David, Peter, and Paul, were strong-hearted and strong-minded souls determined to live for Jesus Christ. These men resonated with my spirit. Whether it was their personalities or their passion for the Lord, I have been drawn to them over the years because I viewed these guys as warriors for Christ.
However, years ago when I was new Believer, I wondered how on earth could Peter deny the Lord after all the time he spent with Jesus in the flesh. Peter was completely devoted to Christ, so it just did not make any sense to me as to why or how he could deny the One True God.
I thought to myself, “I would never deny the Lord.” Later, I would eat my words.
“Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Matthew 26:34 “And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26:75
We all know the story of Peter’s denial. If you did not get the chance to read about my despair and inward denial of Christ, you can read it here, My Story of How I Denied Christ Even Though I’m a Christian (Part 1).
Shortly after that passage, I read about how Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him.
“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. John 21:15-17
“Feed My lambs. Tend My sheep. Feed My sheep.”
Back in 1997 when I was a young believer, those words leaped off the page when I read them. My heart quickened and I realized at that moment that I wanted to minister and disciple other Christian women. What I did not know at the time was that God was going to take me through tumultuous storms and deep dark valleys for many years to come so He could prepare me to do just that–feed and tend His sheep.
God has a specific purpose for each one of His children and sometimes it means that life will be filled with much suffering as we go through the sanctification process. His molding and shaping of our lives can be very painful and difficult but He is making us more effective Kingdom builders.
As the Lord was preparing to use me, my preparation came through long-suffering, persecutions, spiritual attacks, broken relationships, etc…in other words, Christ used pain and heartache to shape me so He could use me. (Not something my flesh is fond of!)
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4
So what is the sanctification process? The word sanctify means:
1. To set apart for sacred use; consecrate.
2. To make holy; purify.
God is setting all of His children apart so we can be used by Him.
Something I did not realize at the time of my despair and denial back in 2009, was that I was in the midst of a spiritual attack. This attack was very different from other attacks that I had experienced over the years because this one was stealth-like and it came out of nowhere and played with my emotions.
The attack lingered for weeks as the enemy was slowing breaking down my faith. I felt oppressed and I was deceived. Satan was gunning for me and he wanted to take me down. Over time, the Lord lifted me out of that pit and He has since restored me. Praise God for His mercy and goodness.
Afterward, I did not dwell on my failure because Satan would have wanted that to happen. Instead, I looked to the Cross for forgiveness and restoration.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1
Jesus doesn’t condemn us, Satan does.
A piece of the puzzle I could not see during that time of my life was why the Lord allowed this attack to take place. A few years later, God showed me.
And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” Luke 22:31-32
Satan asked to go after Peter so he could knock him down and render him ineffective in building the Kingdom of God. Jesus went on to tell Peter, “I have prayed that your faith should not fail you” (but He knew it would), because the Bible says, “when you have returned to Me.”
Even though Christ allowed Satan to attack Peter, God had a purpose for it. So Peter could strengthen the brethren.
Did you catch all of that? I was so excited when the Lord pointed that out to me. In my brokenness, I did not understand why I experienced all that I went through and in His perfect timing, He revealed it to me. It just happened to be a couple of years (not days) after my trial.
He uncovers deep things out of darkness, and brings the shadow of death to light. Job 12:22
As you recall in part 1 of this article, I, too, denied the Lord like Peter. Satan was sifting me as wheat as well.
The Lord sent a stranger to intercede on my behalf to strengthen my faith because it was failing. Not only did He send one intercessor, but He sent another woman to minister to me in the weeks that followed. This woman I knew. She is a beloved woman of God who embodies the love, grace, and mercy of Jesus, in fact, it oozes from her. As I spoke with her and shared my struggles regarding my faith, (yes, I had to be transparent) the Lord used her to shower His unconditional love upon me. In time, my faith started to grow again and I was getting back up on my feet so I could continue to follow Christ.
Ever since I got saved back in 1996, I always wanted to be used by the Lord and offer my life up to Him. Remember too, I wanted to feed and tend His sheep. Back in 2009 when this trial took place and I was filled with denial and despair, I could not see what my life would be like today. I did not know God was preparing me to go out and minister to others as I minister to women in this online world. This ministry didn’t even exist back then!
Through much misery, heartache, and afflictions, I’ve drawn closer to Christ. As a result, God has used me to strengthen the brethren; those whose faith is failing and weak, and those who are hurting. Perhaps it takes one broken vessel to know another one?
God is putting together the pieces of your puzzle as well. Continue to wait on Him and trust in Him. He will reveal His will and purpose for you in His perfect timing. In our society, we often ask God, “Why me?” “Why, Lord?” Why are you allowing this to happen to me?” I have asked the Lord those same questions as I have faced my own trials, but I know God has a purpose for all that we go through (sometimes I just don’t like it!)
“So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.” 2 Timothy 2:10
If you’ve followed my on-line ministry for any length of time, you know I share my scars and although my scars may give you some comfort and encouragement as you go through your own troubles, my scars won’t bring healing to your life, but His scars will. Christ’s scars will restore you.
It is His scars that we should look to when more scars are added to our own lives because His scars bring hope.
“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Job 13:15
May we be found faithful to trust in Him as He slays us, knowing that He is setting us apart for His sacred service.
Live a poured out life for Christ,