“You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…” (Eph 2:1 ESV) “But God being in rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…” (Eph 2:4-5).
Yesterday’s sermon centered around the words “you were” and “but God.” The only thing I heard Pastor David say after those four words were “you were broken but God intervened…” This has rocked me to my core! For the past 24 hours I have been pondering how I turn the “you were/I was” past tense statements and situations in my life into present tense “I am” statements. For example:
“I am broken.”
“I am lost/homeless/vagabond.”
“I am unqualified.”
There are so many more I could add. “I am broken” is the toughest one because there are seasons where God breaks and bends to stretch us and mold our character more in His Image. Through brokenness we become more of who He wants us to be. In all honesty, my “I am broken” statement fuels the other two on this list. My problem is there is no “But God” Job like response, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15). I become depressed and defeated. This is not God honoring. I need to remind myself that in the past “I was broken and defeated, but God intervened and pulled me from the muck and mire, restoring me.” This gets my thoughts off of me and onto God. I need to preach to myself that while I am momentarily broken, joy does come in the morning (Ps 30:5).
The devil enjoys throwing at me, “You were in a home but now you are a vagabond.” Again, there is no “But God.” I need to rebuke myself saying, “yes, I was in a nice home, but God saw fit for it to be sold.” Either I can be bitter and angry about selling my house or I can trust God. I know that God is working on my character through this. If there is one thing that I know about God from personal experience is that when we rush God’s character development in us life only gets messier and more difficult.
I do not think/feel/believe my Master’s program in any way, shape or form prepared me for this PhD program. As such, I constantly berate myself saying, “I am absolutely unqualified to pursue a PhD,” but God has called me to Academia for His reason and purpose. I know this because I do not have God’s peace to leave/quit the program. I am intimidated in many ways by my cohort’s knowledge, background and experience. I am afraid I will hold these great men of God back from learning all that God has for them. While it is hard and I struggle with anxiety and time management, it is like God is saying to me, “Mandy, you are focusing on the wrong things: work, learn, grow. Trust Me!”
All of this boils down to trust and control. I was not, am not, nor will I ever be in total control, but God is and He is worthy of my trust. I was/am broken, but God is in control and I can trust Him to develop my character as He wills, wants and desires. I was/am a vagabond, but God is in control of my housing situation, I need to trust Him. I was/am unqualified, but God is merciful and gracious to help me in my time of need (Heb 4:16).
What are the “You Were…But God” situations in your life?
Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lord, dispel the enemy’s lies with Your Truth. Lord God, for those of us who are hurting and broken whether it be through health struggles, family struggles and/or work struggles may we preach to ourselves that You are in our midst. Lord God, helps us to relinquish control and trust You. May we not rush nor despise the pruning that You are doing in our lives. Thank You God that we are no longer dead in our sins because of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Amen.