Have you ever looked at that lady on social media or the one speaking at a retreat or ladies conference and thought that they must truly have “it all together"?
I had gone to a ladies retreat 5 years ago. The speaker was sharing how she studied the Bible. She had all these books lined up. She talked about spending hours studying; she had notebooks organized that she had kept for years...everything was color coded by promise and truths of God. It was truly incredible and she really did that...I know that dear lady personally.
However, I walked out to the woods and cried. Everything she said was so overwhelming. I wanted that kind of quietness spent with God; a relationship with Him like she seemed to have...real time spent with Jesus. I was overwhelmed, because if that was what I had to do, then it was impossible: at the time, I had 9 children, 6 months to 17 years old and I was homeschooling 8 of them. I walked away defeated...
"The beauty of Jesus's amazing saving grace is magnified
As ministry wives or any woman in ministry, we have an interesting place in the church...we don’t have a position, but we do. Many times in ministry we feel like we are to look strong for people or maybe even show perfection…when in reality, we should show our weaknesses because doing so shows how truly strong our Savior is and how great HIS grace is. I have been very burdened recently to be careful that I do not teach or put up a facade as if I have the perfect home, the perfect marriage, or the perfect family.
If any of us is to be accepted by God, it will be because of HIS Grace—not because of anything we have done. Many times in the Bible, God chose people who were undeserving. Most were obvious sinners in need of God’s Grace, yet God chose to use them for His glory.
If Christ is in me, (the Gospel) God has made me perfect positionally in His sight. Because of that position in Christ, I can be justified (just as if I had never sinned).
Because the Bible does not teach us how to clean ourselves up to be good, I have to be careful to remember that the gospel is not a message of how to improve myself. In fact, it tells me the opposite: “no one is good, no, not one.” Actually, God’s Word tells us there is only one way to God and it has nothing to do with my attempts at goodness. Only Jesus alone can rescue me from my sin.
If I truly believe that “Jesus’s power is made perfect in my weakness” then out of my failures and my weaknesses the beauty of Jesus amazing rescuing grace is magnified when I model my obvious weaknesses.
We have a “Good News” message of weak people with a strong God. I need to model that complete dependence on Jesus in the midst of my weaknesses, struggles, and unanswered questions. When I am real and allow the good news of Jesus Christ to be seen through my life...Jesus’ grace and power in seen in and through me.
Fast forward to 3 years later. We had added the 10th baby into our home. I was at my lowest point physically and spiritually. Because I was in such a dark place physically, I faced a silent battle that I shared with no one. Why? Well, I was not sure who to turn too. Of course, I did not want to be seen as less than spiritual (I really thought that) and in need...I was the wife of the Pastor.
I hit a wall. I did not leave my room and I cried a lot, My girls took care of my baby and the rest of my children. I felt so alone and defeated. I did not go to church (my excuse was I had just had a baby). My husband would come into my room and tell me that I had to just trust the Lord. I had no idea what that even looked like, so I confessed to my poor husband, “What does that even mean?” Jesus looked and felt very far away...
In the mean time, I was somehow accidentally invited to a ministry wives retreat not far from my home. I guess you could say that this group was not in my “circle”. :)
The Lord orchestrated me to go. I cried most of the way there, but somehow my husband knew I needed to be at this retreat, so he sent me. It was a 3 day event and I was quiet during the first two days, just watching and listening. Several times throughout the 3 days, there was a sharing/testimony/prayer time. I listened to those ladies share their failures, hopes, struggles...there was not any condemnation. As the needs were shared, two other ladies would take those needs to Jesus in prayer, right then. I had never been to such a prayer meeting. The modeling of their faith, dependence, transparency, hurts, and struggles soothed my empty heart.
I was the last one to try to share. As I opened my mouth to speak, the only thing that came out were silent sobs. I truly had nothing to share but two dear Godly ladies stood, touched my shoulder, and prayed for me. That day, my broken heart began to slowly heal. WHY? I saw that I was not alone in my struggles as a ministry wife. God brought me to a point of complete and utter dependance on Him and Him only. I saw the Grace of Jesus reflected in the life of those ladies.
Those ladies modeled their weakness and as they did, Jesus and His Grace was magnified.
Listen to what Jesus said again...“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power (might, marvelous works) is made perfect (accomplished) in (Your) weakness. (want of strength, weakness, illness, suffering, calamity, frailty.”
Because Jesus told Paul that His power is accomplished in Paul's weakness, Paul says “I will lift up all the more gladly of my weaknesses (want of strength, weakness, illness, suffering, calamity, frailty) , so that the marvelous works of Jesus Christ may rest upon Him. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
We have a Gospel message of weak people with a strong God. I can model a dependence on Jesus in the middle of my weaknesses, struggles, and unanswered questions.The beauty of Jesus amazing saving grace is magnified when I model my weakness to those around me.
When I am real and transparent with my needs, I allow the gospel of God's grace to be seen through my life. Jesus' grace and power in seen in and through me.
I am trying to become that kind of woman...It is a process, but my prayer is that I will always model the Grace of Jesus.That’s why when I fall, when I blow it, when I get discouraged, I can (through the power of the Spirit), get up and continue on by God’s grace.
Look at what this Proverb says about getting up and continuing on after I fail so miserably: for the righteous falls seven times and rises again” (Prov. 24:16).
There’s growth involved here, and that’s okay. That’s true for Every. Single. Godly. Honest. Woman. You think of the most Godly woman you know, and if she is honest, she considers herself still very much growing everyday in God’s grace. She is still learning, still developing, still falling, and still getting back up.
"...He who began a good work in you will perform (will bring it to completion) until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6)
Six months past. My physical and spiritual life began to return to a new normal. Because everything in my life at that time was so overwhelming, I was encouraged to read just one verse of scripture or sentence, put it into my own words, and write down an “I will statement." That was small...I could do that.
Everyday I would go to the Word verse by verse, sentence by sentence. Every. Day. Three years have past. I have slowly read I Peter, II Peter, I Timothy, II Timothy, I John and have taken them apart verse by verse….Oh how the Words of God have literally been living water infusing new life into my heart!
My enthusiasm for Jesus and His Word AND my utter failure in spending a close fellowship with Jesus on a consistent daily basis throughout the years has become my message to the ladies around me. Jesus slowly healed my body and heart...but as Jesus was healing by heart...He was revealing His power to the ladies around me.
I started to realize that my weaknesses and failures and God’s Grace in my life was the way to live out Jesus and His Grace or I could say, live out the “Beauty of the Gospel”. This truly is the reality of the beauty of Jesus and His amazing power to rescue me from my sin, so I can live in that Grace.
Now...I need Jesus. Ever. Single. Day.
It is okay to reveal the weakness we have as people. Nancy Lee DeMoss Wolgemuth said it best, “True mentoring is modeling weakness."
It is in our weaknesses that we are forced to seek God's help. Our weaknesses forces us to trust God in a deeper way than we ever have before or would have if we did not have that "weakness".
I sometimes look at the battles of sin in my own life and think, "How can God use me to make a difference in anyone's life" when I am such a sinner myself. :)
As much as I would love a life free of problems, I should not be craving or wishing for a life free from weakness, but rather I should pursue a God-dependent life within my weakness. A life with problems may not be what I want, but it may be what I truly need.
The great goal and purpose of living in God's grace is “that in everything I will adorn (make compellingly attractive) the doctrine of God our Savior.” I am to make compellingly attractive the gospel, to display the gospel's beauty and to reveal how it makes a difference in my life. This passage tells us very specifically what it looks like to be a Gospel living woman. It also tells us why we must do this: “that the word of God be not blasphemed."
“When older women and younger women support each other in living out God’s transforming love, the entire body of Christ—the bride of Christ—grows more beautiful.” Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth “The more I see my sin, my weakness, my need before Christ...the more I see the beauty of God's amazing Grace. The beauty of the Gospel.”
But I don't always live that way: I can so get tired, frustrated, annoyed, busy, fearful, upset, impatient…I sin. I forget about the beauty of sitting at the feet of Jesus.
What does it look like to Live in God’s Grace?
Again, sometimes I look at my frustration and my personal struggle with sin in my own life and I think, "How can God use me to make a difference in anyone's life when I am such a sinner myself”?
–-Living out God’s Grace when I still struggle with my sin
Recently, I had to text another pastor’s wife and apologize for a sin I had committed against her...it is being humble. Oh, how I cried afterword because yes, it’s embarrassing to admit sin, yet, I also cried because God’s Grace is so evident when forgiveness is freely offered…not only from God, but from that dear lady.
–-Living out God’s Grace when I still get upset with my husband
It is saying to my poor husband when he gets the brunt of my frustrations, "I’m sorry, will you please forgive me? I will try not to do it again. What can I do to make it right?" And it is sharing God’s amazing grace in my response to the conviction of my sin…and how God helped me make it right.
–-Living out God’s Grace when I get so full of anxiety and fear
I so easily lose sight of the Lord and fail to completely trust Him, Am I still willing to share how I learned about Jesus in my journey of learning to trust Him more...?
Let me give you an example of my own weakness: Fear and anxiety has been a real struggle for me these last 7 weeks. I somehow contracted scabies and my world spiraled down in fear. I would pray and put it in God’s hands...and then I would immediately take it back. It was such a battle. On one of the harder days, I went to Psalm 91 and spent time in the comfort of this passage:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday (Psalm 91:1-6).
From my journal, dated 9-24-2017:
“This has real meaning for me today. I am so very very afraid and scared. I'm doing all I can physically not to touch my family and not to spread this. Everyday, I wash or dry every piece of bedding, pillows, towels, clothes,...I bathe in Epsom salts and tea tree oil every night. I've been creamed with the permethrin 5% that's supposed to kill the mites. I will re-treat myself and the entire family with the cream again tomorrow. I am going to the docter to get an oral medication as well.
Yesterday, I cried and told the Lord, "You calmed the storm, you healed people, you had compassion on the crowd…please, please, heal me, help me to trust that you are teaching me through this... but more so that I will put my faith into action." To be honest it's so hard. One moment I am picturing myself trusting Jesus...then fear takes over and I literally am paralyzed with fear that I will not do enough to kill these invisible bugs. The anxiety fills be up and paralyzes my thinking.
Oh, Jesus, "I WILL say of the Lord: He is my refuge, my fortress (protection) MY God. In God WILL I trust. I will not be afraid of the pestilence that walks in the dark. (Bugs I can not see). He will deliver me from the perilous/deadly pestilence (invisible bugs).
I have now healed and I am on the other side of that extremely difficult 4 weeks. Although I did not handle that situation as “spiritually” as I should have (ask my poor husband)...God’s Grace was so evident. I can not be afraid to share how I struggled with complete trust, yet still saw God fill up my life with His grace despite my lack of faith.
–-Living out God’s Grace when I still lose my patience with my children
I am willing to acknowledge my sin to my children, looking them in the eye and completely taking full responsibly for my sin, and genuinely asking them to forgive me. God’s Grace in that child is magnified in my modeling weakness.
I have had to do this so many times after I lose patience with one of my children. The tears are streaming down their cheeks because of me...how horrible is that! Even when THEY are the ones that may have provoked my impatience, I am the mature one who RESPONDED wrong. So many times, I have had to go to them and humbly ask them to forgive me. How can that child ever be expected to see humility if I don’t model it when I sin?
–-I need to live out God's Grace every single day…in every single thought and action
I can help my children and all those around me by letting them see my weakness: see where I fail, see how I did or did not have a complete trust and dependence on God. My children especially need to see me live in weakness and dependence...so they know what it looks like to live in dependence on God’s power.
When David committed such horrendous sin by murdering, committing adultery, hiding his sin...when he confessed and repented, in his prayer he said this in Psalm 51:13, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you."
Now the entire world knows about his sin and failures. And the entire world can learn from it...AND see God's Grace in his life. How many sinners have been helped by David’s testimony?
“Whenever God’s word has sustained me in weakness and given me much needed direction and whenever I have consequences of FAILING to Obey His Word ---there is a story to share.” Nancy Lee Wolgemuth .
I should not be be afraid to be transparent and show others what God has taught us when I messed up. I need to remember to teach from the wrong choices I make as well as the right choices.
This is the same with my children. Oh, that I would show them a mama who needs Jesus when I mess up! May I stay humble...be able to admit my sin to my children and ask them to forgive me. If I can't model humility, how can I expect them to do the same?
Some day when I get to heaven, I will receive a new body free from sin...but until then... I model God’s Grace so other women can clearly see Jesus' "power...made perfect in my weakness" and in my weakness the beautiful compelling Grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is modeled.
And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. - 1 John 2:28-29
Recently, I sinned against someone. I had to apologize and make it right. I wrestled with myself for one night over my pride. Sometimes making things right can be extremely hard to do because it is humbling.
The next morning I confessed my sin, asked her to forgive me, and pleaded for restoration. Afterward, I was given such sweet forgiveness and grace and the relationship was restored between us. More importantly, however, my relationship was restored between me and Jesus, the one who rescued me from my sin...the one that I truly want to please and serve.
Today, I came to this verse in my Bible reading: And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.
Oh, how I need to stay or remain in Jesus, so that when He comes back, I can have confidence and be open, not be ashamed or shrink away from Jesus! Because Jesus is Righteous, everyone that is born of Jesus will practice righteousness.
I must stay as close to Jesus as possible. I urgently need to fill myself up or be completely IN Jesus all the time. I do not want to be afraid to meet Jesus when he returns because I have continued in my sin. Because I am in Jesus family and He bought me and adopted me into his family, I ought to everyday strive to practice righteousness. I need to always make sure there is no sin between my soul and Jesus, the one who rescued me.
If I am righteous, doing what is right toward God and toward people, to my family, to my neighbors, to the world, to Jesus who rescued me, who died for me, then I am a true Christian; and then, no matter how soon Jesus will return, or how scary the end the world will be, I WILL NOT shrink away or be afraid of Jesus return, because I will REJOICE that He rescued me and REJOICE that the time has come that I can go and live with Jesus forever.
As I was wring these thoughts in my Journal, I was reminded of the old Hymn by Charles A. Tindley a Preacher who was said to be the father of African American Hymnody, “Nothing Between” was written around 1906 during a difficult time in Tindley’s life, when the congregation was negotiating to purchase a larger facility.
Nothing Between My Soul and the Savior
Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
Naught of this world’s delusive dream;
I have renounced all sinful pleasure;
Jesus is mine, there’s nothing between.
Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
So that His blessed face may be seen;
Nothing preventing the least of His favor,
Keep the way clear! Let nothing between.
Nothing between, like worldly pleasure;
Habits of life, though harmless they seem,
Must not my heart from Him e’er sever;
He is my all, there’s nothing between.
Nothing between, like pride or station;
Self-life or friends shall not intervene;
Though it may cost me much tribulation,
I am resolved; there’s nothing between.
Nothing between, e’en many hard trials,
Though the whole world against me convene;
Watching with prayer and much self-denial,
I’ll triumph at last, with nothing between.
Do you have anything between you and Jesus? It's a beautiful thing to wake up in the morning and know that all is well between Jesus and me!
God reached down in love and rescued Cassandra from her sin at the age of 21: changing her life, purpose, and focus forever.