Isaiah 55:11 promises God’s Word does not go out without a purposeful return in all He means to accomplish. I have witnessed this spiritual principle many times. All around, we have opportunities in how we carry His Word and how we listen to it ourselves.
words + photographs MELISSA SWEARENGIN
I once heard a funny saying with actual truth mixed in: “People are gonna talk about you all your life; it’s who you listen to that matters.” How do we wisely choose to whom we should listen? Do we consider how our own words matter?
On a recent morning, I chose to listen to the lies of the enemy and what he wanted me to believe rather than the truth of God’s Word. I had arisen in a mood, even though I had prayed and tried to be in God’s Word.
I stepped outside and noticed the flowerpot I had left as winter came and lingered. It was laying in pitiful shape, and I considered kicking it before throwing it away. However, that morning I felt God nudging me to pick it up and look past the peeling paint and chipped clay. I decided I might repurpose it despite its weathered condition.
I felt like that pot.
This year has undoubtedly aged me in dog years. But as I started to work on the clay pot, I received a text from a special friend whose faith I respect so much. Even though I had been trying to encourage her after her husband’s sudden death and then her own battle with cancer, she has been an incredible encouragement to me. This is the practical application of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, which tells us God is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He allows us to have comfort and then pass it along to others.
My friend had sent a song called “Weathered” by Bethel Worship, featuring Dante Bowe and Hannah McClure. The words describe someone who sees the love of Christ, and the union with Him, as such an enduring love that it weathers the storms and only grows sweeter. His love, as the lyrics go, is so different, unconditional, pursuing and deep. He never gives up on us, and He can repurpose even the pain we endure.
At the time, I had just read Judges 6. The Scripture demonstrates Gideon as one who also dealt with lies of the enemy, as well as doubt and fear. The angel of the Lord appeared to the young man as he threshed wheat, greeting Gideon by calling him “mighty warrior.” The Lord continued to speak, giving Gideon instructions on how to save Israel from the hand of Midian, an oppressive power. Gideon, however, had a hard time hearing and believing Truth, even as the Lord revealed Himself as “peace.” If we listen to God, He always reveals more of Himself and more about us so we can keep growing.
Who we listen to matters.
It makes a difference. Through my friend Laura, as well as God’s Word, I readjusted my focus and turned it again to the Lord and chose to listen to Him. I then had so many opportunities to pass it on:
- I sent the song and Judges 6 to a young woman going through, not only a divorce, but the pain of a child with ongoing health issues.
- I sent it to a friend who had the heartbreak of her brother dying that day.
- I went into a store and, there in the same aisle, was a young man I had once mentored. His heart was broken because his wife had walked out, and I shared the song and Scripture.
- A young missionary dealing with loneliness and family issues needed to hear God could repurpose her pain, so I shared it with her.
- Then there was a young woman God brought to me who had experienced the devastation of a miscarriage, then the mother of a prodigal, and then a woman recovering from rape and abuse.
Yes, God allowed me to share this song and Scripture with all these people in just one day. Each person, needing this encouragement, was thankful.
You may be feeling weathered too, but remember God tells you even in those times, He sees much more. He can restore and use the things you cannot even see value in or understand.
I know it is often easy to listen to the world, the father of lies, or even one’s own self-defeating talk. It is so important to stay in God’s Word and to listen to godly friends who also are in His Word. It matters because, just like Gideon in Judges 6, God tells us the truth about ourselves, Himself and His purposes for us. It also matters because many times it is meant for us to pass on as we share the Gospel.
You may be feeling weathered too, but remember God tells you even in those times, He sees much more. He can restore and use the things you cannot even see value in or understand. I explained this to my friend who took the time to share with me that day, even though she was hurting too.
I am writing this now with a prayer that it will propel you too if God places a truth or encouragement on your heart to share. MS
Dr. Melissa Swearengin is a Springfield/Branson-area author who has written several books, including Voices in the Valley, Letters of Hope, and Blessed are the Feet. She holds a M.A.C.S., M.Div. and Doctor of Ministry and has been involved in many aspects of ministry, from fulltime mission work to pastoral care. She currently serves in biblical counseling and is part of the leadership at Bible Study Fellowship. Melissa loves seeing God work in people’s lives. Her heart is happy with her family, the outdoors and her faithful dog Moses. Her heart is happy with her family, the outdoors and her faithful dog, Moses.
COVER Melissa holding the repurposed, chipped pot she considered kicking when she woke up in a mood.
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