Originally published Tuesday, 11 April 2017.
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to encourage a group of women on the topic of being kingdom builders and how it relates to purpose. God etched the word purpose on my heart two years ago. I’m thinking He did it because I often need reminded of mine. As I prepared for my talk, the Lord brought back to my memory a spring day in 1980-something. Like most days, after school, I boarded my big, yellow bus home. As it approached my stop, I stood up to make my exit. I remember wearing an acid washed Guess jean jacket. Yes, I said acid washed. I loved that jacket – the way I used to wear it with the collar popped up. It made me feel good. As I walked off the bus, my foot somehow missed the bottom step causing me to land flat on my back in the middle of the road. It only took a fraction of a second for the eruption of laughter to pour out from inside the bus. I have to admit, It was funny.
As I stood up to begin my walk home, I noticed the pain in my elbow. I instantly worried that I ripped my expensive jean jacket. I checked immediately, breathing a sigh of relief that it was still in perfect condition. When I arrived home, I took off the jacket to inspect my aching elbow. As soon as I removed it, I noticed a huge rip in my blouse and a nasty brush burn on my skin. I remember being dumbfounded as to how my jacket stayed perfectly intact, yet I had rips and wounds underneath.
As I prepared to speak last weekend, the Lord brought back that moment to my mind showing me that as women we serve as wives, mothers, daughters, granddaughters, sisters, nieces, cousins, friends, coworkers, volunteers, and the list goes on… We find ourselves working to make every area of our lives appear as perfect as possible. We “wear our jackets” to look the part. And then at the end of a long day, when no one is around, we “take our jackets off.” Underneath are rips and wounds that we haven’t shared with anyone. We are in desperate need of repair, but we won’t allow anyone but God to know. And, we often lament to Him that until the healing process is finished, we won’t be any good at kingdom building.
Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic priest and theologian wrote about primary and secondary causation. To break just a small section of this theology down into very simple terms, it means God is first. He is uncreated and creates everyone. Secondary causation says that He uses those whom He has created to accomplish his will and purpose on earth. We are His hands and feet.
While living through infertility, miscarriage, and stillbirth, I didn’t think I could be used. I was broken. And at the time I didn’t have a miracle ending. The last thing I wanted anyone to know was that I was struggling with an inner pain so deep it threatened to destroy the call of God on my life. After losing my daughter, I understood it was possible to die from a broken heart. It wasn’t until God showed me His power is made perfect in weakness, that I was able to “take off my jacket” and show people my wounds. I found a promise of scripture in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that unleashed a powerful truth stating that my responsibility in kingdom building has nothing to do with my state of wholeness. It’s about His filling of my holes along the way, and how He works repairing the broken pieces as I do the work He’s called me to do.
I had to rise up in the middle of my wounds, before the healing took place.
You need to rise up in the middle of your wounds before the healing takes place!
Nehemiah said, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (See Nehemiah 8:10) It doesn’t matter the situation, or our interpretation of it. It doesn’t matter whether we are happy, sad, or somewhere in between. It isn’t about our joy. It’s about His joy, and we will draw our strength from Him.
I often lie awake thinking about the moment in the Garden of Eden when Eve took that first bite. (See Genesis 3) It was all about what she wanted, what she felt she needed. Selfishness always leads to sin. If we aren’t careful, we will cover up our wounds in an attempt to be what we want and rob ourselves from the blessing of being what someone else needs from us. Selfishness will impede our relationships and we will be manipulated, just like Eve, into thinking we are justified in our choices because we’re broken and broken people can’t be used. Lies, lies, all lies.
Though my trials and tribulations are far different now than they once were, I still have them. As long as we are walking this earth, we will deal with difficulty. There are days I need reminded to “take off my jacket.” None of us are perfect; we all have wounds underneath and we must remember that God chooses to use us in the midst of them. It’s deep inside the core of what pains us most where He reaches in and draws us out – out to encourage a friend, out to visit a neighbor, out to be an example to our children, and out to be the partner our spouses need.
Kingdom builders are often broken people who make a choice each day to allow God to bind their wounds. Doesn’t that make you want to exhale? We don’t have to be perfect to accomplish our purpose. We just have to be willing.
If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land.
-Isaiah 1:19 (NIV)