Last spring, my husband and I were contacted about presenting at a women’s conference next weekend. Would we be willing to speak about our experiences in ministry and how we have maintained our confidence in Christ through the different seasons. We looked at each other and said, “Sure, how hard could that be?” Well, next weekend is now next weekend and one small detail has changed — my husband is going to be out of town, so I’m flying solo.
Still, I say to myself, “Come on, how many fifty-five minute sessions have you led in your life? This should be a piece of cake!” And, really, it should. A little while ago, I opened up a new Word document to begin preparing and I had to face the harsh reality. I haven’t maintained my confidence in Christ through all the different seasons. In fact, I have openly admitted on this blog that I had a specific period of time during which I was not on speaking terms with God. Now, does that necessarily mean that I had lost confidence in Him. No, not really. I still knew He was acting on my behalf, and yes, even carrying me, but I was extremely committed to my soldiering ways and my “I can do it myself” attitude. Really committed.
I’ve also already confessed on this blog that I am a compulsive truth-teller. I can’t stand in front of a roomful of women next Saturday and say something like, “Yes, we have faced our trials, but through it all I have remained confident in God’s goodness, faithfulness, and mercy.” That would be less-than-true. However, I’m pretty sure the organizers of this event weren’t banking on me saying something like, “You know, there were some rough years when I didn’t pray much; I relied on my own strength.” But, I know, if I’m being honest with myself, that I might actually say something like that.
Now, of course, I would likely follow that statement with something like, “and, as you can guess, that didn’t work out very well.” Which, of course, it didn’t. My self-sufficient attitude got in the way of my relationships — not only with God, but with my husband, my children, my friends, and some of my coworkers. Now, I am happy to say that God is very gracious and welcomed me with open arms when I admitted that I needed Him was ready to put down my battle gear. He also placed people in my life who have been more than gracious in allowing me the room to transform away from my butt-kicking/name-taking self into something that resembles a more well-adjusted human. And perhaps that is what I need to share, right?
No one is perfect. Not even people in ministry. Not even — gasp — pastors. But, we belong to a perfect God — a perfectly gracious God who allows us experience after experience crafted to draw us back to Him, designed to reflect His image to others, orchestrated to tell His story over and over again. The story? God is the Creator of the universe. He created us to reflect Him in the world. We get confused and think that He made us to be the center of the universe rather than reflectors of Him in the universe. He knew we would do that. He knew we would stomp and fuss and demand our own way, even though His way was, is, and will always be perfect. He lets us stomp and fuss and demand. And, like a perfect parent, when we are worn out and come crawling to Him for mercy, He gathers us in His arms, allows us to heal, and reminds us of our purpose.
Usually we repeat this cycle over and over again. I know I have. And actually, that is why I have confidence in Christ — because over and over again He has been faithful, even when I have been faithless.
Now, how do I share that in fifty-five minutes?
2 Timothy 2:13
if we are faithless, He remains faithful — for He cannot deny Himself