A favorite T-shirt of mine reads, "NOTHING you do for a child is ever wasted." A friend of mine says this isn't true, that there are thousands of things parents can do for their children that can turn out to be a total waste of time. Nevertheless, I love the idea that all those little things can make an impact and change a life.
How comforting to know that we serve a God who promises that none of our experiences, none of our pain is wasted, so long as we submit ourselves to Him. As a Christian, I cling to the promise of Romans 8:28 - that God works in all things for the good of those who love Him. And Isaiah 61:3 - that He will exchange the ashes of our life for a crown of beauty. I believe that no experience, no occurrence, nothing that happens to me in this life is a wasted experience, that He will use it all to help me minister to and comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:4).
This certainty brings me peace and hope. But frankly, sometimes I find it scary. Especially in light of some of the truly terrible experiences in my life.
Years ago when my first husband left me for another woman, my life was a total shambles. Divorce, bankruptcy, pain, isolation, depression. How can the Lord use that to bless others, other than lifting me up as a terrible example? I am not naive enough to believe that I did not help to kill that marriage - the Lord has been far too frank with me for that. And He uses those gentle, loving reminders to make me a much more loving wife to my husband today.
And what about the most terrible tragedy of my life - my sister's violent death at the hands of her son three years ago? It chills me to think that I might someday be called upon to minister to another family dealing with the murder of a loved one. The only way I could EVER do this is through His grace and mercy and power. And even then it would be very difficult. The very thought breaks my heart.
I know that every gift and talent He gives us can be used to His glory. But for years now, I've wondered if He has any plans for my writing abilities. Certainly I found these most helpful and greatly praised during my years in school and in the secretarial field. But they've been underused in other areas of life until recently.
Encouraged by the wisdom of Lysa TerKeurst and Jen Hatmaker, I've been supplementing my Bible study time with journaling lately, and the more I write, the more I want to. But I yearn to be able to develop this gift within a godly ministry so that He can use it not for my glory, but for His. I want my words to be able to connect with women, to ring true in their lives, to help them see more clearly our amazing Lord, to learn something more about His love and faithfulness and promises.
That's why I've been praying about a conference He has brought to mind lately - the She Speaks Conference offered by Proverbs 31 Ministries. To spend a weekend in the company of godly women engaged in ministry, sharing their wisdom and allowing God to work in my life, would be such a blessing. Though the conference is geared toward speakers, it has a writers' track as well, and that's the one my heart longs to attend.
The desire is there, but the finances are not. So unless the Lord sees fit to pave the way through a scholarship (such as the one offered by Lysa TerKeurst) or other unexpected graces, I will not be able to attend this summer. But I will continue to pray for a way to get there. And in the meantime, I'll ask Him to develop my gifts (and, more importantly, my heart) so that He can use my talents AND my tragedies to advance His kingdom.
May His glorious name be praised!
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