Faith, Surviving Adultery and Divorce, Uncategorized, Waiting

The Author and Perfecter of My Faith

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Hebrews 12:1-2

Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Those words have been ringing through my mind repeatedly. I have been on such a long journey to build my faith. I’m exhausted in so many ways, tired of facing yet another obstacle. I’m ready to see the final outcome, to move beyond these days of struggle.

But Jesus…

Jesus is the author—the writer, the creator, the initiator—of my faith. Jesus is the perfecter—the one who knows what it takes to make my faith strong enough, complete enough, to get me through the rest of my days on this earth—of my faith. I don’t know how to make my faith grow. I don’t know what it takes to get me to a place where my faith is unshakeable, where my faith can move mountains. I didn’t initiate my faith, and I don’t know how to complete it. I don’t know what is necessary to make me useful to my Savior. I don’t know what it takes to make my faith mature and complete.

But Jesus does.

Today, I was texting a friend, a friend who has been with me since the beginning of this journey. She was the voice of encouragement and hope and wisdom in the earliest days of heartache and pain. Over the last few years, we’ve lost touch. But this week, I felt compelled to seek her out as a faithful prayer warrior for some things that are weighing heavily on my heart.

As we texted back and forth, I said, “I can truly say that the greatest desire of my heart is to be used by God.”

Even as I typed those words, I was struck by the reality of that statement. God has brought me so far in my faith. He has changed my heart in so many ways. My life has been pummeled and pounded repeatedly. The result has been a stronger, more mature faith—one that has been tested by the trials of this life.

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Psalm 37:4-7

You see, four years ago I was newly divorced. The hurt and pain were excruciating. The loneliness left me in tears regularly. I was struggling to find my way through the chaos that had become my life. I remember one day being so overwhelmed that I simply told my kids I needed to go running. They begged me to stay, but I simply couldn’t. Running had become my escape, my coping mechanism, my place of solitude where I could meet with God. Despite the bewildered looks on their faces, I laced up my shoes and walked out the door.

As my feet began to pound the pavement, it didn’t take long for the tears to begin streaming down my face. With every step, I cried out to God. I told Him of my hurt and pain, of my loneliness and despair. I told Him that I wanted to desire Him more than anything else—but I didn’t. My heart’s desire was for a man to love me, to hold me, to care for me. By this time I was sobbing. The pain was overwhelming. I poured out my heart to God.

Then, I heard the sweet sound of His voice whisper to me, “It’s Ok.”

It’s ok to long for a husband. It’s ok that your greatest desire is not for me. It’s ok that you are lost and confused—and even angry with me. It’s ok that your faith is not perfected. It’s ok. As quickly as the tears had come upon me, they began to dissipate. I felt an overwhelming comfort and reassurance that God saw me, that He held my tears in His hand, that He was going to see me through this journey. In that moment, I knew that God has a very special man in my future, that my heart’s desires will be reality…in God’s time.

So often we focus on verse 4: Delight yourselves in the Lord and He will give you the desire of your heart. But, do you see verse 7? Be still and wait patiently for God to act. Yes, God does give us the desires of our heart, but He does so at the perfect time. He answers our prayers in His time, when He knows that we are fully ready to receive those gifts. He provides the desires of our heart when our faith is at the proper strength.

How does our faith reach the proper level?

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4

The last five years have been full of different types of troubles: financial woes, relationship woes, job woes. I have sold my house, moved my children to a new community, finished school, changed jobs a couple of times, changed churches, endured adultery and divorce, been financially devastated, financially secure, endured accidents and pain. My life has been a whirlwind of changes—some good and some bad. But, the one constant has been the love of my Savior who has carried me through every step of the journey. He—the author and perfecter of my faith—has known what was needed to grow my faith.

Today, as I came to a realization that my greatest desire is now to be used by God, I realized that my prayer four years ago has become a reality. I still desire a husband, but that desire pales in comparison to my desire to be used by God. The tears began to flow again today as I realized how far I have come.

As I crawl into bed tonight, I will still long for someone to reach out and wrap his arms around me. In the morning, I will wake up and long to curl up next to someone who knows me completely —and yet loves me–morning breath and all. As I go to church tomorrow, I will still long to have that special someone reach over and gently take my hand as we bow in prayer together.

But, even more than that, I long to stand before my Savior one day and hear His voice say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Well done.”

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14 thoughts on “The Author and Perfecter of My Faith”

  1. Well said. It’s a little long winded but I would like to share my story. I was in a similar situation to you quite a few years back . After going through a divorce as a result of infidelity I had been a Christian single for 10 years. I grew impatient with God and fearful that I would remain single forever. A potential relationship came along that tempted me to take my eyes off of Jesus Christ and focus on my fears.
    On the outside to any observer it would seem we were a great match. Two committed Christians who wanted to serve God and got along well. seems perfect right? The problem was that in my spirit I knew it wasn’t right for a number of reasons. One to start with and probably the biggest one was the sin of fear. Fear of missing out, fear that I was getting too old, fear of being alone for the rest of my life. As I soon learned, when fear is the motivation for our actions, heartache and pain are soon to follow. So I pursued this relationship even though in my heart I knew that I did not have peace about it. It was almost as if a switch was thrown in my spirit the instant that I moved forward without God’s leading. My fellowship with God was broken. I could barely pray or read His word because my spirit was so unsettled. Did I then take a step back and evaluate what was causing this disruption in my communion with God? Sadly,no. After a time of not heeding to The Lord the pressure in my spirit was crushing me and I knew I had to end this relationship. Unfortunately I had let things go too far by this point and when I broke the news to this Godly Christian woman she was crushed. So much so that it affected the course of her life drastically. The guilt and pain that I carried from this experience sent my life into a downward spiral also. Eventually we both left the same church we had been attending. In my despair I slowly walked back in to a life of sin and depravity. I then spent 8 years in the wilderness of sin anger and bitterness. But God in His great mercy finally broke me down 3 years ago and brought me back to himself.
    Why am I sharing this? Well just as a reminder that our desires must be to serve Christ first. You see, at one time my greatest desire was to hear the words: ” We’ll done good and faithful servant.” But somewhere along the way I stopped trusting Christ to fulfill my desires and got the notion that needed to handle them for myself.
    Sometimes the unmet desires of our hearts our so deep that we feel a physical ache in our chest. And i can say that for myself that at times the temptation is great to look for anything to fill the void. But as you stated we must look to Jesus to perfect us. To allow our Creator to fulfill the desires he has given us in His way.

    1. Thanks for sharing your journey, Will. As Christians, we are commanded others to comfort others with the comfort we have received. We are to use our experiences to encourage one another to a deeper faith, to continue walking in His will. Your experience is so valuable. It is so easy to get impatient, to try to take matters into our own hands, to try to make things happening instead of waiting for Him to work out His plan.

      I, personally, prayed two years ago that God would not bring any man into my life–unless it was “the one” He has planned for me. He has been faithful to that prayer. I love how He has taken me and molded me and changed my heart and my desires. I know this journey has been so hard, but it has been so rewarding.

      I also know that typically when we reach a place where we are content with God alone, God has us right where He wants us–a place where He can bless us with our desires. I believe God is showing me that I am nearing the end of this journey. He has revealed that there are some amazing days coming in the near future. I know the journey to a deeper faith and an amazing ministry will continue. But, I believe that I will soon be closing this chapter in my life.

      Hang in there, Will, and let God continue the work He has begun in you! He is faithful to fill that void! Praying for you!

  2. Dena:
    Thank you, your posts are always encouraging. I can relate so much to what you write. The journey you describe is so familiar, we may be on different trains but on the same tracks..

  3. Thanks for sharing. It’s been 2 years since my marriage ended due to his infidelity, and I feel so lost, so lonely, and so stuck. I am living in another country so am away from my family. I lost all of my friends and ex-husbands family when we separated. I am slowly starting to make new friends, changed churches, but some days the loneliness is too much to bear. I keep waiting on God for something, anything new to come into my life, but it doesn’t happen. People have said get involved with new activities. I don’t have the time or resources to do that, I work shift work. Even if I did I wouldn’t know what to do. I am not interested in anything anymore. We didn’t have children, so I really feel alone. As for dating, I am 50yrs old and I have not found anyone interested in dating someone my age. Men my age are interested in younger women. I know that I should be focusing on God, but its so hard to do when the loneliness is so overwhelming. Everything keeps going around in circles and I find it hard to see where God has worked in my life. I pray for God for some kind of direction in my life, but I am still waiting…

    1. Diane, my heart breaks for you. I know the pain and the frustration. I, too, worked shift work–including weekends. It makes it very difficult to get involved anywhere, with anything. It is a long process–a long journey–and everyone recovers at their own pace and in their own way. If I were to give practical advice, I would say start with surrender. I remember the day when I threw up my hands and said, “Ok, God! I will take this. I will walk through this pain, but I need you to make it worth it.” It seems as if that was the day that God decided to step in. Remember, you have no idea what He wants to do in you and through you. Then, make a determination that you will not just survive this injustice–decide to thrive! I didn’t want my kids to endure their childhood. I wanted them to enjoy every moment in spite of the pain. We began looking for cheap things we could do to simply have fun together. I scoured the internet for ideas, and we found ways to laugh. Find an outlet for your stress–a coping mechanism. I chose running. I could put my headphones on and listen to music or sermons. Running was my place where I could be alone with God and He was so faithful to meet me there. I like exercise because it gives you a burst of endorphins to lift your mood, and you feel better about yourself. But, maybe you enjoy crafts or singing. Treat yourself to something nice. I spent sixteen years of marriage putting others first and neglecting myself. Somehow, when my life fell apart, I instinctively knew that I had to do something for myself. I began to get manicures and pedicures–a small thing, but it was something nice I could do for myself. It made me feel more feminine and beautiful. Eat a healthful diet. Infidelity makes you doubt everything about yourself. What’s wrong with me? Why am I not enough? I remember looking in the mirror and thinking, “Look at me. It’s no wonder he chose her.” The truth is, that was Satan. God says I am beautiful, a princess, the apple of His eye. I had to see the good in myself. I began to take care of myself and eat right. I dropped 20 pounds and got a sassy new haircut. I could finally look in the mirror and be proud of the reflection looking back at me. I could finally see what God saw.

      As for men not wanting to date you… First, get healthy. Don’t worry about dating. Focus on becoming the person someone like you is looking for. Let God heal your heart before you jump into a relationship. Otherwise, you will find yourself being used again and compromising your standards. I made that mistake. Second, trust God. I remember being at work one day so depressed. As I walked down the hall, I found myself wondering what man would ever be willing to take in a woman–with three children in tow. As the tears began to sting my eyes, I heard a still, small voice whisper, “You aren’t looking for any man. You are looking for a godly man.” Let your heart be so hidden in Christ that a man has to seek God to find your heart.

      And, it never hurts to seek counseling. Find a professional who can help you navigate the rough waters of this journey. Find a pastor or someone who has successfully walked this path. Surround yourself with positive people who can lift you up and encourage you.

      God is with you, and He WILL carry you through. Tell Him about your anger and your hurt. Delight yourself in Him. Seek Him with all your heart. He says that when we seek Him with all our hearts, He WILL be found.

      Please know that you are in my prayers.

      1. Thank you Dena, I am in counseling and I do have a pastor that I can talk with. I just get so disheartened at times. I also want to thrive and not just survive. It’s just so hard to feel good about myself again. I don’t need to lose weight, and I walk everyday with my dog rain or shine. I know you are right about a new relationship but I just fear it will not happen. I guess its a trust issue, trusting people especially men, and trusting God is really hard for me. Thank you for your prayers

      2. Shortly before my husband left, I was out at our family farm with my kids. We had gone to look after my 97 year old grandpa while my parents were on vacation. We took Grandpa out to the farm, and he sat while my kids and I zipped around the farm on the 4-wheelers. As we flew across the field, I suddenly realized that I had forgotten who I was. I had completely lost Dena in the process of trying to be a wife and mother. I had given up all of the activities I enjoyed in deference to my husband. I no longer knew who I was. The last four years have been an active search to rediscover myself, to become who God has created me to be. This summer, I realized that if God had brought someone into my life before now, I would have again lost my self in service to that person. God has a plan for me, and He wants to establish my ministry so that I won’t neglect His plan for me again. Take the time to discover God’s plan for you. When you find the beauty in yourself, others will see it too. You will like yourself a whole lot more. I really like divorced Dena better than I liked perfect Dena.

        As for trust, there’s no easy answers. It’s a tough one–one I still struggle with at times. What I’ve discovered is that my trust has to be in God–not in man. I made the comment in one article that I will never trust a man again, but I will trust God in a man. I’ve taken a lot of criticism for that statement, been accused of putting up walls. Honestly, I stand fully by that comment. Man will disappoint. Man will break our hearts. Man will hurt us. But, God will always be faithful to His word, to His promises. That’s why finding a man whose heart is fully devoted to God is of utmost importance to me. I will never find that man, but God will bring him to me. I have a friend who said if God wanted her to have a man, God could put that man on her doorstep. Funny enough, a man showed up on her doorstep at a garage sale–and they’ve been together ever since. If you are actively seeking God, He will direct your steps. He will bring that right person at the right time. I am four years out from divorce, five years from the revelation of the affair. I am just now at a place where I feel my confidence in God, my trust in God, is really strong. And, it has taken a lot of hurt and pain to make it this strong. I am just now reaching a place where I believe God will fulfill His purposes for me–even when circumstances appear it can never happen.

        Ask God to have His way with you, to develop in you an unshakeable faith. Ask Him to help your unbelief. Ask Him to give you faith to move mountains. Ask Him to live your life through you. Ask Him to do an amazing work in you so He can do an amazing work through you. He will always answer those prayers.

  4. Hi Dena, such a heartfelt post. And you are so right, we are to always focus on Christ, always choose Him. He knows your desires, but He alone knows when we are ready for what we want, or if its what He wants for us. The Lord WILL reward your faithfulness. One thing I have learnt this year, is that no matter how much I have messed up, God’s promises don’t change. So long as we daily come before His throne, He will do as His word to and for us, says!
    God bless lovely lady
    Tracy

  5. beautiful, beautiful story. I’m only 19 but I could still relate with a lot of what you’re saying. I had absolutely no way of paying for college but somehow God created a way for me to go. I immersed myself in college life and did extremely well in all of my classes. For the first part I followed the world and got involved in a lot of sinful activities of a college campus but God brought someone in my life who helped me recommit myself to Christ and get on the right path. I started seeking Him and learning about him, leaving my old ways behind and placing all of my life and trust in him. I remember being so passionately in love with him that i prayed the same prayer you did, that my greatest desire would be to serve him. After a year of school, he stopped providing and I wasn’t allowed to return for another semester. I am already so deep in debt I’m not sure i can even finish off my degree and I can’t shake the though that my future is going to consist of trying to make ends meet off of minimum wage jobs. It might not sound like a big problem but just like your husband was an important part of your life, school was for me as well. without it I don’t really know what else to do with my life. I’m struggling with my trust in him, because i expected him to do like before and make a way. I’ve been extremely depressed in my mother’s house because i no longer have a goal to reach. my future is completely out of my hands. But thanks for reminding me that Jesus is the perfecter of my faith. I know that God brought me to this season so he could strengthen my faith in him and show me that dedicating my life to him truly means I leave it all to him to do what he will. Even through these trials my prayer remains the same, that my greatest desire will be to serve him, and my faith in him will be unshakable.

    1. I’ve been through some difficult times in the last few years. However, every difficulty has been something that I had some degree of control over. For example, financial concerns required me to work; difficulties with the kids were somewhat dependent upon my response to them; bitterness required my forgiveness. Right now, however, I am finding that I’m in a new season–a season where my struggles are completely out of my control. God is taking me to an even deeper faith, one that requires me to trust Him completely in situations where I have no ability to manipulate circumstances. While it is somewhat scary, I recognize that He knows what He is doing. When this process is over, I know that my faith will be greater than I ever dreamed possible.

      Hang in there. Pray. Seek Him with your whole heart. He will guide you and direct you. You can always trust that His plans for you are to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future!

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