I spent the years between 1974 and 1987 passionately committed to Jesus Christ through a ministry that He had led me to in a powerful and miraculous way as part of the Jesus Movement of the 1970's. I spent four of those years involved in a four year leadership training program and the other years leading my fellow believers in the cities of Chicago and Washington, D. C. as well as in a small city in Ohio. During this time I saw the Lord work powerfully to win new souls to Himself, to heal the sick and to work mighty miracles. I also worked at the headquarters of this ministry developing correspondence courses for others to study the scriptures at home. I spent hours every day learning and sharing the books of Romans, Ephesians, Thessalonians and the Book of Acts. This was my life and I loved it.
Then an "earthquake" hit my world. Slowly the ministry I had served the Lord through began to deteriorate due to exposed sexual sin among the top leaders as well as doctrinal error that had crept in. The aftershocks rocked my world and eventually I felt I had to separate myself from this ministry in order to be true to my calling from God.
I returned to my hometown and began the process of rebuilding my life. I never for a moment lost my faith in God as my Heavenly Father or in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, but I had a great deal of trouble finding a community of believers to be a part of. I tried many different churches only to discover that there was no power, no Holy Spirit, no understanding of the things I had learned that had been so transformative to my life. I became spiritually "homeless."
As the years passed, the Lord continued to work in my heart to teach me the Scriptures and to deeply heal me of the lies that had lodged in my heart and hindered me from the fullness of what God wanted for me. I read many books that powerfully impacted my life and formed relationships with many people, all of whom enriched my life in so many ways. But still, I felt there was something vital that was missing.
Then, I heard about a church in Toronto. I arranged to attend a conference and the moment I walked into the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship building, I knew I had found my way back home. It seemed as though Jesus met me at the door and began to work so powerfully in my heart to bring me into an incredible level of intimacy with him and our Father. My relationship with my Father and my Lord was taken to a whole new level. Love filled my life again and I began to hunger for even more. Mostly, I wanted to be able to serve again; to minister to others out of the abundance I had been given.
But the devil harassed me with lies that said I was too old; that I had wasted the best years of my life; that there was no place for me in ministry. His lies broke my heart but the best I could do was struggle against them because they seemed so true in so many ways.
BUT -- once again my Father came to my rescue. Earlier this week, as I was reading Bill Johnson's book, "God is Good," I stopped reading and began to pray. My prayer was a simple one, "Father, show me your goodness." Suddenly, He spoke, saying that it was His intention "to redeem the years of my life that I felt had been lost." He told me that it was His intention to "work all things together for good" and to "accomplish His purposes for my life." He said that He "planned to completely redeem the years." I stood before Him in awe struggling to believe that He could love me so much that He would be willing to do something so mighty for me. I wondered at how it could be done. I remember standing there looking at Him in my mind's eye and saying, "Look what you're doing for me," over and over again. Then a gratitude of great proportions welled up in my heart and I began to thank Him.
I don't know the details of what my Father intends to do but I have no doubt that He will do it in an exceedingly abundant way. In fact I am realizing now that He started this great act of redemption long before this encounter. Indeed, He has never left me, He has never forgotten me, He has never stopped working for me and in me. He is a very GOOD Father indeed.
More recently, as I was deep in His Presence in worship, I had a vision of Jesus walking up to me with a present for me in His hands. He gave it to me as though it were my birthday. I opened it excitedly and looked inside. There, in the box, was my gift – the box was full of “opportunities.” I knew in that moment that they were opportunities to minister to others according to God’s plans and purposes. And yes, ever since then my life has been filled with people to minister to and opportunities to share what I have so graciously been given. Thank you, my gracious and loving Heavenly Father and my wonderful Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Your goodness and generosity to me is incomprehensible at times but ever so welcome in my life.
Mary L., Jan 2019