BY LORY SCHULER
Our testimony is our story. Not the story we create with our own mess and mistakes, but the Divine orchestration for good of those events – and the stuff that occurs in our lives, simply because…well, because we live in a broken world.
God can bring beauty out of second chances. As a result of God’s redemption in our own lives, God has called my husband and me to start a ministry to teach and lead others to Jesus Christ.
But I’m getting way ahead of myself. I want to share part of my story with you. The mess I created without God’s help, of course, taken from the pages of the journal that I kept during my darkest hours…
I ran to the other side of the bed to dial 9-1-1 from the bedroom phone. He lurched from behind, grabbing the phone from my hand and slamming it down. Red-faced and angry, his voice filled with both rage and fear as he said, “If you ever tell anyone about this, I’ll kill you.”
This was the second man in my life who had threatened to kill me if I ever told anyone the truth. The truth? My four children and I lived in a home marred by verbal, physical, and substance abuse. A home that was beautiful on the outside, but on the inside was a prison filled with dark secrets. The prison guard was my husband, the children’s father, who was the abuser.
I know that I haven’t gotten here overnight. I think a lot about my own stupid choices that have driven me down this destructive path: leaving one abusive relationship for another; a marriage that started with overindulgent spending and partying with friends; a marriage now tainted with the misuse of drugs, alcohol, money, and ultimately to the debt, addictions, and abuse that now define our life.
Tonight, the arguing escalated to a physical fight, which left my eye cut and bleeding and my chest and arm bruised. These are just the physical signs, of course. My mind is in chaos. Why have I allowed my life to come to this and how I can protect myself and my children? I have even started this journal. Maybe recording the turmoil on paper will calm the turmoil in my mind. My heart feels hopeless. God, is this your punishment for my poor choices?
I had grown up going to church with my parents, raised to believe in the goodness and protection of a loving God. As a child, my parents helped me understand that I was created for a special purpose, with gifts and talents that God would use to help others. At that time, however, I couldn’t even help myself. I felt trapped, the dreams I had for my life were snuffed out like a light.
It’s been three weeks since my last entry. This morning is my daughter’s first birthday. I’ve hidden away in the guest bedroom with the door locked and a Bible in my lap. That’s when I read these words: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:11–14 (NIV)
These words have struck me to the core. I feel like a release happened deep inside of me. Locked away in my prison home, God reached out His hand, as His light and presence filled the room. I’m crying, laughing, and praying all at once. This morning I know that I am not alone. I accepted God’s hand and invited Him into my heart, and that’s when the chains seemed to fall away.
When our lives are veiled in darkness, it’s hard to see the light. We desperately wonder why and how we arrived here – or why God would allow certain circumstances in our life: sickness, job loss, despair over our children, or other loved ones.
God didn’t promise to remove me from my circumstances that day. But He did promise that He would walk with me through them. I know the significance of my testimony is not tied to the details of my past, but in the redemptive work of God and His purpose for my future.
And that’s the victorious part. Ten years later, I am newly married to an amazing man of God, who has helped me understand that, all along, God’s greatest desire for each of us is to walk in relationship with Him.
Scott and Lory Schuler’s website is a teaching and mentoring ministry built from years of experience for both individuals and churches, with weekly encouragement through their blog and newsletter, opportunities to share prayer requests, and information about inviting Scott to speak at your church or organization. Please visit them at scottschuler.org. Also, COMING SOON: Scott has recently completed a book to help others navigate their walk with Jesus on their way to fulfilling the life and purpose He has prepared for them. See the website for updates on availability!