Saturday, August 20, 2005

Story of Faith and Purpose

I've been asked to share a story of faith and purpose for a Women's Conference this Fall. Here's my story:

When I was a young child, I felt different, felt in a sense that I didn’t belong in my family. Many times I didn’t feel wanted or felt I was in the way of everybody else’s lives. I was often told I was the most spoiled and never had to work as hard as everyone else had to. When my parents weren’t at home I would go through their bedroom hoping to find adoption papers so I could go and find my real family. Being the youngest of 7, the older 6 were born in 6 years and I came along 4 years later. My siblings were quite close to each other and went through many hardships growing up. I felt different from them, very apart from them. But God had and still has a purpose for me in my family. God had a purpose for me feeling the way I did. He has a purpose for every one of my siblings and my parents as well. It wasn’t easy growing up in my family. My mother has a mental illness and we never really understood it. Many wonderful aunts and uncles took care of us when we were small because my mother was unable to. I praise and thank God for how we were taken care of. I’ve treated my mother in horrible ways that have ashamed me greatly but we weren’t taught to respect her. There was no respect in our home for each other growing up or for our parents. We all left home at a very young age. I had very bitter feelings against my parents and often towards my siblings. But God had a purpose in each of our lives, including my mom’s. I’ve been told that I should not have been born, that my mother should not have had me. There’ve been circumstances in my life where I could’ve not been here or in my family, but God did not allow that to happen. He has a purpose for me!

Romans 8:28 says “we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Everything to work together?? I’ve had a problem with that – I don’t always understand that. Not all good things have happened in my life, in my parents, my siblings, my friend’s lives or my husband’s life. Bad things happen and we get frustrated and don’t understand. But God is able to turn absolutely every circumstance around for His plan and purpose and for our long term good. He knew that all those things were going to happen in my past and He knew the outcome. So what is my purpose through that?? To have faith and to trust God. If I have faith as small as a mustard seed – the smallest seed on earth – that’s all the faith I need for God to move. But He’s shown me over the years to have a much greater faith and when I’ve had that faith, He’s moved mountains in my life.

I do have a good family, I love them all and I pray for them always. God has given me a great love in my heart for them. He has taught me to accept our differences and to appreciate the uniqueness of each of my siblings. But God also has a much larger family in mind for me – His family of believers. I have been adopted – not physically, but spiritually, into the family of God. It amazes me how God intertwines the lives of those who love Him. His Master Plan and purpose is far greater than I can ever imagine. Each day it seems He has me complete another piece of the puzzle of my life.

Life doesn’t happen without pain. God has never promised that life would be easy when you live for Him. The Bible teaches us that the more we live for Christ, the more hardships we may endure. But the more blessings we will receive as well. Wounds hurt and it takes much time to heal from a wound. Some are greater and some are smaller. But God uses those wounds in my life to create a more beautiful person in me. Personally, I’d sometimes rather do without the wounds and I pout and stomp my feet and ask, “Why did you let this happen God?” But He reminds me very quickly that life is not all about me. Life is about Him and all the people around me. Sometimes the wounds in my life have nothing to do with me but what God is working on in the lives of those around me. The pruning on me is to benefit others lives not only my own and at times I am only an instrument of purpose that God is using to prune the life of another.
I am often reminded of the story of Joseph in the Bible. His family never accepted him and a lot of bad things happened to him. He was wounded many times by other people. God had a wonderful plan in mind for him through all those wounds. Joseph relied on God’s strength to get him through some very hard times – years of hard times – and because of his trust in God, Joseph became better, not bitter. What a difference! To become better not bitter through the circumstances in my life, what a goal! God has been teaching me to say “Use me Father, use me and mold me” rather than whining and pouting “why me?” I read in my Bible this week, “wounds and adversities are often blessings in disguise.” How true! To see the tests in our lives as blessings rather than looking at them negatively is truly a gift from God.

God is so faithful! I’ve made so many stupid choices and dumb mistakes in my past – and I often still do. I’ve been so blind to His goodness and extremely selfish at times. My husband, Roger, shared a verse with me that really spoke to him of how he feels about his younger days – the verse really said it for me as well. Jeremiah 31:18-19 “You disciplined me severely, but I deserved it. I was like a calf that needed to be trained for the yoke and plow. Turn me again to you and restore me, for you alone are the Lord my God. I turned away from God, but then I was sorry. I kicked myself for my stupidity! I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in my younger days.” The Bible is so real it’s amazing! This version (NLT) completely explained the way I feel about my past. God has been so faithful in fulfilling His Purpose in me and He never gives up on me. The worst thing I could do is to give up on myself, or the people around me. Of course that is what the enemy wants to happen – to see myself as a constant failure and to give up. But God promises to never give me any test beyond what I can bear. Any temptations that come my way He always provides a way out but my decision to flee from that temptation has not always happened. I am not strong and the enemy is much stronger than I am and when I try to do it on my own strength, I continually fail. But when I involve God and ask for His strength, He and I are much, much stronger than “he who is in the world” – the enemy the Devil. It has not been easy to forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made in dishonoring my parents, not honoring God with my body or hurting those around me with words of fire coming from my mouth. But God is faithful and forgiving and when I have drawn on His forgiving mercy, He has helped me and taught me to forgive myself and others on a continual basis and to begin each new day He blesses me with to try again and to forgive again. God has always had a purpose through all the hurt and when I have trusted Him with His plan, He has blessed me far beyond I have ever imagined. His plan is always best, always! He sees the whole picture, the whole puzzle put together. He knows why I was born into the family I’m in. He knows why I had the childhood and teenage years I had and why I made the choices I did. He knew why I needed the wonderful husband that I have and had 3 beautiful children by C-section. He knows why and how I have to grow and learn from my selfishness and human sinfulness. He sees all the pieces to the puzzle of my life and has it all worked out into a grand, master plan. Each day can be so exciting to find out which piece I find next.

So, why would I not trust God and rely on His faithfulness when He promises to complete a good work in me? He is all knowing and present everywhere and He knows exactly what I need today and the experiences I need to go through to mold me into the person He wants me to be and to work me into His perfect, wonderful purpose and plan. My prayer each day is “God, I want to be in Your Will – that’s the best place to be – nowhere else.” That is my greatest desire – my goal in life – to fulfill the Will of God in my life. To seek His purpose for me is my faith journey.

Take me Lord, I will go, I will follow. The best place to be is in Your Will, Your Plan, Your Purpose - not mine. This is my desire, to follow You. Lord with all my heart I worship You. All that is within me, I give You praise, all that I adore, is in You. Lord I give You my heart, I give You my soul. I want to live for You alone. Every breath that I take, every moment I’m awake, Lord have Your way in me.

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