In the quiet of an early morning shower last March, I felt God strongly urging me to tell His stories in a new book. He clearly wanted me to write the testimonies of average people. Testimonies that would highlight His power and His faithfulness. Testimonies that show how, although Satan intended to harm us, God took our messy stories and made them beautiful.
The last time God put a book idea in my mind, I let it sit and barely worked on it for almost 2 years. He finally sidelined me with ankle surgery, and when I was required to be home for 3 weeks, I got serious about finishing Praying with Power.
I know that delayed obedience is disobedience, so I quickly started writing!
The ideas didn’t flow, however, and I found myself struggling to put words on the paper. It had to be part of God’s plan, because instead of just writing, I spent hours upon hours researching. I poured over the Bible, and I spent days reading a textbook used in many Seminary schools entitled Systematic Theology. God wasn’t just preparing me to write a new book, He was preparing me for a new mission.
It was during this time, about a month before I went to the writing conference in North Carolina, that I was asked by my church to consider taking on a new ministry. I laughed out loud when I read the description in a message of what they wanted me to consider doing: the position would be a “Storyteller.” I would be responsible for curating the testimonies of members of our congregation, and then publishing them in writing or through videos.
I hear you, Lord. You want me to help people share their testimonies.
I’ll begin immediately.
I was finally able to get my thoughts down in an organized manner, and was able to have my book proposal ready to pitch at the writing conference. I met with two different publishing houses, and although it doesn’t appear either is interested in publishing my book, I feel like what I have written so far is what God wants me to write.
Here is the beginning of my new book…
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1: 2-4.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a single time in my life when I’ve been in the middle of a hard season that I’ve thought, “This is true JOY!” I wasn’t rejoicing in the midst of the years of physical and verbal abuse I endured at the hands of an alcoholic father. Nor do I remember being particularly pleased when I was 15 and my dad committed suicide.
No, there was no happiness in struggling with infertility, or in the miscarriage of our first child. And there was nothing but stress when our triplets were born 9 ½ weeks premature.
Looking back on it now, however, I would not change one single thing.
I wasn’t the same person coming out of those seasons, as I was going in to them. Each trial, each heartbreak, each loss, in fact, brought me closer and closer to God. Without a doubt I am a stronger, more faithful Christian, and a better human being as a result of the painful experiences of my past.
The idea that trials are necessary is a concept with which many people struggle. I distinctly remember a conversation I had with a friend who was questioning her faith in God. She too had been abused as a child. As an adult, her older brother was killed in a motorcycle accident. “If there really is a loving God, then why would he allow all of these bad things to happen?”
It is most definitely a hard question to answer, and honestly, I don’t think we always know. Since she is an amazing mother, I related my answer to her in those terms.
“When your girls were little, were their best lessons learned when everything was perfect or when there were challenges or mistakes made?”
She answered quickly, “They learned the most through the hard times.”
“Well,” I continued, “since God is our Father, it would make sense that we too would learn and grow through difficulties. God never promises us an easy life. He wants us to rely on Him, and to grow to be more like Christ in our actions.”
Growing in maturity as a Christian is a continual process that only stops the day we pass from this earth and our spirits join God in heaven. Theologists refer to it as “sanctification:” which simply means we grow to be more and more like Christ.
The process is necessary, and God compares it to the refining of precious metals:
“In the whole land,” declares the Lord, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say “They are my people,” and they will say, “The Lord is our God.” Zechariah 13: 8-9.
In Biblical times metallurgists used a very specific procedure to separate metals from their ores. While the process of extracting precious metals is highly scientific, it includes a few basic steps: find the ore and pulverize it, heat it to the melting point, skim off the impurities, let the metal cool, and then complete the process again. When the metallurgist could clearly see his reflection in the precious metal, the metal is then said to be pure and perfect.
And that is the exact same thing that happens to us.
What do you think? I would love any feedback or ideas that you might have! Feel free to email me at email@example.com.