Called By A New Name

Thursday, November 08, 2012

When people ask who I am or what the foundations of my faith are, it would be easy to open the Bible and point to the answers within its pages. But, that doesn’t truly explain my faith, for my faith comes from deep within me, born of my experiences and the manifestation of God in my own life.

Simply put, I am a daughter of the King, accepted, forgiven, renewed and made whole through the cleansing of His redemptive love. God’s mercy and grace have saved me from a life of brokenness and I rejoice today in a life filled with His abundant love!

Last week, as I sat enjoying the comfortable camaraderie of my friend and sister in Christ, Tamara Buchan, I marveled at how God pulls everything together so beautifully. When He wants something shared, he will inspire us to tell our stories, for it is in our testimonies that God’s glory is revealed. I have felt for a while now that God had placed a message on my heart that needed to be shared.

Now, with Tamara’s encouragement and that of my husband, I have begun a series on my blog about marriage.  
But in order to share what I have learned and how far I have come, I need to start at the beginning.

I have always had an awareness of God. From my earliest days, I remember knowing that there was something beyond myself – a Creator that set the world into motion. But, for years, that is all I knew. I didn’t understand the gift of salvation nor how much God truly loves us. I grew up going to church and hearing the lessons taught in Sunday school, but my understanding didn’t go beyond the stories of ancient times that seemed far removed from my life in the suburban U.S. My faith was shallow and immature, like a seed planted just below the surface. But still, it was there, waiting in dormancy for the season of my life to change.

Time passed, and as a young mother in my early 30’s, I gave my life to Christ after hearing for the first time that God created us to be in relationship with Him. It was as if in that moment a light switched on and God became completely real and tangible to me. From that time on, as I opened my heart to Him, the tiny seedling of my faith grew and nourished by His love, its roots entered the fertile soil of my life. But still, I had much to learn about myself and the God of Love. Life is not always easy. Storms will come. Mistakes are made. But our God is always faithful!

When challenges came into my life, I made a nearly fatal mistake. I didn’t turn to the only One who could strengthen, comfort and guide me. Instead, I allowed the seductive lure of this world to draw me into the wilderness where I made a sinful choice that nearly destroyed my life and marriage.

How could that happen to me? I was a Christian and felt I was above the fall. But sin is an insidious enemy. My journey into the valley wasn’t an overnight descent, but a slow decline that began the moment I took my eyes off my Father. I lost sight of Him, but God, in His faithfulness, never lost sight of me. And as it is written in scripture, all things will come to light. My sin was exposed, all was revealed, and I lost everything I had ever held dear — My husband, my family, my home, my dignity and more.

My seemingly perfect life had become twisted into a gnarled root of sorrow and pain. So deep was my despair that to get out of bed in the morning was sometimes all I could do. The rest of my day I would move in a fog as I was buffeted through a series of painful thoughts, self-condemnation and the realization of how lost and alone I had become. Something drew me to my Bible for the first time in months and as I held it, the pages fell open to a verse I never remembered reading before:

“But consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty when you sin. For though He wounds, He also bandages. He strikes, but His hands also heal.” (Job 5:17-18)

Could this be true? Was God still there, even for someone as sinful as I? Was there still hope for my life? In anguish I would fall on the floor in my tiny one bedroom apartment and with my face in the carpet cry out to God to take away my pain…but it stayed. I would pour out my heart to Him night after night after night. I asked Him to make things the way they had been. I prayed for my life to return to the calm and peaceful time when I, in my mind, had it all together. But, my prayers for time to be turned back were met with what I perceived as silence. My cries echoed with a resonating stillness in the empty room as I broke. But somewhere between one “unanswered prayer” and another, He met me. In the middle of my ugliness and self-pity, He sat down beside me.

To put it plainly and simply, God saved my life. He pulled me out of the pit in which I had fallen and healed me. When I placed all my sins and grief at His feet and surrendered my life to Him, He placed His healing hand upon me. Though He allowed consequences into my life that tore at my heart, it was through those consequences I learned just how deep His love for me is.

“Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep.” (Psalm 36:5-6)

My Savior brought me through the fire and made me new. And just like the seed which only opens through the flame, my heart fully opened to God through His refining fire. When I surrendered my will to God and allowed Him to take complete control, my life was transformed and my true identity was born. My God is great! He restored my marriage and mended my family torn apart by the agonizing folly of my sin and I am forever grateful. Yes, I have seen miracles, for I have come to know the incredible saving grace of God. I have learned that no matter how far we fall, we are never beyond His reach. God can and will redeem us when we turn our lives completely over to Him. God does the impossible! No marriage…no life is beyond hope. None is beyond repair, for with God, all things are possible! He is in the business of healing broken hearts and lives. I am now called by a new name. No longer am I broken. I am Redeemed.



In His Grip, Joan



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19 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your story and letting God use you to bring hope to others. Gary and I knew that there was something special about you and Roy and now we know what it is...your marriage is a beautiful testimony of our God's faithfulness and of His redeeming grace and love.

    I am glad you two are in our lives,
    Lisa

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  2. Thank you, Lisa, for your encouragement! We serve a great God, don't we? Roy and I are so thankful for what He has done in our lives and marriage. We are blessed to know you two!

    In Him, Joan

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  3. Debbie says:

    Thank you for sharing your story so honestly Joan. God is merciful. It can be all too easy to fall into temptation. Marriage is hard. So glad you are in a place where you can share how our God loves us and forgives us. Only He can restore us and bring healing to a marriage. You are an inspiration.

    Blessings and love,
    Debbie


    Tamara says:

    Debbie,

    Joan shared your kindness to her….I look forward to getting to know you, blog style!

    Tamara


    Valerie Richardson says:

    Joan, thank you for sharing your powerful testimony of redemption and reconciliation! I am so moved by God’s lovingkindness and by your journey. To look at you and Roy now is to see what true redemption can look like! I am inspired by your love for each other, your family, your God! Better together, better than ever!


    tamara says:

    November 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Valerie,
    It’s fun to be on this marriage journey with you! I am grateful for your presence in our lives!
    Tamara



    Salina says:

    November 8, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Hi Joan, thank you so much for sharing this. Our stories although painful to share, really do show our identity and dependance in Christ.

    Thanks for hosting, Tamara



    tamara says:

    November 8, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    HI Salina,
    It’s a pleasure to highlight Joan’s life and work. She truly is an inspiration to us all!
    Tamara



    Joan says:

    November 8, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    *Thank you, Ladies, for your encouraging words! Each one of you is a true blessing to me! We have an amazing God, don’t we? I pray that by sharing this story…how my identity as Redeemed was born, others will see and understand that we are never beyond the reach of God! There is always hope, for with God, all things are possible!

    Blessings & love, Joan

    P.S. For some reason I wasn’t able to post a reply beneath each of your comments, so I hope that this comment to all of you is ok! =)

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  4. Thank you for sharing your story so honestly Joan. God is merciful. It can be all too easy to fall into temptation. Marriage is hard. So glad you are in a place where you can share how our God loves us and forgives us. Only He can restore us and bring healing to a marriage. You are an inspiration.

    Blessings and love,

    Debbie

    ReplyDelete
  5. Valerie RichardsonNovember 8, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    Joan, thank you for sharing your powerful testimony of redemption and reconciliation! I am so moved by God’s lovingkindness and by your journey. To look at you and Roy now is to see what true redemption can look like! I am inspired by your love for each other, your family, your God! Better together, better than ever!

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  6. Hi Joan, thank you so much for sharing this. Our stories although painful to share, really do show our identity and dependence in Christ.

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  7. Thank you for your encouragement, Salina! God's love is so great! With Him, all things are possible! Blessings to you!!

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  8. Yes, God's lovingkindness has blessed us beyond what we could have ever imagined! He is so good! Thank you for your encouraging words and your and Doug's friendship to us. We are truly blessed!

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  9. Yes, our God is full of mercy and grace! He can heal the most broken of hearts and save those who think they are beyond His reach. Roy and I learned that with Him as our guide, ALL things are possible! God is so good!

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  10. Thank you so much for sharing your story with is. it was a privilege to be able to read it. I am sure it will touch, and help many. Your story will continue to bring glory to our Saviour.

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  11. Thank you, Anita! Sometimes it is so difficult to be vulnerable and to share our stories, but I think when we tell of what God has done in our lives, His glory is truly shown! My prayer is that someone, somewhere will gain some hope from what God did in my life and know that they are never, ever beyond His reach. Blessings to you!

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  12. Thank you Joan for your openness. I find your story to be one that is filled with hope. What an encouragement to me, especially where I am at right in life.

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  13. Thank you, Samantha, for kind comment. I truly believe that when we share what God has done in our lives, it brings glory to Him and hope to those who may be going through a trial. Our God is great! Blessings to you!

    In His grip, Joan

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  14. Joan, much of our story is similar in the perfect life that becomes shattered slowly. I'm sure you feel the same in that I would not trade by faith now, with all of its pain and complexity, for the earlier, simpler minded faith. Thank you for remaining faithful to His plan for you and sharing it with us.

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  15. Thank you for the encouragement. I need it right now.
    Blessings,
    Charlotte

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  16. Looks like I finally fixed it so the right picture comes up. I hope so.

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  17. Yes, we gained so much as God brought us through His refining fire! There is so much that He has taught us and we are eternally grateful! I shudder at the thought of what might have been if not for the forgiving, healing love of our Father!

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  18. Thank you, Charlotte. All things are possible with God! It is amazing what He has done in my life and in our marriage! Who says God doesn't do miracles anymore? I am forever grateful for His never ending love! Blessings, Joan

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