Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

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Lessons Learned

  • blogspot for Dena Johnson of Dena's Devos
  • Published Jul 02, 2015

~~The message popped up on my phone.

“I have a friend whose wife left him a few years back. He’s been reading your blog. Do you mind if I give him your phone number? He would like to talk to you.”

I responded in the affirmative. “Sure. Go ahead. I’d be more than happy to talk to him.”

A few days later, a call from an unknown number popped up on my phone. I began to visit with this gentleman. We talked about mutual friends. We talked about our past and current ministries. We talked about God. We began to piece together where we our paths might have crossed in the past. Because he has been in ministry his entire adult life, he knows many of the ministers across the state. Because I went to Oklahoma Baptist University, I know many of the same ministers.

When I mentioned that my son was going to youth camp this week, he asked me which church he was going with. I told him that Blake was attending with the church where my ex-husband had been pastor and I told him the name of the church.

“Wow,” he began. “Our world just got a whole lot smaller. I spoke to the youth at that church. I met your ex-husband.”

Sure enough, he was able to describe my ex-husband. We had actually been in the same church at the same time.

As the conversation continued, he asked one final question: “What have you learned from walking through divorce?”

My mind began to spin. Oh, how much I have learned in the last six years! Where do I begin? How do I summarize the lessons I have learned? I could talk for hours about all I have learned. And, surprisingly, very little of it has to do with relationships.

I have written about many of these lessons over the last three years. But, I thought it might be a good time to summarize a few of my favorite lessons.

God is faithful…always. In the early days of separation, after enduring the excruciating pain of adultery and having my offer of forgiveness rejected, I really wanted nothing to do with God. I was angry. He had failed me. I had been obedient to him, and yet I received nothing but pain. Why should I follow him if the blessing I received was a shattered heart? I could have lived my way, and it could have turned out this well…or better.

But, God was unwilling to leave me in my sin. Even when I was faithless, he was faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). Never did he leave me. Never did he forsake me.

Which brings me to the next lesson.

God loves me…deeply. Despite being a Christian since the age of six, I don’t think I truly grasped the love my Father has for me. Sure, I knew it in a theological way. I could point to the scriptures that told me he loved me so much he gave his only son for me. But I had never truly understood his love in an experiential way.

As I ran from God, I found him pursuing me relentlessly. The harder I ran from him, the louder his voice became.
“Get your security from me,” he whispered day after day.

It was as if I was the only one on the face of the earth. I was the center of his attention, the one he was running after. He could have let me go.

But he didn’t.

He was not content to let me walk away from him because his love for me is far greater than I could ever imagine. He chased me. He fought for me. He pursued me relentlessly. All because he loves me.

I need his forgiveness...badly. I think sometimes when we have spent our entire lives seeking God, we fail to realize the true condition of our hearts. We become prideful. We think that Christ died for everyone else’s sins. We fail to recognize that we need his forgiveness.

In those months where I ran from God, I can honestly say that I don’t know who was inhabiting my body. I fell to sins that I thought I was immune from. And yet, as I look back, I now have a deeper appreciation for the gift of forgiveness that Christ lavished upon us. I realize that without God, I am weak and capable of falling to any sin. I realized that I am no less of a sinner than anyone else. I realized that it is only by the grace of God that I am who I am.

God has good plans for us…always. Life can often knock us down. We can feel as if our lives are over, that there is no future for us. We can believe that our ministry is over, that we no longer have any influence. We can sense that we have been disqualified from ministry, that we are no longer qualified for God’s work.

And yet, I now see that the very thing that I thought had disqualified me from ministry has become a springboard to a much greater ministry than I ever dreamed possible! Nothing that this life throws at us ends our life, our influence. God promises to make all things work for good to those who love him (Romans 8:28). If it’s not good, God’s not done.

God is able…to do anything. This journey has been a journey of faith. As I have seen my Great I Am provide for my every need just the right moment, I have seen my faith grow. My prayers are no longer for small things; instead, I am believing God for the impossible. I am begging God and believing God for power beyond my greatest imagination.

My God is able to do above and beyond all I could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-22). I have seen it. I believe it. And I am asking for more every day.

No pain is wasted…ever. I have seen my fair share of pain. No one can grasp the excruciating pain of adultery. No one can understand the pain of watching your children hurt. No one can completely know the fear of financial ruin. No one can feel the loneliness that sets in. Unless you've walked that path.

Rejection. Uncertainty. Anger. Unending conflict. Bitterness. I have felt every negative emotion known to the human experience.

And yet, I have also experienced the freedom of forgiveness. I’ve felt the comfort of the Father. I’ve known personally the provisions of my Father. I’ve seen my pain used for His glory and my good. I’ve experienced growth and spiritual maturity that I never dreamed possible.

And peace. That amazing peace that surpasses all understanding. His perfect peace that floods my life as I focus on him. That peace that keeps me grounded, protected as the world crashes around me.

I can truly say that for every pain I have experienced, he has repaid me with two blessings. And he’s not finished yet!

I could go on and on about the lessons I have learned. There’s no end! And, I know there are many more.
If you are walking through the pain of divorce, adultery, or any other trial, don’t despair! Our God is able and willing! He has great plans for you and will one day have you put together and on your feet for good!

Praying God’s greatest blessings over you today!

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