Have you ever felt like you were drowning? And, that every time you came up for air there was someone there just waiting to push you back under? There was always someone waiting in the wings ready and willing to slam-dunk you if you tried to survive and to thrive?
Perhaps you weren’t drowning. Perhaps you were alive and thriving and doing well, and then you were slam-dunked, and you were pushed “under the water” so that you could not breathe, but by God’s grace you did survive, and you did thrive. But, then it kept happening again and again and again.
That was the story of my life for many years. I was (and am) a follower of Jesus. I followed Jesus very sincerely, with pure devotion to him and to his word. I took him and his word seriously. I wanted to do what God’s Word said I should do. I believed Him! I believed what his word taught! But, I was different than so many others around me.
I can recall as a youth that I was in a youth Bible study. The leader was talking about how we need to pray for the missionaries. But then he added, “But none of us do.” But I did! I did because I was taught to do that.
And, then I was in a college Bible study where they were discussing evolution, and so many of them were buying into it. But, I was holding on to the creation of God as taught in Genesis, and some of them thought I was a bit naïve, I believe. I think they may have even mocked me.
I used to carry my Bible with me to school because I was taught that it would be a witness for Jesus Christ. So, I got made fun of at school. One guy used to call me “Susie stripper” because I carried my Bible with me. He was mocking me. And, he tried to hit on me, too, hoping to bring me down.
My father was an abuser, although he took us to church every time the doors were open. He was a hypocrite and a legalist, just like the Pharisees. He was all concerned that we not play on Sundays, and that we not put anything on top of a Bible, and that we not play with playing cards, etc.
But, he beat our mother and us and he sexually abused some of us children, too. Most of us were deathly afraid of him and his outbursts of anger. So, even though I was following Jesus with my life, my dad was there slam-dunking me on a regular and consistent basis, which was Satan’s way of trying to destroy me, to bring me down, and to get me to give up.
But, I turned to the Lord to be my help and support, and I kept following Jesus with my life, not perfectly, but consistently. I took Him and His word to heart, and it was my desire to do what it said. But, I was finding that so many Christians didn’t, and that I was often an oddball of sorts.
When I was in my mid-twenties, my husband and I housed for several weeks a missionary who was touring the churches in our area and who was speaking in these churches for missionary conferences. I believed she was really on fire for the Lord, and I was drawn to that.
She taught me so much about how to study the Word of God and how to apply the Word of God to my daily life. She taught me, too, how to listen to the Holy Spirit and to do what he said. I also switched from reading the King James Bible to reading the NASB Bible, and that made a world of difference for me, as well, for now the Word of God was coming alive to me.
I was really growing in my walk of faith with the Lord. I was delving into His Word with great enthusiasm. I was being sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, too, in doing what he said. But, I was new at this. I was naïve in many ways. But, I had childlike faith.
So, I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to say something to my missionary friend, but that didn’t go so well. She was upset with me about it. So, I asked the Lord if I had done anything wrong. The Lord did not say I had, but he didn’t say I hadn’t. I think He just wanted me to trust him in this one.
The missionary wanted me to admit I was wrong. I couldn’t do that. I didn’t know that I was. But, I was able to say that I wasn’t sure. But, that wasn’t good enough. So, she cut me out of her life from that moment forward.
That was really hard. I had done what she taught me to do, and what I felt the Holy Spirit was leading me to do, and I had no assurance from God that I had done anything wrong.
But, then the Lord showed me something. He showed me that, in a way, she was my “Isaac.” I had to make the choice to follow her or to follow God, to put her on the altar, or to refuse to let her go. The Lord, I believe, did not want me dependent on her, but on Him alone. And, so he removed her from my life. But, it hurt!
A few years later we were attending the gatherings at a church fellowship near our home. We were new to this congregation, and they were new to us. I did have some close friends who were a part of this fellowship, though.
On Wednesday nights we had a Bible study with the pastor in the church sanctuary. It was an open group discussion (male and female). The pastor would open a topic of discussion and he would ask questions, and we could raise our hands if we wanted to participate in the discussion. So, as the Spirit prompted me, and with permission to speak, I shared what the Lord was teaching me through the passage of scripture we were studying. Again, I had a very sincere and childlike faith.
The pastor also preached on spiritual gifts and how we needed to be using our gifts. Well, the Lord had given me the gift of teaching, so I filled out the spiritual gift questionnaire, and I volunteered to teach Sunday school to youth, but I heard nothing back. So, months later I asked about it, and then the pastor visited us in our home.
He asked me if I had been crucified with Christ. I said I had. He said, “I would say you haven’t!” And, then he verbally attacked me with all sorts of false accusations. So, I ran from God, thinking this man had power over me, but the Lord spoke to me through the story of Jonah, and he told me to get back in there and “fight this through.” And, my response was, “But God, you don’t understand!” I really believed that man had power over me that God could do nothing about, because of my dad’s abuse of me, I believe.
To make a long story short, I did get back in there, and I spoke with the elders, and they falsely accused me, too, based on their own lives. For, they saw my desire to serve the Lord as pride, but it wasn’t. I was very sincere in my faith and in my desire to use my gifts for the glory of God. But, they were comparing me to themselves, and so they misjudged me.
But, the Lord used this to speak to this pastor’s heart. He eventually admitted that they were threatened by me because I spoke with so much authority, which was the authority of scripture, not my own. And, he admitted that they had misjudged me.
But, the Lord used this experience in my life, as well, to teach me to rely on him and not on self or on man for my support. For, the Lord was in the process of setting me apart for his service, and so I had to learn to die to self and to not let these slam-dunks take me out.
For, the Lord was preparing me for a future ministry he had for me, which has now come to fruition, praise his name. He was in the process, through all of this, and much more to come, of humbling me before him, and of teaching me to submit to him no matter what opposition I might face.
And, He used this scripture in my life much at that time in letting me know his calling upon my life:
Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Then I said, “Alas, Lord God!
Behold, I do not know how to speak,
Because I am a youth.”
But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.
“Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 1:4-8 NASB
And, he has delivered me from the mouths of lions over and over and over again, all glory and praise to his holy name!
To Be Like Him
An Original Work / March 16, 2014
Based off Scripture
Crucified you are with Jesus.
To be like Him, oh, you’ll be,
Because He died at Calv’ry,
So from sin you’d be free.
Oh, what joy He brings into your life,
Giving life with Him endlessly.
Oh, what plans He has for your life.
Share the gospel faithfully.
Show the people He loves them.
Now His witness you’ll be.
Tell the world of sin about Jesus,
How He died for them on a tree.
Purifying hearts, He saves them,
Who believe on Christ, God’s Son.
Turning now from their idols,
New lives they have begun.
Jesus saves from sin; we’re forgiven.
Over sin, the vict’ry He won!
When He comes again to take us
To be with Him evermore,
There will be no more crying.
Gladness will be in store.
Heavens joys will now overtake us:
We’ll be with our Lord evermore.