"Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!" Psalm 34:3 (ESV)
As I made my way across the room to my friend, her eyes widened and then fell to the floor in dismay. Although I was breaking my usual church routine by attending youth group with my son, I was confused as to why she seemed uncomfortable with my presence.
We chatted with the other youth leaders for a while before they drifted off to talk to others. Hesitantly, she asked me why I had come. I explained how curious I was about the workings of the group. I was there to get a sample of what my son would experience as a new member. With a quiver in her voice, she asked, "Did you know I'm the guest speaker today?"
I hadn't known that she would be sharing, but suddenly I understood why she might not want me there. The topic was abortion, and my friend, the guest speaker, was telling her story for the very first time about the abortion she had chosen years before.
"I'm so afraid you'll think less of me after you hear my story," she confessed, her eyes filling with tears.
Stunned and saddened, I gathered my amazing, godly friend in my arms and whispered, "I love you. I could never think less of you."
She wiped away her tears, walked to the front and started the program with the kids. By the time she finished speaking, there wasn't a dry eye in the place.
Even though this part of her story had gone untold for decades, we all knew her current story. This was a woman who sparkled with joy and shared Jesus' love everywhere she went. His light shone out of her and drew others irresistibly into relationship with Him. The beginning of her story about the abortion was sad, but the end of her story stood gloriously in front of us.
When she stepped down from the stage and back into the audience, I made a beeline for her, and blurted out the thought that overwhelmed me. "Not only do I not think less of you because of your story," I said, "It has magnified God for me!"
King David more eloquently expressed how her story made me feel. He too was overwhelmed by the character and work of God:
"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 36:5-6a, NIV).
God fills the expanses. His love is limitless. His power exceeds anything I can imagine. It's that power that changes us and brings good into even the saddest of stories.
Knowing how God had transformed my friend didn't actually make God bigger; I just saw more of Him revealed. From knowing her story, I know other truths as well - truths about who God is and how He operates. I know God is real. I know He is at work in us. I know He can change a life and redeem a sad story into one that inspires others. I know that God is BIG.
How do we magnify the Lord together? We transparently share the stories of His work in our lives. Your life isn't perfect. Neither is mine! But when He uses our stories for the healing and growth of others, that's part of the redeeming of our sad stories. When we share our own imperfections instead of hiding them, it's a chance to shine a spotlight on our hero, Jesus, the One who has healed our wounded places and changed the ashes of our sins into the beauty of a godly woman.
Dear God, please use the sin and sad stories of my past for Your glory and the growth of others. Set me free from the shame of those stories and redeem them with Your grace and freedom. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 78:35, "They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer." (NIV)
Psalm 107:2, "Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story - those he redeemed from the hand of the foe." (NIV)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What story do you have to tell that would magnify God? Have you hidden it or shared it?
Who in your life might be encouraged by knowing they aren't alone in their struggle? You don't necessarily have to share your story in front of a group, but be sure to let God use it to help others.
© 2016 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.