“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delights in me.”(Psalm 18:19, CSB)
Last summer, Doug and I intentionally slowed our cadence, said yes to less, and chose to rest more than we had in 20 years of marriage and ministry. With the extra space, I wrestled with God about how I felt confined to use my God-given gifts in this city and how controlled I felt in ministry and the marketplace for years. I had begun to believe that though He had called me to New Orleans, I was worthless and useless for the kingdom here. I told myself that I was too different than those around me. My faith seemed to ostracize me from most relationships. I was lonely. Even my Jesus-loving friends seemed threatened by my sincere passion to serve God with everything I could offer. My response was to downplay my faith. I was afraid of being misunderstood, of not fitting in, of being alone. I ministered in small ways within the walls that I perceived. The words of trusted friends took over the steering wheel of my relationship with God. It was confusing and difficult to move within each day. I wanted to give up. My personal experience with Jesus did not match the hope, peace and purpose that Scripture offered. I desperately wanted freedom. I cried out to God for freedom to be myself in this place.
Last fall, God gently showed me that I was ashamed of the cross. He brought to mind clear instances when I had diminished the truth of His greatest story. I had elevated other things (community, unity, etc.) to that level, if not, higher than the saving power of Jesus’ selfless, obedient act of love for humanity on the cross. All the ways that I sought to be “free to be me” (ie. nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, gratitude) would never have the same power as complete trust in the love of Jesus.
He is the ONLY one who understands me completely and will never leave me. Jesus knew me in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). Jesus has been there all along (I John 3:18-20). He has never left me to face my troubles alone (Hebrews 13:5,6). He is the faithful friend who gets me. My passion doesn’t surprise Him. My design doesn’t make Him feel insecure. I can count on Him to listen, care and help me put back the pieces of my story to match His desire for me.
Hope was rising. My resolve for 2020 was to delight in Jesus in order to be free to be me. I prayed that a love for Him and His Scripture would return. Scripture became satisfying and I believed it could anchor my soul.
Then, God revealed sin. He asked me to get my hurt out in the open in person with a friend. I fought back with tears, but God confirmed that this act of obedience was my highest priority. We met and shared honestly with each other. The story I told myself for years was reframed. It was not God who had decided I wasn’t useful for His kingdom in this city. It was a person who made the best decision possible given the circumstances. The walls of repressed anger, worthlessness and uselessness came down faster than I thought possible. God’s love hadn’t changed. In fact, He was there all along. Since that day, I don’t doubt the promptings of God. I don’t dismiss the people He brings to mind - I pray for them fervently and sometimes reach out. I don’t second-guess the connections He provides. I ask him for confirmation if I wonder if it’s my idea, rather than His. I believe that Christ lives in me. I believe that He desires to use my words and actions to show His love to others. The life He offers us is an expectant adventure. That’s how I live now. Since I have found victory in the spiritual battle that raged within, it is easier to see the rest of the battle. I will be different. I won’t fit in. I will be misunderstood. And finally, I am okay with that. Internal peace has arrived.
David knew the internal wrestle with Jesus too. Psalm 18:16-24 in the Message describes my experience –
“But me he caught -- reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos, the void in which I was drowning. They hit me when I was down, but God stuck by me. He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved -- surprised to be loved! God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start, now I’m alert to God’s ways; I don’t take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works; I try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together and I’m watching every step. God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.” (emphasis mine)
God’s love won for David. It won for me. It will win for you too. His love endures. His love pursues. Personally. Specifically. To each one’s capacity.
To me, quarantine has lessened the noise and focused my attention. My first priority is my relationship with Jesus every day. I spend more time with my husband and children than I have in years. Do they see Christ in me? Accepting the limits has offered me creativity to do what matters most when serving others as I ask myself, “What is mine to do?”
I implore you not to miss, dismiss, or second-guess the personal ways that Jesus is chasing you in love right now. He knows your greatest need. He knows your biggest fear. The Spirit of God is moving powerfully. Have you noticed? What do you want from Him? Have you asked Him? He desires all of you. His love is the only certain thing in uncertain times. Joy IS in the suffering. Peace DOES come in the storm. I am praying for you, reader. May you be surprised by His love.
Crystal Daspit grew up in rural Pennsylvania but has lived in New Orleans as a ministry spouse since 2002. Her heart’s desire is for God to use her gifts in any way, at any time, and anywhere for His glory. She and her husband Doug, an Army Reserve chaplain who also works at Oschner, are raising three boys (16, 14, 12) and reside in Gentilly. She works in communications at a local charter school. Quarantine life reminds her of her childhood when prayer, family time, and serving others were top priorities.