I’ve only shared this story once publicly. But over the last few weeks I’ve felt God telling me to write about it here. I’m always hesitant about over-sharing on the Internet, but when God tells me to do something, I know I better do it!
Lamentations 3:21-24 says, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
We all face times of joy and times of trial in life, but one thing never changes: God is always faithful.
Several years ago I read a quote from Beth Moore (the Baptist Mother Mary) that is forever embedded in my mind: “Any NO an earnestly seeking child of God receives from the Throne is for the sake of a greater YES!”
When we come to our Heavenly Father and ask him for something, he doesn’t tell us no just for the fun of it. We don’t do that to our own children. (Okay, maybe we do sometimes, but that’s not the point!) We only want the best for them, so sometimes we have to tell them no. It’s the same with God. He has a perfect plan for us. But so many times we ignore Him and settle for second best (or 3rd or 4th). We think we know what we need, but when we truly understand who we serve it makes it easier to live our lives for Him. My God is faithful. He’s loving, he’s kind, he’s compassionate, and he’s forgiving! He has plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future. And he sees the BIG picture of your life.
There was a time when I was willing to give God every area of my life; except for one. I started dating a guy who I’ll refer to as “Mr. Wrong” when I was in middle school. We all know how serious dating is in middle school! But we actually ended up in a dysfunctional on-again off-again relationship for 10 YEARS, and for most of that time I knew I wasn’t supposed to be with him. He wasn’t a bad person. We just didn’t have the same goals and passions. That became very clear to me a few years into the relationship, but I continued dating him anyway.
We ended up going to the same University and continued our dysfunctional love fest all through college. After graduation I wanted what most girls want at that point: Cue the wedding bells! So we got engaged. Let me tell you, it was the worst proposal in the history of proposals, but I didn’t care. We were getting married, and that’s all that mattered.
During this time God allowed several events to happen that made it so clear that he didn’t want me to go through with the wedding. Naturally, I ignored Him.
Then one day I was lying on my bedroom floor crying, because I’d just had a fight with the guy. And things weren’t going the way I wanted. So I complained to God about how life wasn’t fair. Blah blah, blah. Then He spoke to me audibly and said, “I don’t want you to do this.” That’s the only time I’ve ever heard him like that. But instead of being in awe that he was speaking to me and offering direction I responded in a whiny voice, “I don’t care what you want. This is what I want.” Yikes! It’s a good thing I’m not Him. I think I would have told me to go ahead and see how my life turned out. But not my God! He said, “You are mine, and I WILL NOT let you ruin your life.” So a few days later (4 days before the wedding) I told “Mr. Wrong” that I couldn’t marry him. And 6 years later I can still say it is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. There was nothing easy about that time. I was hurt, angry, and depressed; but God was faithful.
Psalm 40:1-3 says, “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” I’ve mentioned before that this is one of my favorite verses, and it spoke to me during this dark time. God gave me exactly what I needed each day. I didn’t know what to do with my life. It had all been planned out, and that plan was completely shattered. At some point I finally realized that the most God honoring thing I could do was wait. Just hang in there and hold on tight to Jesus. His timing isn’t mine. But He sees the big picture. He knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. And he has a purpose for my life.
He slowly started picking up the shattered pieces and putting them together to make a beautiful life that I never could have even imagined. Less than a year later, he sent me Anderson, an amazing (not too shabby looking) guy who loves Jesus and has the same passion for serving God! I’m so grateful that my God didn’t let me settle for less than HIS best for me.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
I don’t like to focus on the past, but sometimes I let myself think about what a train wreck my life would be today if I’d continued to disobey him, and all I can think is “Thank you, Jesus!” Thank you for sparing me from years of pain, unfulfillment, and heart-ache.
I don’t regret my dysfunctional relationship, because God has allowed me to talk to so many women over the last six years who’ve been through similar situations. I really think that’s part of why he allowed this to happen in my life.
My life today isn’t perfect. In fact, Anderson and I have been dealing with some crazy trials (health stuff and work stuff and everyday stuff) over the past few months. We’ve been stressed, scared, and at times frustrated but we’ve never once doubted that God has a plan, and he will be faithful to us. So we don’t have to worry!
Sometimes we have to go through the fire, so God can refine us and make us into the people he called us to be. The fire my family has been walking through lately is not our fault. The one I went through so many years ago was my fault. But God used that situation anyway. And he’s using our current trials to bring us closer to him and each other. It always amazes me when God chooses to speak to me through his word! Yesterday I read the verse below and thought it might be helpful to someone else who is walking through the fire right now.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
If you choose to live a life of obedience to God, there’s no promise that your life will be trouble-free. But there is a promise that your faithful, loving God will carry you through any trial that comes your way. You may walk through the fire, but you will not be burned!