I love hearing how our Equip Her classes have had an impact on the women who attend them. At our end-of-the-year Cele-Brunch several of you shared with us what you had learned this semester. Here’s what Kayla Sperling had to say.
The point of this map is to slowly review your life, first separating it into chapters, and then looking at themes, high points, low points, etc. . . . with the purpose of seeing how God has been at work all along and perhaps realizing what God has taught us.
When I started the Life Map, I was excited, first of all, because I’m really nerdy and love doing anything that feels like school, but also because I love stories, and I love seeing God’s hand in my story.
But when I divided my life into chapters, things started to get tougher. My chapters were titled “pre-cancer,” “cancer,” “post death,” “depression,” and “post baby.”
My mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was 9 years old. She died of cancer when I was 15. The following years were full of grief, struggle, and a lot of severe depression. But the severity of my circumstances is not the point! We all have hurts, disappointments, and struggles. The point is, we are all trying to hear from God in the midst of whatever struggle we are facing. That’s what I want to focus on today.
During the second or third week of the study in the book of Ruth, I started to feel a very strong connection to Naomi. She’s very honest about what’s going on in her heart . . . in fact, she comes right out and tells everyone to start calling her Mara – which means bitter.
Now, I would honestly prefer if you stick to calling me Kayla . . . however, I do want to admit to you all today that being surrounded by death and grief my entire life has given my heart a strong tendency toward bitterness and fear.
I want to think that my bitterness isn’t outright against God, because that’s not a pretty thing to admit. But when people tell me God is in control, I feel the bitterness start to boil. That’s how I know that my issue isn’t with “life” or the “cards that have been dealt to me.” Just like Job realized, when you have a bone to pick with the way life has turned out, you go straight to the source.
God is in control. He is the author. And that’s where the struggle comes.
I truly do want to believe that God is good. I want to believe that He can be trusted.
But truth be told, when I look at my last chapter, “post baby,” I get very fearful thinking about what the REAL title is going to turn out to be.
So week after week, after coming face-to-face with this whole Bitterness-thing, I just sat and stared at my life map. I was bitter about my past and fearful about the future. So I just stared at the paper, tapped my pen, and hoped nobody would notice that I looked unhappy.
The FINAL assignment was to come to class with a story or summary plotted out so that we could see what God has been doing throughout our lives.
As I was trying to sift through the grief of my story, trying to make sense and find hope, I started to write out my thoughts. And as I wrote (AND CRIED A LOT) God spoke to my heart.
Hebrews 11 is often called the Bible Hall of Fame. You’re probably familiar with it. The passage begins – “BY FAITH . . .” and continues to list examples of Bible heroes who walked their lives by faith, many never seeing what they’d been promised. The passage culminates accounting numerous men and women who were brutally murdered for being Christ-followers.
And then come the verses that God whispered to my heart:
Hebrews 12: 1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the [Author] and perfecter of faith . . . so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
He is the author. He IS THE AUTHOR.
This is just so hard. And I know the theology of suffering and sin and his sovereignty is thick and complicated, but really, it comes down to a few simple truths, and He spoke them all to me that night.
He said to me, Your story has not been perfect. But I AM THE PERFECTER, and I am making all things new.
He saw in my heart a longing for closure, security, resolution. And He answered . . . You will not see resolution to your story here on Earth, but you don’ t have to wonder . . . You already know the resolution. The resolution is what gave Jesus strength to endure the cross. The joy set before Him was knowing that, through the cross, everything would be made right.
And He saw the weariness in my heart, the hesitance to hope, to take joy in life, to let myself enjoy the freedom and life that he has given me.
And He said . . . Do not grow weary. Do not lose heart. I am the Author of your story, and it’s a story of redemption, hope, and ultimate resolution.
Friends, if you are battling to trust Jesus with your story, please know you are not alone. But I am hoping you will come along with me on this journey of learning to trust that the Author is Good, He is Just, He is merciful, and in the end, the story will be resolved. It will be a story full of beauty and redemption–a story that points to the faithful love of a father who never gave up on his children.
And every time I say this out loud, it makes me cry, because it’s not easy. It breaks my heart to think of what may come . . . but sin wasn’t God’s idea, and the fact that He, in his goodness, came close to us to bring us out of our sinful misery . . . that’s what brings me to my next step:
One step closer to Jesus, clinging to Him, trusting that whatever story He writes for my life . . . it is good.