How God Showed His Wonderful Love to a Hurting Heart!
During the summer of 2005 I attended a camp called S.T.E.P, which stands for Skills Training in Emergency Preparedness. Attending S.T.E.P. was a dream come true for me. I greatly anticipated receiving valuable training from quality instructors in many different areas – including providing Search and Rescue (SAR), giving first aid and CPR, maintaining water safety, and knowing survival techniques. I little realized that the greatest lesson I would learn at camp would not come from a classroom instructor’s lesson on tying knots, performing search and rescue, or rescuing a dying victim of an automobile accident. Rather, the greatest lesson I learned at S.T.E.P. was how to overcome low self-esteem.
One night nearing the end of STEP, tears streamed down my face as I poured out my heart before the LORD. Inwardly I reeled as vivid images flashed through my mind, like a preview of a slow-motion picture playing scenes from my childhood. It seemed I had often struggled with low self-esteem. Ever since I was little, I had struggled with comparing myself to my younger sister, who seemed to excel above me in everything. She was physically faster, more social, quicker in her schoolwork, and made better grades than me. On top of all these, she was taller! Growing up, I had learned to accept these petty annoyances as parts of life. However, now that I was at camp and struggling in other relationships, these painful memories came back to haunt me.
I had come to camp with high hopes and bright expectations of doing well – of excelling in many of the activities. However, by this time in the third week of camp, my anticipations were faced with reality. I was not doing well. I strained my shoulder muscles during the second day of camp, thus affecting all of the other related physical activities. In river-crossing, I had difficulty pulling my own weight across the river. In canoeing class, I could not propel with enough speed, nor could I steer the canoe properly (we, my partner and I, enjoyed several more “spins” around the lake than usual ). Furthermore, I had to re-test in one class (ouch!). In most of the camp activities, I seemed to lag behind the others. By the third week of camp, I was physically exhausted, emotionally overwhelmed, and spiritually drained. I felt as though I had been a failure in everything. I was keenly discouraged and disappointed. I little realized that I was about to make one of the most profound discoveries of my life!
Slowly I crept out from under the covers and took my place before the LORD, yielding to the urge to get down on my knees beside my bed. Still smothering sobs, I began asking the LORD all of the questions that were lying heavily in my aching heart. “Why am I created this way? Why can’t I do ‘anything right?’ Why am I always lagging behind? Why does my sister seem so much better than me in everything? Why…?” Although I did not expect any immediate answers, it was encouraging to be able to pour out my heart’s cries to someone who knew and understood me. Then, as I was praying, something amazing happened. I had just begun to think about how thrilling it would be if I had just one area of expertise. “Oh!” I thought, “If I were good at just one thing… just one thing! I’d practice it, and I’d practice it… I would get so good at that one skill and do it soooo often.”
The word clearly interrupted my thoughts. “Bingo?” I repeated to myself. What did that mean?
Then it hit me, like a pile of bricks cascading within my being. In my heart and in His own way, the LORD gently revealed to me that I was special to Him, that He had uniquely designed and created me for His own special plans and unique purpose. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5). I was not a mistake when he created me with my natural abilities. He had created me in order to enjoy the greatest amount and quality of fellowship with Him possible. He revealed that He wants me for ME! That He wants me to love Him with all of the single-hearted passion and zeal that I had longed to pour into a passing “hobby” or skill. He had allowed so many of the aspects of life in order to teach me, to reveal to me, that valuable truth – that He loves me! Furthermore, He did not endow me with any of those natural abilities that I so desperately longed for because HE wants ME.
In the dark hours of the night, I realized that if I were skilled at any other specific art or skill, such as archery or river crossing, I would spend a majority of my time on that one skill. That skill would easily replace the time and fellowship that I need with my Savior. In His mercy, the LORD had allowed me to experience all of the pain and difficulties of camp in order to realize that the most valuable asset I had was a relationship with Jesus Christ. And that, I realized, was something that no one could take away from me.
I was so awed and overjoyed by all of these thoughts and the accompanying emotions that I simply began crying again; however, these were now tears of joy as I realized that God had created me unique and special so I could have the greatest amount of quality fellowship with Him that He soooo desperately desires and longs for. This meant that not only was I special and beautiful in His eyes, but that I didn’t really have to worry about what others thought of me because the LORD truly was my “friend which sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24).
From that time on, camp was amazing! My relationship with my roommate improved drastically! From time to time, I still have bouts of low self-esteem; however, it is during those times that God reminds me to look unto Him, and He whispers, “Remember – ‘Bingo’ I love you.”
God did a mighty work in me during that summer at S.T.E.P. (I highly recommend anyone going through S.T.E.P. if that is an option!!!), and I am excited to share!!! (see Psalm 119:14) The reason I share this is because I believe the same truths God revealed to me are true for all of God’s children – God desires an intimate – I.N.T.I.M.A.T.E. – relationship with all of us, and He is willing show His love in powerful ways in order to reveal this dynamic truth to us – even allowing us to go through pain and heartache in order to reveal His love for us. I have never been more blessed than by the times that I have spent in openness and fellowship with the LORD. I love the Psalm of David (a “man after God’s own Heart”) that states,
“Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah” (Psalms 62:8) God is so amazingly good to all of us!!! Even though there is heartache in life ect., we don’t deserve even the least of His mercies and great love for us!!! God has shown us His love through the death and resurrection of His Son, and He is willing to continue, I believe, to reveal His love towards us day by day. His love is, as the song states, “Wondrous Love Divine!” With whatever difficulty, challenge, or experience in life you are facing just now, I highly encourage you to make the most of your time here on earth right now by spending extra quality time with the LORD – just getting to know Him and allowing Him to reveal Himself to you in His own time and in the way He chooses! Don’t allow the worldly philosophy of “self” to stop you from getting to know – and enjoy – your Savior!!!