Everyone has a story of their journey of life with God. All of our stories intertwine with God. For some it may be that their story is that they don’t believe Him, they avoid Him or they hate Him. And for some of us, our story is one of trying to go deeper, to understand more and get closer to Him. But we all have a story.
The thing is, that all parts of the story aren’t pretty. When I look at my life and my beautiful 5 kids and the ministry we are in today, that’s a great part of the story. It’s the pretty part. But there’s some ugly parts too. I bet there’s some ugly parts of your story as well. Our inclination is to always hide the ugly parts. It is our nature to put our best parts forward and to protect the not so attractive parts from the rest of the world.
My story includes childhood sexual abuse by a trusted family friend. I didn’t tell a soul for years. Even as a young child I was terribly shamed by what had happened to me and I carried this secret for years until I finally got the courage to tell someone. And this is what I learned from that. That secret was killing me. Shining the light of truth on it began my healing. Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said the truth would set us free. And when I stopped trying to hide that part of my story and asked God to shine His light of truth into it, I began to find freedom from its terrible hold on me, that threatened to destroy the way I saw everything in life. And lo and behold (Southern people have to say things like that) as I surrendered it to God, not only did He heal me, but He began to use me. A few years later God placed me in a job at a large university working with young women and I had the opportunity time and again to share with many of them with the same pain, that they could indeed be healed and free.
What is your story? I mean the whole thing. The good, the bad and the ugly. My story includes many more less attractive parts: a stint of teenage rebellion where I walked away from the obedient life God was calling me to. I cringe to think of how my life could have turned out if not for God’s grace. But I learned of God’s grace during that part of my story. There’s a period of major financial difficulty and hardship. I don’t want to do that again, but it was during that part of the story that God taught me how to trust Him and Him alone for provision. I’m forever grateful for that lesson.
There was the season when I was so mad at God and hurt by Him because He let Cadence be Autistic that I stood at the edge of the Cavern of Bitterness looking in, thinking about jumping. I remember clearly the night I hashed it out with God and told Him everything I thought about what had happened to my baby girl. I cried, yelled and cursed. It wasn’t a proud moment for me. But it was a turning moment that I’m grateful for. I learned that God was the only One big enough to handle my questions and when I hit the bottom I found Him there catching me. I wasn’t alone. That moment changed me forever. For the better.
These parts of my story are not pretty. I don’t want to glorify them, but I want to be honest about them. Without them I wouldn’t be the woman I am today and God has used every single part of my story for His glory as I’ve surrendered it to Him. And there’s the secret. Stop trying to change or hide the parts of your story from your past that you hate. Accept them as part of the journey and surrender them to God’s care and He will redeem them. For your good and for His glory. Evey. Time.
In Genesis 45, Joseph, who had been sold into slavery by his brothers makes this profound statement: “What you meant for evil God has used for God” (Post Paraphrase). And as the Apostle Paul, the prince of Christians, tells his testimony of God’s grace he says, “I ONCE was……the chief of all sinners” (Post Paraphrase). Friends, maybe like Paul, you once did terrible things. Maybe like Joseph, terrible things have been done to you. Either way, it’s part of your story. But the story doesn’t end there! That’s just the part that gets you into the arms of God’s grace being used for His glory.
What if Joseph or Paul was so shamed by their past or so afraid of what others would say about it that we didn’t know their story and all that God eventually accomplished through them? How sad would that be? Follow their example. Surrender your story to God and let Him use it for His glory. He absolutely will. Revel in His redemption. It’s waiting for you.