Testimony by Guest Contributing Watchwoman Joanne
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
What did it mean to seek the Lord first?
I was at one of the lowest points in my life. It seemed like we had one major issue at all times and sometimes overlapping and I was at my breaking point. Is it worth following Jesus?
I prayed and begged God to help and He seemed silent. I had known him since I was 9 or 10 years old (almost 40 years at this point) and I’d seen Him work in and through my life so many times. Even though I had been involved in churches and mission’s organizations and serving in every capacity there was from childcare, leading children’s church music, praise team, bible studies, women’s retreats etc. Even though I thought I was doing all the things that a Christian was supposed to do, my heart just felt empty.
I was so frustrated that the circumstances in my life kept getting worse. It would have been easier to end my life and not deal with it, but then I’m reminded how it would affect so many others around me, that I knew that was not an option.
One day I remember thinking about how Christians say “Jesus is first, Others second and then Yourself” – we called it in our home the “JOY Principle.” But then I sat there and thought “What does that even look like, God?” So I simply said, “What does it take to make You first in my life? That still small voice spoke to my heart and said “Get rid of your idols?” I thought, “Ok, show me what they are.”
When you ask for something like this from the Lord, He will show you. They came in one by one and it was a long year and a half purifying process. I left everything that lead me away from the Lord and literally got into the Word like never before. I prayed, I cried, I would have days I couldn’t even get out of bed. It started out simply like magazines, even all the daily puzzles in the newspaper and it went on to fictional books I enjoyed reading. I started noticing that the more I got into His Word, the more offensive things became to me for example, movies, shows on TV, even commercials on TV. I’m not saying all these things are bad, but you must admit, not many are very good. Either way, God knows that the best way for me to let go of something is to just walk away.
I know it was hard on my family during this time, because when they would want to watch TV or a movie, I would decline and go in my room and read the Word. I declined many ‘worldly things’ as time went on and spent much time in praise, worship, thanking the Lord and asking Him to show me only the truth in His Word. And I meant the real truth. I couldn’t understand why there were so many religions, teachings and even among Christians, it seemed everyone had different interpretations.
As time passed, it got harder. It got to the point that I had to walk away from different groups of friends. I no longer enjoyed the worldly things they did. Idle talk had no substance. No one ever wanted to talk about Jesus, even among my Christian friends. And no one wanted to hear all the amazing things that the Lord was showing me in and through His Word. Or how He was opening my eyes up to truths more and more. I was feeling very isolated and began wrestling with the Lord over things. I’d cry out to Him and get so angry some days. It was as if by giving up things in the world, I no longer had things in common with people. Yes, it was lonely and I felt isolated.
One day, I remember I couldn’t even get out of bed. I was crying out to God telling Him I had given up everything for Him. Now what? It’s amazing when you get rid of all the clutter from your life how much easier it is to hear the still small voice. I heard again – “Are you willing to be rejected for Me?” Oh, my. I sat there stunned. God knew the inner core of my being. And the one thing that was a stumbling block for me for most of my life. My earthly Dad had rejected me over and over from the time I was 5 years old. I always did whatever I had to in order to not be rejected by people. It was my best defense and the one thing that truly kept me from serving the Lord with all of my heart.
The questions were flying through my mind. Could I do this? Could I really risk being rejected for the Lord? I remember, literally gulping, and as sure as I had ever been about anything in my life I said, “Yes, Lord, I’m willing!”
But realization awakened within me and I said, “Ok, so what do you want me to do?” Again, so clearly, I heard “Get them into My Word.”
So, now, I had taken myself away from most everyone and everything during this time. How do I even begin to do this? Again, I hear “Feed My sheep.”
These were directives and I knew with not a doubt in my mind that this was from the Lord and I was set on a new path where I knew I could never turn back. My life was changed. I had been totally broken and yet renewed, knowing this was God’s purpose for my life. I wanted to seek the Lord and His will first, not my own.
Jesus knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”
This became my focus and my prayer. I knew I could not do any of this in my own strength so my continual prayers and even to this day are “Lord, give me wisdom, discernment, knowledge and understanding of the truth of your Word, that I may never lead anyone astray or in a wrong direction” and “Lord, may Your will be my will and Your desires my desires.”
Initially, I did face a lot of rejection in the church I had been in at the time. I saw such a lack of Biblical discipleship and asked the Pastor if I could disciple the younger women in the church. Without going into it, I was pretty much pushed aside and told that it was not needed. I tried to start a Bible study with my friends at the time who were from that church. None were interested.
Now during this time of seeking His Word, the Lord really opened my eyes to Biblical prophecy and it seemed as if so much of the Bible started to make sense. I understood that it’s all about Him. The Father always was pointing to the Son and the Son was always pointing to the Father. I realized that the Lord is unchanging and perfect in all He says in and through the Word of God. That it is not for us to determine what He is saying, but to learn and understand the full counsel of God’s Word in its correct context. The Word is powerful and we can have perfect confidence in a perfect God.
The hour had finally come where I needed to step out of my ‘comfort zone’. I prayed that the Lord would show me what to study and even said, a little sarcastically at one point “who will even come?” Sounds kind of like Sarah when the Lord told her she would have a child in her old age, doesn’t it?
So, I posted on Facebook one day “I’m doing a Bible Study on Bible Prophecy. If you are interested and would like more information, please private message me for details.” To be sincere, I thought I wouldn’t hear from anyone. But God, He knew! I had 12 ladies from 9 different churches who came. This was almost six years ago and some are still with me studying even twice a week to this today. The Lord showed me so tangibly the outcome of Ephesians 3:20-21.
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Has this been an easy road? No. If I could go back, would I ask the Lord to take this cup from me? Not at all.
The only thing I would change is the fact that I didn’t listen to Him sooner.
©2018 iamawatchman, Inc. All rights reserved.
I Am A Watchman Ministries materials are copyrighted. Use or redistribution are subject to standard Fair Use Guidelines – Any use in published work (either print or ebooks) must include the copyright reference: “Copyrighted resource of iamawatchman, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.” NOTE: Articles which are re-posted online, in part or total, must include the above statement. We ask that re-posts also include an active link to www.iamawatchman.com