Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Faith...Even More Precious

Yesterday, I had a really wonderful experience that followed on the tail of a really awful experience. I had been struggling with some very serious doubts about my faith, and I believe the timing was no coincidence. You see, I was planning to share my testimony with my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group this morning. For a moment, I allowed myself to entertain doubts that made me wonder whether my relationship with Jesus was even real. I believe now that the enemy was doing all he could to take away my peace and joy, because he didn't want me to share it with others.

I've decided to share this story for two reasons:
1) I want you to know that, despite all the inspiring words from God and wonderful experiences I love to share here, I am NOT strong. It's the opposite. I am so weak, but God makes me strong.
2) When I emailed out a prayer request yesterday, I received so many encouraging words, and I wanted to share some of them.

Over the course of three days, I suffered depression, anxiety, and insomnia. I told Bill, "I'm wondering whether God is real, whether it's all a fairy tale. I've based my entire life on my faith, and if it isn't real, I don't want to know. If it isn't real, I don't even want to live."

I've had passing doubts before, but I've always shrugged them off pretty easily. This was different. I was ASSAILED with doubts, and the attack was almost relentless. I finally stopped trying to fight it on my own, and I sent out a prayer request. Here were some of the responses....

My husband Bill said:
Sarah, it isn't FAITH if you have to have proof. Maybe this is an opportunity for your faith to grow.

Melissa said:
When Christ infects your life…..when you’ve met Him, sensed Him, been nudged by Him, and when you’ve accepted His forgiveness……you can’t stop believing. Because you know what you know. Doubts happen to all of us, and that is Satan’s attempt to knock us down. Satan cannot take away our salvation, but he can royally mess up and invalidate our testimony....

My prayer for you is that you would stand straight up wherever you are and that you would scream for the Devil to leave your space. Scream at him how much you love Jesus and how much you will continue to do so. I believe that Christ is in you because I believe He is visible in your blog. I am praying for calm and patience for you. I’m praying for your wisdom and your discernment to know when the devil is up to his schemes. And I am praying that this experience will make your testimony even more amazing when you share it with these other moms. How precious we hold so dear to us what we feel threatened we might lose.
James said:
It’s o.k. to question and have our doubts because everyone in life will have doubts at one point or another. This is why the bible tells us “In our weakness, His strength is made perfect”. How can you truly glorify God in your testimony if the women in your MOPS group think you’re strong enough to make it through life on your own? How can they relate to a woman who is so strong that she never weakens or doubts her thoughts or abilities?

When you doubt your abilities, you strengthen the love and power of Christ. I’ve been praying for God to lead you and to open opportunities for you to lead others. It sounds to me like He is not only present in your life, but He plans on using you sooner than I thought. Remember, Moses had a speech impediment but lead the Israelites out of captivity, David was just a boy but slayed a giant. Before every great victory in the bible, the hero experienced tremendous opposition and Satan did everything he could to hinder God’s glory. You may not feel it, but you are extremely blessed. God has given you an opportunity to bring Him glory, which is what we all were created for! Remember where you’ve come from and how your relationship with Christ has changed your life, remember all the prayers that God has answered with our Home Group, and remember your Christian brothers and sisters will be praying for God to strengthen you to bring others to Christ.
Fernando said:
The way I see this is that the devil sees another opportunity to work against us.... The devil knows good and well the possible impact of your testimony tomorrow and he can't allow that to happen. You are standing between him and the next group of victims in his war against our mighty God. These moms will turn to Christ and influence their children accordingly. See what I mean? That's a lot of souls to fight for and your walk is too strong of a testimony in favor of our great Lord. Why would the enemy leave you alone?

Pray a quick one in the morning,
man your armor and go in there and let the Lord speak through you. I have used that technique many times and it really becomes a parroting thing. It feels really triumphant to hear words come from your mouth knowing that they aren't your words but they say exactly what He needs from you.
Heather forwarded these words of wisdom from Joel Osteen:
The scripture tells us that God is the potter and we are His clay. The potter can’t work with hard, dry clay; He has to use soft, moldable clay. We are the ones who decide if we will allow God to work with us or not. We decide if we are going to be soft and pliable or if we are going to allow the world to make us hard and dry. How do we stay soft and moldable? By simply immersing ourselves in the water of God’s Word.
Aunt Donna said:
Sarah, I am praying for you. I really feel the Lord has given you a talent in writing and sharing. You have blessed me many times. We all have doubts and weaknesses at times, but He will get you through. You will overcome through Jesus Christ.

Joy forwarded this encouragement:
Paul writes: "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves… but our sufficiency is from God" (2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV). When God pushes you out of your comfort zone en route to your destiny, expect to go through some unfamiliar, anxiety-producing territory. It's the only way to go from surviving - to thriving.

Aunt Carol said:
'We can't prevent birds from flying over our heads but we can prevent them from building a nest in our hair.' Also remember Thomas doubted and not only him but the other disciples too. Read Mark 16:9-13. And they had been living and following Jesus for three years. Our faith is strengthened as it is tested. Don't be too troubled by doubts. Just focus on the Lord rather than the problem. Also the measure for our life is Christ, no one else no matter how holy he or she might be, for all humans fall short. Jesus alone is our pattern. He alone is perfect. God bless you and pour His love upon you and give you his peace.
Kristen said:
I don’t have all the answers, and often have doubts. But what Bill said is true, its faith. Faith in God’s word and faith in what he has done for you – which is what speaks volumes.... I do believe that God keeps His promises, and that His ways surpass my understanding. Its kind of like The Shack said, we can’t apply our human capacity for understanding to God. I don’t think God questions or gets angry at us if we do have doubts – He is pretty confident in His word and that it will stand the test of time – and He knows our human minds can’t grasp the complexity that He is. However, I think its faith..which means we are trusting in the hope that He is because we believe it.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)
Kim said:
Unfortunately, Satan has a way of planting seeds of doubt in God 's most precious people. You are a very kind, unselfish, compassionate person, always willing to help others... to me, that is evidence that there is a God and he is working through you.... Looking outside at the delicate balance and beauty of nature reminds me that our heavenly father had a hand in this. I pray that you are having a better day today.
Darlene said:
Sarah, you are a wonderful testimony of faith. The fact that you have questions makes you human. We will pray for you.
Gentle said:
Remember, God is always with you, holding your hand and bringing you comfort. Just imagine him sitting next to you cupping your hand, what peace that will bring to your heart and mind when you are giving your testimony! I love you and God Bless!

Others emailed or called to tell me they loved me and are praying for me. I could feel all the prayers lifting me up, and by the afternoon, I felt exhausted but peaceful. I took the kids to the park, and the warm sun on my back was like an embrace. When I heard birds singing, it reminded me of my current memory passage in Matthew 6, that tells me how God feeds the birds and how he cares so much more for me.

At Bible study last night, we shared Passover Seder meal. Studying the symbolism of Christ in that ritual that began 1500 years before Christ was an affirmation of my faith. When we sang about Jesus Messiah, Emmanuel, the rescue for sinners, the ransom from heaven, my faith was more precious to me than ever. My heart was full.

This morning, I prayed to be equipped with the full armor of God, and I know he was with me during my testimony. Not only did I feel completely at peace, but I actually felt JOYFUL to have that opportunity to share the story of God's love and forgiveness in my life. As I told how I found God's love in a hotel room through Psalm 139, tears flowed, and I realized that many of the women were crying with me.

Afterward, several people thanked me for sharing my story. Many of them hugged me and said they were inspired or encouraged. Some wanted to hear more. I am so thankful that I had this opportunity share how God has done extraordinary things in my very ordinary life. I pray that someone will find Him or develop a closer relationship with him because I opened my heart today.


The Garrett's said...

Sarah, this is Angie from MOPS. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your story with us, and your blog too!

Melissa Irwin said...

You are awesome, Sarah. And thanks for reaching out for prayer when you needed it. You are so precious and so loved!


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