If you have been in church very long you probably have heard people give testimonies of God’s work in their life. I have listened to many over the years and often wondered if I would ever be able to share what God has done in my life.
Being in the middle of recovery it feels like I’m not finished so there’s nothing to share right? Maybe you are at the beginning, or haven’t started. I discovered last week that God can use us at any point.
I was asked to write a paragraph of a “life changing story” that has happened at our church food pantry during the COVID drive through this year. As I prayed about it and began to write it up I felt like God wanted me to share the life changing story of me with the group I serve with each week at the food pantry.
Really God? I don’t know that anything I say could make a difference to anyone or that it would matter if I shared or not. Do I really have to? I truly felt like God wasn’t making me, He doesn’t require we do it or not, He still loves us.
However, He wants to use us and ultimately it will bring Him glory which is the entire point. Drawing others to Him.
(As Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”)
After 3 days I did sit down and write out what I felt God wanted me to share. It is by no means my entire story because there is so much unseen trauma work and other people God has brought to help me along the way. However, this is what I felt called to share. Never would I have imagined what would unfold.
Here is what I shared with the people I serve with each week:
“I wanted to share with you all the blessing and change I have gotten from serving here. To understand it you need to know that exactly 7 years ago this Friday, Christmas Day 2013 I didn’t think I belonged on this earth anymore.
I was struggling to deal with a significant amount of trauma I had endured and so for the second time in four months, I tried to take my life.
I was in the ICU for over a week and while there, unrelated to my suicide attempt I got a large Pulmonary Embolism from other medication I had been on. Had I not been in the hospital I would have most likely died or had a massive stroke.
Yet, God took what Satan meant for evil with me trying to end my life and saved me twice in a week.
So, in 2017 I began to work at the food pantry a couple hours every other Monday. At the time, because of my complex PTSD I struggled greatly with memory issues, severe anxiety and depression.
I couldn’t handle doing much at a time, and there were days at the pantry I had to leave early because it was too much for me. Even a year ago I still struggled greatly and my brain to this day doesn’t always work as it should.
However, as we began the pantry during COVID and I ended up somehow taking names and talking with people as they came through. I found myself remembering people and what they were telling me. It is truly amazing to me that I can remember anything they tell me.
God also knew before I did that, I would be able to empathize where they are in life from my own experiences.
I am so grateful to be able to serve here with all of you as we minister to each family that comes through. I wanted you all to know how God has worked in my life during this time. I love working with you all and thank God for you.”
The response was incredibly surprising. People calling me a “miracle” and what I call real hugs. (You know where they hug you tight and not like they are afraid to touch you.) It brought a couple of them to tears. One gentleman I serve with wanted a copy so I gave him my folded up piece of paper I had read from.
Fast forward to Wednesday of that week and as we gathered to pray before we opened, Sue, our manager, called me to come up with her.
She had a large frame in her hand and she began to tell about me sharing on Monday (A few different people serve different days, though some are the same.) She told me they had framed my “testimony” and asked if I would read it. I was so at a loss for words and trying to take it all in I shook my head no. She had another lady read it. Again, I was flabbergasted at the response of hugs and encouragement.
Also, that anyone would think to do that for me and frame it. I didn’t see my testimony as that special really. However, God began to show me through it how He wants to use it. The same man who framed it also let the church leadership know about it and it is possible they will contact me to do a testimony for the entire church. (Which is online everywhere in the world and several thousand at our church.)
I discussed this with my counselor and I told him I’m not so sure about that. He encouraged me to seek what God wants. I also shared I would want the testimony to include the struggles and other people who have helped that God has used to bring about my healing. Also, that I am not “healed” yet. There is still so much work to go and the church unfortunately makes things sound a little to easy sometimes. I don’t want to do that.
I have no idea what may come, but I am blessed with how God used it so far. To see my story is far from done yet God is using it already blesses me beyond measure. That was my prayer in starting this blog over 3 years ago and now there are over 300 of you reading. That blows my mind.
So, to think of thousands here and around the world it’s kind of overwhelming. It shows what God can do when we open ourselves up to His plans.
I pray you find ways to begin to share your story and how God is taking evil you endured and using it for His glory. To show others healing is possible and God will make beauty from ashes.
© 2020 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.