me and so I embraced the word. It grew on me but it didn’t stop there. No, this was just the beginning. I said, God show me how to trust You better. What do I need to do?
God said, forgive others AND ask them to forgive you. One particular area of forgiveness was beyond difficult so I decided to be obedient with the easier ones first. I procrastinated about the “hard to forgive and forget” one. I tried to stuff it down and ignore it but through dreams and patterns of thought, God said, listen to me…trust. So I reached out to this man and God started the healing.
One year later, God said, you need to tell him you forgive him and tell him you accept his forgiveness. Arrange to talk to him. I said, I don’t want to deal with this issue. I feel like I drudge everything back up just when it is forgotten. God said, tell him with words from your lips. So, I typed that I had something to say and gave my phone number. He called me and we spoke forgiveness. God filled me with hope.
God said, teach a high school girl’s Bible Study on “So Long Insecurity”. I said, you know I have struggled to read this book because of my insecurity. I teach little kids not big ones. What can I possibly offer these girls? The very thought of this study makes me more insecure…isn’t that ironic? God said, teach them. I did. It taught me more.
God said, you need to manage your time better. Why spend time on facebook when it discourages you? So, I became determined to surround myself with all things positive and Christian…my Facebook newsfeed was filled with postings of scripture. I “stumbled” across Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible Study Facebook page. Information about the next study was posted. They were going to read “Unglued”. I had heard the author (Lysa TerKeurst) speak on the radio and enjoyed her down to earth, very real message. God said, join them. I said, I don’t know if I will have time. Between being a wife, a mom, a teacher in a full-time position, and teaching Bible study, plus all the other ministries I am involved in…well, when am I going to read and do the assignments? I joined the group and have grown so much. This current OBS is the fifth one and I am so blessed to have the opportunity.
God said, start a ministry for young adults. I said, I am not able to do this. I cannot lead a group of young adults and can You define “young adult”…I think You know I am not in my twenties so to the “young adult”, I am old! God said, it is a group for after high school. I said, give me a name for the group and I will do it. God gave me a name and a scripture. He offered grace and pressed upon me that if I had been a part of a small group experience at that age then I may have not made the attention-seeking choices and mistakes that I did. I said, okay…I am willing.
God said be disciplined. Get up at 6am and spend time with me. I said, You know I am NOT a morning person. I would much rather do it at the end of my day. He said, I died for you and you can’t get up at 6? I said, well I could try but that thirty minutes of extra sleep is important to me…I am too tired. Through God’s intervention, my kids woke up at 5:55…enough to stir me and then they went back to bed. This went on for two mornings. By the third morning, I woke up wide awake at 5:55 on my own. I said, Okay…I get it. I am up. For one month, I met Him first thing in the morning and my obedience was rewarded by Him filling me up so that I was less exhausted and more focused on Him throughout the day.
God said, share your testimony. I said, I cannot share it because I need to protect the other person’s reputation. I would not wish to hurt him more. God said, you can write anonymously. I started this blog in the comfort of the Online Bible Study community. God said, write your testimony. An email appeared in my inbox asking for stories of how God used something Satan meant for evil and harm. My story seemed to fit the description of what the author was looking for. I felt led to write and the anxiety-filled reality is that my story could be published. I realize that even if it isn’t, God wanted me to write it. If it is published, I will never know how my testimony touched the lives of others. I may never know how this blog influenced others but I became open to using my writing for God. I write what He leads me to write. I trust He will use it as He sees fit.
God said, go to the wedding and I will remind you of My promises which are full of truth. You will see the man who reminds you of your past but I will be with you. I said, I really do not want to go. Satan always fills me with how I am not good enough. I don’t want to feel that way when I am doing so well trying to be in You. I don’t want to sense my guilt and shame again. Plus, this meeting will prove whether or not I have truly forgiven him. I am not ready to see him in person. God said, Prepare with me now and learn My truth. I will be with You. I will remind You that You are mine. I went to the wedding after months of prayer and reading God’s Word. He was faithful…I am a new creation. I am a child of God. I can keep my mind on all things pure. God is good and never changes. He works all things for His glory…for my good. God also showed me the value of the man for he is a child of God too. We made a mistake and that mistake does not define us. God defines us. God defines me.
God said, send an anonymous note to the man. I said, I cannot do that. It is not my job to keep in touch with him. We have forgiven. Can’t this be over? You are the writer of my life so can’t you edit this part…can this man just not be apart of my life? Pick anyone else…not me. God said, send a note to him. I said, I will pray to see if this is really of You. How can I tell? I feel conflicted. I don’t want to do this! What does the note need to say? God said, wait with me. I waited. Several days later, God said, write Ephesians 4 and send it. I read the scripture over and over. I said, what will this mean to him? God said, send it. I did and felt immediate relief in my spirit.
God said, pay for your pastor’s lunch. I said, well I am really not a generous person. What lesson is in this choice? God said, he does so much for you and your family. He serves me and he is eating alone. Pay for his lunch. I didn’t argue too much longer. Surprised by my own response, I paid for the lunch and spent the exact amount I had with me…God provided and it left me with an amazing feeling all day. Little did I know this would prepare me for something bigger.
God said, send another note to the man…an invitation to the weekend to remember conference. I said, Lord…you know I cannot do that. I hurt this man’s marriage and there are obvious trust issues between him and his wife. If I do this, it could hurt their relationship even more. Plus, you do know that helping marriages is an emerging passion of mine and my husband. If we volunteer at this conference, surely they will see me and they will know it was me who sent the invitation. How can I be anonymous? God said, send it and trust me. I wrestled with this for a week and emailed the conference leader to ask how should I go about inviting someone without offending them. People often get offended because they think the conference is for hurting marriages but it is for all marriages. She suggested just sending a flier. I resolved to send the flier begging God to change His mind and if it must be done to use someone else. God said, the conference is covered, pay for the man and his wife to stay at the conference. Pay for their date night. I said, You do know that You are suggesting giving them over 200 dollars. I have other people I would rather send to that conference and financially we can’t do it for them. For two weeks, my past haunted me. I cried out to God to show me that this was from Him. I talked with my pastor. I talked with my husband. I expressed all of my concerns. It became not about the money but just that it shouldn’t be my place. I wrestled and struggled and finally, through two blog posts and lots of prayer, I printed the flier explaining the conference. I sent 250 dollars in an envelope marked “funds to cover your hotel stay” and dropped it in the mail. I felt such an amazing feeling inside. I cannot even describe the peace and calm. It was unlike anything I have ever felt. That was about a month ago and God has blessed me with summer jobs and our finances didn’t take a hit.
God is an amazing God. I crave that interaction with Him now. I would like to get to the point of my faith being superior over my humanness… to accept the task when He gives it to me instead of always questioning Him. He pushes me beyond my comfort zone and I trust that whatever it is, He will use it to better His kingdom. Even if I make a mistake with the assignment (I am always concerned that I tweak it to make it easier for me), He will use it. He will push further. I crave the next lesson and at the same time, I want to be content in praising Him right now. I sometimes fear what will come next because it has been difficult. But, it is so exciting. I am growing in Him. I will rely on Him. Whatever He brings me to, I will do. I will say yes.