Last year our church went through the book Radical. It changed many lives at our church. One thing I took away from it, that God was impressing on my heart, was
“Go outside your comfort zone. Become uncomfortable FOR ME.”
I have been working on that over the last year. And also to give more of my time. I am taking small steps towards that goal. God has given me opportunities to bless others by my uncomfortableness (On a side note: God never told us our Christian walk would be comfortable! So I should not be surprised at the nudging.) One of those was this past weekend.
Our women’s ministry was having a retreat (wonderful idea!) at the home of a dear, sweet, big-hearted church member.The retreat was titled “You’ve Lost that Healing Feeling.”
Our women’s ministry coordinator had sent me this message:
“if you plan to come, I was going to ask you to prepare a short devotional about “healing.” Wherever that takes you. Maybe about your short time of rebellion and how God restored your fellowship with him…Like I said, a 2-page piece on “healing” in your life. To read out loud to the women on Friday night or Saturday morning.
If you are able/willing to go… I am so forward.”
Well, yes, she is forward. But God was using her to further nudge me. I have only shared my testimony with people I am close to and feel quite comfortable with (like sharing a brief part with my Bible study–those ladies are wonderful and awesome and mentors to me, as well as beautiful sisters in Christ), yet I have not always shared all of it. So standing in front of a group of ladies from my church seemed a bit nerve-wracking. Yet, as soon as I read that message, I knew I was going to do it. I did not have any hesitation. I knew right then that God was going to give me the words to speak and work on me over the next couple weeks to enable me to be so vulnerable and exposed. And Hubby also had no hesitation on my going (I was staying overnight, so he was having the Girl all to himself), which was obviously a God thing as well.
I do not do public speaking well. My speech class in college did not do anything to help with nerves. At least this was a smaller group than when I spoke at our church’s Christmas Eve service. But the emotion of what I would be sharing is what got to me. After writing it out and doing some editing, I read it over a couple times, tearing up at the same parts. Therefore, I made sure to pack some tissues in my pockets.
God is still pushing me to be uncomfortable. That is why I am going to share what I read on Friday night. Here goes:
I was born and raised in a Christian home, accepting Christ at the age of five. I always attended church and thought it weird that not everyone did. As a teen I came to realize what it meant to be “on fire for Christ” and live a life sold out for him. I was plugged into an amazing youth group and formed friendships that still exist. I considered myself to be a strong Christian and my sister called me a prayer warrior.
I knew right from wrong.
And yet I wandered away.
I think of the lyrics to Casting Crowns’ song Slow Fade:
It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away…
People never crumble in a day…it’s a slow fade
I did not wake up one day and decide that God’s way was no longer for me. It was small steps: I let friends pull me away. I let the world pull me away. I let the devil pull me away. I bought into his many lies: “God doesn’t love you. God doesn’t care what you do. God has turned his back on you.”
For a year and a half, I lived for me and for what I thought I wanted and needed. Church was no longer important. It was hard to get up early on Sunday when I had been out late on Saturday. My prayer life ceased. I figured God was no longer listening, so why do it. I made dumb decisions, decisions that could have had more serious consequences than they did. I did not see it then, but God’s hand was still on me. Though I had made choices I could not undo, and I thought I was all alone, I never was.
One night I was at a bar/dance club with friends. It struck me how I saw the same people each weekend. And I realized this life I was “living” was NOT what I wanted–spending weekends at bars, drinking too much, and living for only what I wanted, being so selfish. So I told my friends good-bye and left.
It was a horribly foggy Saturday night. I could barely see a few feet in front of my headlights. As I was driving, I started praying–to make it home safe and in one piece, for the other drivers. I could not remember the last time I had prayed, especially for others. God used an encounter on my drive to further impress upon me how wrong I had been and where I could end up if I did not change my life.
That night after I got home to my parents’ house, my eyes were opened to the truth: God had not turned his back on me–not once, but I had turned my back on him. He had continued to be there, though I thought I was alone.
The next day I went to church because I desperately needed to be there, needed to be in God’s house. My healing began that day. God forgave me of all I had done when I humbled myself and prayed for my relationship with him to be restored. He healed the spiritual and emotional wounds I had inflicted on myself. He healed the relationships with my family. I had believed another of the devil’s lies: “You are not hurting anyone else.” I did not know the hurt, pain, and grief I had caused my parents and siblings. I also did not know how hard they and my true friends had been praying for me.
God healed all my wounds and made me whole again. I still have scars, but they are a reminder of where I was and a testament to where I am.
Coming back to Christ, my prayer life is stronger than before. Prayer works–never stop praying.
I always liked these verses, but they have new meaning now:
My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
*God bless your day and week. Thank you for taking the time to read this.*