The year was 1988, and I had just graduated from college. My faith had been very strong entering those college years; I had been one of those radical high school fanatics who took her Bible to class. I loved Jesus.
My freshmen year I knew God had called me into full-time ministry. He had called me to preach. Because of opposition from my parents who were paying the bills, I didn’t study religion and plan to go to seminary, I worked for a degree that would allow me to teach Language Arts. But I considered that degree a means to an end hoping to one day attend seminary. I had this hope until that fateful summer night when my faith was tested, and I fell.
|Photo by K. Andrist|
It wasn’t my dad’s fault. It was mine. During one of our many debates on religion, I chose to trust my dad’s opinion over the Truth inside of me. I remember my words as if they were yesterday: “Fine, if I can’t convince him then maybe I’m wrong and he is right. I’ll just try believing in what he believes.”
On that dark night, the spirit of Jesus departed from me because I denied who He was as I tried to make all religions one. That night I also lost the opportunity to follow my call. And it would not be restored to me for 20 years. Even then the dream would never be completely filled.
This memory came back to me last week as I struggled with a scripture — a word I had received from a dear friend. It was a rather obscure verse, and it made no sense to me at all until I remembered that debate with my dad. This is it:
How long will you waver (limp) between two opinions? (1 Kings 18:21)
As God brought the memory of this fatal debate, He whispered, “You have often trusted the opinion of people you respect over Me in you. Despite what you’ve known beyond knowing I’ve promised you, your respect for other people has caused you to choose their opinion over Me. This is idolatry. You must trust Me in you. What you are hearing from Me. What you know beyond knowing is from Me.”
The Lord’s rebuke always brings us closer to Him. It is never condemning. It builds up. Never tears down. There is always freedom and restoration in His words.
I’ve known for a long time that the people pleaser in me was not pleasing to God. But I’ve never realized that it bordered idolatry. With this truth I began to feel the stronghold of people pleasing, especially those I’ve placed on pedestals, break off. I realized that I must trust His Presence in me. And that means trusting myself when I know I’m walking with Him.
Jesus Himself was tested right before His ministry began. Before He stepped into His role of the Savior of the world. His purpose. If Jesus was tested, than we need testing and are promised the testing even more.
The events of last few days and the memory of what happened in 1988 have made it clear to me that we too are tested before we step out into our Call. But it is not something to be feared. It is a blessing. The testing brings freedom and strength.
I failed the first test because I had allowed sin and doubt to creep into my life. I was not grounded in Him at the time.
But this time I am.
Much grace my friends,
Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne.
ps. Have you been tested? Your story will encourage someone else.