July 26, 2018
Why Your Redemption Story Isn’t Yours
‘Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching’ (John 14:23a, NIV).
Friend to Friend
There is a feature on my cell phone that allows me to decline an incoming call. There are a thousand reasons why I might choose to hit the “decline” button when my phone rings. Sometimes I’m writing and have a deadline to make. Decline. Sometimes a call comes in when I’m mid-conversation with a friend or when I’m connecting with my family. Decline. At times, true confessions here, I decline a call simply because I don’t have the energy or desire to talk to the person who’s calling me at that moment.
Similarly, there are times in my life when I try to ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit as if I were declining a cell phone call. Times when I just don’t feel like doing what I know God wants me to do. Times when I don’t want to hear the still small voice that whispers to my soul: “forgive him” – “release your anger” – “humble yourself and ask for forgiveness” or “focus on my plan for you … not on my plan for another person.”
One such time took place several years ago in Tennessee. It was after the final session of a three-day ministry event. I was focused and fervent, determined to head home to my husband and three children as quickly as possible. I busied myself wrapping microphone cords, loading products from my resource table, and prepping to leave. While I was mid-busy, a friendly thirty-something woman came up to me with her friend. I was courteous to them, but in a “see-you-later, girlfriend” kind of way.
Not getting my subtle clues, this woman inquired excitedly about the book I was in the middle of writing. I lifted my head with surprise as she announced, “I can’t wait to read your book! Your enthusiasm for the Lord is so contagious, and I just know you have an amazing testimony!”
Then she and her friend stood there expectantly. Decline.
Okay, feel my pain here. It was day three of a three-day event! I was exhausted. I was done. Yet this woman and her friend wanted to hear my testimony. So, I did what any normal fleshy woman would do. I told God, Not now, Lord. I’m going home. I’ve done what I came to do and now I’m going home to my family. I’m tired, slightly grumpy, definitely hungry, and done. I can’t tell these girls about my abortion right now! Nope. Not going to go there. Please don’t ask me to!
So I looked up at these two sweet women and, with a forced smile, said, “Yeah, I’ve got a doozy of a story, but don’t we all? Thank God for grace.”
There! Now they should leave me alone, I thought.
But God kept nudging my heart. Tell them, Gwen.
Before I had a chance to continue my dialog with the Lord, another couple of women came to join our conversation. I was so not amused.
God, are You kidding me? We are done here!
But He kept nudging.
So I finally conceded and shared my testimony with the six women who had gathered to speak to me. Within minutes, two of the six were crying. They’d had abortions as well and for years had lived under the weight of shame. We instantly became a bonded band of blubbering sisters. The story of my redemption from brokenness and the beauty of healing I found in Christ had become a tool in the hands of God that afternoon.
What had once been a wound became a weapon… but only because I accepted the call. (Even if it did take me a while to concede.)
Jesus told his disciples that if they loved Him, they would obey His commands and His teachings (John 14:15-27). A simple if-then statement. If you love me, then you will obey. He also told them that when He returned to the Father in heaven, He would send the Holy Spirit to teach, to guide in truth, to convict of sin and to remind believers of what Jesus taught (John 16:7-14). To help us. To empower us.
The Spirit of God lives within every Christ follower. He equips us for each task as we yield to His leading. When God prompts us to do something on His behalf, He is faithful to lead the way and to bless our obedience – for His own glory. It’s all about His glory. He simply wants our willingness and our obedience.
Friend, God’s plans need to be our plans… even if His plans seem to “interrupt” our plans. Let’s be women who accept His call. Are you willing today?
Dear Lord, Please forgive me for the times when I’ve chosen my plan over Your plan. Align my will and heart to Yours. Help me to express my love for You by obeying your Word and by responding to the promptings of Your Spirit so that You can be glorified in and through me.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Is there something God is calling you to do today? Are you withholding forgiveness from someone? Are you aware of a need that God wants you to meet? Does He want you end a toxic relationship? Spend a few minutes in prayer about this.
More from the Girlfriends
We’re pleased to announce the new GRACEOLOGY with Gwen Smith podcast! Hang out with Gwen and friends when you go on walks, exercise, run errands or travel. Podcasts are also perfect to listen to as you do household chores! (Laundry anyone?) Each GRACEOLOGY with Gwen Smith podcast episode is filled with fun, faith-focused, grace-filled conversations that will help you know and trust God more. These discussions are going to encourage you in meaningful ways to live out and lean on the GRACE of Jesus in the midst of cluttered, messy days. CLICK HERE to subscribe on iTunes, or visit GwenSmith.net/Graceology for more information.
Portions of today’s devotion are excerpts from the book Broken Into Beautiful. Get 20% OFF Gwen’s BROKEN INTO BEAUTIFUL book today when you order from her website and use the coupon code: 20OFF
Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area or having one of the GiGs speak at your next women's event.
Originally published Thursday, 26 July 2018.