June 1, 2012

Advice

I received this delightfully honest email from my girl friend this morning.  It just made me smile.  I am going to share my reply here because, as I told her, it is something every one needs to hear.
Kat,
Have you ever had someone ask you for advice and felt totally inadequate? That's how I'm feeling right now. She [a young friend] started asking me for advice. Me!! While that was super sweet to find out it totally humbled me. I am faced every day with the fruit of mistakes I made in the past and am trying so hard to undo the mess I made. I think "If they only knew!" They saw a fraction of my life while at church. Now while I am blessed with their kind words, I feel like I have so much to learn. I guess all of us can learn from someone, and we can keep learning until our dying day. Well, I just wanted to share and wondered if anyone else felt the same way. I know you get asked advice on your blog and wondered. 
My Dear Friend,


I am literally laughing out loud.  Because, "... if you only knew...", is the absolute best way for me to answer your question.  I am so inadequate.  My life is so inadequate.  And when I think of who I am and what I am, I am shocked, shocked, shocked, people so often ask me for advice.  I will never, could never, be enough to say what others need to hear.  But, my God is and He can and He does have every answer that I, you, or the world will ever need.

Your humble spirit and understanding that you don't know everything and aren't perfect are exactly what the Lord needs to use you.  When we begin to think we can do it, we should take pause and examine ourselves and make sure we've not become self-righteous or proud.  Those attitudes will make us worthless for the Lord.  Remember what happened when Saul tried to step in and make the sacrifice because he thought he was good enough to handle it?  Staying humble keeps our focus on God and makes us an invaluable resource for His work.

There are many who would have us believe our past mistakes make us unworthy of service to the King.  I would disagree wholeheartedly.

For one thing, our past is our past.  God promises that He will forgive our sins if we put our trust in Him.  He doesn't put a limit on how many or which sins will be forgiven.  He says He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  So let us consider that all our sins prior to salvation are forgiven and justified.  That word justified is so important because it means our sins are wiped out as if they never happened.

That does not mean we will  not have consequences to deal with.  On the contrary, there are always consequences for our sins.  However, they too have a place in the life of a believer.  Guilt and condemnation, however, do not.  Those are not of the Lord and those who push guilt or condemnation on ourselves or other believers are doing the work of Satan, not of God.  (This is different from believers living in open and current sin which is not part of this discussion.)

That is to say, unless we were saved at a very young age, it is unlikely we don't have "messes" from our past that we will have to clean up.  But it is how we use those and what we learn from them that make us the Christian we need to be.

As you know, I was married at a young age and it turned out to be a horrible mess.  During the period of our separation and divorce I came to know the Lord.  Some would say, in fact some have said, that this makes me unworthy even to be the friend of a Christian.  As I said earlier, I fully disagree.  Those experiences, no matter how awful, and they were pretty bad, taught me a lot about love and compassion.  They gave me a lot of empathy toward others who face similar trials and they gave me a life long deep rooted commitment to reaching out to other women in similar circumstances and to doing all I can to win their hearts for the Lord.  I gained both empathy and sympathy that I may not have had otherwise.  Those make me a valuable tool.  If I took the route of some so-called Christians and thought I was worthless because of my past mistakes, I would have been sitting around for the last 20 years twiddling my thumbs and feeling sorry for myself.  Instead, I have been blessed to see others come to the Lord, women grow, marriages strengthened, lives improved and a myriad of other blessings come from what the Lord has been able to do because of my past mistakes.  The Bible tells us the Lord can use all things for His good.

Does that mean I have not paid the consequences?  Oh, dear friend.  I have paid dearly.  I paid through poverty, a broken heart and destroyed trust.  That is just to name a few.  When Kaitlin's father dropped back in and decided he wanted custody, we paid with many years of a long and gut wrenching legal battle in which we had to defend our faith, our schooling, our diet and every aspect of our life.  It left us nearly in financial ruin and at times so emotionally drained it was all I could do to get out of bed come morning.

But the Lord is good.  As we turned to Him in faith, He lead me and then us through each step of the way.  There you see again, Him using our errors for our own good.  I look back at those awful days as some of the best in my walk with Him.  I had no where else to go and so I looked at my sweet Jesus and He said, you got yourself into this, but I love you enough to bring you out in victory.

I learned so much, but yet I was so full of heartache, guilt and condemnation.  I was talking to a sister at our church one day about 15 years ago and I said so much to her.  "Terri, look at Brother Gary and Sister Diane.  Look at you and your husband.  Look at so and so and such and such.  You are all so strong and love the Lord and are raising beautiful families and doing so much for HIM.  I could never reach those heights.  Look at my life and where I came from.  How can God use me after my divorce and all the mistakes I made?"  She put her hand on me, laughed in her distinct way and turned me to face the room full of people.  She said, "Kathleen, look around you.  Do you know that one has been in your shoes and was divorced.  And that one.  And that one.  Do you know such and such started out as an alcoholic and that one was addicted to drugs?"  She showed me that the Lord can and will use us all, if we put aside our guilt and let Him go at it.

I began to pray for the Lord to take away my past.  Make it as if it had never happened.  Don't let me forget what I learned, but take away the nightmares and the heartache.  Oh, friend.  The Lord is so good!  He did just that.  I didn't even realize the depths of how much he had done until one day a few years ago we realized one of our younger children did not even know that I had been divorced before.  This was never a secret, in fact, we thought everyone knew it, but the Lord had changed my life so much that it was just as if it had never existed.  Yet, in my heart He had planted a deep desire to reach to the young ladies of the world, to help people in their marriages and to share His salvation with other aching hearts.

I haven't forgotten where I came from.  I think of it from time to time and I am overwhelmed with an unbelievable emotion of gratitude that the Lord spared me from myself and the clutches of Satan.  We all have a past and we all have messes.  But we need to leave them in the hands of the Lord.

Oh, how I wish there were time to share the absolute miraculous way He cleaned up the messes of my past life.

We all have much to learn.  If we stop learning, again I say, we render ourselves useless.  We need to seek out the scriptures and other wise Christians to help us gain that wisdom.  And along the way there is always someone else who has something to learn that we might actually know.  It is our job to teach the younger women those things.  If we fail to do that we have disobeyed the command of God given in Titus.  Not only should we be willing to give honest advice when others come, we should always be working one on one with  at least one other person in a discipleship relationship.  Everyone has someone they are to be teaching.  Even my youngest children work with the children younger than them to teach what the Lord has already taught them.  (We are not just training children but raising and training disciples. That is a bonus for you.  ☺)

Do I feel unworthy?  Yes, in every sense of the word.  That is why I pray daily.  That is why I study the scriptures daily.  That is why I read the Bible daily with my family.  That is why I talk often with the older Christians I know and attend a good Bible teaching church.  That is why I work so hard in our Bible college for 36 weeks a year.  Because I want to be ready with an answer.  And not just for them.  But for me.  When a problem arises, I want to know how to deal with it.  I try to spend the first two hours of every day with the Lord in study and prayer so that when I get your email, or others like it, I am spiritually ready for whatever may come.  And because the worries of the day can easily take away from what I gained in the morning, I talk to the Lord all day as I go about my work.  When I see a comment come in on my blog I pray for that person by name.  When I get an email I pray for that person by name.  I spend most of my quiet moments in a constant conversation with the Lord.  Because I quickly become overwhelmed.  I need that constant connection.  One other thing I have been doing this year is to keep the audio Bible playing whenever I have quiet time.  When I take a bath or nurse the baby or if I am working in the kitchen alone.  I love having a constant feed of God's word.  It keeps me constantly full of what I need to answer whatever question might come my way.  I am not worthy.  But He is!

By staying in touch, He can speak to me and through me.  I know you are trying to seek His will for you and your family.  I know you are trying to live out His will in your life and in your marriage.  I know that you have much experience and a heart that loves people and His word.  Take that and use that and you will be amazed at how you will grow and how you will see those He places in your life grow.

Love to you and yours,
Kat

1 comment :

  1. I am touched by your honesty and how God works. As you know, I am just beginning my journey to know Him and have had these same questions going through my head. Thankyou for your honest answer.

    Your friend from Ohio.

    ReplyDelete