During the past six weeks, I have spoken on the following:
- “Dealing with pain & suffering – understanding the theology of suffering” (A men’s group)
- “The Wounded Man” (Another men’s group)
- “More than conquerors over your past” (Sermon)
I didn’t volunteer to speak on these topics; I was invited to do so. It just so happened that the talks were so close to each other. A friend remarked that this was my focus for this season.
In these talks, I revisited my past, especially a period I call my ten black years. I talked about my failures as a husband and a father. I talked about my experience of widowhood, divorce, loss of ministry and reputation, and my sojourn through clinical depression.
I don’t find it easy to revisit these parts of my life. After every talk I am wiped out emotionally and physically. But if asked, if I think it will do some good, I will make these parts of my life available to others. For the longest time, I wished I could go back in time and do things better, make better choices, be a better man. But I can’t go back in time. Now, I seek to redeem my past by sharing whatever lessons I learnt from those dark times, with others. The most important lesson is this — God is bigger than our failures.
How I wish I had made better choices in my life, but I didn’t, perhaps I couldn’t. I came to terms with the fact that life is not predicated on me making perfect life choices, but on the fact that our God is a God of grace and He is able to work all things for good, for His people (Romans 8:28). This is divine alchemy that only God can do. He brings good out of bad. Of course it helps if we cooperate with His work, to be like Peter and return to God, with confession and repentance if need be, and not be like Judas who turns away from God in his failure.
I need to be reminded that our God is able to bring good out of bad. I need to hang on to this aspect of His nature and power, even as the echoes of the explosions in Manchester and Jakarta ring in my ear.
Wishful thinking? I remember Good Friday, when God used the greatest evil to accomplish the greatest good. I remember Easter, when life defeated death. So I continue to live. I continue to serve. And I continue to share.
I have come to see that my life is a story, and that God is the author. He is able to weave together all the strands of my life, both the good and the bad, into a coherent redemptive narrative. My story will end well as I continue to trust in Him. And if telling my story helps others, I will continue to do so.