Never give up, that’s the encouragement Candid Gal, Jessica Schneider, is sharing with us today.
Please join us as we welcome her to our blog.
Being a Christ follower is hard. That is something a friend of mine used to say when I began coming back to church. I secretly disagreed with him because my newfound freedom in Christ made my life so much easier!
Over the years though, I have found that in some aspects, my friend is right. You see, I am a quitter. Growing up I never followed through with anything.
When I took dance, I quit because I didn’t want to perform on stage in front of the crowd. Fear.
I quit color-guard in high school. Insecurity about not being good enough.
I quit theater group because I was shy. Fear again.
I quit sailing because I was made fun of when my arms weren’t long enough to reach down off the dock and fill a bucket of water. Insecurity again.
The list of things I quit could go on and on. Piano. Viola. Sports. My Jesus. Yes, when I went to college I turned my back on my Jesus. I guess you could say it was about the desire for acceptance. But unfortunately, I found what I thought I desired in all the wrong places, and it wasn’t what I desired at all. I desired a place to be known, a place to be loved, a place where I belonged, and a place where I never wanted to quit.
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’
And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’”
After years of trying to make it on my own, I finally returned to the place I never really wanted to quit or leave. The arms of Jesus. Very early on after I returned to Him, I experienced His love in ways I could have never imagined. I felt like Isaiah when I fearlessly told God, “Here, I am. I will go anywhere you lead. Send me.” And I meant every word of that prayer… until the hard times came and I wanted to ignore His leading.
When I prayed in fearlessness, I didn’t account for my fears of failure and inadequacy, my insecurities, and worries of disappointment. More than once, that initially bold and sincere prayer has become has seemed like the scariest prayer I have ever prayed. You see, although I have come a long way since my childhood days of quitting everything, the desire to quit can still emerge when things get hard. In fact, as I was writing trying to write this blog post about not quitting, I have wanted to do just that.
“My eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty”
A year after I began to truly follow Christ, I was asked to give my testimony at a retreat. It was one of those requests that I knew I had to accept, but it scared me because I would be explaining how God transformed my life in front of almost 90 people and that would require sharing some big mistakes and deep hurts.
Would my story make a difference? Would I stumble on my words and fail? Could God use it to impact the lives of others? Would He be glorified? Would putting my life on display be worth it? Why can’t I just go on with my life following Christ without sharing the struggles that I have been through in the past? Can you hear the fears and insecurities in my thoughts?
Before I gave my testimony, I knew that I had to be as open and vulnerable as I could, but when I walked up to the microphone I almost cried. I wanted to quit. I could have just walked out, packed my bags, and driven home. The retreat would have continued. But God quickly gave me strength that could only have come from Him to share about my struggles.
I shared about the emptiness I felt when I lived a life apart from Him and about the joy and peace that came with following Him. As I shared my story, I could see the pain in some of the women’s eyes. It was a look that let me know that my story was their story. My struggle was their struggle. The God who healed my heart was working to heal theirs.
After I shared my story, a girl came over to me in tears. She asked to talk to me. We sat in the cold outside as she told me that my story was her story and she has the same struggles I had. She wondered how God could ever forgive her. Her growth in Christ took off after that and today she is a strong Christian woman. My eyes have seen the King, Lord Almighty.
Sometimes our struggles intertwine, and our painful pasts bring hope and healing to women in the midst of the storm.
“In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world”
This verse gives me comfort, because following Jesus isn’t easy. Jesus Himself says that it won’t be easy, and that we will have trouble.
Trouble makes me want to quit. Fear and insecurity make me want to quit. Worries about failing make me want to quit.
Quitting would be easier.
But Jesus promises that He will overcome the world, and that promise covers all my fears of failure, my worries about not being good enough, and my anxiety about being disappointed. When I lean on Him, His love reaches deeper than my desire to quit, and gives me the strength and courage to follow where He leads so I can stand back and behold all He is and again say, My eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.
Beautiful one, I know it’s hard, and I know how easy it would be to turn your back and walk away. But when we are obedient and follow where He leads, He is glorified. So, keep on praying those bold scary prayers. Rest in His strength. Lean into His security. Allow Him to give you the courage and bravery you need to follow His path. He has something beautiful ahead.
God, thank you. I constantly stand in awe of who You are. I have seen Your glory. Forgive me for always wanting to quit, it is not my true desire. My desire is to follow you. Be my strength, as I am weak. Give me courage, as I want to run. Grant me Your security, when I am overcome with disappointment. My deepest desire is to live for You. Here, I am. I will go. Send me. In Your precious Son’s name. Amen.
“When we are obedient and follow where God leads, He is glorified.” ~ Jessica Schneider