Life very rarely goes as planned, but it is in those unforeseen hardships that we find God and we find out who He wants us to be. In those moments when we feel that we are the most unusable, that is exactly the moment when God chooses to use us.
Friends, we need to be willing to open up the cluttered cabinets of our minds, pull back the dusty drapes shrouding our dreams, and expose the grimy residue clogging our hearts. This means that sometimes our walk of faith requires getting down on our knees and delving into the muck and mire of deep spiritual cleaning.
The shocker came, though, when he announced to me that he was fully aware it was considered a sin and unjust in God’s sight. He explained that the Bible clearly states it is not okay to act on lustful thoughts and emotions. With his voice shaking and fighting back tears he said, “knowing this truth is why I do not participate in any of my gay feelings or thoughts. I choose to not dishonor my Father in this way.”
Words of condemnation can wound. Applied with the proper intent and execution, however, they can restore and empower. This goes beyond using kind words and a gentle tone. If we are to build up, we have to understand the foundation of a person’s belief. We have to be in relationship with the person we are talking to.
This summer the Christian world has learned of two more Christian stars who have publicly left the fold of faith. They haven’t had a moral lapse; each renounced his faith. One of them had written beautiful, moving worship music. My heart is deeply saddened for them and all whose lives were shattered by their pronouncement. Is God winnowing His flock? Has judgment begun in His house?
Many of us have faced brokenness so deep that it leaves us crushed. There are all kinds of repressions we face in our lives. Some know very little how it feels to constantly be knocked down with words or actions. But, far too many men and women know the real horrors of being physically, mentally, and/ or emotionally and verbally abused.
The very disappointment, characteristic, or person I want to go, is the very opportunity Christ is using to develop, to sanctify, and to bring beauty from ashes. Christ is showing up in the very areas I want to be removed. He is enough so I do not have to be. I fool myself into thinking I can be. But, even on my best days, I am in need of the One who prepares a way and makes the paths straight.
There is just something special about walking up and down the berry patch, picking berries with my own two hands and suffering all the sticks because of it. My backyard berry patch isn’t just an overgrown mess of weeds and berries. It is a still, sacred place where I can be alone with my Creator, letting Him lead me through the briers, listening to His still small voice and adoring Him in the quiet beauty of creation.
Beloved, we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth. Whether it’s our own mothers, our friends and neighbors, or complete strangers, the Lord has equipped us to help them see the Light. To help them know the hopefulness that is only truly possible in Jesus Christ. Because when we know Jesus, His hope is ever-present to help us. To rescue us. To raise our spirits back to life once again. He is the Hope that lives inside of us.
Sometimes God is just hard to get. One moment, He is breaking into our lives with His glory and majesty, answering prayer left and right. We are “living the promises!” Then, the earth seemingly erupts beneath us and chaos ensues. Friends betray us. Illness strikes. Or, like St. John of the Cross, darkness falls across our souls like a damp fog. Morning, afternoon, and evening our hearts cry out to God, but He does not answer. The situation remains unchanged.