God has been working on my heart to be obedient to Him, to stop being self-centered. I have committed to being radically obedient...saying yes without worrying about the personal cost. It won't be easy, but when I line that decision up against His truth...He loves me, He has a plan for me, He only wants what is best for me...it is not hard. It's just that sometimes it leads me to tricky situations that I wouldn't feel the need to visit on my own.
I have been comfortable saying for the last few years that I gave up my goal of running a race two summers in a row because Rob wasn't willing to handle the kids while I practiced. I played the martyr role of giving up something I wanted to keep my man happy. This morning during my run, I was thanking God for the blessing of being able to train for this particular race. People have come forward, offering to watch the kids so I can train. Rob has been pretty good about it...everything is falling into place. But, as I was running, God brought to my mind that the reason the last two summers didn't work out was because it wasn't His timing. I had been secretly nurturing resentment towards my husband, clothed in martyr's garb, for not being able to do what I wanted. I knew I needed to apologize to him when I got home and confess what I had been feeling.
So, feeling full of the spirit and wanting to be obedient, I wiped the sweat off my face and bounded up the front steps to open the door. The door was locked. What?? After standing on the porch giving blood to mosquitoes and ringing the bell for like five minutes, my husband opened the door. I was irritated and sweaty and bit up by this point, and he gave an unfriendly response to my question about why the door was locked. I was ready to stalk off to the shower when God reminded me that we were apologizing this morning. Seriously? He was just mean to me, I whined. Remembering that it is not about me, but about God, I confessed to Rob what I had been harboring. It was actually wonderful and cleansing to release a burden that I didn't know I'd been carrying.
There is a man sitting in jail, probably until he dies, for what he did to another little girl. When women came out of the wood work at his sentencing to speak the unspeakable, the judge gave him the maximum penalty allowed which is 40 years. He has been there since 1995. Justice had been served.
In June of this year I was reading a devo on vengeance. It occurred to me that the ultimate act of getting revenge on someone would be knowingly letting them go to hell...not sharing the gospel with them. There is only one person I would consider worthy of getting revenge on, even though I know that God claims vengeance as His own, on my behalf. So, with that in mind, I sent a letter to the man in prison, telling him of the forgiveness and healing available in Christ. I shared the gospel with the man who abused me. God does not weigh out sin, or consider any of us worse than the other based on our sin. All sin is repugnant to Him. It is not for me to decide who is worthy of hearing the gospel. Sharing these truths with him gave me a measure of freedom and closure that I didn't even know I needed. God took me through a tunnel of darkness while I processed this and led me into His light.
I don't want you to walk away from reading this thinking that I have it all together or that I am better than I am. It is truly only the power of Christ at work in me that allows me to do the things He asks...on my own I am ugly and self-centered. But I do want you to know this: the blessings of growing closer to God, to going deeper in your relationship with Him are worth any price He asks. If He asks you to do something, it is only for your benefit and growth to be more like Him. He has directed me to some fiery places, but has never left me there by myself. Every time He has challenged me to step up in a way that my flesh rails against, my spirit has been strengthened. He has given me His joy. It gives new meaning to the phrase "The Joy of the Lord Is My Strength." I don't know what the Lord will ask of me in the future, but I keep my heart ready to hear His voice. It is the only one I want to listen to.