As was mentioned in my previous post, this is part 2. There are 3 things I want to cover in this post so it will be lengthier than most. I again want to start out by saying that this is not an easy post to write. Exposing the innermost private and personal aspects of my life is not something that is familiar to me nor is it something that comes easily. I don’t typically plan posts like these. The Holy Spirit speaks and when He does, I have to be obedient. This was a post that I have been both looking forward to and dreading at the same time. Introductions out of the way, here we go::
March 17, 2010. A 19 year old, deeply wounded, sick, almost irreparably broken little girl with her bangs in her face was sitting in a dark corner of Bacone College’s chapel, counting down the minutes until she knew when everyone would be asleep in her dorm so she could do the unthinkable. Distraught and in an immeasurable amount of pain, she saw a way out and was going to take it. She had decided she was too far gone to be saved and too far gone to be loved. She was had great friends, great family, was involved in a praise and worship team, but still felt empty. The mentors that loved her the most and saw the greatest potential in her couldn’t reach the depth of her pain. She felt more alienated and alone than ever before and was going to ultimately take the only way out to end her suffering that night.
That little girl was me. My roommate at the time convinced me to go to worship with her that night. What was basically one of my darkest secrets was that while I was on a praise and worship team, I had fully turned my back on God. Deep in my heart, I think I knew I had a calling for ministry, but didn’t know how to handle such a strong calling. I wasn’t mature enough in my faith for it and in essence, couldn’t handle it. I chose to run in fear. I let my fear, masked as anger, dictate every area of my life. I was pushing people away right and left. Trusted confidants were included in that. Being in that worship service was literally what saved my life.
I remember so vividly the sermon was preached by Dr. Leroy Thompson over the Armor of God in Ephesians. It was the only thing that got through to me. It was that moment where I realized how intense spiritual warfare was. 6 years later, I see where God was at work and I see areas where He had prepared me, but I didn’t want it. I was relying on my own strength rather than going to God to carry me through. It was that moment that I realized that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, and against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
To this day, that’s a sermon I go back to and reflect on 6 years later. I recently wrote two papers for my New Testament Literature and Homiletics classes on this sermon because it has made such a lasting impact on me.
There was a point in the service where I finally let go. I all but ran to the altar, poured my heart out to Him and begged Him to take me back. He did.
I’ve struggled, fallen short, made similar mistakes since this night but this was the first and only time I’ve really experienced God in a physical form. That night, I felt either an angel, the Holy Spirit in a tangible form, or something, take hold of me, wrap me in their arms, and just held me.
I share this night not to rehash ancient history from my personal life but because if I were asked to pinpoint when I felt most called to ministry, it was this night. This was really where I decided I was going to wholly devote my life to God. No turning back. Full speed ahead.
I’ve strayed a few times since then in running from that calling because I was scared. Each and every time, God was always there to brush the dirt off, help me up, and like a father, told me to keep going and keep trying.
It has been said that your story becomes your glory. I didn’t fully understand the brevity of that statement until 5 years later. In my case, the tests I put through became my testimony. The satanic assaults I’ve experienced that were initially my opposition became my opportunity.
March 17, 2015. I reached a point on this day a year ago where everything leading up to this point paid off 70x7. I had returned to Bacone January of 2015 from NSU. I felt that familiar tug at my heart saying it was time to come back to ministry and spent my entire spring break that year praying about it. I was ready to come back. My heart was in a completely different place. I was healthier than I had ever been, albeit still struggled, but was coping in healthier ways. There were issues I was (and still am) getting help for. It was time.
March 17, 2015, I posted on my social media profile::
“I’m so thankful for God’s healing. My life is taking a direction I never in my wildest dreams could ever see coming. I am so, so, so thankful for those moments where everything comes full circle. This journey began 5 years ago as a snot-nosed bratty freshman who was angry at the world. Thank the Lord I grew up!! I am so proud to say that I am making a return to Christian ministry. I’m in my car in tears just thinking about how far I’ve come and how many obstacles I’ve had to overcome to get to this point. I feel so blessed and thankful for this opportunity and I’m so excited for the future.”
March 17, 2015. I declared my double major in English and Christian counseling. When I came back to Bacone just a few months before this, I had gone to a discipleship conference in Colorado Springs and also an international student discipleship training conference in Oklahoma City. Both instances, God was laying ministry heavily on my heart. I knew it was in God’s plan for me, but I was less sure in what aspect of ministry I was called to be involved in. God ultimately revealed to me that I was called to Christian counseling.
These are the moments I love the most. The same mentors and life teachers I had teaching me, investing in me, pouring into me, putting up with me, (and for whatever reason, loving me) are the same ones that are doing the exact same thing. I’ve gained a few mentors over the years but I would not be where I am today without my Bacone Center for Christian Ministry tribe supporting me.
It brings tears to my eyes when I look back and see how far God has brought me. When God moves, you all but have to run to keep up. Little did I know how much He would move in my life in just 365 days.
In my struggles to get where I am today, I could have allowed myself to get defeated. I could have let my situations and circumstances be the opposition I used as a cop-out to derail me from God’s plans. To be transparent, it is only by the grace of God that I’m here today. It is only by the grace of God that I was able to overcome everything I have had to overcome to get where I am today.
My journey has not been easy by any means. There were times I could have given up. The main thing I have had to remember is that on my worst day ever in my life, God was still God. I didn’t die. I woke up the next morning, ready to keep fighting. In being transparent, I needed to go through the past 6 years. I know my faith in God wouldn’t be as strong as it is today if the past 6 years hadn’t of taken place. While I wish the scars I bear weren’t mine, they’ve made me more effective in my ministry. While my life would be radically different if these situations hadn’t of happened, I wouldn’t be Sarah. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today if these obstacles hadn’t of happened.
God puts people in your life at the right time. That leads me to my third point.
March 17, 2016. I am a senior at Bacone, a year away from graduating as a double major in English and Christian counseling. I am active on this blog as well as juggling two praise teams— at Bacone and at FBC Summit. I’m engaged in the social media ministry at Summit, and play a role in the women’s ministry.
6 years ago tonight, I was in a dark corner of Bacone’s chapel. I came in ready to die but left ready to live for God.
6 years later, on this night, I’m sitting at my dining room table, everyone else in the house asleep but me. I’ve got a sermon outline, Homiletics notes, and a Bible in front of me. Across from me is a pile of books about the trial of Jesus and 2 counseling handbooks. My spiritual tests became my testimony. My story became my glory and I’m already doing ministry by sharing that story.
I’ve always said that I never want to live my life for myself—I want to live my life knowing I’ve used my gifts and talents for the glory of God.
6 years ago, my eyes had seen death and destruction. They were lifeless and full of heartache and pain.
6 years later, my eyes are full of life. They’ve seen God breathe life into dead situations and bring forth new growth and life in spite of how dark any given situation may look. They have happiness and joy again.
I share my story because this night 6 years ago was really when my journey began. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was what has shaped my ministry. It was honestly the course in which my journey would begin.
6 years later, I’ve come full circle.
In closing, as I sit here with tears streaming down my face, all I can do is thank God for how far He brought me. I’m not that sad, broken, depressed, sick little girl anymore.
I never want this blog to be about me. I never want whoever is reading this to see this is Sarah’s writing. I want the reader to see this as God using Sarah to relay a message He has.
It’s in these weak moments that true character is revealed. In moments of opposition or adversity, we have a choice to either rise up or admit defeat.
The question now:: which do you choose? In the darkest and toughest situations, will you rise up in staying faithful and obedient to God or will you admit defeat, lay down, and die?
These are questions I have to ask myself constantly. We all fall short but God’s grace is sufficient and His mercies are new daily.
No matter how big or insurmountable your situation may seem, know that God’s got it. There’s nothing He can’t do.
As I prepare to be licensed in ministry, this night is never far from my mind. In the moments where I get overwhelmed with preparing for licensing as well as the daily pressures of being a fulltime student about to graduate, I’m reminded of where I was 6 years ago tonight. If God can carry me through that situation, He can carry me through anything.
God moved in glorious ways that night. He brought me out of one of the darkest situations I had ever been in. He moved in my life and He’ll move in yours.
God is good.
Love and light,