Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Lost & Found
"Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him..."
~ Job 13:15, NIV ~
This past weekend, I had the great privilege of attending the local "GO Conference" with speaker, Steve Gladen of Saddleback Church (You can read more about it at my leadership blog site.). Although I had heard him speak before, I was impressed in a deeper way about the need to share my personal testimony. So, today I offer to you a story that I regret I have never told before on this page.
My family of origin "puts the fun in dysfunction." I grew up with a very troubled, but church-going bunch. I will spare you all the details, but that led me to make some very poor choices in my life. I lived on the surface, wanting to get it right because of all the insanity I had endured. The world's definition of "success" is what I had followed hard after, without ever finding the happiness I so longed for.
My first marriage ended almost before it had started, two years into the covenant. I remarried a second man, a wonderful small business owner who shared big dreams and lived large with me. We enjoyed all the world called "success", planning on starting a family 3 years into our union. Of course, we got pregnant in the 3rd year of our marriage, but that's where life took a turn. I miscarried the baby. My husband began pulling away, just like my first husband had when I miscarried in that marriage. It frightened me tremendously.
I was deeply depressed, which wasn't too surprising considering chronic depression ran in my family. Nevertheless, I came to a day where I intended to pick myself up by my bootstraps, start fresh and get over it. I planned a big shopping spree in Chicago with 2 of my girlfriends, 1 of whom was my sister-in-law. But my attempt at self-resurrection came crashing down when my sister-in-law sprang on me, right in the middle of Watertower Place, that she was expecting a baby that was due on the exact same date I was due with the baby I had lost. Feeling complete humiliation because I was in public sensing all eyes on me, I sunk in to an even deeper depression once I had arrived home. I stayed in bed for days, unable to get past the loss coupled with extreme betrayal and embarrassment.
Fortunately, there were other plans for me. One Saturday, another couple we know "just happened" to stop by and ask us to go for a bike ride. I had no desire, but my husband coaxed me out of bed. This sweet couple revealed along the ride that they had endured several trials in building a family. Then they invited us to a Bible study later that week. It felt pretty weird and uncomfortable, but what did we have to lose? Things were so awful. We could at least show up just once to appease them and then not have to go again.
That's where I met Jesus. Having been a church-attender for most of my life, I had heard all the brief Scripture readings they do in services most of my life. But I had never had my eyes opened to these words like I did in this Bible study. All of the sudden, it was like a veil had been lifted. Jesus became very real to me, caring very deeply about my personal well-being. Within the week, I had stood back at our church and prayed a silent prayer asking Jesus to just take over. I'm not sure of the exact words, but I know there were tears in my eyes.
My life changed forever after that day. I would love to tell you that my life got much easier, but it really didn't. However, my life did get much better. With every new trial I faced, I experienced growing strength and peace. My life became deeper and richer. The world's idea of "success" didn't matter the way it had before. What a relief! I didn't have to try and live a life that was unattainable and that I had little control over. My depression was replaced by deep satisfaction. I was lost, but now I am found.
I share this story with you and others because my wish is that everyone would be able to experience the joy that I feel. I can honestly say that I believe that verse from Job written above. In the past 17 years, I have seen incredible things happen in my life because I have trusted God. And look at the 3 amazing little people in my arms that He has blessed me with! That's beyond what I ever could have imagined!
Rather than writing a prayer for you to pray at the end of this devotional as I usually do, today I will be praying for you. My prayer is that you too will have a personal encounter with Jesus that will change your life forever. I pray that you come to know a joy that fills your core no matter what your circumstances. It's a free gift available to all of us. I pray you open it!