Part 6…The teaching and development of my faith!
Every retreat I have been to, God has used to develop me more and more. My mind is drawn to Phil. 1:6, “Being confident in this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” So I wanted to share with you my personal struggle that God worked out through this particular retreat.
One of the very first things that I said in part 1 of this note is, “I can honestly say that I am more passionately in love with Jesus than ever before, and I know more than ever that my life is in the hands of One who is Master of all things!” I want to give you some insight behind that statement.
For many weeks before this retreat, I had been struggling with believing WHOLEHEARTEDLY in God’s ability to reach ANY person. I mean I said that I believed, and truly I thought that I believed, but there are so many people out there who have lived lives of sheer hopelessness. Lives filled with anger, abuse, pain, etc.
This whole thought process began when I had lunch with a friend who works with sexually abused children and women. She asked me a question something like this, “Lisa, how have you crossed the barrier of hopelessness in people?” Can I just be honest with you in saying that I gave her the Sunday School answer. I said, “I can’t, only God can pierce and draw the heart of a man. I think I even went on to explain that it was not my job to grow the seed of the Word, just to plant and water. It’s not that I didn’t believe what I said to her, or that I was purposely giving her the “proper” answer, because in my mind I knew that’s what Truth says, and therefore believed it. But honestly, that question resonated in my mind and soul as I pondered, “Can you Father? Can You draw even the most hopeless of hearts?” I asked Him, “Lord, there are some hard hearts out there that are a result of their environment, their families…things that are out of their control. How can I explain your love to them?” I cannot tell you how bothered I was by all this. I wanted to believe with all my heart, but I couldn’t get it to move beyond just my mind…my intellect and knowledge of Truth.
To be exposed to some horrific scenes of abuse, and then try to walk away still BELIEVING that even in that moment God was sovereign…? If even I, a believer of 20 years and grounded in the Word was struggling with moments of doubt, then how in the world do we reach a young heart who has no idea who God is? A heart that has experienced nothing but pain and suffering…hopelessness! How do we “convince” them that God loves them?! At the end of each night, as I wrestled with this whole idea, I chose to believe that God is sovereign. I claimed OUT LOUD that if His Word says it, then I believe it.
I had never thought this deeply about it before, I guess because I had never looked head on into the face of the wickedness that is in our world before. It’s easy to sit in our comfortable homes and churches and say that we believe, but to get out there and witness the reality and depth of the brokenness and hatefulness in the world we live in is a whole other story. I was tired of giving myself the same patent answer to some very hard questions.
I praise God that what I was struggling to believe in my mind, he wrote upon my heart through this retreat. Remember that moment in the fourth session that I mentioned was so impacting to me personally?! This is why…God was showing me, proving to me what I was desperately wanting to believe was true. I am not ashamed to say that God knew my doubting heart and that my feeble flesh needed to SEE Truth in action! The moment when that girl said, “You are saying that no matter how much bad stuff is in our lives that it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t change our value in the eyes of God.” It was as if in that moment that God said to me, “Yes Lisa, even these hearts I can pierce!” God had revealed His Truth of love to this young lady right before my very eyes. That was the sweetest moment! God does not owe that to me…he should not have to prove Himself…He is God, but He did solely because He loves me, and He wants me to believe Him and know Him. In that moment, God migrated Truth about six inches down…from my head to my heart, and what I once THOUGHT I believed in my mind has now become a reality in my heart.
When we got back from the retreat, Brandy, Lana, and I were going back and forth sharing this story with some friends, each throwing in our own perspectives of what God was doing in and around us.
Important side note: Brandy’s main purpose for the weekend was to pour into me. Sounds selfish I know, but I truly believe in and have experienced the attacks of the enemy when ministering at these retreats. I often come home drained and struggle emotionally for a few days. I know that God told me I needed to take a prayer warrior, and I absolutely believe that God provided Brandy to fill that need. And although she filled many roles, this was by far her most crucial one.
At one point,while we were recalling the weekend, Brandy shared that as she was praying on Saturday morning, the Lord led her to passage in Mark 9. She began sharing about the man who was struggling with his faith. She recounted how she read where he says, “Lord, I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.” She didn’t express to us why or why not she felt the Lord called her to that passage…all she said was that’s where He took her, so that’s where she stayed…reading and praying! What a perfect passage to grasp all that I was wrestling with. Funny thing is…I had no idea that’s what she was doing out on the deck that morning…and she had no clue of all that I was struggling. Talk about a Holy Spirit moment!!! What a beautiful picture of the importance of walking in sensitivity to His voice.
I believe with all my heart that God led Brandy to that passage on purpose, she had no idea why, but in her obedience in prayer, she was actually interceding on behalf of my heart. Chances are, He was working in her as well, because that is how our God works! He is never done working out our salvation and developing our faith, making us more and more complete until the day of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I am ever so thankful for a God who is…everything! I cannot even begin to tell you all the words that flooded my heart as I typed that last sentence. So “everything”…that will have to sum it all up…He is my “Everything!”
I praise you for your love most gracious Father and Lover of my Soul! You continue to reveal Truth to me in a way that I get it…you know my weaknesses and the flaws of my heart, yet you love me…all of me! Jesus, how precious you are to me. I thank you for the opportunity to minister to your children, it was truly an honor! Amen.