So it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged about anything. So much has happened over the last year, but that’s a different story for a different day. But I’ve been inspired the last couple of days and want to share what God has laid upon my heart…
It’s amazing how God works. How different things at different times fit so perfectly together and the only explanation is that it was a “God thing.” How over the past couple of days He used a preacher’s message about faith, a blog post about fear, a bible study about fear, courage and faith, a worship leader’s transparency about her fear of acceptance, a woman’s heart breaking story of shame and pain and redemption, and a song to sum it all up. All of these things have three things in common, fear, courage and faith. All of these things completely separate, not planned or orchestrated by people, but planned and orchestrated by God.
On Sunday, our Pastor, Chris continued his series entitled “Not a Traditional Love Story.” You can find his series at www.notatraditionallovestory.com. It’s a study on the book of Ruth and the characteristics that Ruth displayed. Ruth was a virtuous woman of great faith. When her husband died, she decided to leave her home and family and follow her mother-in-law Naomi. She told Naomi wherever you go I go, your God will be my God, and I will do whatever you say. All of these things required steps of faith. No matter how hard or how awkward it might have been for Ruth, she still took those steps. Chris taught us that a life of great faith is built on steps of obedience. He went on to ask us, “What step of obedience is God calling you to do and are you willing to take it?” and “Will you obey even when it’s difficult?”
This week in our homework for our women’s group Pursuit, we studied a woman completely opposite of Ruth. We studied Rahab. Rahab was a prostitute, an outcast, a “moral bottom feeder.” She was not an Israelite or even a believer in God. She had heard stories of Him and all the miraculous things He had done for the Israelites. So she chose to risk her own life to protect the spies and believed the promise that God made her, to protect her and her family. Because she kept her word, God rewarded her and blessed her greatly. I’m sure Rahab was fearful for her life. She could have been put to death for betraying her own people, but she had enough courage to take that step of faith to fully trust God. Her faith was shown by her actions and it changed her life. In the study it asked us “What is God calling you to do that requires courage?”
Monday morning I read a great blog about fear. You can find the post here http://sozowomen.com/2013/02/18/out-of-fear-a-mothers-journey-out-of-fear-and-into-faith-part-three/. The focus of the blog was why mothers fear. One of the conclusions I learned was that we fear things that are out of our control. We think if we can control everything, everything will be ok. It’s taking that step of faith to trust that God is in control and that He determines the outcome. That night one of the worship leaders shared one of her fears. A fear that I can truly relate to and that is the fear of acceptance. Trying to please everyone and wonder what they think of you or if they like you. When all that should matter is how God sees us and that we are to please him and not worry about what others may think.
That same night during Pursuit, two brave and courageous women got up to share their testimonies. Both stories of pain, shame, and redemption. Real life examples of how God used two broken, damaged women, women that were a “beautiful mess” and saved them from their burdens and sins. Whose lives were transformed when they took those steps of faith to lay their burdens at Jesus’ feet and began following Him. Who God took and turned one into a women’s pastor and the other into a speaker and group leader. A speaker who wanted to break the silence and help other post-abortive mothers overcome their shame and guilt and be transformed in Christ. That no matter how fearful they might be of judgement from others, still taking those steps of faith to face their pain and get up and serve others.
So all around me it seemed like God was trying to tell me something. Everything was about fear, courage and faith. Women that were broken and damaged yet God still used and continues to use them. So how does this all relate to me?
Most of you already know our story, but if you don’t, you can read about it here https://mommyto3plusanangel.wordpress.com/bellas-story/ or on my husband’s page http://paul-deleon.com/our-sweet-girl-in-heaven/. It’s been almost two years since we lost our sweet Bella. Her birthday is in exactly two weeks. From the moment we found out she was gone, we began searching for God’s purpose and will for this tragic event in our lives. We grasped and held onto any positive thing that may have happened because of our loss and we wanted her story and memory to live on. We quickly learned how common infant loss was, but that it was and continues to be such a taboo subject that no one talks about it. We also quickly learned how little resources there were and that the support system was nearly non-existent. Not only did we have to endure this unthinkable and painful event, we had to do it alone. We had to endure feelings of pain, grief, sorrow, loneliness, anger, bitterness, you name it we felt it. Yet it is only by God’s grace that we made it through. He was the one that led us through the darkness. He is the one that continues to be our rock and our strength.
Early on we decided that we wanted to help other grieving couples not have to experience what we did. We believed this would be God’s calling on our lives. That God would use our tragedy and our pain to help someone else. So we took those steps of faith. We got up every day and lived our life. We got up and went to church when we didn’t feel like it. We signed up and walked through the door of the Griefshare program. We made contacts with the Pastoral Care department and signed up for and completed the Wise Counsel program. We basically surrendered and said, “Here I am Lord, send me.” Because of that we are in the beginning stages of forming an infant loss ministry.
I can truly relate to all those things I mentioned earlier. Chris asked what step of obedience is God calling me to do no matter how difficult, the answer is this ministry. The bible study asked what is God calling me to do that requires courage, the answer is this ministry. Do I have fears? Of course I do. They’re things that not only do I doubt myself with, but things that the enemy tries to distract me with. Thoughts like, “How can you possibly help someone?” “What do you have to offer anyone?” “Will anyone listen to you?” “Does your story matter or does anyone care?” I can relate to all those women’s stories from the Bible and from my group because I too am broken and damaged. But God has promised to use me to further his kingdom. He will take the broken pieces of my life and turn it to beauty. I just need to be obedient and take those steps of faith.
I leave you with this song and with this thought. No matter how damaged or broken you are because of what you have done or what has happened in your life, you can and will be used by God. Every experience is something that you can use to reach, teach or help someone. We can never forget those painful things in our life, and the pain might not ever fully go away, but we need to use it as a reminder as to where God has brought us from.