Drawing inspiration from the ladies mentioned in Hebrews 11, and then sharing her own life story and walk of faith, Sister Wendy Good encourages women today to be faithful, no matter what the circumstances of their lives. The only thing that can hinder God’s will or purpose in our lives, is us ourselves. The things in our lives may not be what we consider good, but God can use them to work together for our good as we surrender to His will for us.
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He knows what I am. He knows what I’m not. And like Moses prayed, Lord if You don’t go with us don’t send us up from here. And I feel like the same way, Lord if you don’t come with me. Don’t send me to speak. I don’t want to speak my own words. So I had a really stressful week and just a lot of review about my life and in some ways I have a exciting testimony or maybe more glamorous in some ways, but I don’t want that to be the focus. I have a whole lot of faults that those who know me well could tell you about and I also have had a lot of failings in my life, but my goal is to increase and build our faith to magnify God. Paul prayed that God would be magnified in his body whether by life or death and that’s my prayer, too.
Like Jesus commanded the servants to fill the pots with water and they did their part- they filled the pots with water and then they served it at the wedding and the water had been turned to wine and it said that the master of the feast didn’t know where the wine came from but the servants knew. I just think that’s so beautiful that the servants knew where this came from and I feel like in the same way. I’m bringing water to you and I pray that Jesus is here and he turns it into wine. Maybe some of you need comfort. I pray he comforts you. Maybe some of you need conviction. I pray that he brings you conviction. So I just want to pause again and just invite the Holy Spirit to come and meet us where we are.
Prayer: Dear father. Thank you so much for your faithfulness to us. Thank you for your word and for the examples in your word that we can model our lives after. Thank you for each woman in this room and the story that you’re writing about her. The testimony that each one has and I invite your Holy Spirit to come here. I pray that we would leave with increased faith and inspiration to follow you and to walk out the life of faith wherever you’ve called us in Jesus name. Amen.
We have two examples in Hebrews 11, maybe three, of women who were held up as an example of Faith. Sarah, Rahab, and then it says women received their dead raised to life again. So they’re not named but it’s interesting that it says the women received their dead raised to life, but I want to look at those two examples we’ve been given.
Rahab is mentioned. She’s the last person mentioned where it actually says what she did. It said that she received the spies in peace. And if you look back at that story in Genesis, she says to the spies. “I know that the Lord has given you the land.” It was life as usual in Jericho except that people were afraid of these Israelites, but she has so much peace and I thought how much that must have encouraged the spies that she said that to them. But she was a harlot and she’s held up as an example of faith for us so we can look at our past and think of our failures and things that we might be ashamed for anyone to know about but we can still be held up as an example of faith.
The other example is Sarah and Hebrews 11 says that Sarah judged him faithful who promised. I think that is so interesting. I just want to recap the story of Sarah for a little bit because when I read in Genesis, she doesn’t really seem like she had that strong of a faith. So let’s just look at that. So if you have your Bibles turn to Genesis 12 and Genesis 12 is where God called Abraham to go to the land that he would show him. He gives an amazing promise. “I will make you a great nation and I will bless you. I’ll make your name great and you will be a blessing I will bless those who bless you. Curse whoever curses you I will curse. All the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you.” Later in that chapter there’s a famine in the land so Abram goes down to Egypt and he says say you’re my sister and you know if this King took Sarah and she became pregnant, it wouldn’t even be Abraham’s child. So God just promised Abraham children and he gives his wife away. So how was that assault from Sarah’s perspective?
Skipping ahead to Genesis 15 and verse 3. Abram says, “Behold to me thou Hast given no seed. And behold the word of the Lord came unto him saying; this shall not be thine heir but he that hath come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.” So God wasn’t specific about who the mother would be you could say, but he said you’re going to be the father and you’re going to have so many descendants that they’ll be like the stars. And that’s where we have that beautiful verse. “He believed in the Lord and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
Okay, next chapter Genesis 16. Sarah has a great plan. God promised Abraham a lot of children, but it wasn’t working out for her. So let’s give him another hand give him the handmade and then I can have children through her. So it says that Abraham listened to the voice of his wife and Ishmael was born.
Next chapter of Genesis 17 the Lord appears to Abram again and says, “I am the almighty God, walk before me and be thou perfect.” Down to verse 17, “Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said in his heart. Shall the child be born unto him that is in hundred years old and shall Sarah that is 90 years old bear?
Okay go on to Genesis 18. Sarah laughed within herself saying, “After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure? My Lord being old also?” And the Lord said unto Abraham, “Wherefore did Sarah laugh saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child which I’m old? is anything too hard for the Lord? At that time appointed I will return unto thee according to the time of life and Sarah shall have a son. Then Sarah denied saying, “I laughed not.” for she was afraid and He said, “Nay but thou didst laugh.”
How are we doing on faith right now? How is her score? Genesis 20, “And Abraham said of Sarah his wife. ‘She is my sister.’” Now they’re in another country and they do the same thing again. She’s my sister. So now they’ve both been told she’s going to have a son she’s taken in by Abimelech and there again, she could have gotten pregnant by another man. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold thou art but a dead man for the woman which thou hast taken for she is a man’s wife.” And Abimelech reproves them and says, “Why did you do this to me?” Genesis 20 and he said unto Sarah. “Behold, I have given my brother a thousand pieces of silver. Behold he is to thee a covering of the eyes unto all that are with thee.”
All right next chapter Genesis 21. “The Lord visited Sarah as He had said and the Lord did unto Sarah as He had spoken.” And this is a little bit of a side light, but I want to show one more thing in Genesis 21 verse 10 when Sarah says to Abraham, “Cast out this bondwoman and her son, for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son even with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son. And God said unto Abraham- Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad and because of thy bondwoman. In all that Sarah hath said unto thee hearken unto her voice.” How would you like the Lord to speak that to your husband? And all that your wife has said; hearken unto her.”
So I just think it’s interesting a few chapters earlier Abraham got in a lot of trouble because he listened to the voice of his wife and here God tells him listen to your wife. So we really need the men to seek God and say do I listen to my wife or not. Sometimes we think of course, he should always do what I say, but that’s not the case.
All right. So Hebrews 11, here’s our verse. “Through faith Sarah also herself received strength to conceive seed and was delivered of a child when she was past age because she judged him faithful who had promised.” And what I want to point out about this is how gracious God was with Sarah’s seeming not very strong faith, but he was still gracious to her and Jesus said if we have faith the size of a mustard seed what all we can do. So even if you feel like your faith is not very strong, God is gracious with us. He has grace for us.
Okay in Enoch’s testimony. It says that his testimony was that he pleased God and I just want you to ask yourself if you are a woman that pleases God. It seems to me that I meet a lot of women who think that they are not pleasing God like they want to, but it’s almost like an insecurity that I cannot attain to that and then the very next verse says without faith it’s impossible to please God. So the inference is that with faith it is possible to please God and so I want to give the encouragement that we can live a life that’s pleasing to God even with our failures that God can be pleased with us and it’s not that it’s because we’re deserving necessarily, but God loves us because of His character. He loves us because of who He is not because of how deserving we are of it. And so to believe that I please God is not pride- that’s faith. That’s part of faith that says I can please God. He doesn’t give me an impossible standard.
Some women need to be told to tell their husband what they think and some women need to be told to stop telling their husband what they think. So depending where you’re coming at it from we maybe need a different message. And so I’m going to share with you out of my life and some of the things that I’ve learned, but it might not really resonate with where you’re at because of your different experiences. So I just want to give that disclaimer that I’m just one person’s experiences. Some people need to be warned about the fear and the terror of God and others need to be told about the grace and love that God has for us and we need both for a balanced message, but I am coming here today with the expectation that most of you here in this room desire to please God and so I’m going to be speaking more from the standpoint of God’s kindness and graciousness to us.
When in your life was your faith most tested? Are you facing a test now?
Faith is confidence. It’s belief. One opposite of faith is unbelief which is spoken about in Hebrews. Another opposite of faith is doubt and I think they’re a little different. When I’ve had unbelief in my own life it’s more stemmed from pride maybe and doubt has been more stemming from disappointment.
Hebrews 10 says, “Cast not away therefore your confidence which has great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience that after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise. For yet a little while and he that shall come will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith. But if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”
So I think we need faith in both the good times and the bad, and in our lives we experience good and bad. But the struggle for faith is different in the good times than in the bad times and I’m going to be mainly focusing on how do we think well about who God is in bad times when our faith is tested.
In my life, I faced two major crises of faith one when I was about 21 and one when I was about 30. Both of them I didn’t want to live. I guess you could say I was suicidal. We didn’t really have a plan, but I didn’t want to live and both of them were faith crises. In one of them my faith failed and in another one my face grew and so I want to kind of talk about those two experiences and maybe compare and contrast and look at the differences between those two.
When I was a child, I desire to do the will of God and invited Jesus into my heart and I had a sensitive conscience and I’m thankful for a mother who never turned me away. I know there’s some different beliefs about maybe how old a child can be converted and how to handle it if a child comes repentant, but one thing I’ve heard and I think it’s helpful is to just encourage the children to always say yes to Jesus that’s always a good answer to give them if they feel Jesus calling. Always say yes to Him. And even today sometimes I wrestle with conscience issues. Like am I making too big of a deal about this? I found for myself that sometimes the only way I can resolve it is to talk to someone else about it and they can give me perspective or help me with a way forward. And so I think a lot of times when things are hidden is where there’s a problem. So with the child to if they’re not sure just have them talked to you about it and maybe just that confession and that process of humility can be what’s needed.
I went to public school and when I was in the eighth grade, I was on the volleyball team and I ran track and I became closer to my friends there than I was to my church friends and I wanted to fit in and one thing I did to fit in was I saw people passing around their homework to be copied and I thought oh that will help me be more popular. So I participated in that and my father began questioning me about do the kids cheat at school and I didn’t deny it and he said, Well, you’re going to need to write a note to each of your teachers and explain to them to the best of your knowledge what you did and let them give you whatever grade they think would be right.”
And that was extremely hard for me. I was 13 years old and I thought it was more than I could bear but I mention that because I was taught very strongly that repentance means concession and restitution and I really value that.
A few months later. I was invited to a birthday party by another 8th grader and she had kind of ushered me into the popular crowd and their party was out in the barn. It was a slumber party and my father allowed me to go under the condition that if boys came and crashed the party or if alcohol was brought that I would call him immediately to come home and I had heard rumors of boys coming but I was sure that there wouldn’t be alcohol there and I wanted to go so bad that I was willing to risk that. So I agreed to those terms and about midnight both of those things happened. And this was before cell phones. I didn’t really feel like I could go into the house and use the phone, but I went out to the family van and spent the night there and the next morning when my dad picked me up. He asked me like so did the boys come to the party? And I said, “Yes.” And he said, “Did they bring alcohol?” And I said, “Yes.” He was not upset with me for not having called him. I explained what I had done, but he said I needed to let this girl’s parents know what happened and I said, “Please don’t because then I’m going to be the tattletale.” And he said, “Well, hopefully you could stay anonymous.” But it didn’t really work out because it was either between me and another girl and she denied it and I didn’t. So everyone knew it was me. And the reason I mention that story is because in Hebrews 11 it talks about how Moses identified with the people of God and even though at the time in my life it felt excruciating to me to have all of those friendships severed at school. I see it now as the goodness of God to basically pull me away from friendships that were leading me the wrong direction. So sometimes things happen in our life that seem really hard and difficult but God is using that for our good.
When I was 18, I struggled with- does God really exist? I had grown up believing and I’m not quite sure if everybody goes through this. I mean did you all go through that? Or is that just something that people who overthink things go through? I mean some people seem to have an easier journey to adulthood but I think some of us when we become a young adult and we’re differentiating from our parents. Like okay, this is what I was taught, but do I just believe this because this is the home I was raised in? And we seek and I was going on a three-week wilderness trip in Canada. And during that time I was really praying- Lord if you’re real like show me, like I want to know you personally. I want to serve you. And I really feel like my faith was strengthened that I came home with a renewed faith that yes, God does exist. But at the same time I had a pride in me that felt like God was fortunate that I was going to be serving Him. I was going to be a great useful tool in His kingdom and because of the talents I had. I knew that I shouldn’t feel that way. I tried to resist that thought but I couldn’t just from my own effort burn that off of me. And the Bible says that testing is like fire it purifies us. So some of the tests I went through I think was God being faithful to purge me of that pride that I couldn’t clean myself from it, but he could clean me from it.
Another part of faith is believing that God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. It’s one thing in our minds to believe God is love. I ask you- how many of you believe God is love? Go ahead and raise your hands. Okay, how many of you believes that God loves you? Okay, right. We all know that. How many of you feel it to be true in your heart? Like it goes down here. You feel that? Okay good. How many of you live out of that reality from day to day, the love of God? Yeah, the numbers do decrease a little bit, our hands don’t go up quite as high. But I think that’s what we can so often think. Oh of course God loves everyone else. He has a plan for them. The Bible’s true for them, but when it comes to ourselves, sometimes there’s a little disconnect there.
The first year I was out of high school, I went to Rosedale Bible College and I really struggled with surrender and these were just hypothetical things in the future, but I looked at Johnny Erickson and I thought if I was paralyzed from the neck down would I still praise God? What if God doesn’t want me to get married? My biggest ambition and dream in life was to get married. But what if that’s not God’s will for me will I still do His will? What if I can’t have children? Because I really wanted to have seven children was the number I’d settled on and what if that’s not God’s will? Would I rather do my will or God’s will? was basically the question.
And I found this poem by Betty Scott Stam and I wrote it down in my Bible and made it mine. It says, “Lord, I give up all my plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept thy will for my life. I give myself my life, my all, utterly to thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with thy Holy Spirit, use me as thou wilt, send me where thou wilt, work out thy whole will in my life at any cost now and forever.” And I signed my name and dated it and I have some papers on the back table with this prayer if anyone would like to take that along and make it yours. You’re welcome to those.
I really meant that and about the same time I had been dating a man that was a Christian and when we first started going out it was okay and my parents didn’t say much, but as we began to get more serious, my father became concerned because he was not as conservative and he was afraid that we’d get married and get liberal and he didn’t really want to see that. So he asked us to take six months off of no contact. And during that time, I would fast and jog and pray and got to the point where I was willing to do God’s will whatever it was if I just knew it was God’s will. George Mueller says that the first step in discovering God’s will is neutralizing your own and it doesn’t mean we don’t have desires but we have to want God’s will more than this other thing. And my tension was that I felt like I loved this man and I felt like he was a very Godly man. But I also really wanted my parent’s approval. I wanted my parents to be pleased which was a good thing, but then I thought- my dad’s not perfect. What if there’s someone God has for me that my dad doesn’t approve of. And so as I prayed about that I felt like the Lord showed me that it wasn’t that I had to live for my parents approval because we have that verse that we have to hate father, mother, sister, and brother, and our own lives also, compared to our love for Jesus. So we can’t just live for our parent”s approval. But then I felt like God was saying that he did have someone else for me. This was not the person that he had for me. And so then I was at peace with that.
Here’s a song I wrote during that time called “My Consecration.” Lord, I want to love you. Nothing else above you. From the crown of my head to the tips of my toes a temple for Your Spirit. I want to know You in all I go through. I want the life that your death won on Calvary. Son of man and Son of God let me walk the path You trod and with Thy grace, I’ll seek thy face. Lead me ever higher. Lord I want to serve you though I don’t deserve to. Oh, help me see how I can be a living sacrifice.
Do you think we deserve to serve God? We have that story in Luke where after they had done all they were commanded they said we are unworthy servants. God has made us worthy.
Around this time I received three letters one was from a woman who said she’d been to a Corral program and really appreciated it. The second was from a cousin who talked about the importance of parent’s blessing in choosing your lifetime spouse, and the third was from a young man who had been at a crawl program and asked me if I would be willing to write him because he wasn’t sure if we’d ever meet otherwise and I had not met him but I remembered meeting his mother because she was holding a baby in her arms and there was a man standing nearby with his back to us. And I said, oh is that your husband and she said that’s my oldest son. So when he wrote me, he said I’m the person that you thought was my mother’s husband or something. So I knew who he was, but I hadn’t met him and I agreed to write him. Our relationship was just perfect. This is a perfect dating relationship. I felt like I don’t want this person to really know me because if it’s not going to work out I’d want to know sooner rather than later. And so I was just myself completely and he seemed to like that and we discussed intellectual topics, but we also had fun together. H was a great singer. He was tall dark and handsome and athletic and everything that I wanted. And our parents both blessed the marriage and he was from a very conservative church- more conservative than my church was at the time and we were happily married and I vowed before God to stay faithful to this man as long as he lived no matter what the personal cost to me.
We moved to Virginia and he was in college at the time and he was going to Liberty University. And one of the required courses was on apologetics which seeks to explain logically why there’s a God. And when he took that class he felt like some of the questions that they were raising more valid questions, but the answers were unsatisfactory. And so he began thinking more about you know, how do we really know there is a God? He was 19 when we got married. I was 21. So he was young and he began then to look at his own life of- he got baptized, he joined the church and did all the things he was supposed to do, but then he thought if he’s really honest he doesn’t know if he’s ever experienced anything. So this was my first major test of faith because I had tried to do everything right that I was supposed to do. There’s that verse in Psalm 37:4, “Delight thyself also in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” And I had done my part. I had delighted myself in the Lord. But God wasn’t giving me the desires of my heart because the desire of my heart was a Christian husband, a husband that loves God. Now. I have a husband who says he doesn’t know if God exists. At first I cried out to God and I said, “Lord, please give my husband a road to Damascus experience.” You can do that for people. I didn’t feel like my husband was rebellious and just wanting to live in sin, but he was just being honest and I was like, “Lord, he’s an honest seeker. Show him the truth.”
But rather than feeling anything from God, I just felt silence. I felt like God wasn’t there at all and you know, they say if God’s not close to you guess who moved, and it’s all your fault. If you don’t feel close to God it’s your fault. I’m not sure if I always think that’s true because I think sometimes God does test us and it says about Hezekiah specifically that God left him to test him. So I don’t know how it works, but I’m just saying that when I sought God I felt silence from Him.
So that was not working. So I thought well, I’m supposed to be my husband’s help meet. So I’m gonna see if I can really understand what he’s going through. So I tried to understand what his thought processes were. What he was thinking. And that seemed to help our marriage. That improved our marriage we were closer.
So at that point I would say my faith failed. I decided that God had disappointed me. God had not been faithful to me. And so my life was going to be about at least having the best marriage that I could have and my husband said that well if there’s no God then why should we live a moral life? And so this opens up a lot of questions about how we should live and he said that he would have no moral reason to be faithful to me, but he wouldn’t want to hurt me and so he would be faithful to me just because he wouldn’t hurt me. That had to be good enough for me, but I felt like My love for God is what has defined me. This is who I am. This is what I’ve lived for. And so that’s why I went through that period of depression, of feeling suicidal and just like if there’s no God. I don’t want to live this life. But at the same time, time goes on I was going to work every day. I still had my routine and it became a new normal to live this way. And so we began to explore the world and the pleasures that it offers.
Intellectually, if you would have asked me if I was a Christian at that time, I probably would have said yes. There’s a “Christian” that means I believe in God, I believe Jesus is the son. Like a checklist. This is my world view. This is what I believe. And I did believe that because like the disciple said to whom else shall I go?
So I considered different worldviews. Okay. How about atheism? that didn’t make any sense to me how about Buddhism? or Hinduism? or other major world religions? I was like that’s no better. So I decided I would be a Christian in worldview, but God was not relevant in my life. So we left the Mennonite church. And I think people looking on thought we were getting liberal not realizing that there was much deeper things going on.
So at this time, I was offended at God. I questioned him in my pride of what he owed me. And one issue that my husband really fell on was pain. If God is good and all-powerful. Why does he allow suffering in the world? And I think it’s important that we understand pain and suffering because it can be really difficult. We can go through some really difficult things. And Jesus said, “Blessed is he that is not offended in me.” And so it’s something we have to be aware of, not taking offense at God. Difficult times will come and how we interpret these makes a difference as to whether our faith is strengthened or shattered. The purpose of the trial of our faith- much more precious than gold, is so God can find us ready.
We can ask for deliverance. But what is our response when told no? Like the child in the toy store when we questioned what spirit is it in. When we questioned him in our pain. Is it an angry how could you do this to me? Why God? Or is it like David crying out in the Psalms, “O Lord, why hast thou cast us off?” It’s a submission and humility.
So fast forward seven years. We had moved to a new area for my job. I became pregnant with our second child. My husband’s heart grew colder toward me and I felt that I was losing his love and I could tell by the way he spoke to a co-worker on the phone that there was chemistry there. I knew he had no moral reason to be faithful and even though I had felt like our love was invincible. Now I no longer sensed that. I had given up God for my husband. But now I was losing that. Could I find God again? If I gave up on his goodness when my husband apostatize could I find God good now? I really think that God was giving me a retest. I had signed this prayer that said Lord, I give myself to you at any cost, now and forever. And then a few years later I was an adulterous in spiritual terms. I was in adultery because I had promised myself to one husband- Christ and I made marriage my idol.
Hebrews 11:17 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was tried offered up Isaac and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.” So Abraham had received all these promises about his only begotten son and God asked him to give that up. And I feel like that’s what happened to me. God asked me to give my marriage up and the first test I failed.
When this retest came I was at a point of desperation. To me the choices were surrender or suicide. Either I do things a hundred percent God’s way or I’m done. I’d already been in the world and I knew that I wasn’t just going to try to get remarried and live that kind of life. I wasn’t interested in that. Second Kings 7 says, “There were four leprous men at the entering of the gate and they said one to another, ‘Why sit here until we die? If we say we will enter into the city then the famine is in the city and we shall die there and if we sit still here we die also. So now therefore come and let us fall into the host of the Syrians if they save us alive we shall live and if they kill us we shall but die.”
That was kind of the conditions upon which I came back to the Lord if I stay here I die. If I go there I die. But if I come back to the Lord, maybe just maybe it will all be true. Maybe the Bible is true.
I wanted to find a church. And so I went across the street. We were living in Northern Virginia and I walked in and immediately a teacher from my school recognized me and greeted me and they had a book study on The Purpose Driven Life and it was what I needed at that time because it starts out talking about the sovereignty of God and that God has planned our lives and at first I was very resistant to it. I felt like God doesn’t care if I wear black shoes or brown shoes and if he doesn’t care about that, maybe he doesn’t care if I’m a teacher or a nurse and if he doesn’t care about that, maybe he doesn’t care if I married this man or that man and if he’s that uninvolved and what good is he? I was just kind of cynical. But as I worked through that book my faith began to grow that no one can hinder what God wants to do in my life but me. Satan can’t hinder it. My husband can’t hinder it. You know, we have that verse in Romans 8 that talks about all these things that can’t conquer the love of Christ, but I can hinder God’s love if I resist him.
So I began to change the focus of my prayers from change my husband to change me. From if only he would accept the gospel all this would be solved to let my life demonstrate that the gospel is true and I felt like in order for my life to demonstrate that the gospel was true. God would have to give me the miraculous impossibility of joy. I felt like if this continues to go forward and my husband leaves me and we get divorced and he marries somebody else. Joy is something I can never have. I can maybe cope. I can may be managed but I can never have joy and so I prayed for that. There’s a poem I wrote- One man cast a thing aside. He didn’t want it though he tried. He wasn’t happy anymore just wasn’t who he’d been before. He didn’t like inflicting pain, that had never been the aim. But in his heart he felt a change and now his life must rearrange. You cannot be who you are not, some things can’t be found when thought and so there’s nothing left to do, but discard old and shop for new. She plead with him- love is before! but once you’re trash you’re heard no more. She begged and cried to be restored, but found her neediness abhorred. She now had more time on her hands. No intact home to make demands. She sought the face of God who hears the Christ with power over fears. Forsaken, Jesus took her up. Pouring joy into her cup with the love, which he can give there is now new life to live.
So I decided I’m going to surrender to the Lord. I’m going to do things a hundred percent His way. Whatever I see in the Bible I’m going to do it the best I can do it. At the time I was not wanting to live so if I give him all of our assets because we’re supposed to give to our enemy. If they ask for a coat give them our cloak or whatever. And give more than we’re asked for. So sure He can have whatever. I’m just going to try to do things God’s way and see if I can be the first person to discover that I trusted God too much. I didn’t know of anyone in history who had trusted God too much. I thought maybe I can be the first person. But yet I knew at the same time that that’s not going to be the case. If I do things a hundred percent how Jesus taught us. He’ll be faithful to me.
So we had our second baby. He was born in June and I have a picture back at the back table with the CDs and I’m sorry don’t have enough to give out but I’ll just leave that there so you can see my beautiful boys. They’re 18 and 16 now, but my parents came for the birth of our second son and they saw that I was depressed and invited me to come back to Ohio with them. I was working full-time through the summer, but I just thought I’ll take off work. And so I asked my husband if it would be all right, if I go back to Ohio with my parents and he said sure. So we went back and my parents were just trying to get me out of this oppressive situation.
I was so depressed and while I was up there, I read this book “Love Must Be Tough.” And I thought this is what’s lacking. I’ve just been a doormat not stood up for myself and ask for any respect. And so I need to put down some boundaries and some stipulations if he wants me to come back to Virginia. So I emailed him 4 things he needed to do if he wanted me to come back to Virginia and that made him angry and he said I said you could go to Ohio for a week, but now you’re saying that you’re not coming back and so you’ve kidnapped the children and I’m going to take you to court. So that seemed really intimidating but then a few days later he said he wasn’t ready to lose me yet and he was going to come back to Ohio and pick me up and bring me back home. And that was the first glimmer of hope that I had seen. So he came and picked us up and we were on our way back home and he’s like why did you take your wedding band off? I don’t know what I even answered him. He said he wanted me to wear it. So that was very hopeful too.
But when we were on the way back home, he said actually I’m not sure if I can agree to those four things. So I was back in Virginia now really the same place where we had started and when I had told my principal that I wasn’t coming back to work, that I was resigning. I basically told him that my marriage was falling apart and my heart was not in it anymore and I was resigning. So now I’m back in Virginia again, and I asked my husband. What do you want from me? And he said I just want you to work so that I can see the children. And I said well if they’ll still have me back at work and if the child care lady can still come and we had our house under contract to. I think I’m getting my timeline a little bit mixed up. But I said if the contract on the house falls through then I’ll be willing to go back to work. And so I called my principal and I said I’d like to come back to work and he said well, you said your heart’s not in it. Why would I want you there if your heart’s content? I said I know I said that but I’d like to come back anyway. So he said well, I’ve already made a fool of myself telling everyone that you resigned. So you’re going to be have to be the one to tell them that you’re coming back.
And so that was very humbling to me to get up in front of the school staff and explain that basically I’m a failure because my marriage failed. So all these things that happened. I see God working humility in me where I thought I was strong and having to humble myself and that was the ultimate breaking point when I was willing to go back to work. Because I had my heart set on- now I can just at least stay home with my children and to submit to my husband in going back to work when he didn’t love me and was not caring for my best interests was really hard, but I felt like God was asking me to submit to my husband as if God himself had asked me not because my husband deserved it, but because that was the toll through which God was going to teach me humility.
So I learned to really fear God during this time. What I mean by that is making all my decisions based on the fear of God. How am I going to answer to God for this on judgment day? Not how’s this psychology wise, How will this make my husband respond if I play distant? Will he want me more or if I use my tears will it break his heart? Trying to figure out a game plan. But just fearing God. What is the word of God telling me to do and just doing that the best I could.
Robinson Crusoe in that book it says, “Deliverance from sin is greater than the deliverance from affliction.” I really like that because I was praying and praying and praying for deliverance.
I know what happened with my timeline. So in June is when our son was born and I went to Ohio then I came back home again and two months later is when my husband moved out and that’s when all that happened when he moved out then I thought oh Gods doing this so that I can be a stay-at-home mom. He’s going to give me that desire of my heart. And so I was going to stay home and moved back down to Gladys where the cost of living was less. And that’s when he asked me to please stay in the areas that he could see the children and that was the final breaking point from me.
So I would cry out to God for deliverance from divorce, “Lord, please.” But in Hebrews 11, it says these wonderful miraculous deliverances, the walls of Jericho fell down, and they turn armies to flight, and all these wonderful things and then it says others were tortured, some were tormented and then it says, “of whom the world was not worthy” and then all these were commended for their faith. And so it was really encouraging to me that I didn’t know how my story was going to turn out. I didn’t know if God was going to deliver me from divorce or whether I would have to walk through that and live the rest of my life as a single mom. But no matter which path He chose. I could be commended for my faith if I had my trust in Him.
So I would go running in the morning, and I would cry and pray, and ask for wisdom and strength just for that day. I was back at work, my husband had moved out, I had two small children, and I didn’t want to live. So I thought about that verse, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” I thought to die is gain I agree with that. But to live is Christ, Lord teach me what that means. I’m still here so what does it mean for me to live for you? Now I’ve given up all my personal agenda. I’m not trying to control outcomes anymore. But one day I thought you know, I’ve been babbling this whole time to the Lord. I wonder if he would want to speak anything to me. So one day I stopped long enough to listen. I remember where I was and ask the Lord if he’d have anything to say to me.
And this came to my mind, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” I thought hmmm. I wonder if that’s a Bible verse it almost sounds I could be a Bible verse. And I looked it up and it is. It’s in Jeremiah and what a beautiful reassurance for God to give me in my pain.
One thing I had to try to do after being married for 10 years. I had tried to be the kind of wife that my husband wanted me to be. So I wanted to dress how he wanted me to dress and everything. That was my identity as I was his wife. If that’s no longer my identity then who am I? I tried to remember who I was before I got married and I thought well I used to love music. And so I sat down at the piano and I started playing and wrote prayers out of the anguish of my heart.
Here was one of them. “God grant me honesty. Lord, give me humility.” This is called the H prayer because each thing starts with H. “Lord increase my Hunger, help me thirst for Holiness. I long for Healing, I seek your Honor. How I want a pure clean Heart. My Hope is in Heaven.
And then another one- “Lord make me beautiful, beautiful to you.” My husband had always thought I was beautiful but my beauty was not enough to keep him and my prayer began to be that I would be beautiful to God. “Clothe me with a gentleness and quietness like You. I want to laugh at days to come because I’m trusting You. Clothe me in compassion and patience. That’s from you. Lord make me beautiful, beautiful to you. Clothed me with your righteousness, humility and You. I want to be as Sarah was obedient and true. Clothe me with the beauty that only comes from you.”
I felt so much regret because I was in anguish about my husband’s adultery, but then I realized I had been in spiritual adultery. How I felt about my husband was how God had felt about me having marriage as my first love above him. And when we have struggles of faith, sometimes it comes back to our own failure. We have that wonderful verse Romans 8:28. “For we know all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.”
My question is can we claim that verse if we have sinned? If I’ve sinned then can I claim that all things work together for good? Can God work that together for my good? What’s the worst thing that ever happened in human history? Jesus crucifixion, what’s the best thing that ever happened in human history? Same thing. So was it God’s will for Judas to betray Jesus? We’d have to say that wasn’t God’s will for Judas. But it was all part of his plan for Jesus. And so I feel like in the same way. It was not God’s will for my husband to divorce me, but it was all part of his plan from me because God is a God of redemption. He can take even my failures. This is amazing to me. If we repent he can take even my failures and redeem it.
Second Corinthians 7:10 says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to Salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” and I think of worldly sorrow as Cain- my punishment is more than I can bear. We’re sorry for the punishment, but Godly sorrow is being sorry for our sin and I was like Lord, I know that I was in spiritual adultery, and I know that I’ve failed you, but please not divorce. Like I know that you hate divorce. So please not that and I felt like God was testing me. Am I sorry for my sin or sorry for my punishment? Am I just sorry because this bad thing is happening or am really sorry that I grieved him. And I said, “Lord, I want to be sorry for my sin.” And he said then accept the chastening because chastening, you know, we think that no chastening for the present seems joyous, right? But it’s a word of encouragement that we’re addressed as sons and if we’re really sorry with a Godly sorrow, then there’s a sweetness there because Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” If any of you have a child who disobeys and you give them a spanking and they come back for a hug and they’re so sorry and they’re crying and they want a hug. Will you say I’m not giving you a hug. You just disobeyed me. No, you’re going to welcome that child back. You’re going to have a soft heart for them and comfort them in their mourning and I often thought of that verse as I if I’m mourning somebody’s death or whatever. But I think it kind of applies to us mourning for our own sins. If you’re mourning for your sin, then we can be comforted.
So, the accuser comes to us. And another thing He said to me was all of the things I had done wrong. Like this is all your fault because you’ve done all this list of things wrong. You went out into the world and you are this and that and listed my sins for me. And the thing about the accuser is he’s usually telling the truth. He knows our weakness and he’s saying things that are true, but Luke 7:47 says, here Jesus said, “She who has been forgiven much loves much.” That was so encouraging to me that when the accuser would come with everything I had done wrong. I could say you’re right. That has just increased my capacity to love God more.
What I want to encourage you with is as we face pain in our lives we resist pain we think of pain as the enemy, but pain is kind of the cross. The cross symbolizes pain to be able to accept that. Romans 8:28 says he works all things together for good. But then Romans 8:29 says to be conformed to the image of His Son. So part of my faith journey was changing my definition that good is becoming like Jesus and if I become like Jesus then God has worked things together for my good.
Let my prayer be not to be delivered, but let my concern be for Your name, that Your name be glorified. Lord glorify your name through me. Let my goal be not for comfort. But let my Pursuit be to be conformed to the image of your son, the lightness of your Holy Son. I am ready for the rapture Lord, but am I ready for the tribulation? Give me strength for whatever I face. I am ready Lord to die for you. But am I ready to take my cross and to live for you, following you. No one can hinder what You plan to do in my life, but me. Heaven is my home and this life is more than what I can see. Let my aim be not the taste of pleasure. But let my desire be to be filled with the spirit of love, of power, and of self-discipline. Let my request be to know Christ and to know the power of His resurrection and to know the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings. Let Your name be glorified through me.
Hebrews 12 says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross despising the shame.” What was that joy that was set before Jesus? It says He endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. What was that joy? I always thought it was that he was going to be King. He was going to reign. Come in splendor and majesty, but I was at a little home meeting one day and the man was preaching on this and he said the joy that was set before Jesus was you. You’re the joy that was set before Jesus and I thought wow that’s so amazing that to think of Jesus enduring the cross for the joy of me. And that’s what it says in Jude that He will present us with great joy.
So let us all be found faithful and feel free to take a CD and one of those little prayers if you would like on your way out. I have four different CDs so maybe just take one to begin with and then if there’s more left feel free to keep taking them until they’re all gone.
Thank you Wendy for sharing from your own experience and your walk of faith. Several things stood out to me. Do I please God? Can I please God? But faith is believing that it is possible to live a life pleasing to God. And of course the idea that God is working things for our good. And that good is to be conformed to the image of His Son that gives us courage and a stronger faith to keep holding onto Him when the times are hard. We’re going to open it up. We have a bit of time for question and answer or comments. We have a portable mic. So if you are if you have a question, just raise your hand and we’ll have someone come to give it to you. We’ll just open it for any comments or questions that you would have at this time. Is there someone? How did this speak to you?
Question: Maybe there just wasn’t time. But you mentioned there was another faith crisis at 30 and how did you face that differently than the one when you were younger. So is there time to elaborate on that?
Answer: Okay, so my first faith crisis was when I was 22 and my husband no longer believed in God and I questioned God in anger and pride and how could you do this to me? And then the second crisis of faith was when my husband was leaving me and I no longer questioned God in pride but in brokenness. I came to God with brokenness. Lord, Thy will be done. Father, glorify Thy name rather than praying for this outcome. Just praying that God’s name be glorified. He called me one day and said that he didn’t want me to hear it from someone else first that he was dating and so he just want to let me know that and so when we got off the phone, I just kind of crumbled in a corner and just cried out to God and it just felt so different. I knew that God was there with me and that whatever was going to happen that he was going to see me through. Job didn’t accuse God of wrongdoing and you know, we’re told tell God what you think because he knows it anyway, but the caution I have with that is when you tell God how you’re feeling to make sure that it’s in humility and not in pride.
I had something else to share. I just wanted to bless you for the radiance of Jesus that I see in your life and that through those trials that instead of making you bitter or angry that you just like let the joy of the Lord flow through you and so I just really want to bless you for that and want to just encourage you to continue on and to let His light shine through you. Thank you so much for your story.
Those words of blessing are so appreciated. Thank you. But I also want you to know that this is God. He hasn’t done anything for me that He won’t do for all of us. It’s just I want His name to be magnified because it’s Him. And I have a long way to grow in some other areas that I didn’t share today.
All right. Thank you ladies for your attentiveness. Thank you Wendy for sharing. I think each of us are given so much to think about and to put into practice in our own lives. We each have our faith journey, and it’s different from each other, but we can learn so that we don’t all have to make the same mistakes. We can learn from each other because that’s how God designed it in the body of Christ when we are sisters together.