There are quite a few take-aways from my retreat that I will be sharing with you this week. Shirley Moses, our speaker, talked to us about being influencers/mentors to other women. She shared her testimony of becoming a Chrstian later in life, in 1991, and was immediately called to begin leading her Sunday school class. She said she didn't even know where most of the books in the Bible were, and had to turn to the table of contents most of the time to find out. She said she didn't have knowledge, but she had a love of women.
She talked about how most of us feel very inequipped to help other women learn about Jesus' word. We are afraid to be in front of a class of women because they might, gulp, ask us a question that we don't know the answer to. She also told us that women have a way of making themselves feel like they shouldn't be a leader because of mistakes we've made in our past. But God uses our pasts to help someone's future, so the very fact that you made mistakes in your life is the exact reason God is calling you to do something at all.
Struggling with my past is not something that is new to me. Most people in my life know of the life choices I made for a good 12 years before I "found God" again. I really don't keep it a secret and I am not ashamed of it, either. Your past is what it is, it can't be changed. I've turned from my ways and am walking with the Lord, so as far as He and I are concerned, I've asked for forgiveness and received it, so I no longer feel badly for it anymore. It does have a way of creeping up on you, though. It is usually a joke in my family, a long running joke, of the shenangins I have pulled in my life. I won't go into them on this blog, if you ever wanted to know a ridiculous story, I will be happy to tell you, or talk to your kids about the dangers of making bad decisions. Because for a long time, if there was a contest for making poor decisions, I would be numero uno at the top of the list. Saturday night, my sisters and friend came over and the conversation drifted over to those shenangins. Some of them, I remember. Some of them, I have no recolection of. Some of the stories I hear are funny. Others, I just hide my face in embarassment and just say, "Lord, thank you for not allowing me to die, or for me not to kill someone else, or to get arrested." I just thank God when I hear those stories, that even when I turned my back on him, and even when I said, "I don't need you, Lord, you can be on your way, now." It might have seemed like He left, but I was still one of His children and He watched over me. I am here, now, and in my life, now, because He has a purpose and a plan for my life. Thank God, right?
You see, it might seem like the only people you see leading a group of Christians or non-Christians, for that matter, are a group of individuals who are perfect. Whose lives have not been filled with bad choices and defiance. Whose lives are perfect, even in the present. But I will be the first to say, my life wasn't (and isn't) like that. I still struggle with decisions and choices and following what God asks me to do. And God has called me to teach children and youth, and I've even said, "Well, I hope no one finds out about the stuff I used to pull back in the day, they would kick me out of this ministry so fast..." but I know that God has, and will, use my past to help someone's future. I really don't know if I will lead someone to Christ because of it, or be a comfort for someone who is also struggling with their past, or be a hope for someone who is currently "living in the muck," but God will use it. God works best in struggles, amen?
So, if you are reading this and have not been doing something God is calling you to do, and who knows what that might be, but if you aren't or you are afraid that your past disqualifies you from being a leader to someone else, think again. Our God is an awesome God, and can work miracles, using your past as an influence for someone's future.