Saturday, January 17, 2015

I never expected this. 

The first time I received a phone call from a sister in crisis who was requesting prayer, I thought she had mistakenly called me and that in reality she meant to call my mother-in-law. She's the one with the wisdom and godly stature. Surely the Holy Spirit hasn't led this poor woman to me-- for advice. 

In the days, and months, and years that have followed I have had many people, men and women, seek my counsel. To this day I do not know why. I have no degree. No credentials, per se. I have never sought out anyone for that specific purpose- only as one would seek out someone hurting to offer prayer and love. Yes, my heart is burdened for those in crisis. Lord knows, I have been there. Maybe not exactly where each one of them has been, but I have been at the bottom. I know pain. 

I also know Him. 

But I never expected this. 

Looking at those two sentences, though, I should have seen it coming. He has painted the picture of my life to lead me to this very day and for such a time as this. Everything I have ever been through and everything I have emerged from has given me the "degree." My Bible holds all the credentials I need in order to help the women God leads to me. For He has also gifted me with discernment to know when something is beyond what I am capable of. I will not try to take on anything that He has not equipped me for, please know that. I am not a counselor. 
I am a friend. A sister. A daughter. A wife. A mother. I am a Christian. 

Jesus is right there with us in the middle of the unexpected. 

As a women's ministry director I thought I would be planning events, attending and teaching Bible studies, and going to hear gifted women tell me about how Jesus worked in their lives. 

Christ-centered parties with cute themes, kits of Bible studies (complete with the answers in the back of the leader guide) , and, (slight shudder) teas.  
That's what I expected. 

I never expected this.

I have often found that most of the people who come to me with burdens really only want to share them. Very seldom are they really asking for direction or instructions; rather, they need to hear love spoken to them in a soft voice. They need to be able to cry, to be angry, to be confused, and to be honest. They do not need judgment or criticism. And they need Jesus, but not Jesus preached to them- rather Jesus shown to them. 

I have sometimes wanted to have a sort-of forum at church; one where some of the ladies on our leadership team actually share a little about how they grew up or where they came from. Mostly about what they came through. You see, most of us have come from some very dark places. To look at us you would think that we all had great parents and sweet, neat little homes and we went to church every time the doors were open. You'd think that we were all skilled in Scripture, could sing the most beautiful hymns, and had countless covered-dish recipes at our fingertips. You would be wrong. 

We are all sinners. 

Before we can begin to conquer any of the wrongs that have been hurled at us, we have to accept the responsibility for our own actions that sent Jesus to the cross. Our sins put Him there. My sins. Not just the ones that we are trying to recover from- we cannot begin to heal until we confess all of our sins to Him and do our best to make things right with those we have wounded. We have to have that focus first. 

Once we remember that we have sinned, that we are responsible for Jesus' death, then we can claim the joy in the resurrection! We can call on Him for the strength and guidance and love that only He can provide and the healing that only comes from a loving and merciful God. For it's because of His mercy that we are forgiven; so we have to accept the forgiveness that He gives and then we see so clearly how we will be able to begin the journey to forgive others. 

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:32 NLT

But honestly, I really never expected this. 

Jesus took a sunny, smiling child who endured the pain of abuse, neglect, fear, and deception and led her to Himself. He filled her with His Spirit and began to work in her.  He began working in me, I mean. He knew all along the plans He has established for me and He allowed me the true privilege of learning His Word as it applies to life. I was never meant to be a Bible scholar. I cannot debate doctrine or lead you through a historical account of the kings and the wars and the famines. But because of His work in me I can do my best to offer you His love during a dark time. 
Glory to God!

It is sin that we all have in common. It is Christ Who sets us apart. Let us dwell on Him and abide in Him and know that He is right there, even and especially in the unexpected. 

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