I am going to be honest: I do not really know you that well. I don’t know if you are a 30-something mom, a divorced man, a hurting teenager or a heart broken widow. I don’t know what part of my testimony to offer you and what parts to withhold and keep guarded. So, as I write this I fully trust the Holy Spirit to intercede so that my words reflect God’s heart and encourage yours.
Sticking to the theme of honesty, you do not really know me either. I am Katie. I just turned 30. I have experienced the sting of divorce and the conviction of utter and absolute disobedience. I have momentarily lived off government food and health care for my children, but tried to hide it from everyone because of my pride. I have an issue with pride.
I have battled loneliness, which Satan knows is a weakness for me. I finally married an incredible man two and a half years ago. God is doing some pretty powerful things in our hearts. The Lord has taken us to Kenya, twice. He has broken our hearts for it’s beauty and poverty. My husband adopted my children from my first marriage and together we adopted our youngest daughter domestically. I have owned a hair salon for 10 years. I have tattoos and my nose is pierced. I am a daughter to great parents and a big sister to an amazing woman. I am a friend to many who do not look, speak or think like me. I like diversity.
My heart aches for poverty and abortion and hunger and orphans and homelessness. But these things, these topics, these truths have not always bothered me. In fact, who I was had not always bothered me- well not until Jesus came in and began to prune away at my soul. I struggle with contentment and wanting more. I struggle with my desire to be a hands-on mom who sits and listens and my love for business. I am constantly trying to balance the scales of getting and giving where less is more and more is less. I read books that stretch my faith and enjoy reading writers who adore Jesus and make my insides turn. I want to love our 3 kids with all that I have yet worry they get my leftovers instead of my best. I desire to be a Proverbs 31 woman, yet feel many days that I am failing both my husband and my Savior. I want you to know me, because I have a prompting from the Holy Spirit that you and I are not so different after all.
I read a book in September that has changed me in ways I wasn’t prepared called 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. WARNING: Do not read it unless you are like me and almost enjoy conviction. Her words sunk in deeply. It changed me. Not her words, but the truth the Lord revealed in them and through them. For 7 months I have fasted in 7 different forms. Fasting is not a biblical practice I have ever participated in, but these past few months I have fasted from food, clothing, possessions, media, waste, spending and stress. For 7 months I have prayed fervently for 7 different groups of people. In the last 7 months God has broken me and is rebuilding me. I am absolutely and totally in the midst of the sanctification process and it is terribly wonderful. Over my 30 years I have experienced depression, loneliness, regret, heartache, shame, joy, fear, happiness, brokenness, envy, resentment, gratitude, appreciation, patience, vulnerability and love. God has used both the trials and the triumphs for His glory. As I am coming to the end of my 7 months God is still revealing things to me and even allowing scripture to speak to me in brand new ways.
Tonight my family read the parable of the 4 soils, found in Mark 4: 3-20: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!” Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
Tonight the Lord brought to life this passage in a fresh new way. I have lived in every soil. I have experienced God’s love and truth and then allowed Satan to rob me of the life the Lord offered. I then received the joy of the gospel but grew weary and felt like I could never measure up. I have fallen among thorns and looked around at my circumstances and I have leaned on my own understanding. I gave into my flesh: to sex, habits, selfishness, materialism and self-centeredness. I believe that the entire time I was running from God, He was plowing the soil of my soul. The Lord was churning the ground beneath my feet. He was removing rocks, allowing thorns to die slowly and building my endurance for the journey with Him. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1: 2-4). James hit the nail on the head. This life is going to have trouble. But God carries us through the struggle and teaches us perseverance and grows our endurance along with our faith and confidence in Him.
For the past 7 months I have prayed and fasted, been stretched and broken, mourned and rejoiced in ways I have never experienced. The Lord has placed people in my life to help cultivate me and He has strengthened my roots to stand firm in the storms. I still battle the desires of my flesh and sinful nature. I still fail. But because God works on me and in me, I desire to work with Him and for Him. In Philippians 2: 12-13 Paul writes, “Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and power to do what pleases Him.”
I think if we are all honest and transparent, the “doing” Paul urges us to is often harder because we lack the desire. We all want what is good for us, yet we plant ourselves on paths of shallow soil or we lay ourselves among the thorns. It is time to “do” my friends. It is time for us to grow. Our past builds endurance and faith. God is writing my story, my testimony. He is also writing yours with every single breath you take. Will you surrender the hurts, regrets, bitterness and heartache that keep tossing you about when life’s wind blows down on you? Or would you even, right now in this moment, hold your hands in the air and surrender the chains that are binding you so that you might begin to live freely, firmly rooted in a foundation of Christ?
This excites me. I am praying for you, friend. I do not know your name. But right now you feel the words you are reading. They are hitting you and the Holy Spirit is stirring inside of you. You may even be crying right now. You may want to surrender but you aren’t sure how. You feel too damaged, too bad, too ashamed, too scared, too unworthy, or even too lost. Oh, but you aren’t!! He came for sinners like us! I am crying as I write this because I know that love of control that you are grasping onto. Let it go friend. Let it go.
“Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God- truly righteous and holy” Ephesians 4: 23-24
I will continue to pray for you. I trust the Lord has led you to these testimonies and I believe His Word never comes back void. I believe he has been pursuing you, because you are His beloved and He says you are worth it. I am praying for you.
Sincerely with Love: Your new friend, Katie.
A Repost from My Journey of Faith Magazine