A couple years ago, while I was living in India, I was at a park with some friends when I found myself surrounded by about 50 teenagers on a field trip. They were very eager to talk to me, a foreigner, and to practice their English.
I found out that they were visiting from a small island country near India. I knew that they had probably never heard the good news about Jesus before, and I wanted to tell them.
But then the objections started coming into my mind; “How do I bring up the conversation? Just start telling them? It seems too abrupt … What if they don’t understand? … What if they get confused and it gets awkward? … What if my friend won’t translate for me? (After all, we haven’t planned for this.) … What if my friend is embarrassed by me? … What if I start to tell them but do a pitiful job getting the words out and … and .. what if .. what if I … what if I make a fool of myself in front of EVERYONE!!??”
And so I worked myself up into a tizzy inside my head. The moment passed, and the kids and their teachers went on their way, never hearing the good news of Jesus – which has the power to save lives, no matter how pitiful the presentation may have been.
That night I was talking to Jesus about the experience, and I heard Him say to me very clearly, “Michelle, are you willing to make a mistake for me?”
“Oh, Jesus. If you put it that way . . . I’m willing to die for you . . . Yes, I am willing to make a mistake for you.”
We’ve all heard stories about some person who tried to tell others about Jesus but messed everything up and caused offense instead of bringing life – or so the story is told – I didn’t want to be THAT person – and my fear of being THAT person, was keeping me from being the person God was calling me to be – a person who makes mistakes and gets back up, while speaking truth into a darkened world.
So I became a person who is willing to speak out the life saving truth of the gospel – even if it means making mistakes along the way – because it will – but I am willing to look foolish for my Lord.
It’s hard to believe that was not even two years ago. So much has happened since then, it seems like another lifetime.
Since then, I’ve had plenty more chances to make a fool of myself for Jesus, and I’ve still missed plenty … but I’ve taken more and more of them … and I’ve made mistakes … but I’ve seen people get saved … and I’ve had the opportunity to share my mistakes and successes and what I’ve learned with many other people … and I’ve seen them be emboldened to take the risk of speaking the truth in love … and I’ve seen many people get saved because of that.
And then, just over five months ago, I was hit with a blow so much worse than anything I feared that day in the park …
I discovered that my husband had been carrying on secret, adulterous affairs for years.
This discovery came when my third child was not even a month old.
Since then, I have been immersed in a “crash course” on the nature and psychology of sex addiction, pornography, and adultery; what drives the people who do these things; how it affects their spouses and families; and how the church helps or hurts along the way.
God has already shown me so many things along this journey.
And I’ve felt an old feeling resurfacing. It’s the feeling that Ezekial had after he ate the scroll – he had tasted God’s words and now he had to share them with others – even if they wouldn’t receive it.
It’s a feeling I had when I was in seminary years ago; when I discovered so many ways the scriptures had been twisted to keep women in bondage. At that time I did not speak out publicly, though I wrote many a research paper.
Why didn’t I speak out? – partly I had too many other things going on, partly my husband and I were worried it would negatively affect future ministry opportunities for us, and partly my non-confrontational personality longed to find a way to bring about change without, well, upsetting anyone. 🙂
And, perhaps, mainly, because I feared making a mistake.
I feared saying something wrong, or something true that gets taken wrong, and leading someone astray.
But now I realize I’ve led more astray by remaining silent.
Remaining silent was a selfish mistake – to protect myself and my reputation – just like that day in the park. And my fear of making a mistake, looking foolish, was what Satan used to silence me.
But now I’m finally done with silence.
I’m speaking out because Satan has stolen too much from me already and I don’t want to let him steal any more from me or anyone else. Not if I can help it.
I’m done with appearances. I’m done with safe topics, and I’m done with Satan flourishing in the darkness.
Yeah, sure, I’ll make mistakes in this blog – I’ll reveal too much or too little, I’ll say something wrong, or something that gets taken wrong, but it would be a bigger mistake to remain silent.
So, once again, Jesus, I am willing to “make a mistake” for you.
You see, all these things – from the pornography that is rampant in our churches (yes, keep reading this blog if you don’t believe it), to the scripture twisting that keeps women
from using their gifts for the Lord (yes, keep reading if that gets you up in arms) – all these things go back to a snake in a garden, to whom God said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman.”
Satan is at war with women. He is at war with Jesus and His Church, but specifically he is attacking the church by attacking women. I am NOT saying that women are more susceptible to sin than men and that Satan is using them as an entry point to bring sin into the church – people who interpret the story of Adam and Eve that way are twisting scripture – they are committing the same sin as Adam did when he blamed his own sin on “the woman who you put here with me.”
No, I am saying that Satan is attacking the inherent value of God’s precious daughters who are made in God’s own image – through pornography and sexual abuse, through lies that women believe about themselves – and through scripture twisting that supports those lies.
This is NOT a man-hating blog – this is a Satan-hating blog. Satan loves darkness, shame, and silence. He loves to keep men and women in bondage – and his attack on women hurts men just as much as it hurts women, because men and women are bonded together – through the church, through marriage, through family relationships.
To my brothers and sisters in Christ who are enslaved to pornography or sexual sin: Satan wants to keep you in darkness and shame so that you cannot be experiencing the full Joy of the Lord and shining the light of Jesus for others, as you were destined to do. But Jesus can give you victory – I know because I’ve been there too.
Yes, I have a past too. That last sentence in bold was the hardest part of this post for me to write – and the most freeing.
Also, notice I said “and sisters” – let’s get rid of this notion that only men can be addicted to pornography or sexual sin – and let’s take away the double shame that comes on women when we struggle with these things.
This blog is about getting real, it’s about truth, it’s about honesty, it’s about bringing darkness into light so that shame and bondage can no longer have a hold on us.
Because it is truth that sets us free. (John 8:32)
And this blog is about courage and love – two things I am asking God for more of – two things I will need more of as I write this blog.
You may be wondering why I started out this post talking about overcoming my fear of sharing Jesus with others … and then ended it talking about sexual sin…
Well, there is a common thread – it is fear (and sometimes shame) that keeps us from speaking the life saving truth of Jesus – and it is fear and shame (and fear of shame) that keeps us from bringing sin into the light – which is the first step to breaking free from it.
There is no fear in love for perfect love drives out all fear. (1 John 4:18)
Let’s get it into the light.
That is how the chains get broken.
I’m so done with silence.