by Rhea Beaudry, Guest Blogger
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, GOODNESS, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
Lately, I have been occupied with taking an “inventory” of my spiritual life. Looking back over the last 10 years, how have I grown? That sort of thing. So many changes have come upon me that it takes my breath away. I am not the same person I was back then.
Ten years ago, where was I? What was my life like? I was standing at the edge of a cliff, from which I would fall into a deep pit of depression. In one month, I lost my mother-in-law to a sudden devastating illness; my daughter’s husband was caught in unfaithfulness; a series of cataclysmic events culminated in my losing my church home and my dream job as church secretary. I refuse to dwell upon or list the negative things that touched my life. They are FAR better left unsaid.
I ran screaming into a dark night, and I holed up deep in a dismal, terrifying cave of isolation. I stopped going to church, talking to friends, and doing any kind of ministry. This was a drastic change for me, as I had been the official “go-to” person at church whenever anything needed to be taken care of. I now spent my days and nights alone reading—devouring—books, blogs, teachings, etc. as if my life depended upon it. I devoured books and whole series of teachings on the person of Jesus Christ, and I grew in intimacy with Him. “Quiet Talks About Jesus” by Samuel Dickey Gordon was one that I stumbled upon “accidentally”. I loved this book, and ended up reading about six more of Gordon’s works. Jesus was brought to life for me like never before. Another good choice was The Shack by William P. Young. I was introduced to an on-line community of believers with whom I searched for healing for my broken heart. I did not remain with these people because we have some important fundamental differences in our beliefs, but I did find a deeper intimacy with Jesus, which is what I was looking for. I went through a “re-grounding” process in which I began to learn the secret of finding my rest in God alone, and doing anything else–even praying–from that place of rest. Though these were days of great pain, they were also days of great growth.
One day I was in the back yard, raking leaves, listening to some worship music in my headphones, and the Lord deeply touched my heart to release everything to Him. I raked furiously while I spewed out to Him all the hurt, frustration, disillusionment and cynicism that had come to dwell in my heart. That was a turning point, though it would be many months before I emerged from that dark cave. From that point on I lived on deep soaking worship music and scripture. Though I did not spend time “at church”, those days were not wasted. Gradually, I forgave (and I am still in that process every day). This was also the period of time in which I found myself hungry for friendships but not willing to take risks in relationships. I turned to watching eagle webcams. I have developed many precious friendships on-line which helped my in growth and my journey out of the cave of depression. Through the eagle-watching, I discovered wonderful new Christian fellowship with Spiritual Family Chat.
My husband did not seem to understand why I couldn’t return to the church. We avoided the subject because it was painful for us. He treated me with love and patience through it all. I now think that the Lord had constrained him to hold his peace on the matter so that I could find my way through it. Indeed, later in the process I began to hear the voice of the Lord calling me to forgive and return. One day, I made my move. I gathered up five smooth little stones and put them in my pocket and went out on trembling legs to “face my giant.” It was very difficult to go back. I was acting in obedience to the Lord and in submission to my husband, as I knew it was not healthy for us to be miles apart in such an important matter. I started out with just Sunday morning attendance, sitting in the back, and leaving immediately. My husband’s adult Sunday School class welcomed me back, but I was shy and withdrawn from them. Over time, a comfort level began to develop. But the most significant factor that took place during this time was that I met my dear friend Lisa and her six children. The Lord downloaded both my husband and me with supernatural and delightful love for this family group who had been adopted from a very difficult childhood in Russia.
Over time, this family has become a full-time love and lifestyle ministry for us; and not only have we been of benefit to them, but they have been extremely instrumental in my healing as well. You can read about this journey in my blog,
The Lord has filled a great gaping hole in my heart with my ministry to these children, whom we have taken into our hearts as adopted grandchildren. Because of the extreme difficulties of the last year and a half and all the tragic developments with this family, I have been learning to listen for His voice and depend upon His gift of discernment and His guidance. The time commitment that my new life as intercessor, friend, mentor and grandmother requires would never have been possible ten years ago. I learned anew that “all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) I also learned experientially the truth of the scripture in II Corinthians 1:3-7 which says,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.”
My husband and I both often marvel at how very deeply we love these children, as though they were our own. This is the kind of love that only God can give, and it’s what drew me out of myself. The love of God, as Billy Graham describes:
“All the law is fulfilled in one word . . . love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5 : 1 “Suppose I gave everything I had to charity. You probably would say I was a very good person—a fine Christian. But Paul said that unless I acted out of love, “I am nothing” (I Cor. 13:2). George Sweeting has said, “Life minus love equals nothing!” Do you have this kind of love—a love that puts others ahead of yourself? Without Jesus Christ in your heart, without the Holy Spirit in your life, you can’t produce this love. This is the kind of love Jesus had for us, when He willingly left the glory of Heaven and went to the cross for our salvation. Only God can give us a selfless love for others, as the Holy Spirit changes us from within. This is one reason we must receive Christ, for apart from His Spirit we can never be freed from the chains of selfishness, jealousy, and indifference. Will others see Christ’s love in your life today?”
One of the songs by my favorite soaking worship team is “Show me Your Face Lord.” I love this arrangement by Alberto and Kimberly Rivera, and the one following it by Paul Wilbur.
It talks about how much I need to see the glory of God, just to make it through to the end. His face. If I can just see His face! His goodness! Scripture teaches us that the glory of God is His goodness. God had to cover Moses’ face as His glory passed by, so that he could endure the greatness of it. It is that weighty, tangible glory, that goodness of God, that He desires to pour out through me to those to whom I minister.
“Then Moses said, ‘I pray You, show me Your glory!’ And He said, ‘I Myself will make all My GOODNESS pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you…’” Exodus 33:18-19 (Emphasis mine)
It is His goodness that leads us to repentance. (Romans 2:4 KJV) Repentance means turning from the way in which I was headed, making an about-face and following hard after the Lord.
The fruit of the Spirit is one of our most powerful weapons in spiritual warfare, and when we learn to use it as a weapon, He will show Himself strong. Whatever evil the enemy wants to throw at us, I am learning that if I will speak, pray, and act IN THE OPPOSITE SPIRIT, the evil will be overcome!
“You can beat the enemy by being patient. You can depress him with your joy. You can weary him with your rest, and your kindness, and your gentleness. You can totally dispirit him with the goodness of God because he has no access to any of that, and he doesn’t know how to fight it. He can’t fight against God; he is hopeless. The Holy Spirit has never lost a fight!” (Graham Cooke)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
The enemy is conquered in situations
~where he exhibits hatred and I act in God’s love;
~where he tries to put weakness and depression on me, and I react with His joy (which is my strength);
~where he tempts with impulsiveness, thoughtlessness, or impatient demands, and I react with His long-suffering;
~where he uses others to speak unkindly of me, and I react with His kindness (which leads to repentance);
~where there is untruth or evil, and I counter with His goodness (which is His glory);
~where I am betrayed, and I display His faithfulness;
~where I am bombarded with temptations to satisfy unhealthy appetites, and I exhibit His self-control.
If my surrendered spirit can act out the Lord’s qualities and bombard the enemy with His presence, the works of the enemy will be destroyed! The secret to success is the surrender. I have NO strength on my own, and I have seen what my life looks like when I try to do it all in my own power. (Not a pretty picture)
“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” 1 John 4:16 (NLT)
In His infinite love, God desires to live out His life of goodness through His children. What a thrill it has been to me to have a glimmer of light beginning to break through my darkness in this area. He has arranged a whole set of circumstances in my life to get me in the right place to hear His heart and to prepare me for a life-changing ministry. It amazes me to think of the extent to which He has loved me and patiently worked with me—and at the same time when a very special family would need the gifts He desired to give to them through my husband and myself.
“When love happens, good happens…
Kindness happens when love acts.
Joy happens when love celebrates.
Patience happens when love waits.
Hope happens when love promises.
Life happens when love gives.
Change happens when love prays.
Blessings happen when love cares.
Beauty happens when love grows.
Healing happens when love touches.
Fullness happens when love abounds.
Righteousness happens when love chooses.
Truth happens when love speaks.
Purpose happens when love guides.
Because God is love, love happens…
when love happens, something good will always happen!”
(Roy Lessin, Meet Me in the Meadow)
Despite the loss of some of my former church friends, I have been extremely blessed with my growing circle of realtime and on-line Christian friends and fellowship. I am beginning to reach out to former friends at church also, and I now attend a cell group and a ladies’ bible study. Spring is coming to my winter-dead soul. Finding the joy and security in having others who pray for me and support me is exhilarating. There is strength in numbers, it is true.
It has been a long journey, and I have begun to emerge from the cave because of His goodness. There is value in the valley I have passed through, for precious gifts of knowledge and experience and answered prayer have been given to me that I could not have received had I not been in the place I was.
Pray with me:
Lord, thank You for SPRING. Thank You for saving me, renewing me, and showing me Your GLORY. I receive all that You have for me—all I have the capacity to receive—and I ask that You would pour out Your Presence, Your Glory and Your Goodness through me. I surrender all to You. You are all I need. If I can just get a tiny little glimpse of Your face, I will make it through to the end, no matter what lies before me. As I learn to walk with You, increase my capacity to contain more and more of YOU. In Jesus’ name. Amen.