The setting sun against the backdrop of devastation gave us some relief from the scorching heat of late July in Oklahoma. I was sitting on the hard ground, colorful markers in hand, decorating a tiny wooden change box in memory of a joyful and generous little boy named Nic, whose life had tragically been cut short when a tornado hit his elementary school. I listened intently as I worked alongside new friends, feeling a childlike awe as I heard personal testimonies of so many victims who had experienced the grace of a God who carried them through the unthinkable. Wasn’t I the one who should have been ministering ?
A year ago, I took what appeared to be a random, spur of the moment trip to come alongside the people of Moore , Oklahoma, whose lives had been torn apart when their town was ravaged by devastating tornadoes in April of 2013. I kept wanting to share with you the experience..but the timing never seemed right … And now I know why. God had more to write with this story.
There was one woman, one survivor, in particular I felt drawn to. I’m not sure what it was …. She in no way attempted to draw attention to herself , she went about her business chatting with her kids and encouraging the other speakers as she listened in. After her husband spoke it was her turn at the mic. Her voice was soft but her faith in The Lord’s plan captivated the audience. What drew me in was the willingness with which she shared her once broken heart . Her story ran much deeper than the devastation of the storms that day in April …She shared about a once raw wound in her own heart that had brought her shame and guilt for many years. Her journey to healing included listening to the Holy Spirit as He prompted her to write a book about finding love and forgiveness in Jesus.
I wanted more .
I could feel the presence of the Father’s heart …and could see it was bringing strength through the broken pieces.
As the evening progressed and twilight came upon us, people mingled ….and along with a few other women I had met only the day before, I had a chance to chat with this wonderful woman. We peppered her with questions …. Young women seeking wisdom of a someone who had gone through so much.
Then, in a moment of vulnerability, a tear slipped down her cheek. She confessed that the enemy had been feeding her lies only moments before…lies about her value and worth in Christ.
There was silence. We had all been there…hearing the voice of the enemy cunningly tear us down where our Father wants to build.But was it possible that this woman who spoke with the strength and courage of a Ruth or an Esther….could also struggle?
She was real …and stunningly beautiful.
The quiet calm of silence that had fallen upon our group was interrupted as one of the girls whispered….Can we pray for you?
Silently we reached our hands out and intertwined our fingers with one another. Strangers only a day before …we were united in Christ….seeking to minister to one of our dear sisters. My heart was pounding as words tumbled from our lips.
I wanted it to last forever . But as we finished, she whispered a quiet thank-you, and we all wiped away the tears that had gathered on our flushed cheeks.
The girls and I walked away in wonder filled silence. I knew my life was forever changed.
I have come to understand that this is what will bring me the fullness of joy. More than anything, I want to be a part of building His Kingdom by seeing women united in Christ minister to one another .
I read a book recently that challenged me think of what my dream would be if there was nothing holding me back….no obstacles getting in the way….to write it down…and then go do it.
So here it is : what I want most. I long to see women who on the outside may have nothing in common come together and seek intimacy first with Him …. Allowing Him to heal their hearts …. And then with one another….creating space for our sisters to grow and thrive.
And when I get to heaven…. I want those worshipping, singing and dancing with Jesus alongside me…to be the ones that the world wrote off. The ones who by the world’s standards…would be seen as unworthy…unlovable and not worth pursuing.
Because that is how I once felt…..but His grace is sufficient for me.
I have struggled with seeking affirmation and acceptance in the form of unhealthy relationships for much of my life…and I have tried to hide my wounds in an effort to protect my heart .
As I learn to walk more deeply in His love…. I will not be afraid to let my scars tell their story . And as I journey closer to my Heavenly Father …I want to reach out my hands to those beautiful girls and women that have been passed over ….help them to their feet, and walk with them to glory, one step at a time.
God is so gracious and has led me to my dream. In just a few days I will be leaving for Nairobi Kenya…. And He has now shown me what is after Africa .
Please see part two of this post to learn what is after Africa!!