I started to pray daily for God to show me places or ways to start serving him. Within each prayer, I assured God that I was ready to do whatever he wanted. This went on for several months, without any chances for ministry in our church popping up. I was discouraged. I started second-guessing myself.
I began to question God.
“Why aren’t you doing something about this God? Is it because of my past? Am I not smart enough? Have I disappointed you once too often? Is it because I’m not good enough?” This went on for a good length of time.
A few months later, I received a phone call from a member of the church nominating committee.
“Carol, would you be interested in filling out an application to be ordained as a deacon?” she asked. I was thrilled.
“Yes, I would,” I told her and then added, “I’ve been praying for an opportunity to serve.” I thought to myself, “Wow, Lord this is wonderful. How exciting for me to be a deacon. Thank you, Lord!” In my innocent euphoria, I was not the least bit prepared for what lay ahead.
After reading through the deacon application, I felt wrecked. Blindsided. Stupid.
The question, “Have you ever been divorced?” stared at me, like a menacing snake, coiled up and ready to strike.
I thought to myself, “They aren’t going to want me to be a deacon. No way. I have had such a messed-up life.” I had been regularly lying about my past to most people, including the Christians at Bear Creek. But, at this point I knew, without a doubt, that I could not lie on that application. I thought it was all over. I saw my career path with God destroyed right before my eyes — in that instant.
I had two choices: apply and tell the truth, or continue to live under a blanket of deceit.
I decided to fill out the application. For me it I could not answer with just yes, no, no, yes. I spent days filling it out, agonizing over the truth of where I had been in my life. Before I knew it, I had the blank continuation pages filled up with added explanations.
Tears turned into sobs as I wrote. My shoulders shook, my eyes puffed, all from a mixture of grief, shame, and, most importantly, sweet release.
The next morning, when I had finally completed the application, I sat down in a chair, in the corner of the living room, and I prayed. I cried out, saying, “Jesus, I want to serve you in the worst way, but when they read this application, they are going to know everything! How can I be a deacon after they read my application? They won’t want me.”
For the first time in my life, I felt the presence of Jesus right there beside me.
He was so close, I felt him as if I could touch him. There was a warm, pleasant, sensation that surrounded my torso, as if he were breathing on me, and at that moment, I was at the foot of the cross. I could feel him cleansing me, forgiving me, and taking away my shame. Just as the seraph put a live coal to the prophet Isaiah’s “unclean lips,” taking away his guilt, and atoning for his sin, Christ took away my guilt and atoned for my sin. It was during that close encounter with Christ, that I came to a clear understanding of how His power was able to take me, a most vile, sinful, and wretched person, to a glorious new place of spiritual wellness. Jesus helped me to confront my sin, willingly, through the act of filling out that Deacon application. My reliance on Christ and his power led me through this pit of darkness so that I could be his servant. For the first time in my life, I knew just how much God loves me. He met me where I was, and still chose to love me. I was in a new, completed, and special place with my Jesus. I knew in my heart that even if I weren’t a deacon, it would be okay; it didn’t matter, because I could still serve God in whatever way he chose.