I Doubted the Power of My Story

When I was in high school I was constantly surrounded by one youth group speaker after another, each with a powerful testimony of how they came to know Christ after some dark and troublesome time in their life.  Each person had a heavy story – a life of drug dependency, a life of running from the law, a life of selling their body, a life of anger and hatred, a life trapped in a cult – and all of these intense stories ended the same.  In the end, they all had a radical encounter with discovering Christ their Savior, they turned 180 degrees and life was drastically different.

Each of these stories felt incredible; I often was met with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I heard of God’s saving, redemption plan for these lives that were deep in muck and mire.  I was in awe.  God is good!  And look at these incredible people, look at them going around and telling of the gospel of Jesus, of the one who saved them from their pits.

But also, then… what about me?  What about my story and my testimony of how I came to know my Savior? I was a “good girl” and always had been.  I’d grown up in a loving Christian home with two parents who always pointed me back to Jesus.  I’d known the name of Jesus for as long as my memory served me.  I told myself that because of the limited drama in my life that I would never be a speaker giving my testimony to a youth group crowd. What in the world did I have to share?!  I didn’t have some wild “before” life!  I didn’t feel like I had a testimony that anyone would care to hear. It only takes two seconds to say “I’ve known Jesus all of my life,” and who would sit before me to listen to that?  I doubted the importance of my testimony – one of a life rooted and with a foundation of knowing Christ since birth.  I doubted that it mattered one bit in the pool of all of the awe-inspiring tales of conversion out there.  Frankly, I doubted the power of Christ to show up and be revealed in a story as mundane as my own.

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I remember when the time came in my college group when we were asked to take turns sharing our testimonies with the group.  I asked the leader, “but what if you don’t have a testimony?  What if you don’t have anything to share?” I didn’t doubt the goodness of God in my life which had been constant and steady, but I doubted what felt like His lack of display of power in my life.

I didn’t have a gripping story.  I didn’t have an “ah ha” moment.  Did I even have a “real” testimony?   My lifelong knowledge of Jesus, who He is, and what He always did for me didn’t feel exciting or gripping, it just was.

At some point in those early college years, I realized that it was enough.  More than enough.  My story may not be one for the books or speaking engagements but my story is just as powerful as the one who came out of a life of addiction or a life of utter brokenness.

My story is powerful because it drips with the power of God: His power to save me from all of the muck and mire that I didn’t have to walk through, His power of steadfastness to walk beside me as a constant for all of my life, His power to be a strong and firm foundation, laying the brickwork for the mess that my adult life can sometimes look like.

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Today, I don’t doubt the power of my testimony or the power of Christ through my seemingly mundane story.  I don’t doubt that He can and will use it, boring as it may seem.  I’m not discouraged by my come to Jesus moment being something that feels like it ought to be more.  After all, it’s not me and my mess that the power and glory comes from.  The power is in Him alone and His saving grace – His grace over my sin-filled life.  A life where, despite being “a good girl”, I am still a sinner, just as in need of a Savior as the girl whose life was more outwardly messy or had a more exciting story.

I no longer doubt the power of my testimony, for I am my Beloved’s and He is mine.  I am saved by His grace; there is nothing which can snatch me up out of His loving hands and that is a mighty display of His power in my life.  Thanks be to God for saving a sinner like me.

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If I’m Sowing Good, Where are the Blossoms?

Author: Deb Gruelle

Sometimes I’m shocked by the ways my life hasn’t followed the good dreams and plans that I’ve made as a Christian woman who loves God with all her heart. I’ve tried to follow God and sow good seeds that will grow to an abundance of good in later life.

  • When seven babies died, five adoptions fell through, and I waited seventeen years to fill our family with three children, I doubted God’s love for me.
  • When chronic illness struck, I doubted my worth to the world.
  • When my children, those desperately-prayed-for blessings, made choices that went against biblical morals, I doubted my identity as a good mother.

The funny thing is that even through all of this I’ve never doubted God’s reality. I was introduced to Jesus early in life, and God made such logical sense to me. I could see His fingerprints in the world around me. I could see Him working in my family’s lives. I couldn’t imagine life without God. I know this is different than some people, maybe I was given the gift of faith.

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What I began to doubt was God’s love for me. It happened insidiously over time as huge tsunami waves crashed on my life again and again. As devastating circumstances continued, I kept reading verses that said I’d reap what I sowed. I believed if I sowed righteousness I’d surely be rewarded. (Proverbs 11:18; 14:14; Galatians 6:7)

I grew up in a strong Christian family where I saw God reward good choices. When that didn’t happen to me, did that mean the reverse was true also? How could bad things keep happening in my life when I was also trying to follow God wholeheartedly?  When longings of my heart went unanswered year after year, I began to believe God must be angry at me. For many years, I felt confusion over these verses. I believed lies about my worth that separated me from feeling God’s love.

It took me many years to understand how Jesus balanced the truth of those verses with His parable about the sower in Luke 8. In this parable, He tells about a farmer sowing seeds. Then He talks about how the seeds fell on different types of soil. Depending on the soil each seed landed on, some grew and even flourished, but some didn’t grow at all or didn’t grow well. He said the Word of God is the seed that is sewn into hearts.

If we could count on this principle always holding true—that what each person sows always directly relates to what they’ll reap, surely the seeds of the Word of God would always flourish. But this parable says that isn’t true. There are many more things that act on our choices in life that play into the results. And in this story, God wasn’t angry at the farmer because he chose the wrong seeds or sowed them wrong. Sure, we can sow wisely to ensure that our seeds have the best chance at flourishing, but some failure is expected. No fault is laid on the sower for this.

I finally understood that when bad things happen in my life it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not pleasing God. What if Jesus thought He wasn’t pleasing God because He had to face the cross? I had to trust in God’s bigger, love-infused, long-term viewpoint.

I have no idea what the future holds in so many areas of my life. If I depend on future blessings to validate my worth, my understanding of God’s love for me will be short-sighted and wobbly. Instead, if I understand that my job is to snuggle up close to God, to first let His love flow into me, then out to others through me, that’s all I need to do to please Him and live in victory. If I keep my focus on His love for me, that gives me the strength to not grow weary in sowing seeds of good. The results aren’t my business—the results are God’s responsibility.

Doubt Deb Gruelle

I love to garden now. I’m still sad when I see a bud form that never flowers. But even in gardening, experiencing loss makes the vibrant blooms that much more precious. Either way, I’m going to continue gardening—sowing good seeds and watering them. That’s my focus in partnering with God to plant beauty, that and living in the truth that I’m loved by my Creator. I’ll be thankful when God brings blossoms, but I won’t let them determine whether God loves me.


_Best Headshot CLOSEUP SMALL FILE SIZE 11_16 Copyright Patti Mustain SeekingHisLight.comDeb Gruelle, best-selling author of Ten Little Night Stars (2018) and Aching for a Child (2019), serves as chaplain for Inspire Christian Writers, as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), and a Stephen Minister. Featured on radio broadcasts including Family Life Today and speaking across the country, she invites listeners to embrace both courage and rest for wholehearted living. 
 Web: http://www.debgruelle.com/ Find more from Deb on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

 

Check out her latest book:

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Mending Broken Vases

Author: Rebecca L. Mitchell

After my marriage failed, I fell into a dark season of doubt.

Many of my doubts revolved around myself. No longer wanted by my husband, I felt unlovable, ugly, a failure as a woman. I also questioned my ability to be a loving mother to my daughters, as I seemed to fail them, at least in my mind, in some way every day. Could I ever be whole again as a woman and a mother?

In such a daze of pain, I couldn’t imagine a bright, hopeful future or even a dull, decent one. I figured I would be able to function enough to stumble through life, but I thought oppressive grief, wounded anger, and aching loneliness would be my constant companions. I doubted I could regain emotional balance or normalcy.

If doubt is feeling uncertain about something, especially about the possibility of something good, I had it in spades. I couldn’t see good ahead. My biggest dream was just not to feel pain; I had no expectations of joy, no hope. For me, the opposite of doubt was not belief, but hope.

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I wish I could say that this is when I found Jesus, asked Him into my life, and never encountered my ugly companions of grief, anger, and loneliness again. The truth is, I already knew Jesus and had known Him for years. I didn’t doubt God’s presence in my life or His love for me—although I’m sure He could have handled it if I had. My faith in God was strong, growing, in fact, as I was clinging to Him in desperate survival mode. But I still struggled to have hope.

This doubt or loss of hope is common in the midst of deep pain and brokenness whether it’s from the loss of a loved one, financial hardship, or the shame of our own sin. Even if we aren’t struggling through ground-shaking chaos, we still get stuck. We doubt life can get better, or that we can change our bad habits. Our negative internal dialogue is on repeat, our smiles forced for public consumption.

Eventually, my genuine smile returned. Slowly, over time, God restored my hope: “Yes, my soul, find rest in God, my hope comes from Him” (Psalm 62:5). I learned He is not only able to restore me, He is willing. Scripture abounds with His ability and willingness to provide hope and restoration. Hannah was blessed with a child after years of infertility and Joseph became second in charge after slavery and imprisonment. Often, the psalmist, who begins with a cry of despair, ends with praise, adoration, and hope, even if the circumstances haven’t changed.

Doubt Rebecca L. Mitchell

The art of Kintsugi is a beautiful illustration of this hope of a restored life. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending broken pottery with resin combined with gold dust. The veins of gold along the broken lines enhance instead of diminish the beauty of the piece. God is a patient Kintsugi artist, melding our broken pieces into masterpieces.

My transformation from doubtful to hopeful has been frustratingly slow at times, but it has been genuine and true. Awareness of God’s deep, reckless love for me has moved from head knowledge to heart conviction. Amazingly, I now understand His desire to heal my brokenness surpasses my desire to be healed. I know that I know that I know, God’s plan for me is a life restored, full of joy and hope.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).


Rebecca L. Mitchell Blog post submission about doubt for OctoberRebecca writes with a passion to see women come alongside each other in their healing journeys. She is celebrating the release of her first book, From Broken Vows to Healed Hearts: Seeking God After Divorce Through Community, Scripture, and Journaling. Her day job is teaching English composition at UC Davis.
Find more from Rebecca at her blog http://rebeccamitchellauthor.com, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

Faith in the Face of Doubt

Show me a Christian and you will have shown me a human prone to doubt.  Faith isn’t for the weak.  It takes a certain amount of tenacity to stand faithful to God alone while the world calls us foolish, silly, and uneducated.  It takes a level of tenacity to stand firm in faith when life, or perhaps our enemy, throws flaming arrows of difficulty at us.  Sickness, death, sorrow, financial ruin, and abuse are enough to make even the stoutest believer cry out in dismay.  Why does God allow such turmoil?  Why is life so hard?

It isn’t just the harsh reality of this life that allows doubt to creep in.  Our own sin issues get in the way of believing.  Fear, insecurity, selfish ambition, greed, and pride all raise their head in defiance at faith.

In fact, faith is not for the weak or foolish.  Faith is the life song of those with enough grit to quiet their prideful heart, and trust God in the deepest, darkest periods of life. Faith fills individuals with enough tenacity to cling to what is unseen when what is seen is ugly and painful.  Faith is for those willing to put aside their own ideas, dreams, and perceptions and ask the unseen God of the universe to “take the wheel” and drive their life.  It isn’t a crutch.  It isn’t easy.

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Is it not easier to live our lives the way we want?  To pursue money and ambition and fame?  Is it not simpler to do what makes us happy with little regard for the next person?  Is it not more convenient to believe that our lives are our own and subject to no one else, not even God?

From the outside to those looking in, I know that I seem like a good person with a good life marked by good things. Others may question, what can I know of sorrow, pain and questioning God?  Yet my song, the song of my soul, is His Eye is On the Sparrow because I do know sorrow.  Sorrow so deep my heart sometimes feels ready to burst out of my chest under the pressure of the pain.  Sorrow that tears can’t describe; the sorrow of a life touched by illness, death, murder, suicide, mental illness, poverty, and abuse.  A life that was uprooted and left without a home for so many years that the idea of home seemed lost forever; a thing to be grasped that lays just out of reach.

My life…

But, even in the darkness and the sorrow, there is a knowing.  The kind of centered knowing that can only be found with a solid faith foundation in Christ Jesus, carried on by the work of the Holy Spirit, and rooted in experiencing the great and gracious love of God the Father.

In those dark spaces…there is no room for doubt.  Doubt is a liar.  Doubt is a thief that steals our joy and gets us off the right path.  And yet, Doubt is there.  Always questioning, always wondering.  And questioning and wondering bring new understanding and new insight.  Maybe it isn’t the doubt itself that causes us to lose our way, but the fear of what we will find when we wonder.

Fear, it seems to me, is the real enemy behind our doubt.  The enemy that says, don’t ask and don’t wonder and don’t grow.  Fear, as Zach Williams sings, is the liar behind us whispering that the truth is too hard and too scary and too disappointing.

But, fear can’t stand and doubts melt into assurance in the face of truth.  The truth is that we are wanted, loved, and precious Children of God Almighty.  We are righteous without our own merit and forgiven.  We are reconciled, and our souls are eternally free.  The truth is that no weapons formed against us can stand and the enemy must flee at the name of Jesus.  The truth is that we can suit up, arm up, and pray against our enemy and victory can be ours, in the name of Jesus.  We are filled by the Holy Spirit, backed up by the heavenly hosts, and set free by the blood of Christ!!

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Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8: 32 and Paul said, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…”  Ephesians 6: 14. Truth takes the power away from doubt and casts out fear. So, put on the belt of truth, rebuke fear, and stand firm in the face of doubt.

No, life isn’t perfect.  Sometimes we don’t understand why things happen.  Pain and sorrow can be overwhelming and hard to take.  Sickness can be discouraging and relentless, but even then…

Even then, I am learning to “sing because I’m happy.”  Not happy with circumstances, but happy because my soul is free, restored, and whole, because my eternity is secure with Christ and I know this life isn’t all there is.  In that, there is also hope.  And Hope and Truth shut the mouth of Doubt.


Jacqi KambishJacqi Kambish is a Christian mom to three spirited children striving to balance the daily demands of parenting a child with special needs and meeting the needs of typically developing siblings while working full time and writing.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Bible Theology and Youth Ministry from William Jessup University.  Jacqi lives with her family in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and enjoys reflectively writing about parenting, faith, and the joys and trials of life while leaving her readers with hope and encouragement.  Her blog The Presumptuous Ladybug can be found at and you can connect with her on Facebook