A friend asked me recently what incredible things God was doing in my life. I wrote this in response and wanted to share it here in hopes that it might encourage some of you.
On my way home yesterday, I was thinking about how incredible it is when the Lord reveals to you your gifts and then he uses them to touch someone else. Even more incredible is how he uses the pain and trials in your life for good. I realized though that we have to choose to be where he wants us and not fight against it. A change of how we think and perceive the things happening in our lives is required to see those things as being part of his will.
Once my heart finally surrendered to the Lord completely it was like a flood of his presence has filled every part of me. Everything I read, everything I hear seems to point me back to the truth. Pastor Al’s sermon combined with a book I am reading reminded me that these things that are bringing so much pain into my life are not meant for evil. They are meant for good…good because they drive me to an intimate relationship with the Lord. Good because it has given me the opportunity to reach out to others who are suffering and point them to the Lord in it. Good because they are producing something of such greater value than a life void of pain. Seeing all of this in light of how God is going to use it and is using it has increased my trust in Him and his ability to work it all out according to HIS purpose. I am learning that being at rest in his will comes from trusting his purpose and not having to work it out according to what I think he should do with it.
I guess I kind of feel like he has softened me into pliable clay. I have never felt so intimate with the Lord as I do right now. That is exciting to me because for years I have looked back to my teenage years and considered that to have been my strongest time spiritually. Not so good to be walking with the Lord for so long and to have lost that freshness in our relationship. It saddened me but not enough to stop fighting against Him and for my own way. I finally feel as though I can hear him again as he speaks truth in my heart. I can trust him with my heart. I can obey without fear. I can hear his correction and respond with surrender and not a “failure response” of giving up and running to sin rather than away from it. As a result, my heart finally feels again. It has been stone for a very long time.
The Lord truly is becoming everything to me. In the past year, he has stripped away everything I was replacing him with. He is taking away the walls that I have been hiding behind. He gave me these certain friends who have challenged me in so many ways to find and cling to truth. He took my need to be pleasing to people and used that same need to face some things I really need to deal with and not run. In the process, its becoming more important to me what God thinks than what people think. I am not totally to that point of being free from my desire for approval but I think the Lord is loosening the fear that need had imprisoned my heart in. He took my greatest fear, brought it into my life, and then walked step by step through it, teaching my heart to seek approval in him and desire to hear his words alone, and then gave me what I needed in his way. So much healing took place in such a short amount of time and in a few powerful words. He is the very thing I thought I needed others to be.
I never thought the Lord would ever choose to use me again. I have failed horribly. I have willingly chosen to sin in horrible ways- like a rebellious child determined to crush her Father’s heart. I have dared God to leave me and walk away. I have tried, like I have done in many relationships, to convince him he shouldn’t waste his time. And true to who he is, he has waited for me to surrender and has patiently and passionately pursued my heart. Now he has allowed my heart to feel the freedom and healing power of his forgiveness. One day in the past couple of weeks, my mind was flooded with images of so many of the times I chose to sin. Each time the thought would come to mind, the Lord was there reminding me that it was paid for. It was incredible to me how many of the songs I heard that day had to do with the past and forgiveness.
So I am amazed and humbled that the Lord has given me the opportunity to be used again. It is bringing me so much joy. So much so that I never want to settle for less than God’s best again. I have been praying and asking him to allow me to have a women’s group again to lead, to serve, and to love. I am amazed now that he has brought these women together and it is more than I ever thought possible. I love it when the Lord allows me the opportunity to pour his love and truth into another person and getting to watch them grow. I have gotten to experience what happens when the Lord reveals things to us that have affected us and can be used as an excuse to justify our behavior. As I am learning to let go of those things and not let them be an excuse for me, I get to share with others how to do that too. Each time he gives me the opportunity to share with someone else, help someone else or serve someone I am overcome by joy. It makes everything else worth it to see God using it to bring someone else closer to him.
What are the incredible things he is doing? He is giving me a soft heart. He has replaced my mourning with gladness. He has brought me to the edge, allowed me to see the possibilities of things I could lose and asked me whether I will still choose Him. He has given me a steadfast faith that says “No matter what happens, I will follow you.” He has spoken his words of love, worth, and truth into my heart and has given me faith to believe him and cling those words. If you had known me these past ten years and seen the icy wall around my heart, the desire to be free yet feeling like I am always drowning never able to reach the surface, heard the lies that have waged war against my mind and heart, and felt the intensity of the fear that has imprisoned me you would agree that the things the Lord is doing is incredible. In finally surrendering to His love and allowing him to be everything I need, I feel like I can face the future, with whatever it might hold, with courage, security, and peace.