Test Driving Your Faith

As a nursing student I always wanted to go where there was a desperate need for services. Somewhere I could be really useful- make an difference. Unsure and unable to leave the region because of my son I told myself that the trenches were all around me. I didn’t need to go far to find someone in need. When I gave my heart to Jesus the thought of going on a mission trip appealed to me very much. The thought of sharing God’s love with people -being His hands and feet, stirred a passion in me I never expressed out loud. Always holding myself back with the question “Who are you to speak the truth? Look at all your failures and mistakes”. But still I said the timid prayer “use me God, I want to serve you”. Hoping that someday, some how I could make an impact in His name. Having the perfect picture in my mind of myself in scrubs assisting during a surgery in a tent at a remote location. Or doing rounds with a doctor, taking supplies to the homeless. I wanted to be useful, on the go, meeting the needs of others. That’s what my “use me God” prayer looked like to me.
The meaning of the phrase “If you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans” has become more clear to me in this stage of my life. God is answering my prayer as you read this, but it is definitely not what I thought I was asking for. I was right in my thinking that the trenches are all around me all those years ago. But it didn’t really hit me until today that I’m actually in them. Instead of me helping others in the trenches, it is me, the lost lonely soul in the trench. Just me and my rescuer Jesus. He is my friend and my companion. He is the kind of friend that puts up with temper tantrums, crying and complaining and my angry shaking fist. And my screaming and yelling “Its not supposed to be like this!”. I was healthy and mobile and now I am not. I had a sense of confidence and the illusion of control. And He took it from me. I feel stripped bare and most days my vision is obstructed by the obstacles in my view.
I ask God on the days I can barely lift my head “how is this fair? How can I be useful to you like this?”. I didn’t know Jesus or anything but lies about Him until I was thirty. Thirty years is a long time to have lies driven into your psyche. I had developed harmful coping mechanisms to deal with the abuse and self-hatred I had been through. Healing seemed an insurmountable task then, and still, most days feels that way. But I have something now that I didn’t have then. Hope outside myself and a relationship with a loving God. Who despite my screaming fits and poor attitude towards Him, never leaves me. What I see as naked and stripped bare of who I once was is seen differently from God’s view. He sees a clean slate. A fresh block of clay for molding, a way to make me fully dependent on Him.
At first the idea of Faith in an deity I couldn’t see seemed ridiculous to me. Faith itself might as well have been defined in a foreign language. The bible says “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). Which is all well and good until you dare to test drive it on uncharted territory. I thought I would be encouraging others from my comfortable throne as God’s daughter. Even though I had suffered emotional and verbal abuse from my son’s father for over half a decade, I had become desensitized to it while it was on-going. When my physical health was affected by the stress my daily life changed. My vision of being the hero in scrubs on the mission field was no longer within my reach. I found that my faith journey had taken a drastic turn onto a bumpy path with a whole new set of obstacles. Some from the fatigue and physical pain and some from the accommodations that I now require. But mostly from changes in my relationships. No longer able to do the fun things we used to enjoy together, many friendships withered. Many caring souls came to my aide at first, then slowly over time, for whatever reason, friendships disintegrated. People had their lives to go back to. When I reached out too often I was met with some of the most painful words I had ever heard “You don’t really want to get better”. I didn’t “trusting God” because I was still fearful of my ex (even though I was still receiving threats) and the worst one was always “you lack faith” even though I was putting my best efforts in. I felt like a lost cause. All the messages say the same thing “it’s your fault”.
Its true that most people don’t understand trauma and illness until they experience it. It’s a blessing for those who don’t. But it doesn’t stop them from saying those hurtful things. From their perspective God’s truths make perfect sense. They read it and they believe it. Everything looks pretty from the outside, until they end up in the trench, wherever that may be. More so now with my physical illness then with my emotional struggles do I find myself test driving these truths over enormous faith obstacles. But if I hadn’t been here I wouldn’t have known how true and faithful God’s love is. I wouldn’t need Him close to me like I need air to breathe. I wouldn’t be shouting from the trenches the goodness of God. God knew I would need Him, so he put me in the perfect spot to find Him.
Summoning grace for the people who came to their faith in a less arduous manner, especially those who speak into a situation they have not lived themselves, requires patience and a tolerance I hadn’t expected. But somehow its typical of my faith journey thus far. For each obstacle that lays in my path there is a miracle waiting to be found at just the right time. Anyone can have a messy life, its how you act when you’re in it that counts. We are all just test-driving our way through this life. Through the ups and downs of our faith. I am more and more grateful each time I crash that I’m not living for this life alone, but for the promise of eternity.
If this has touched you in some way I want to encourage you that your faith is not inferior because your journey is bumpy. God didn’t give me this comfort so it could end with me. He gave it to me that I might share it with you. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor. 1:3). Through every pothole, pit and patch of quick sand God has been with me, His comfort never further than the whisper of His name away. When I step back and look closely I can count a miracle for every struggle that seemed impossible while I was in it. I take comfort that “with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26)
A shout out and thank you to Pastor Matt Tapley, whose recent sermon(s) inspired me to step away from a lie; dig this piece out of the trash bin and put the polishing touches on it.
I pray it blesses you, Tracy xo

One thought on “Test Driving Your Faith

  1. Wow. Thanks for sharing Tracy. This sure affected me and I pray God will lead the right people to read this soon and be encouraged in their valleys. ❤️

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