Today is an anniversary for a dear beloved friend of ours. She has given me permission to post about her here because she knows that what God has done in her life is marvellous, miraculous and needs to be told! All glory to God!!!
Last April, I had the joy of meeting a woman in our area who has helped to change the way I think about life, God and evangelism (sharing the Good News about God).
She was a mother of one of the children who was attending a drop-in-centre that we had been reaching out to as a ministry of the church. We had shared the Gospel with her daughter but had had little contact with her other family members. We knew that one sister was a believer but that was it. One day, I took the daughter out for a milkshake to talk about some things on her mind and stopped to talk with the mum as I picked her up. I noticed that she wanted to talk. She didn't try and shift discussion. And wouldn't you know it? Everytime i went up the street to buy something, she was ALWAYS there too and I would offer her a lift home and we would talk about what was happening in her life. I always shared how God was moving in ours when there was an opening and i was always praying for her whilst we were together, after I dropped her off and just in my quiet prayer times.
After a long series of interactions and much crying out to God, she came to church on one of my invites. She was shocked that the "roof didn't fall in". After we left church, I invited her home but she said she needed to be alone. She went home and started doing business with God.
She asked Him all sorts of questions that afternoon and I spent about 3 hours with her in our car talking some of the issues she had with God and the church out. We cried together, prayed together and waited in silence before God together. I have never met anyone like her. Never known God. Abused beyond belief. Broken beyond repair it would have seemed. Well at least it seemed that way to her.
She and her family practically came and lived with us for the next few months as she came to understand that she was a sinner, that she needed to confess (tell) her sins to God, repent of those (walk in the opposite direction) and then recieve by faith the sacrifice that God made for her through Jesus' death and resurrection. She began to understand that she was worth something to the most important person in the world - Jesus. She recognised that He had paid the price for her rebellion against God. She began to see that the life she had been living all these years was not really what God had planned for her. She knew that she no longer wanted to live away from God.
We never promised her it would be easy because let's face it, the walk of a Christian is not. In Phillipans chapter 3 verses 10 & 11, Paul says, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead". I too want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and yet sharing in His sufferings is not something shared with many newborn Christians. It was preached in our church not long ago and it really challenged me because it is so true - God never says, "come to me and I'll make everything smooth sailing from here on in!" or "come and I'll take you on an easy ride from this moment forth".
He says this in Luke 6 verses 47- 49: "I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete." When the storms come, our foundation is Rock - THE ROCK - Jesus and we are able to still stand not because of ourselves but because of who He is. He is the foundation.
At our breakfast bar one Friday night mid last year, this beautiful woman confessed her sin to God, repented and became born again as a new person. The Bible tells us that God is, 'faithful and just to forgive us our sins and CLEANSE us from ALL unrighteousness'. She walked in it. She studied the Words of God in the Bible, she started praying and sharing her life with the One who gave it to her in the first place. She began to understand that she was created uniquely; that she was not a mistake. She realised that there was nothing she could hide from God and often debated heavily with Him outloud even whilst walking down the streets of our area! She caused such a stirring because people around her could see she had changed. Some things took a while and as she (and I) would say, 'we are a work in progress!' When she sinned, she knew it had grieved God and she would seek to be at peace again with God. He slowly and lovingly revealed areas in her life that He wanted to touch and change. She was and is 'working out her salvation with fear and trembling'. She would sit in my kitchen for hours and we would read and discuss scriptures together. She began praying for and with her children and all of them are now seeking to know more about the wonderful Lord that has changed their mum's life. She had a major part of her hearing restored as an absolute miracle since she had been specifically praying about that.
With our pastor's (and Brett's) blessings, I baptised her late last year during a celebration service in our church! It was an honour to do so to see how the Lord had brought her from being at a place where she had been at enmity with God to where she was now His princess; daughter of the Most High. And she knew it. And she is not afraid to lovingly and boldly share with others about what He has done in her life.
Others around her still struggled to come to terms with it and in the last 12 months she has had her house shot at, had her drinks spiked (and realised it before drinking it!), been perecuted verbally like you would not believe and even had her closest of friends disown her all because she has wanted to know Jesus and keep her love for God as her first!
Another couple in our church have been lovingly guiding her through prayer ministry and she is a new woman; completely different from the one we met a year and a half ago.
She has and continues to be inspirational to us.
When we met her, she was an alcoholic.
Today is the FIRST YEAR ANNIVERSARY since she decided not to get drunk ever again. She made that decision in obedience to what God was prompting her to do and she has honoured that over the last year.
I am so proud of her and continually stand in awe of the miracles God has done in her life.
Glory to God for being the One who transforms hearts and lives, who came as a doctor to fix up the sick, to bind the broken hearted and to set the captives free!
If you ever wondered if God is alive and working in this day and age, the answer is YES! Looking at the life of my friend tells you that :) She had tried for so many years to get whole and the only way she has found it was in giving up everything to Jesus and allowing Him to take and mould her life into something very beautiful for His glory.