I felt much better after sharing openly with my dear “running partner in a pinch.” It was also very comforting to know that God was at our table, too helping each of us chart these uncharted waters. I was secretly hoping that it was God’s plan to keep this storm between God, my running partner, and myself. That would have been just fine and dandy with me, but again God’s Spirit so clearly opened the door for me to share my temptation roller coaster with my loving husband, life-partner and best friend.
God’s Spirit, in me, gave me the courage and strength to share “all the ugliness” with the man that I love so very much. As I spoke openly, I saw the love of Christ in his eyes, in his touch I knew the comfort of Jesus, in his words I felt God directly communicating to me through him. God was saying, “Yes, you were being tempted, and yes it was scary but I was there with you all along. I still love you, Raquel. And if you had failed the test and sinned, remember that that sin, too would have been nailed to the cross and forgotten as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:11-13, The Message). And just because you were tempted doesn’t mean you’re not fit for ministry. Now your faith has been strengthened as you prepare to enter into this next season of ministry I have for you. And this battle is far from over, my child. You will continue to do battle with your enemy, Satan…but greater is Me (He) that is in you, than he who is in the world (I John 4:4, NASB)”.
I fell in love with my God, my Jesus, and the person of the Holy Spirit all over again. It’s so nice to remember that I don’t have to “manage my image” with God because He created me and knows me so intimately and still loves me unconditionally!! And as an added bonus, I fell in love with my husband all over again. I love how God’s Spirit, in my husband, enables him to love me like Christ loves His church (Ephesians 5:21-31, NLT).
So back to Matthew 4 – before Christ’s ministry on earth was to officially start, Jesus, led by the Spirit, went to the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Before Christ’s ministry on earth was to begin He went through a time of testing and temptation. Hmmm, let’s see….my ministry season is about to start, too…I wonder if that’s the reason for this time of testing and temptation? What kind of ministry has God afforded me this year, you ask? Advance Empowerment Weekend at Gateway is next weekend (God has called me to lead worship Friday night in one of the homes). By God’s grace I have the privilege of being a Children’s Leader again for BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) with training starting in two weeks. ChickFest 2010 is November 5-7 and I’m honored to be a speaker for the event. In early October we’ll be prayerfully submitting the plans for the 2011 Gateway Women’s Retreat (quick FYI, this link is to last year’s retreat but it’s neat to see what God did last year and we’re excited to see His plan for the 2011 retreat). Thank you, God for yet another opportunity to co-lead the worship for the Women’s Retreat – I believe it’s God’s plan for the 2011’s retreat to be a powerful event to the praise of our Lord Jesus Christ! Lastly and certainly not leastly, God has been stirring in me a new desire and passion to develop and disciple the hearts and minds of the children in my church to lead their peers in worship, and perhaps even have the opportunity to lead us adults in the worship and praise of our Almighty God. Can you just picture it? Children openly and beautifully singing the praises of our God! The thought of it excites me and I’m so eager to see God’s plan unfold!! So there’s much work to do with God; I don’t have time for the sin and temptation and I don’t have to indulge in it’s impulses, and I don’t have to sin. God’s Spirit in me enables me to make right choices! I also delight knowing the TRUTH – Christ has already won this battle for me and He is the VICTOR! The NASB translation of Romans 8:37 explains that “in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” and the poetic language of The Message translation sums it all up so beautifully and powerfully (Romans 8:31-39, The Message):
31-39So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.