The Mysterious Messenger:
She sat down next to me, and I scooted over as far as I could. The love seat we occupied was obviously made for lovers, but this woman was a stranger.
“God told me to sit next to you,” she said.
Oh boy, this is going to be interesting, I thought. “He did?”
“He wanted me to tell you that he has called you to teach. He is with you.” She continued to speak, for some time, secrets in my heart that only God could have shown her When she stood to leave, she looked back at me. “God sees you.”
What she could not have known was that was at the end of a year of hurt, and I had been passed over, again.
Found not be good enough…
Around a year earlier, I believed God had called me to a mission, so much so, that I began to prepare my life for it—but then wasn’t assigned to the position after all. This time, it felt like “rejection/not good enough” was tattooed on my life, whereas past rejections I had easily scrubbed away. I was in pain. I cried out to God for help with my emotions, but I could not accept what had happened. It left me feeling as though a life dream had died.
I unknowingly wrestled with God. I didn’t agree. I didn’t like it. I couldn’t let it go. So, I questioned His omnipotence. I questioned if I could even hear Him. Although I followed Him, I felt abandoned.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow Me.” John 9:16 (NIV)
On this particular day, Jesus led me to the truth of my sin. I cried and told God I was sorry. I told Him I would be content with just Him. I declared I had loved Him from my youth, and I would continue to. I promised I’d find contentment if all my days were spent worshipping Him, loving Him, and learning about Him. I decided in that moment I would be happy with ministering to only my husband and children, and I needed nothing more.
I decided He was more than enough.
It became clear after my surrender I had valued the perceived call more than the Call Giver. I confessed that I wasn’t even sure what my purpose was in the church. I thought I understood from my teen years that He called me to teach, write, and shepherd, but in that moment, I knew nothing. I prayed, “If you want me to step out to do anything, you will have to show me, tell me what you want me to do, otherwise I will just rest in You, but God I just feel like you don’t even see me.”
The Blessings After Surrender:
Feeling like a load had been lifted, that day, I walked into the Axum coffee shop with a book in my hand, wanting some quiet time to sit in my newfound peace that came from repentance and surrender. Then she walked over uninvited and sat. God used this stranger to confirm the call He had given me decades before. He knew my heart desired man’s approval. God knew that it all meant too much and He wanted to fix this heart issue so I would not be led astray. He led me directly into the pit so that He could make me new.
Just as Jacob wrestled with God and his hip was put out. I wrestled with God until my will broke. Oh how thankful I am for the breaking! There is the woman I was before it and the woman I am after. Ministry is not about my value, my desires, or my accomplishments. His glory is the purpose of ministry. I had no idea where His Spirit would lead me next, but I knew my life is held safe in the Hands of this amazing all-knowing, loving, correcting, and all-seeing Father, God.
“…My son do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone He accepts as His Son.” Hebrews 12:5-6 (NIV)
Founder of Bible Study Ministries (BSF):
I imagine Audrey Wetherell Johnson wondered what God was doing when she found herself alone aboard a boat headed for the United States. The English, almost-40-year-old woman thought about the fact that her life’s calling as a missionary to China had now ended, as the Communist Party ravaged the nation and expelled missionaries. She had no idea what lay ahead of her, but her trust was in God.
After arriving to the United States, she began to speak at churches regarding her time on the mission field, including years in a Japanese internment camp. One day after speaking to a congregation, five women showed up at her door to ask if she’d be willing to teach them. Ms. Johnson, who had spent time in the darkness of pagan countries where the truth of Jesus was foreign, found it strange to now be teaching those who had churches all around them, with easy access to the Word of God. I can imagine her thinking, God do you see this? You can’t really be asking me to teach these people who have so much. However, God confirmed that He was calling her to this work.
The Birth of BSF:
What started out as a small group of women studying in a friend’s home, became the ministry known today as Bible Study Fellowship, with over 2,200 locations, and found in over 120 nations—one of which is China. Ms. Johnson had a commitment to God’s Word that has changed the lives of many, including me. She didn’t know where God would lead her life as she took one step after the other away from what had been her ministry. God saw Ms. Johnson as she ministered in China; He saw her in the internment camps; He saw her as she headed into the unknown; and He brought about something she could have never imagined.
God Sees Our Backstories, Our Presents, and Our Futures:
We often find ourselves in places of despair, unbelief, anger, rejection, and mistrust. Sometimes the shock of disappointment can steal our ability to see any hope for a future. We do not have to stay there. The God who saves us also knows us intimately. He knows just what our lives need to be molded and shaped into the image of His Son, Jesus.
“Yet you, Lord are our Father. We are the clay, and You are the Potter, we are all the work of Your Hand.” Isaiah 64:8 (NIV)
Do you feel like you have been overlooked? Have others been chosen as you have been passed by? Does it feel like you have finished one part of your life and the road that lies ahead is foggy and you have not yet received direction? He is the God who sees you! You are not forgotten. Just as God saw Hagar in the desert (Genesis 16:13), Rachel’s childlessness (Genesis 30:22) and Anna’s service to Him (Luke 2:36-38), He sees you too. Don’t lose hope or believe the lie that you don’t matter. Lean into God, pursue Him in the hard spaces. He desires your heart. He is always faithful.
He sees you.
“My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways. Proverbs 23:26 (NIV
Emily Freeman is a contributing writer for The Hallelujah House. She is happily married mother of five children. When she’s not writing, Emily enjoys leading women’s Bible studies and speaking at Women’s events. You can read Emily’s complete bio by clicking the About Us tab at the top of our homepage.
Photography by: Mikail Duran at Unsplash.