|by Vicki Swords|
"...The real legacy of my life was my biggest failure – that I was an ex-convict. My greatest humiliation – being sent to prison – was the beginning of God’s greatest use of my life; He chose the one experience in which I could not glory, for His glory.
Confronted with this staggering truth, I discovered in those few moments in the prison chapel that my world was turned upside down. I understood with a jolt that I had been looking at life backward.
But now I could see: only when I lost everything that I thought made me a great guy had I found the true self God intended me to be and the true purpose of my life.
It is not what we do that matters, but what a sovereign God chooses to do through us. God doesn’t want our success; he wants us. He doesn’t demand our achievements; he demands our obedience. The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of paradox, where through the ugly defeat of a cross a holy God is utterly glorified. Victory comes through defeat; healing through brokenness; finding self through losing self."
~ Charles ("Chuck") W. Colson (Loving God)
There are so many things packed into this long quote. It's so moving and powerful to me; and it's taken on so much more meaning, since I've been trying to find purpose and acceptance among the pain that I've experienced since my car accident.
"He chose the one experience in which I could not glory, for His glory." - There is nothing glorious in chronic, unrelenting pain. However, God is using this time in my life, so that He will be glorified. It is only through Him that I've endured so much. And, though my faith has been shaken at times during these trials, I know that God is my strength and He deserves all the glory.
"...only when I lost everything that I thought made me a great guy had I found the true self God intended me to be and the true purpose of my life." - Over the past 10 years, I've actually had a series of losses of things that I identified myself by. I felt completely lost, when I was injured in high school and no longer able to play softball or run. When I was in the car accident 2.5 years ago, everything else seemed to fall apart (sometimes over time and sometimes all at once). Suddenly, I couldn't read and write because of pain and memory issues. I was trying to deal with my mind processing slowly, which wasn't something I really dealt with much before. I've always identified myself with my mind, and I could no longer do the type of stuff that I loved so much. I tried returning to school (starting graduate school), but struggled so much. BUT, I know that God is working in these trials to prepare me for His calling on my life. I'm journeying to find my true self and life purpose, who God intends me to be and what He calls me to do.
"It is not what we do that matters, but what a sovereign God chooses to do through us." - I've always wanted to make a difference in people's lives. It's been my fervent prayer that God use me as a vessel and work through me to reach others. I've been humbled on many occasions, when I'm afforded the opportunity to see how God has worked through me in certain situations or ways. It's such a blessing!
"God doesn’t want our success; he wants us." - This has been more difficult for me to swallow. I've always been a perfectionist and very results-oriented. Not to mention, our society places so much emphasis on being "perfect" and "successful." I've always known that God loves me unconditionally, but I've always wanted to... perhaps "make Him proud." It's a difficult thing to truly grasp that our God wants our successes and our failures, our strengths and our weaknesses... because He doesn't categorize the same ways that we tend to (our failures may be ways to steer us towards His calling, so that we might experience great successes). God wants each of us, and every part of us.
"He doesn’t demand our achievements; he demands our obedience." - This one is somewhat an extension of the previous section of the quote (see above). But, it speaks to God's demand for our obedience. I've been learning this one, especially over the past few years. The car accident injured me in such a way that I'm unable to achieve what I was before. But, God doesn't demand my achievements, He demands my obedience. I've struggled a lot with the obedience and discipline aspects of my faith.
"The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of paradox, where through the ugly defeat of a cross a holy God is utterly glorified." - How true it is that "the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of paradox" (an interesting read is a sermon by Timothy Peck, The Paradox of God's Kingdom). Jesus suffered and died on a cross, in order for God to ultimately be glorified.
"Victory comes through defeat; healing through brokenness; finding self through losing self." - These are more paradoxes. I think that God often uses trials to bring us closer to Him. When we are at our weakest, He is our strength. When we our broken, He is the only one that can truly heal us. And, when we feel defeated, He is working behind the scenes preparing us for victory.