Friday, May 29, 2015

What If We Were Real?

I have been mulling over some things for the past few days and thought that I'd write them down. It doesn't necessarily have to do with cancer or our situation, but just life in general. We don't have cable, so we don't watch reality shows. Despite not having cable, we have heard of the Duggars, and even met a few of them at a homeschool convention a few years ago. The thing that struck me with the whole situation is how the family worked to protect their seemingly perfect image, how they covered up sin, and how quickly the world has jumped all over them, condemning them. 

To be honest, I personally can understand from experience both sides of the arguments being presented. On one hand, you have the victims of sexual abuse. They should have been protected and treated with extra care and compassion. They also should have been taken to a professional counselor to help them process what happened to them. Forgiveness has to be given to someone who has hurt you, and it is the hardest thing one can do-to forgive someone who doesn't deserve it. On the other side of the argument you have Josh, who has confessed to doing wrong. He admits that God has used that time in his life to bring him to a personal relationship with Jesus. If he truly confessed his sins, God's grace covers his sin (not that he shouldn't have also been held accountable here on earth for his wrong doing). I think the biggest thing that people have had an issue with is how the Duggars always presented themselves as the perfect, godly family while knowing they were far from perfect. In reality, none of us are perfect. We are all in desperate need of a Savior to redeem us from ourselves. Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we are all depraved sinners (separated from God because of our wrong doings). So my question for myself, my family, my church and the church as a whole is - what if we were real? What if instead of walking around with masks trying to be the "perfect Christian", what if we were honest with those around us with our struggles, our fears, our doubts? Wouldn't that be real? God uses our weaknesses and struggles to draw us closer to Him. He also uses these things in our lives so that we can minister to others. The danger in trying to conceal or stuff sin under the rug is that God's light will always reveal it. Proverbs 28:13 says, "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion." What if the Duggars had been honest and real? What if instead of trying to conceal and cover up their son's sin, they came out and were honest? Would there have been difficult times? I'm sure there would have been, but how much more could God have been glorified through that mess? Can God still be glorified in the situation? Yes. Just open the Bible and your find story after story of man's sin and God's redemption. 

I recently read Laura Story's book "When God Doesn't Fix It" and enjoyed some of the insight she gave in her book about life and hard times. Here is a section from her book. "I went back and looked at some of those heroes of the faith, and I discovered that God didn't call me to be like them. He never asks us to be like Noah, David, Daniel, or any other biblical example-except Jesus...He wants us to model our lives after Jesus...Their stores aren't in the Bible because these characters are heroes. Their stores are in the Bible because God is the hero of their stories...Just as the faithfulness of the men and women whose stories are told in the Bible points us to Jesus, so can their brokenness. In their brokenness, hurts, and sorrow, we see their humanity. We see their need for a Savior...The reason God wants me to tell my story isn't because He wants me to be embarrassed talking about my lowlights or bragging about my highlights. He wants me to tell my story because my story points to Jesus. My life is but one minuscule, very broken story in His much larger story of redemption...God can redeem not only every life, but every season of our life, every addiction, every lie, every failed marriage, every finacial crisis, every jealous thought, every bad mood, and every deep, dark secret. He uses our lowlights to demonstrate His power. No matter how deep our pit of sin is, God's long arm of redemption reaches down, pulls us out, washes us clean by the blood of Jesus, and welcomes us home. When we let others know where we came from and how He saved us from our own pit, we become an extension of that arm of redemption...God wants each of us to share our stories..."

God had laid it on my heart a few months ago when we first found out about Wayne to journal what God was teaching me. I started this blog as a way of remembering how God has carried us through each day and each trial that we have faced. Our journey is not over and neither is my story. I will continue to share my story and be open as God leads. I have only shared my testimony with a few people in my life. I am far from perfect and God is continually working in my life each day. To keep things extra real around here, I've decided to share my testimony with whoever reads this post. 

I was blessed to be raised in a godly Christian home. I believe it gave me a good foundation from which my faith journey began. Both of my parents loved and served God faithfully. I was exposed to the Bible and the gospel message at a young age. I also saw my parents live out their faith. It was more than words. My mom would teach English to Spanish ladies in our area by sharing God’s Word with them, she had Bible studies in the house with unbelievers in our neighborhood, my parents brought complete strangers into the home through foster care and just loved on these abused kids, and my mom would also do little things, like help blind ladies cross the street. My parents shared the truth of God with me and when I was around five, my mom asked me if I wanted to know Jesus. I told her no and ran out of the room. But God was working on my heart and I came back crying saying, “Yes, I want to know Jesus.” Although I walked through this with my mom, I’m not sure I truly understood what I was doing, but my heart was open to God and the work He was doing in me. I think this was evidenced in my life with decisions I made and my uncertainty lead me to rededicate my life a few times during that time. I remember a missionary coming to church and speaking about the Lord with such a passion that it made me cry. There was another time that I was about eight and I was looking at a Bible book that had a picture of Jesus Christ on the cross. I started crying thinking about the pain He suffered for me. I can see how God was drawing my heart to Him and working in my life. I don’t think it was until I was thirteen that I truly grasped the whole truth of the gospel. Sure I could tell you all the right answers (having grown up in the church), I knew God was working in my life and I had said “the sinner’s prayer”, but I don’t think I truly understood that I was to count the cost and I was to pick up my cross and follow Him. At thirteen I went to camp and the speaker talked about being a bondservant of Christ. I had never heard it talked about that way…marking my life for God of my own free will that I am His. It was this day that I truly acknowledged God as my Lord and my King and the day I believe I was truly saved. Before then I didn’t realize that once I choose to follow Jesus, my life was not my own. I am to follow Him and become like Him. 1 John 2:3 “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” I continued to grow in my knowledge of Him in my life, I depended on Him, and had a deep faith in who He was and I saw Him use me in others lives as I was obedient to Him. 

This faith would be tested though a few times in my life. I’ve had people ask me how I have such a deep faith and trust in God, well it wasn’t from easy times. The first time that my faith was tested was when I was fifteen. God started revealing some things in my past that I had been hiding because they were too hard to deal with. It was during this time that I had to depend on God with a dependence that was unfathomable. Philippians 4:13 was my lifeline “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” I started seeing a Christian counselor to deal with these images and memories that were coming to my mind. I prayed and asked God to reveal anything that was hidden to bring me freedom. Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you, and tell you great and hidden things that you have now known.” This verse is in reference to knowing more about God, but God used it to speak to me. During this time I remembered being abused by my own Grandfather when I was nine when I went and visited them. That was very hard to deal with but then I started remembering even worse things, things that I wouldn’t dare wish on my worst enemy that had happened to me. God was so faithful to me during this time and helped me each step of the way. I remember one particularly hard day after a long, hard counseling session. That night God gave me dream where He was holding me in His lap as He comforted me. It reminded me of my favorite chapter in Psalms during this time.  
Psalm 91 “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say[a] to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

During this time I had to depend on God and just hold on to His Word. I would listen to scripture songs on CD to counter the lies I had heard. I had to believe Him for who He was, and not let go of that for a moment. Sure I had questions, “why me God?” “What have I done to deserve this?” But then I would remember that Jesus was innocent and yet He suffered the most cruel death and He did that for me. I clung to verses like Romans 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God is omniscient, omnipotent, and all sufficient. As Job encountered God in Job 38-41, I had to trust that God, who holds the universe in the span of His hand, who controls nature, who created everything from one word, had a plan for my pain and anguish. I trusted in who He was and I believed that He would and could get me through this and would use it for His glory. The next hard step was forgiveness. I didn’t ask for any of this, and yet I felt the Spirit prompting me to forgive those who had abused me. I read Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” I take scripture like this seriously. So, I went honestly before the Lord and asked Him to help me forgive those who had hurt me. I told Him that in my humanness, I didn’t want to forgive them. But ultimately I didn’t want my unforgiveness to separate me from communion from God and I knew that a bitter heart would only further destroy me. 

As my life went on, I continued to study God’s word, attend church, and pray. God brought Wayne into my life and we started our life together. God called us to Chicago for Wayne to attend Moody. I was able to take a few classes at Moody as well. I took Systematic Theology where we talked topics like Who is God, Who is Christ, Who is the Holy Spirit and what are their roles. It was an amazing time to grow deeper in my knowledge of who God. But, as life gets busy, I started having kids and although I would try to make time for God, He wasn’t a priority. There was always laundry, dishes, and diapers to change. I would study God’s word, but I didn’t spend the time I needed to. It has been my prayer for years that God would draw me closer to Him. I was tired of feeling like I was on a treadmill not going anywhere in my walk with Him. I thought I was growing. I mean I was faithfully serving at church, I would read my Bible, I would pray, I was trying to grow closer to Him. I never wavered in my love for Him, but I felt like it wasn’t going anywhere. I was hungry and I wasn’t sure how to get more of God. So, I continued to pray that God would draw me closer to Him, but I wasn’t sure how to attain that. About a year ago, God started working on my heart. He started pointing out things that I was holding on to. One thing was pride. I was a “good” person, I mean especially when I look around at those around me. I was like the Pharisee at the wall with the tax collector. God showed me that I should compare myself to Christ (who is our example), not others. I was singing songs one Sunday at church and I thought to myself: “I’m singing these words, but do they really mean anything to me? I’m singing God is my all and everything is His, but is that true?” It bugged me that I didn’t think that was true. Back in December 2013, as I was preparing a message for the women’s conference, I came across testimony after testimony of people in the persecuted church who had such a deep faith in God. It reminded me of my faith back when I was 15. I asked God, “how come I don’t have that kind of faith? I want that kind of faith, the kind that would be willing to lose ALL for you!! Help me God to seek your face.” Wayne and I were talking through 1 Peter and we were asking each other questions about what we were learning. We were both hungry. During this time we thought that God may be calling us to adopt or do foster care and so we started pursuing that for our family. I was believing God for a big miracle, trusting Him to show me how big He was…little did I know what I was praying for. I thought I was praying for a sibling group for our family to adopt, but God closed that door and opened a much better one. I felt like God was asking me to do something drastic, but I didn’t know what it was. I started reading the book “Radical” by David Platt. It was challenging and made me think about things in a way that I hadn’t thought about before. God was showing me that He calls us to go all in with Him. It’s not a show up on Sunday, study the Bible and pray, give a little money and time. He wants ALL of me, not just part of me. He was reminding me of being His bondservant. I thought I was giving my all to Him, but God started showing me little ways that I was holding on to pieces of myself. Then in March of 2014, we started the series “Behold Your God”. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend it. God started opening my eyes to the fact that I had created an image of God that wasn’t one that honors Him. I had made church and even my devotional time more about me then about Him. Sure I could say it was about Him, but after watching the series, I realized just how much of my life was focused on ME instead of HIM! Things like “what can I get out of this, how does this impact me?” God showed me that it is all about Him. Every time I read His word, I should be looking for what God is trying to teach me about Him. So here I stand on this journey of faith and trust in God. It isn’t a momentary decision I made with one prayer, it is a life-long dependence on God and a life surrendered to God, even if it means suffering and pain for Him, as I experienced as a young girl. God has done all the work in my salvation and there is nothing I can do for Him to love me more, but we are here to glorify God and that is what God has been teaching me. My life is not about me, it is about Him and bringing HIM glory!! I look forward to doing what Revelations 5:12-13 says, “Saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” Amen


What if each of us was real? What if we showed the world that we are all in need of Savior? None of us are perfect. The only perfect one came down to earth over 2,000 years ago and His name was Jesus Christ. He came as the perfect lamb who took away the sins of the world. Only through His death and resurrection can anyone experience forgiveness for their sins. Let's stop parading ourselves around like the Pharisees pretending we have it all together. The world isn't blind and neither is God. Let's show the world that we only have it "together" when we are relying on our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

1 comment:

  1. Thank-you for being real. We all need to be real to the world. It is the only way to show what God is truly doing in our lives and point to Him. God is working through your difficult time to point you, your family and so many others to Christ. You are such an encouragement.