There were more than thirty of us in the room.
Each of us standing before God, declaring war against the one thing we felt was holding us back the most. The one thing that had become an obstacle on our path to serve him. Like warriors, we were preparing for battle, revving up to overcome it once and for all. To defeat the enemy, with God leading the way.
I’d been struggling with mine for years.
Maybe because I didn’t grow up in the church, or because I’d only been a Christian for the last 10 years, the enemy used it as a tool to nip and gnaw at me when I was most vulnerable. It kept me on the sidelines more often than I’d like to admit, and held me back from pushing forward with ministry opportunities I wanted to pursue.
I was ready, and willing, to give it the boot. To overcome it once and for all.
This feeling of ungodliness.
I psyched myself up, prayed continually, and stood toe-to-toe with the enemy, ready to take it down.
Nearly thirty went before me, accomplished their task, and celebrated.
When it was my turn, I was the only one who failed.
The. Only. One.
It felt cruel to me, this failure. And almost as if my obstacle was being thrown in my face. My struggle with feeling ungodly around groups of Christians had actually manifested in real life. In front of everyone. A roomful of sold-out-for-Christ Christians.
As everyone celebrated their victories, I was embarrassed. And hurt. And, just plain mad.
For whatever reason, God had shown up for more than thirty people, and left me standing alone. I could feel the enemy breathing down my neck, poking and laughing at me, telling me that I should have listened to him instead.
I left the room and didn’t want to come back. I visited the nearby bathroom and threw a little pity party. I listened out for an explanation from God, but found only silence.
My mind played tricks with me that day. Did God have my back? Was I even his? Why would he leave me there like that? Why did he help everyone but me?
I let the questions flow this time instead of holding them in their proper place. I accepted the fact that it just wasn’t my turn somehow. And put on a brave face.
As I drove home from the event, I had a long talk with God. Okay–so, it was completely one-sided, and gave no room for input. But I wanted to know:
What was I doing wrong?
Was I being selfish?
Was it a pride issue?
Why wouldn’t he show up for me like he did for all the others?
How could he leave me there like that?
Didn’t he know that was my one THING? The THING I struggled with the most?
Did he like me this way? Did he want me to feel less than?
Did he care about me at all?
Then . . . a whisper in the corner of my mind.
I’m still using it.
I sat stunned. My running mouth momentarily shut.
The very thing that haunted me the most. The single thing that seemed to hold me back again and again, was something God found useful. And I realized something new:
God won’t allow a breakthrough on something that he is
still using to mold us.
It made me think of other breakthroughs I’d prayed for in my life:
- Breakthroughs . . . in relationships with family members
- Breakthroughs . . . in finances
- Breakthroughs . . . in my marriage
- Breakthroughs . . . with friendships
- Breakthroughs . . . in my ministry
All denied at times when I was sure a breakthrough was coming.
All used to mold, and shape, and sometimes painfully carve me into the person he wanted me to be.
While I pouted, and sulked, and felt tiny and unworthy to God, he was busy using these very things to create the woman he saw inside. Stronger and more fit for his service than I’d been before.
A new woman who:
- Became more vulnerable with other women so that she could be used to help them
- Reached to learn more about him so that she could in turn teach others
- Felt small in this world so that she could help others to reach toward something bigger than anything she could ever offer
And so today, I thank him for the breakthroughs that don’t come.
For the desperate prayers that don’t get answered. For the cries in the night that ask him to fix it all. And the mornings when they’re not fixed.
Because he knows that what he has for me is much better than what I’m asking him for myself. And he won’t settle for giving me less than his very best. He won’t allow me to come out of the fire half-baked. He won’t grant me the things I long for most, if those are the very things that he is using to make me stronger.
What breakthrough are you praying for right now?