This week's post is from a woman I met last year through a church event. Since, I've paid attention to her FB posts; and have seen she is a woman who honors and loves God. Stephanie has boldly proclaimed him and given Him glory in the midst of weaknesses, blessings, and life as a single mom of 4. We met for coffee recently and I asked her to pen a post. I hope you enjoy what she shares below. I hope you take it as an encouragement to spend time falling into God's arms. May you consider coming to this Wednesday's "Worship-prayer" session, October 5th at 7pm at Webster Recreation (read participant's feedback from the 1st session here and event details HERE). Or maybe even consider an event tomorrow with Angie Smith at Browncroft Community Church (details here)
To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances; To seek Him, the greatest adventure; To find him, the greatest human achievement. - Augustine
post by Stephanie Maus -
I’m pretty confident you may have found yourself in this state of confusion; you open the fridge to find something to fill your hunger and yet nothing seems right. If you are as crazy as me, you open the fridge again and nothing has changed since you looked five minutes ago! And then there are times you may binge on everything you see and are only left with an upset stomach and discomfort to show.
Dissatisfaction. Disillusionment. Disappointment. Even Despair.
We have all been there. “I had hoped it would turn out this way.” “I had placed my future on that.” What do we do when the ache won’t be filled? Where do we turn when we have exhausted all other options?
This is the exact place I found myself almost 9 years ago. With many financial losses, a failed marriage, and struggling to raise my four small kids on my own, I was left to see the raw me. The me that hopelessly needed a Savior. The me that couldn’t hold it all together anymore. But what happened as some of the worst days of my life were the very thing that God used to set me free.
You see, I grew up as a “good Christian girl.” I could quote scripture, lead Bible studies, share the gospel and follow a “straight line.” I could tell you what the Bible had to say about just about anything and feel confident that I had a chapter and a verse to back it up. I led worship at church, wrote songs about God and ran women’s church events. But one thing I lacked. I didn’t know the depths of me. I didn’t know by experience how prone I am to wander. I didn’t know my heart could be full of bitterness, anger, and paralyzed by fear of a God I didn’t know how to trust. That is, until the day God saved me from myself.
One day, in the perfect storm of events in my life God literally brought me to my face in my living room. There was in me a pain no medication could cure, a loneliness no person could fill, and a depression I couldn’t shake. I despaired of my life and was rapidly bleeding and dying spiritually. The hisses from the enemy were clear and loud. “ Where is God in this?”, “You have been living a lie.” “If this is Christianity, why stay?” I was weakened in my spirit and body and told God, “I am out. Thanks for the ride, but this will be the last time I talk to you and I don’t even care!”
Silence. Moments of what seemed to be unending silence.
And then came the sweetest of memories as fond whispers in my soul….
“Who made you?” Was the question coming from above.
“God made me.” I sobbed
“Why did God make you?” Another tender and pressing question.
“God made me and all things for His own glory.” I said, slowly.
Wait. What? God made me and all things in order to make much of Him? How can this be true? How in the living world could God use this mess of a woman and this mess of a situation to show His goodness to me and others? It was almost like a promise and a dare from Him.
From that very minute I made a statement to God. “Ok, if I am really your responsibility and you are saying you can show some kind of good to me and others through this darkness, I will trust you for today. That’s it. Just today!” A measure of peace and reassurance swept over me that I had never experienced before. My spirit sought out something comforting outside of myself so I turned to familiar passages in the Bible and Psalm 118:17 jumped straight out of the page. Psalm 118:17- “I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord.” I didn’t know much, but I knew that I knew this verse was for me. Somehow, someway, I would one day tell about this. Not what great things I have done, but what the power of Jesus had done in me. A new rush of belief blew in.
I hungered for more of what I was getting from Him so I asked him for a scripture that I could cling to. If my life were going to continue I would need to believe and live what the scriptures said. One scripture turned into two, which turned into a whole journal of truths I needed to cling to in order to stay afloat. Everywhere I went I started carrying scripture so when anxiety or despair reared its head I attacked it with a new thought and a new perspective. Before long, I was asking Him to help me to believe the scriptures and started using them as prayers. I told Him that I had no belief on my own and He would have to infuse any faith He wanted me to have. The Bible became His love letter and I started to get so hungry and thirsty for what He would show me if I took the time to seek Him. These special spaces with Him in the morning were something I longed for. Some days I couldn’t find anything special from His Word, but I made a commitment to Him to show up every morning willing to listen and be still. I not only needed Him, I wanted Him. He was becoming the Lover of my soul.
I would just sit in church and cry. I couldn’t sing or teach but I could get the kids ready, show up and cry. This was also His gift to me. Having no real place, bringing nothing to the table but allowing Him to speak Words of hope was again making me realize his unconditional love and how graced and valued I really am.
I also knew I needed to allow a few safe friends into my life who could speak truth as well. It is a humbling but healing thing to show others your true need and let them know you are not Ok. The Holy Spirit used the love, service, generosity, and faithful prayers from God’s family to help me to see His greatness. This started a journey of believing in the power of prayer and giving that I hold fast to until this day!
I believe we all long for authentic intimacy with our Creator but sometimes we are afraid to be honest with ourselves, others, and most importantly, Him. Sometimes we would rather hide behind the ‘what I should be’ rather than give Him ‘what I already am.’ We compare the Lover of our Souls to the best love that we have experienced here on earth. It is like, He is ‘Great, but not enough.’
Nothing could be further from the truth.
God is not just “great.” God is not an app to put on our phones. The Holy Spirit is not like my best teacher, best parent or best friend. He is other. He is above. He is matchless and He is the main, beautiful point of life.
That thing? That longing in your soul? That soul ache and fixation that nothing seems to fill? We look in the “fridge” in our lives and binge on media, careers, relationships, status, materialism, pleasures, or anything that seems to scratch the incessant itch.
That is a God created spot. He invites us in to a place that has room for needs only He can meet.
“This is the essence of sin, and the story of all our lives. We have all set our hopes onto something or someone we thought was really impressive and important. Something we thought would really make us happy . . . money, another person, a position. So we examine the thing. We lean on it a little bit. We test it. We taste it. It seems good. We respect it a little more, so we lean on it a little more. Pretty soon we trust enough to place the full weight of our soul upon it, and then . . . crash. We end up disappointed. Despairing. Why? Because it wasn’t God. And everything crumbles under the weight of worship except God.”
― Matt Papa
Do I have all the answers and live a life now free of questions, tensions, or selfishness? Most certainly not. But what happened on that day and since was a new shift in my relationship with God. We are all in process and I am a recovering Pharisee who intensely still needs Jesus. The difference is that now I experience the beauty of Him and know where my source comes. Seeing the troubled and scary parts of me made me want to quit until I fell into the arms of a God who is loving enough to not walk away, strong enough to carry my weight, and powerful enough to keep pushing me forward with His grace.
Maybe your story isn’t like mine. Maybe your struggles, past, and perspective are very different. That is okay. A few things unite us all, every one of us:
We all live in a broken world and experience heartache, loss, pain, and suffering of all varieties.
We will all face our lack of control at one point or another in life.
We all have a desperate need for Jesus (whether we recognize it or not.)
We all have a choice to follow Him or to stand on the sidelines critiquing those who do.
In the words of St Augustine to our God: “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they find rest in you.”
So if you are tired of “still not finding what you are looking for”, there is hope. It’s just around the corner where your knees bend and your heart bows to Jesus and His great love and exclusive purposes. Don’t settle for anything less than what you were created to be.
Ask Him for humility and admit you are not the point of why the world was created.
Be brave, and trust that He can meet every one of your thirsty needs as you keep coming back for more.
And lastly, be gut wrenchingly honest, pour out your heart to Him, ask Him for the gift of faith, and find yourself held by a love that will not let you go.
---Stephanie Maus is a single mom of four wild and wonderful kids (15, 14, 12, and 10) and a business owner of her in-home hair salon called Renew. She currently enjoys leading Bible studies out of her home in Webster NY and teaching Women’s Sunday School class at Pittsford Community Church as well as one on one mentoring. Her joys include beaches, running, laughter, heart to heart talks, reading, and music.
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Into the Waters Ministry is a 501(C)3 public charity. Our mission is to inspire you to linger longer with God, to draw near and know Christ. For those willing, it is a place of supernatural hope and healing. I know this first hand. My name is Gina; and I'm the founder of the ministry. My 20+ year journey with God has been centered on immersing myself in the safe relationship God offers, learning about the power of surrender, and receiving His life in greater measure! I've experienced radical healing in mind, body, and spirit and believe God for more! I long for others to position themselves for the same! Into the Waters' resources help you spend quality time with God to enter His rest and receive His divine provision. Let us help you experience more of God! Read the blogs, try the exercises, participate in online sessions! His promises for life and wholeness are offered to all! But you have to say "Yes!"