A couple of weeks I had the opportunity to share my testimony and how my defining moments of life continuously loop back to a lesson in trusting God. Below is what I shared...
Jeremiah 17:7-8, "Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."
TRUST - it's a lesson I've been learning for the past 18 years, and sadly one that doesn't come easy for me.
In the Summer of 1995 I left all that was familiar and known to me, to move with my parents and brothers to a distant and foreign land, at least it felt that way to me. 17 years ago when we moved from England to San Jose, California I was on the cusp of my teenager years and the move was not an easy one.
This was the first "test" of my faith. I had pledged a commitment to God and His Son when I was just a young child and had enjoyed the security of a loving church home, school friends, and nearby family. For the first time my trust in the One I called Saviour was put on on the line. I couldn't stand the USA. I felt lost and alone, lonely and scared. It was difficult to make friends, and when I did speak up in class it was often met with either laughter or requests to repeat certain words (garage, vase, etc).
I started to keep a diary and pages were filled with the aching question of why, why God? I couldn't understand, I couldn't see beyond my hurt and confusion to see the greater picture. The verse I felt God gave me during that season was Psalm 62:8, "Trust in Him at all times you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge."
And pour I did. I might have still struggled with trusting, but I was great at pouring my heart out. I learnt that God was big enough to handle both my joy and anger, and He did become my refuge.
May 1999 I sat, with my Mum by my side as the Doctor informed me that I would never be able to biologically bear a child. This news came as a crushing blow, to my again seemingly intact world. I had long dreamt of being a mother, and experiencing motherhood not just in the raising of the child but in being pregnant, etc.
Unlike during the move I didn't question God as to why, but I did feel like the carpet had been pulled out from under me. When you're 15 and told something that has the power to dramatically impact your future it is rather unsettling.
I would love to say that I trusted God without question, but I didn't. The questions came, the tears, the grief of what I felt lost almost suffocated me at times. I pledged I would never marry, because I couldn't see beyond my own heartache to realize that a man would love me for me, and not if I could bear him children. How wonderful that God is bigger than any pledge of mine, how marvelous that He could see beyond my hurt and sorrow, and could see the core of my heart - wherein lay my deepest and most richest desires.
God's nugget of truth to me during this season was Isaiah 54:1, "Sing, O Barren woman, you who never bore a child: burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband."
So I somewhat begrudgingly trusted, and knew, truly knew that like God promises in Jeremiah 29:11 God did have a plan for me, and they were plans to prosper me and not harm me.
Just like that slinky that Bill has used to illustrate the circle, I looped back round to a lesson in trust in 2004. At this point I'd like to read the verse that precedes verses 7 & 8 in Jeremiah 17, verse 5 reads "This is what the Lord says: 'Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.'"
Looking back at the Spring and Summer of 2004 I don't feel I had turned away from the Lord, but I was certainly complacent in my role as a Christian. I worked, I served, and I interacted with primarily all Christians - and all at the church we attended at the time. Through a series of unfortunate events that transpired, I felt abandoned and betrayed by not only God Himself but by His people. In a very real way I was utterly lost. More than the situational differences that caused me angst back in '95, now I felt that the very core of who I was, was stripped bear and all that I believed in seemed futile. There was nothing left in me to trust, I didn't even trust myself, certainly did not trust others, and couldn't bring myself to actively trust God and in God and who He was.
Following these events I left both the church and subsequently the job, and began a new job as a Nanny. The wonder and delight of a 4 month old and growing little girl worked miracles in my hardening heart. Her discovery of the world and her unconditional love was a salve to my broken heart.
After some months I gradually and with much trepidation began to attend a new church. My brother Ronnie was a part of the youth/young adult worship team, and I first went to support him. I just attended. I didn't serve. I purposely came a couple of minutes late and left straight away. I was still a little numb and honestly not just wary of "church" people, but of God also. Overtime my heart did soften, and again God spoke truth and life into my soul.
My verses for this season were from Joel Chapter 2. Joel 2:12-13, "Return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love." Verse 25, "I will repay you for the years the locust have eaten..."
And repay God did. I had met Guillaume earlier through Ronnie, but it wasn't until I began my Return to God, His people and a season of serving that I began to know Guillaume and become friends with him.
After a few months of friendship, the beginning of 2007 saw me seeing Guillaume in a new light. I admired him greatly and valued our friendship, but something beyond admiration had began to grow.
During my "Return" and Joel 2 moment, I had finally been honest with myself and God in expressing my deepest desire to be married, to have a family and I had handed it over to God with an open and ready heart to receive what was next.
That's where Guillaume came in.
In the Spring of '07, I knew that Guillaume was IT for me. I felt reassured in this, all except for the small matter of Guillaume not being completely on board!! Finally my years looping the slinky of trust came into effect, and for that whole summer I rested in the knowledge that God had my back. I'll admit I had twinges of doubt, and I vividly recall sitting at a stoplight and hearing God whisper, "Do you still trust me?" For almost four months Guillaume essentially courted me, yet without any verbal commitment. For all intent purposes we were just friends. Our friends asked me constantly what was going on, and I would answer honestly of beyond being friends, I don't know.
Then on October 30 2007, Guillaume told me he loved me, and we began a serious commitment/relationship. At this time I hadn't yet told Guillaume about not being able to have children, and on our second date sitting at the Lighthouse in Santa Cruz, with my heart beating rapidly I told him.
Looking back I'm so thankful that God had truly gone before me. It could have gone a completely different way, but God knew and protected me in such a special way. He gave me one of the greatest gifts in giving me the love of a strong, patient, generous, loving, loyal man.
Here I am five years later, married for four years, sharing my testimony with you, and yes still looping the slinky of trust. I have in no means mastered the all important lesson of trust, trust in God. In fact most all of my defining moments center around trusting God. Ultimately I do, or at least try to. But it has taken a lot of valley walking through the shadows of death, to know I don't need to fear evil for Jesus Christ my Shepherd is with me.
Through my lessons in trust I've expanded my knowledge of who God is. It's hard to trust, harder still when you don't know the One you're trusting. Who God is remains the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. But who He reveals himself to be in each of us can be different in the moment.
He's been my refuge, my comforter, my provider, my teacher, my God, my healer, my disciplinarian, my father, my joy and my strength. He's been and remains my Saviour.
I encourage you to hold steadfast to the truth of who God has promised and is to YOU. He is your Alpha and Omega, He is your Saviour - always!!!