I have a story to tell. Don’t we all?
It took me way too long to get to this point, but I am here. Because here’s the thing; God doesn’t want us to waste our pain or our mistakes. He expects us to share our despicable secrets and shameful screw-ups to help others, no matter what some people may think, and that’s why I have to tell this story.
When we share secrets that evoke controversy amongst friends and family, we are putting ourselves out on a limb that could come crashing to the ground, never to be re-attached to the tree from whence it came. And that is scary. People can’t un-hear or un-see things. They can judge pretty harshly and hold grudges forever.
Transparency comes hard for most of us because we fear all of that rejection and ridicule and persecution. We all like to believe we don’t care what people think, but we do. I’ve heard that our biggest stumbling block in life is fear of rejection. I believe that is true. Do you agree?
If you’re a Christian you know that only God’s opinion and approval should concern you. But even mature Christians don’t get that right very often. We’re #human. We forget that what others think of us is really none of our business.
I have learned so much from listening to Rick Warren’s sermons in the past few years. Recently I listened to one entitled, “Learn How God Can Use Anybody,” and it inspired me to share this story. You can click that title to watch the sermon yourself. There’s a guest speaker in the video named Danny Duchene. Danny is the product of some risk-taking parents of my generation. Their wild lives influenced his, and so the story goes.
Danny was incarcerated from the age of eighteen until age fifty. He came to Jesus in prison, as so many do, and life turned around for him. He is now the national director of Celebrate Recovery Inside and a pastor at Saddleback Church. The story is very moving. Click here to read it.
All things really are possible with God
That’s not just a popular Bible verse. It’s the God’s honest truth! God uses broken, weak, messed up people because most of us on the planet are just that; broken, weak, and messed up. And “people learn more from our weaknesses than they do our strengths,” says Pastor Rick. I’ve known and believed that for a very long time. But for some reason, during Rick’s sermon, I was liberated from something I didn’t even know was choking me, so my prayer is that you will glean something from the telling.
In this video Rick named several well known Bible characters that God used to accomplish seemingly impossible feats. When he described their faults I had to laugh. I definitely identify with Peter’s impulsiveness and anger issues, and the Samaritan woman with the wild streak, insecurities, and failed marriages. Maybe you identify with a few yourself.
I included some links below so you can read up on some of God’s most used hall-of-famers. But for starters, let me just tell you that they were some pretty shady characters.
The apostle, Paul, was a murderer. As a highly educated Jewish religious leader he hated and brutally murdered members of “The Way,” as they called Christ-followers back in his day. But God used him to almost single-handedly spread Christianity throughout the Roman Empire after his epiphany! He was imprisoned, flogged, shipwrecked, you name it. But he never stopped spreading the Gospel, whether he was in prison or in the synagogues. He never stopped telling people about what happened when Jesus called him out, and why he believed Jesus is the Savior of the world.
King David was an adulterer, and had his mistress’s husband killed besides! He went on to write almost the entire book of Psalms. God called David “a man after his own heart.” Really?! When I read the story of David and Bathsheba I was amazed! How could he be a man after God’s own heart? He did some nasty things!
Rahab was a prostitute. Jacob was a chronic liar. Elijah was suicidal. Jeremiah was chronically depressed. John the Baptist was just weird. Rick uses a more tasteful word for John…eccentric. Below are the links I mentioned. See for yourself how they were used by God to save nations and turn people’s lives around.
About Moses https://my.bible.com/bible/116/EXO.3.nlt
About Paul (aka Saul) https://my.bible.com/bible/116/ACT.9.NLT
About King David https://my.bible.com/bible/116/2SA.11.NLT
About Rahab https://my.bible.com/bible/116/JOS.2.NLT
About Jacob https://my.bible.com/bible/116/GEN.27.NLT
About Jeremiah https://my.bible.com/bible/116/JER.9.NLT
About John the Baptist https://my.bible.com/bible/116/MAT.3.NLT
Five Things To Know if You Want God to Use You
Rick listed five secrets for all to heed if they want to be used by God. He quotes verses from the book of 2nd Corinthians, chapter four, in the writing of this sermon. These secrets all ring true with me because I started a new chapter when I began a healing journey of my own in the recent past. That journey has shed new light on a past experience that I didn’t even realize I needed to heal from. But I did, so now God can use me to help others heal.
Whether or not you’re a Christian, you probably want your life to count somehow. Maybe not, but I do, and I did even when my heart didn’t belong to Jesus. So if you want to fulfill your purpose, make a contribution to the world based on your experiences, you would call that your ministry. And we all have God-given gifts and talents that we can use to accomplish this ministry because of God’s mercy, His kindness and forgiveness towards us.
Allow me to share Rick’s secrets with you…
Never Forget it’s all because of God’s Mercy
That’s a churchy word, isn’t it? You hear about God’s mercy and grace, but what exactly do those words mean? God’s mercy, in Rick’s words, is His “undeserved forgiveness and unearned kindness.” His grace is His undeserved love for us. A friend quoted this to me one day: “Grace is getting what you don’t deserve. Mercy is not getting what you do deserve!” l love that! So it’s because of God’s mercy that we can take our messes and turn them into something that will benefit others.
Be Authentic, Genuine, Transparent
If you want people to identify with you, you have to be YOU. Never mind trying to be someone you’re not. Don’t be afraid to share your faults and weaknesses. We all have them. And people will be more willing to let their own guard down and actually hear you when you’re honest. You cannot develop a rapport with people unless you can be who you really are, warts, scars, and all.
Remember it’s Not About You
God likes to use humble people, so check your motives if you want Him to use you. WHY do you want Him to use you? Are you vying for recognition? Are you competing to be the best storyteller with the most sensational story, the most likes and comments? Or do you want people to see Jesus? Your story cannot be filled with self-glorifying nonsense. You don’t get the glory here, God does.
Use Your Pain to Help Others
Don’t waste it! People thrive on commiserating over similar hurts. If we can’t share the pain we tend to wallow and often see it as punishment. Rick Warren lost his mentally ill son to suicide several years ago. Talk about pain! Rick and his wife did not shy away from sharing that pain of losing their son. They started a new ministry for people with similar tragedies caused by mental illness.
Stay Focused on Eternity
We’ve all heard that the more we focus on our problems the larger they loom. We cannot see around them, over them, or through them when we ruminate and obsess. So how do we keep that from happening? We step back and look at the big picture, ask the big questions, like what on earth am I here for? So what is your big picture? Do you live just for you? Did you know you are meant to live eternally with God?
How big is your world? Is it only about your comforts? It has to be bigger than that if we want our existence to count for something. We desperately need a close relationship with God and with other godly people to expand our world. We need fellowship. People need people. And people need God.
My life is messy
There are lots of things I could share that many would identify with. The experience I share here is common to approximately 43% of women of child-bearing age in the USA. My jaw dropped when I first read that statistic. And it effects men, as well. Because it takes two to tango. And because the men involved are the biggest influencers of the woman’s decision in this experience.
You may have guessed that I am talking about abortion. Please don’t roll your eyes and stop reading.
I am not here to point fingers or tell you you’re going to burn in hell.
I am here to tell you that whether or not you chose to have an abortion you, too, need healing, whether you realize it or not. Even if no one pushed you into it and you chose it freely, like I did.
Abortion is a really sore subject on so many levels, and one that divides more families and friends than politics or covid ever will. We are not diving into that. I struggle with the government being involved at all. Whether it’s legal or not, women have and will continue to do it, and I will say no more about it except that changing laws does not change hearts. And that abortion causes more deep down pain and mental illness and hidden agendas than we could possibly ever realize. Even if we feel we did the right thing at the time. And we believed that we didn’t take a life.
On that note, you can believe what you want, but facts are facts, and scientifically, life begins at conception. Period. You can hate me for saying that. It’s ok. I am not seeking your approval, and I am blunt because God rolled me that way. (I have a tee-shirt that says that). I’ve caused myself more problems being honest than I ever have telling a lie.
I think a lot of people don’t like me because I’m too real. But God loves me, and it finally sunk into my heart, my head, and my soul, that accomplishing His purpose for my life is all that matters. So I don’t have to care if you like me, love me, or hate me because of my transparency. If what I am telling you convinces you that you need to heal from a past abortion, that is a blessing. If it turns you off and you never read another one of my blog posts, so be it.
Just like the pharmaceutical industry touts the benefits of so many medications that do nothing to heal and only mask symptoms, abortion clinics bend the truth just to sell you on the idea that you’re not taking a life and this will solve your “problem.” After all, they are both very big businesses, pharmaceuticals and abortion clinics. And we know it’s all about money, not the greater good. Don’t we?
Although I am a product of the sexually liberated seventies and a strong-willed female that did not follow Christ most of her life, I never really believed in my heart that abortion was the best answer to an unexpected, inconvenient pregnancy. When I had one at the age of thirty-eight, I was already a mother to a six-year old, divorcing her father, and just beginning the dental hygiene program at my local community college. The new man in my life was divorcing also, and had three kids of his own.
‘How could I possibly bring a new baby into this picture?’ I thought. ‘There was no way this can happen right now,’ I thought.
I barely remember the day I did it. I do remember feeling very sleazy. Then I just stuffed that feeling and moved on. I didn’t have time. I was too busy living my selfish life. The over-achiever, striving to excel as a single mom, a student, an employee, trying desperately to control it all.
Fast forward to now, twenty-eight years later. I am a fully committed, born-again Christian. You will be surprised to learn that I was introduced to Jesus by my health teacher back when I was sixteen. Rather than going to try heroine for the first time one day after school, something propelled me to turn on my heel and go talk to that relentless ambassador for Christ that taught tenth grade health. If only I hadn’t walked away a year later.
The evil one used my lustful nature and need for validation to lure me away from Jesus with a boy back then, and a few more times in my adult life, every time I started to get close to God. The evil one has always known my greatest weaknesses, just like he knows yours. That boy had no interest in prayer meetings and Bible studies, so Jesus got snubbed, pushed into the back seat, and eventually off my bus. And I went on to live my messy life.
It took about forty years and a near tragedy to wake me up.
But He never stopped pursuing me all those years. He never stopped loving me, and trying to get me back. And one day I was nearly killed and I woke up. Since that day I’ve realized how many times He saved my life, literally.
Because He’s not done with me yet! He wants to use my messy life, just like He did King David’s, Paul’s, Rahab’s, and all the rest. He’s been so patient with me. My growth has been so slow, always allowing my weaknesses and idols to step in the way. Three steps forward and two steps back. But He still never gives up on me, showing me mercy and little miracles all along the way. Rescuing my sorry life over and over.
I couldn’t even really see His efforts until I went through my healing journey. Even though I was practicing my faith as much as my foolish pride would allow, I was still unaware of that festering wound, so deep in my soul it had a life of its own.
Little by little, over the past thirteen years, I have come to the point where I can honestly say I am no longer a casual Christian. I am, and always will be, a work in progress, but at least now I’m all in, because of what I finally accepted God’s forgiveness.
It’s amazing what happened along the way to this point. There’s this process called sanctification, another churchy word. It’s what happens when you begin to get to know God through His Word. You actually truly desire to please Him, so you put in a little more effort to grow that relationship and you ask Him to point out anything in you that makes Him sad. And He shows you! And you repent! Another churchy word. In the Bible it literally means “to change one’s mind.” When you change your thoughts, you change your actions eventually. Sanctification. Until the end of your life on this planet.
Why did I begin that healing journey?
Last year I had decided I needed to volunteer somewhere again, like I was doing when I was single and first came back to Christ. When my new husband came into my life my focus turned away from Jesus again for a while. Remember I said that every time I started getting close to God the evil one used loneliness, lust, and insecurity, to pull me away? He did it again, but without lasting success this time. Instead, with lots of beseeching of the Holy Spirit, my husband willingly crossed over to my side of the path. Yay! It’s true that wisdom comes with age if you even pay attention a little.
God kept nudging me to serve at a local pregnancy center instead of the homeless ministry or the jail ministry, so I attended the information session last fall. The facilitator asked all of us there why we wanted to serve. I was the last of three women to answer that question and tears welled up in my eyes when I started to answer. I choked right up and couldn’t speak for a minute. That really took me by surprise. There is seldom a time when I cannot speak.
I was finally able to croak, “because if I can help someone to avoid feeling the way I feel now, almost thirty years later, I want to help.”
She told me I would need to do my own healing before I could serve as a client advocate in the clinic, and that it would entail eight weeks of group Bible study. I took a deep breath and nodded my head, knowing from past experience in therapy that opening old wounds makes things worse before they get better. But just like I didn’t realize how badly I needed to heal from my first divorce, that I CHOSE, I didn’t realize I needed to heal from an abortion that I chose.
A week later, when I sat with the young woman in charge of the facility where I would be serving, I told her I was struggling with an issue I wasn’t sure how to deal with. Remember, I am a liberated female, a flower child, anti-establishment, rebellious by nature. I told her that although I don’t believe abortion is the answer to an unplanned pregnancy, I also don’t believe that our government should have the right to tell us what we can or cannot do with our bodies.
This is what she said. This was the brick in my face:
“We believe that it’s not about taking away the rights of women, but more about advocating for the rights of the unborn child.”
Pretty sure I had heard those words before, but they didn’t affect me the way they did that day. I wasn’t tuned into the Holy Spirit before, though. He was a mere whisper that I could not hear. And my world used to be all about me. That day I heard Him loud and clear. And I haven’t looked back since.
One of my assignments in my orientation at the pregnancy center included watching the documentary about Roe v Wade on Hulu. And I was shocked. I thought I knew that story. I did not. Find it on Hulu. Check out this link: https://www.imdb.com/news/ni62810284/
The healing study I experienced was like nothing I would have imagined. It made me really dig, and feel, and cry, and finally forgive myself. Who knew I even needed to forgive myself? But it moved me forward in my Christian walk. And gave me what I needed to honestly say I am all in, without fear of rejection, and with the desire to share the experience with others. If you want to know more about that study shoot me an email. firstname.lastname@example.org
God really can use anybody.
Remember, no matter your past, or how despicable your own secrets are, God has a purpose for you if you can look past the nose on your face. Realize that the best way to feel better about a sad and broken world, or your own messed up existence, is to be doing something for someone else. If you have the slightest inclination to share the dark secrets in your own life, to help others that struggle with the fallout, I wish you would consider getting to know God and asking Him to direct your path.
To begin, your first step would be getting into God’s Word. You’re rolling your eyes again, I know. People don’t want to hear that this is really the best way to get to know your Creator. And it pleases Him when you put in the effort. But you groan and think, “But I don’t understand it…but I hate to read…but when could I find the time…”
I have the answer!!
If you would enjoy having the whole Bible read and explained to you in one year, by another truly gifted and knowledgeable teacher and writer, find Brian Hardin’s podcast wherever you listen to podcasts, or on Facebook, or online at https://DailyAudioBible.com. At the time of this writing he is in his seventeenth year of narrating and teaching the Bible. The man knows how to bring it to life like no one I have ever heard.
I start every single day listening to him for thirty minutes. That’s all you need. Thirty minutes! How hard is that? Skip the news. Listen during your workout or your commute. You won’t regret it. One year changes everything.
Like my favorite line in a movie says, “Get out of your own head. It’s a bad neighborhood.” Instead, get into God’s head.
PEACE IN CHRIST