Sometimes when we are in the midst of a personal struggle, on top of all of the emotional turmoil that comes with it we can also feel worthless. Its as if we are so far down in the dumps that we could not possibly have anything to offer anyone else. I know I tend to get this way sometimes. I am in the midst of such a struggle and it seems that God keeps reminding me that I can still be an encouragement to others who are struggling. We are in the midst of a series at church called “On A Mission”. A consistent theme in our pastor’s teaching is RESTORATION. “God’s original intent is his final intent” you will often hear him say. When God created the world and mankind and said “It is GOOD“, he meant it. We made it ugly by trying to be like God and allowing our selfish ambitions to control us, thus inviting sin and destruction into His beautiful creation. But God didn’t decide to give it all up and just let it go. Since the minute Eve tasted the fruit God put into action a plan of redemption and restoration for his precious creation and he wants us to be part of that plan. That can be a daunting thought for some of us. I think about being the hands and feet of God, meeting the needs of the “poor and needy” or the broken spirited people around me and sometimes all I can think is, “I’m the poor and needy one. I’m the one who is broken. I’m the one in need of someone to minister to me.” I am just being transparent. But I realized that just because I am broken, I can’t ignore the others I come in contact with who have the same needs for healing and restoration that I do. In fact, God can use me in someone else’s life just as I am…brokenness and all. IN FACT…I think much more healing occurs when we allow ourselves to be used in the midst of our brokenness. I can see a few ways this happens.
First, we can really meet people where they are if we know what they’re going through because we’re going through it ourselves. Its not a pity party…its an empathy that builds bridges. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses…” (Heb 4:15) Jesus modeled this himself. We forget sometimes that Jesus was fully human and experienced the same trials we do. Knowing that makes it so much easier for me to enter into this trust relationship with Him where I know he cares for me and wants to heal me.
Second, you will always experience healing in your own life when you open yourself up to be part of someone else’s healing and restoration. So many times I have realized that when I am sharing encouraging words to a friend who is struggling, those same words minister to me and what I am going through. The strength and encouragement they offer to someone else become real to me also. What a beautiful picture of redemption!
Third, it stands to reason that when we take our eyes off of our own struggles long enough to meet the needs of another person, it sheds a whole new light on what we are going through. Often times we get a new perspective that can help us work something out that we have been struggling with. If nothing else, it takes our eyes off of ourselves and focuses on being a light to someone else. This can be a refreshing change of scenery. I think you will also find that its in the times when our focus is on someone else’s needs that God dives into the depths of our brokenness, working and moving and providing healing that we may not even be aware of at the time.
So if you are feeling worthless because you are going through a struggle that seems to have consumed you, remember that you can still be used in God’s plan of restoration. You can still be a light to someone else in the darkness. You can still offer love and encouragement to someone else going through a trial. You can be a wounded healer.
Today, as I sat silent with God, I remembered all the times I’ve given my heart away to someone or something. It is so easy to do, especially for women, emotional creatures that we are. I thought about times I loved without limits only for that love to be used and tossed aside, or maybe never even recognized in the first place. I thought about all the times I’ve been used. Used by so called friends who were really only “friends” with me for what they could get out of it. Used by men for my body. Dare I say, even used by the Church for my talents? I can think of so many people and things I gave my heart to in these different scenarios. Then the question came to mind. Why did I allow these people to use me? Why did I give my heart away so easily? The answer is simple…life. I was trying to get life from these people by giving them my heart. Instead of getting life from my Creator, (the only One who can give true life) I squandered my heart trying to get it anywhere I could. I ransomed what God put in me for what only He could give me but not to HE who could give it.
Of course I realize that now. But before I had this revelation all I had was the hurt that came from my heart being broken. I stood at a point in my life where I had to make a decision not to let anyone have my heart. I locked it away and guarded it with my bitterness and cynicism. Nobody was allowed in…not even God. Its easy to go through life that way, even as a Christian, and not even realize it. But its like being a zombie. You just go through the motions of the “Christian” life but have no real life that sustains you…God given life.
Thank God, literally, that He got a hold of my heart again. When I slowly started realizing that I had given myself away trying to get life that only God could give, I started to unlock the chains around my heart. Slowly I began to give my heart back to God. When I did that, healing started happening. God began (and continues to this day) to restore to me all that I had wasted. Not only is he healing my heart but he is giving me HIS heart. Now I am able to give my heart away in love and service to others because its not my heart I am giving away, its God’s. I think that is what it means to have our identity in Christ. Its not us that does the work of love, it is Christ through us. He loves and moves through us. We are his hands and feet. And if we allow him, he gives us his heart to love others the way he does. Now when I give my heart away a seed is planted. Nothing is wasted. I am redeemed, God is glorified and I get to be part of his Kingdom here on earth. What a beautiful way to live. That is true life. Who has your heart?
Ahhhh, Sundays. I love going to church for so many reasons. The people are amazing and there is so much love in that place when they’re all there. Anytime we have visitors they are definitely noticed and welcomed with enthusiasm and genuine excitement at a new face. The coffee is great and of course, the donuts are a nice perk too. There are so many young children and babies and its so beautiful to watch them play and form bonds of their own. They bring such a life to the church that only they can bring. The music is great and our worship is always spirit filled. God moves in our services and truly inhabits our praises like the psalmist says. (Psalm 22:3) The message is always challenging and uplifting. All of these things make for a great time at church.
Today, during the service, I could feel my spirit uniting with the spirits of those there worshiping with me and it made me stop and think about they mystery of the Holy Spirit. (It also may be on my mind because we just had a teaching weekend at church and it was about the Holy Spirit) I have Christian brothers and sisters all around the world. Some I know deeply and some I’ve just met. Some I talk to on a regular basis and some I never even see because they are so far away. But it doesn’t matter, the distance between us. We share a common bond that keeps us united and that bond will never be broken.
This is one of the great mysteries of the Holy Spirit. Its a mystery because you can’t explain it. You can’t see it but you can feel it. When the Spirit of God in you connects with the Spirit of God in another the union is nothing less than divine. Have you ever encountered a perfect stranger and without even having a conversation you get this feeling in your gut that they worship the same God you do? Its as if your souls recognize each other. This only comes through the Spirit. What a beautiful picture of the third Person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is part of the Godhead and his action perfectly displays the heart of God in his relentless pursuit of a relationship with us and his unquenchable desire for us to relate to each other. What an honor to be in a relationship with such a Lover as God.
So, here’s to all of my brothers and sisters, near and far. The ones I talk to often and the ones I have lost touch with. I may not always have you in mind, but our Spirits will be united for all eternity. AMEN!