Thursday, January 8, 2015

witnessing and my testimony

Today’s post is a bit different – I sat down praying on my computer about a conversation with a friend yesterday.  He is an agnostic, and I have been praying that God would soften His heart and draw him nearer to the Lord, using me as a witness to him through our friendship.  What I was not anticipating is that this prayer conversation would lead to me writing my testimony – articulating my “message” is something that has always eluded me.  I have always wanted to be able to concisely convey what God has meant in my life, but in past attempts I have rambled aimlessly without ever actualizing my goal.  I wasn’t sure I would ever accomplish this task.   And then today, it just came out.  Excitedly, I called my mom – when she picked up the phone, my first words were “Oh, boy!”

Warning to those with mental health concerns:
There are TRIGGERS in this post.
Please read with caution.

It seems like he is firmly invested in being bitter toward God.   He has spent years developing his agnostic views and growing a resentment toward You because he does not understand Your ways.   And I understand completely what his sticking points are and why he has a hard time accepting that You are a loving and gracious God.  I have compassion for one who has sought you in vain for extended periods, longing to hear from You, only to be met with silence.   And with the things he has seen, to question how on earth an omnipotent and all powerful God of the Universe could allow some of the greatest tragedies of mankind to transpire… I certainly respect wrestling with that. 

I fundamentally respect all of his views, as I do generally most anyone regardless of where they are in their walks with You because each of us has had a unique set of experiences that has informed our own belief system and led us to where we are and how we relate to You, Lord.  I also realize now there is a huge difference in speaking to someone who grew up around church and has a pretty good background spiritually speaking (regarding the Christian faith) and one who is not versed in even some of the fundamentals of Biblical teaching.  That is no disparagement at all – I just hadn’t up to this point had a spiritual discussion with anyone who did not have a basic knowledge of the fundamentals of my faith.   I recognize going forward, that such conversations really need to be handled differently than those with someone who has some Christian background.   I pray (and know) that You will lead and guide me in our future conversations that I might not take for granted any assumptions of understood precepts. 

One thing I wrestle with here Lord, God, Spirit… How can I help him to see that Your ways are not always meant for us to understand (as frustrating as that may be at first) – that ours is not to question the will of God because it is so far beyond our capacity for comprehension.  You say in Your Word that Your ways are so much higher than our own, Your grand scheme so much greater than our ability to see.  And it is so true – I know because I can look back even on my own life and see where things that made utterly NO sense (humanly) at the time worked out, in the end, for a greater divine purpose.   So I know, having had it proven in my life, that our portion is to accept by faith and trust You.  I also know that You do not always bring the bad things into our lives – that often the devil throws all kinds of awful at us trying to test us, torment us, to do anything to get us to turn away from You, indeed, to get us to curse You and denounce our faith. 

And I know, I know deep down, it is not mine to show him, but Yours by Your grace revealing to him when the time is right in his life…  I do wonder if he realizes when we talk – does he know that You are talking to him then through me, Your messenger at the time.  For years upon years, I never heard Your voice directly – I always heard from You via a preacher or a teacher or some other messenger, even a friend.  It was only last year I heard the voice of God.  And that’s 27 years past when I accepted Christ as my Savior.   27 years of not recognizing the voice of God speaking to me personally, though I have no doubt You were talking to me all the while… I just never shut up or sat still, was never tuned in and walking in step closely enough with You to actually hear AND receive the message. 

It pulls at me to hear him express how envious he is of my faith – the depth and breadth of it.  To hear him say upon reading my blog he understands now that I am “betrothed to God” and that my heart really belongs to Him and that no one can really compete with that (thank you for that revelation<3).  When I hear such a thing, I light up because indeed I am spoken for – and it delights me that others can tell when they hear me speak or read my words. 
I do pray heartily for the salvation of all those in my family, my circle of friends, who don’t know You or who have specifically denounced You – that their hearts would be softened and that they would be open to hearing You call and granted spiritual understanding and enlightenment.  But to know that he is “envious” – to use that particular word, that assigns the intention that he wishes he had what I have… and that makes me want it all the more for him.  But it is not something I can gift him…

He even asked if my mom was of great faith and suggested that perhaps that’s “where (I) got it from.”  I didn’t have the words at the time to respond appropriately… I said that yes, I felt blessed to have been raised in a Christian home but that I did not know the level of my mom’s walk with God.  And I know full well that my relationship with You isn’t something I got from her, or from anyone else.   I was familiar with Your Name and had some background in Your Word from going to church as a kid, but this beautiful love relationship I’m in the midst of now is entirely God gifted.   In our conversation last night, even Mom said it is something that was offered to me by the hand of God that I had made a choice to pursue and could have at any point turned my back on and gone another direction.  This lovely and wonderful faith You’ve given me is truly not something one can inherit.  I do firmly believe, however, had I not been raised in a house of Christian background that it may not have been until I was 75 or 80 that I might have come to know You as I do now… or maybe I would have; I have no way to know.   But internally I did reel from the suggestion that I got my faith from another person, although I didn’t have the means to express it at the time.

I am familiar with his sentiments, having been deeply invested in being bitter toward my dad for years – and You are his Heavenly Father after all.  I did not see how I could move past my anger and resentment over the hurt my dad had caused, but You made a way.  You are the Way, so I still believe it is possible for him to come to know You personally.  God I feel like he has judged You… And I pray You would help him to see he has limited understanding of life because his view is merely human and he does not have divine reasoning.

***There are TRIGGERS in the next paragraph***

When I told him to read Job to find the answers he was looking for about why God allows his children to suffer, he sharply replied, “that is no answer at all, Michelle” – not the answer you wanted to hear, I wanted to say, but kept my tongue.   Your words rolled through my head: “But if you will listen…”  I did not have the words then, but You led me in our conversation this morning as I went over the course of my own life and all that I have suffered through...  Did those times really have to be so dark, so desperate?  Did I really have to be so low, drinking and taking pills, carving at my own skin with a razor blade wishing I had the stones to cut deeply enough to end it all?  Was all that pain really necessary?  And last year when the anxiety was so bad that I couldn’t leave my apartment, did I really have to suffer within myself to such a great extent that I couldn’t even go out to get my own groceries?  Did it really have to get to the point that I couldn’t even answer the phone when a friend was calling to check on me or just to talk?

I wandered through my apartment talking to You in perfect peace, and again and again came to the same conclusion – YES.  Yes, all those things had to happen just as they did.  Indeed, all the difficulties of my childhood, the divorces and the emotional and verbal abuse that I suffered that scarred me psychologically, and all the bad things that have happened since that I’ve yet to mention here…  I had to go through all those dark, miserable places so that I could accomplish all You had planned for me from before I was even born.   Because only having lived it could I honestly testify to the Truth of the Transformative Power of walking a life in step with You, closely with You… Only having lived it could I effectively minister to people still lost in those dark places and promise them that it can get better.  That there is the ability to live well and good and be filled with HOPE and JOY.   That life can very much still have great meaning and purpose beyond the depths of depression; that there are glorious soul ecstasies greater than any of the dangerous intoxicating highs of mania.  That there is unbelievable Peace that passes all understanding even available to those who have lived with such severe anxiety that leaving home even to go to get bread and milk was once impossible.   That You are the answer.   And You are there – in the midst of the dark – even when people cannot readily “feel” you…  

Yes, with all the vast array of emotions I have experienced, I can TESTIFY that we cannot trust our FEELINGS – that they are not reality and they are so vulnerable and prone to manipulation by the enemy – that’s how he keeps so many of us trapped, but that YOU CAME TO SET US FREE FROM ALL FORMS OF BONDAGE AND SLAVERY.  

I will always have the bipolar disorder, the anxiety, the OCD, the memories of traumas from my childhood and since then…  But I am thankful I have them because they give meaning to the message You have entrusted me to deliver to the hurting.  These struggles give credence to my testimony.  And I know that I will only thrive so long as I stay closely tethered to You, walking day by day, moment by moment in Your Light, Love and Grace.  And that… THAT is the message from my mess.  THAT is my testimony.  That is the power You planned for my life – that is what You created me for. 

***There is a TRIGGER in this paragraph***

So YES, in my life… allllllll that suffering that felt like pure hell on earth at the time… even my rape… it was all for a purpose.  If someone had told me that in the middle of it, I probably would have punched them in the throat.   I might have done more than that once they were down… But now that I’m redeemed... REDEEMED and walking in the MARVELOUS LIGHT I know for certain that You do work all things together for the good of those who love You and are called according to Your purposes. 

Praise God!

My prayer today is that You would help me
not to grow weary in sharing,
knowing that not all are ready
to receive the message
the first time it is delivered… 
In Jesus’ Precious Name I Pray,


God has truly given me
Beauty for my Ashes,
Joy for my Mourning... 
He continues each day to take my 
Broken and make it Beautiful...
And I believe firmly
He can do the same in your life.

Until next time...

Please know that God has you, 
in the midst of your deepest dark...

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© K. Michelle Payne 2015

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