We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.
Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge. Miss the message? You can listen to Love Does: Audacious Love here!
I have heard the story of the woman at the well so many times and still each time it tugs at me. I can relate to not wanting to be seen as I tried to hide from my secrets. I figured that if I pretended they didn’t exist, then no one would ever find out. I tried to resist living a life that deep down inside I knew I wasn’t meant to live but it was all that I knew so I kept going back. In addition to that, I had walked away from God so many times, and I didn’t know how or why He would take me back.
Then there is the story of Gomer, which I had never heard before, but was one I found myself relating to just as much. A woman whose desires for the world kept her so trapped and in bondage that she couldn’t break free. She found comfort in the arms of one man after another when comfort wasn’t what she really sought. I believe deep down inside of her there was a need to be loved and wanted and accepted, a need I could relate to all to well as I reflected on days long ago.
You search and search hoping to find something or someone to fill that hole, that void that you have but the filling is only temporary. While at the same time you feel the tugging from God to come home. He loves you too much to let you stay the way you are and too much to control you and make you obey. So He sits and waits and watches at a distance. He makes sure no harm comes your way and that your needs are met. He remains patient and waits for that window where He can come in and rescue you from yourself and all the damage you cause. He doesn’t give up on you.
When the time is right, He approaches you gently and without condemnation in hand because you have already been condemning yourself for years. Instead he offers you shelter and arms in which to rest.
I am so grateful that God never gave up on me in spite of all the running I did in the opposite direction. He loved me more than I ever loved myself, and I never knew why. I realized not too long ago that it was because He saw something in me that I didn’t see. Unlike me He was and is able to look past my mistakes and my flaws. He sees what I am becoming and not what I was. He looks past my mess and can see beauty unfolding. It reminds me of the process that butterflies go through.
Someone gave my boys a butterfly kit years ago — the kind where you buy the caterpillars and wait for them to become butterflies. I didn’t jump at the chance to do it mainly out of laziness but eventually we did. What stands out to me most from that experience was that it required patience and gentleness. It was not something I could rush. It happened in its own time. From the time the caterpillars were placed into the habitat until the chrysalis was formed it had to be protected. The chrysalis itself required gentle hands to move it to where it could develop over time into a butterfly. Once the butterfly emerged, it had to open and close its wings over and over again in order for it to be strong enough to fly. There was even a little blood in the habitat that came from the wings as they would gain strength. It was a messy process, but once it was ready it could be released into the world.
In the midst of my mess God waited for me and protected me. He didn’t rush me; He just observed from a distance and allowed each experience to develop me. Now that I have gained my strength, He is able to release me to be all that He has created me to be.
Sheryll Belonga is wife to Jurrell and homeschooling mom to their three great boys. Her hearts desire is to glorify God in all she says and does in spite of life’s daily happenings.
- How is God showing His love for you and the world today? Reflect and give thanks for His love!
- Consider Psalm 89:15:”Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.” Pause and receive God’s love several times during the course of the day and walk in the light of His presence.
- Continue reading your Love Does study guide and processing through it with your small group.