Thursday, December 3, 2009

Don’t GIVE Up, Just GIVE, By Kelli Zaniel

I am not a neatly packaged together person who has always done exactly what God intended for her. Unfortunately, my past is marked by divorce and physical abuse. The evil one had his choking grasp around my life which introduced depression and brokenness to my early twenties. Those things do not define me as a child of God but they do contribute to who I am as a woman of God. Because of those life-changing events, I am no stranger to feelings of abandonment, shame and rejection. Sometimes rejection sticks out its tongue, wags its fingers and hisses right in my face. For this reason, I tend to guard my heart by carefully avoiding situations that could reintroduce me to the howling hisses of good old fashioned rejection.

This is what ended up happening with my friend Mary. Over the past year, I have invited Mary and her family to all of our church events. Regretfully, her answer has always been, “no.” Selfishly, I decided to plop myself down in the shoulder along the easy road and wallow in a puddle of personal rejection. I admit that I pursued my will and not God’s by giving up on her. Never again would I invite her or her family to anything. And just like that, “I was done!”

When I attended Lysa Terkeurst’s speaking engagement this week, she mentioned a “Bible friend,” of hers who never gave up. The “Bible friend,” pursued Lysa with devotion and sincere concern over her salvation. “She always had a Bible verse for everything,” Lysa remarked. After having an abortion, Lysa fell into a deep dark hole of depression. She lay on her couch not knowing what to do or where to go. She looked over and spotted a handwritten note resting on her coffee table. Lysa grabbed the letter, folded back the envelope and discovered a note signed by her unsuspecting “Bible friend.” At a time when Lysa needed it most God reached out His loving and merciful hands through the note as she opened it and read these words from Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Lysa testified that God’s grace captured her that day because of the persistence of a girl who, most of the time, got on her nerves because of her faith. Her message to the crowd and God’s personal message to me that night was, “DON’T GIVE UP ON HER!” We never truly know how our presence or absence in someone’s life will affect them. I knew I had a divine appointment that I absolutely could not miss!

Instead of allowing my fear of rejection to weasel its way back into the core of my heart, I would claim a promise God gave me. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those hearts who are fully committed to Him,” (2 Chron. 16:9). God doesn’t ask us to do anything in our own strength. This verse specifically tells us that the Lord looks over the earth for people He can use and equip with the strength necessary to “get the job done!” If I profess to be “fully committed,” then my actions need to follow my words. Do my actions reveal a loyal heart or a self serving one? My actions must follow so that others will know that “Christ’s grace was not without effect,” (1 Cor. 15:10), in my life.

The “author of my faith,” (see Heb 12:2) began stretching me out of my comfort zone once again. I knew Mary had been struggling with the birth of her third child and I knew my mission was to be there to encourage her… not to internalize or to take things personally. Yesterday, I wrapped up Lysa’s book, “The Bathtub is Overflowing But I Feel Drained,” placed a sparkling silver bow on top and ventured out to deliver not only a book to an unsuspecting friend, but to deliver on an assignment God had given me. Instead of “GIVING UP,” I decided to “GIVE BACK.” I gave to my friend that day, but in reality she gave me more than I ever could have imagined when her smiling face greeted me as she opened the door! More importantly, my obedience and accountability to the Lord kept me motivated in my pursuit to humbly serve Him.

“Because His grace was not without effect,” (1 Cor. 15:10) my goal will be, “to please Him,” (2 Cor. 5:9) “by working with all my heart for the Lord and not for men,” (Col. 3:23).

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