I prayed, polished, and practiced. I assumed the lesson would go one way. God willed it to go another.
Sometimes tears are going to fall. A moment of silence and a few tears prove that God’s forgiveness extends to everyone.
Another joke or anecdote was not needed. God used a trail of tears instead.
In that moment I couldn’t pretend or parade around as someone I was not.
So I didn’t.
And God moved in the hearts of the listeners…
I had the honor of attending and speaking at a retreat for fellow military wives and service members over the weekend. I prayed and prepared a special message for these dear women. I felt ready to share it until I drove into the city where the event was being held.
I lived in this city before. I wasn’t walking with the Lord the last time I was here.
As the memories of the faces and places flooded my mind, my heart sunk, and my stomach churned.
I hurt deeply.
“Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe,
sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow…
Oh praise the One who paid my debt,
and raised this life up from the dead…”
~Lyrics from “Jesus Paid It All”, Kristian Stanfill
These were the precious words that we sang over and over at the end of our Friday night session. I have sung these words many times, but this time, the song lyrics hit my heart like a freight train. No, make that like 50 freight trains!
The last time I was in this town, I was as crimson as crimson could be. The lyrics to the songs I sung back then were much different. Tragically, I thought I was alive. No, I was dead. I was busy chasing after that which is fleeting.
It is almost 15 years later. And now…
God sees the reflection of His Son in this imperfect and beautiful mess of a woman. What happened between then and now happened only because God is God. Before I cried out for Him to save me, He planned for me to return to this painful situation from my past, and to testify about His power and grace in my life. (Ephesians 2:10) As I thought about everything that God did that ensured this would happen, my mind and heart nearly exploded in an awestruck/whoa God kind of way!
By the time it was my turn to speak on Saturday night, I decided to change a portion of my lesson. I knew that some tears might escape as I spoke. But I gave the hour over to the Lord and asked Him to move as He saw fit.
As I shared about how God saved me, my season in Youth Ministry and Seminary, the writing and formation of Images of His Beauty, and about the amazing husband and children that God has given me, a small trail of tears fell down my cheeks. I did not stop them, nor am I ashamed of my tears. They are evidence of my gratefulness towards God.
The glory is His alone.
I am humbled by how far He has brought me.
“Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”
~ King David in 2 Samuel 7:18b NIV
These words from King David are some of my favorites in all of Scripture. Believe me, God and I still have a long way to go in many areas of my life, but He has brought me “this far.” God also brought every woman at that retreat “this far” to. Their stories also prove that God saves and transforms those who place their faith in Him.
He isn’t through with us yet.
“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
~Philippians 1:6 NIV
Catchy anecdotes and quotes are powerful, but your tears are personal. Sometimes they need to fall so that others can see that God forgives and uses imperfect vessels. Sometimes they need to fall so that we, ourselves, can learn that our pasts cannot thwart our future in Jesus Christ.
So friends, I am glad I came face to face with my past over the weekend. My tears were seen by all and are cherished by the One who died for me.
May God give us discernment as to when to share our tears with others… and when they fall, may we offer them up with a heart of gratefulness. Jesus has raised our lives up from the dead.