There is a determination that keeps me moving forward in the pursuit of ministry. That deep rooted desire that I really can’t explain, but I know it’s there. As the challenges of life have been piling up, I have slowly started to have more doubt, and more fear. When Scott and I started on the path of ministry, we were looking up and moved forward with a boldness that inspired even those around us. As different challenges arose, we continued to stay the course, not deviating from the original call. Although we haven’t stopped pursuing, it doesn’t look the same today as it did a few years ago, or even 6 months ago. The weight of the enemy pressing against us; against me; has caused my focus to shift from looking up, to looking down. My gaze hasn’t shifted in defiance, it has shifted in shame. I have hung my head in shame of what the world will perceive as the foolish choices.
The world, even my own flesh, expects the outward appearance to be where value is placed. As my head has been hung in shame, I have withdrawn from most in the capacity of ministry. I still reach out with messages of encouragement when someone is on my heart, but I’m not actively seeking out people who need to hear the message of Jesus. And I’m more ashamed to admit that I haven’t been praying to God to show me those who are hurting, and to equip me to respond the way He would have me to. Although God has never left my thoughts, and never abandoned me, my eyes falling in shame has changed my view from everyone around me to only myself. I’ve been fighting that feeling of failure for a few months now; especially the past few weeks. Thankfully, even when I’m in the middle of a self-prepared pity party, God has been working in me to help me lift my eyes.
Yesterday was long. It started with a heat-wrenching testimony from Dave Coleman, who served in Vietnam as Special Forces before Special Forces existed. I heard his testimony for the first time in February at the first Warrior Weekend that Scott and I participated in, and even though I knew what his story was, I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. It amazes me to hear from others who go through valley after valley in their life, and still come out on the other side praising God. After lunch, it was time to break into the small groups, where several of us facilitate a few of the men and women each to help them connect with God. I had 4 women in my group, and they all had very different backgrounds and challenges. The common thread in all was their love of Christ. There were tears, prayers, confession and support. All in all, it was a very powerful experience for all of us.
At the end of the small group session, I felt led to share my testimony. That wasn’t the purpose of this event, and our testimony has nothing to do with why we are helping facilitate. But, I have learned in the past few years that when that feeling wells up inside, that I need to be obedient. So, I changed course and began sharing the sordid details of our marital collapse. I didn’t sugar coat it. I didn’t leave out details that open us up to judgement. I was honest about the failures, I was honest about the pain, and I was honest about the amazing redemption that we experienced because of Jesus Christ. Scott and I have shared our testimony countless times, and each time I alway wonder if this is the time that we will be rejected. Is this when someone is going to tell me how horrible I was, how horrible he was, and then experience the shunning similar to what lepers went through. Even though that was my fear, I still recount what God has done for us. In spite of the fear, my obedience to God was honored. God continues to use our testimony as hope for others, and even if they aren’t experiencing anything similar, they see how big God is through how screwed up we were.
Sharing wasn’t only for those I was speaking to. It was for me. It was that reminder of what we have been called to, and why. The longer I have been looking down, the less I have been doing what God has called me to do. I have sat down in defeat, and didn’t even pull out my sword to fight. There is a truth that I can stand on, and as long as I do that the victory is already won. God doesn’t fail even when I do. Scott and I committed to answering His call, and I was reminded this weekend why it’s so important to not back down. No one else has our story and no one else has our victory. It’s ugly, uncomfortable and full of failure and the outcome is unexpected, undeserved and full of grace. This weekend has helped me to see that there is a reason we were called, and it has absolutely nothing to do with us. It has everything to do with how good God is, and how blessed our family is because of Him. It’s time to tell our story. Stay tuned.
“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” – I Corinthians 1:4-9