Last week I completed my second year of Bible Study Fellowship. I recently shared in a post how God brought me to BSF in 2016 and how He used it during the most spiritually crucial time of my life. After such an incredible year of studying John I didn’t see how God could possibly top that. But of course, He did. 🙂
This year we studied Romans. I was so eager to jump into this book. Romans had always always a “taboo” book in the churches I grew up in. Pastors carefully sidestepped any discussions on such “controversial” passages regarding election/predestination, lest they offend anyone in the congregation. But after reading Galatians and Ephesians at the beginning of my journey to grace, Paul had quickly become my favorite Biblical author, and so I couldn’t wait to tackle what is no doubt considered the most rich book he was inspired to write.
My study of Romans was definitely difficult, but just as God transformed my heart through John, He also ended up doing another major heart surgery as I worked through Romans. On the last day of class we had our ever-so-memorable “Share Day”, where all 400 + women gathered together and anyone who desired to publicly share their testimony could do so. I decided weeks ahead of time that I would share my testimony for Romans, and it was just a well received as last year. And so, I would like to share with you the testimony that I read to the group.
Bible Study Fellowship Testimony May 9th, 2018
Last year on share day I shared my story of how I was raised in a Fundamentalist Patriarchal Cult and how 2 1/2 years ago I finally found the courage to step away from the cult and into the freedom of the true Gospel. This past year I have had many exciting “firsts” as I have learned to walk in this new, beautiful thing called “grace”, including buying my very first pair of jeans just weeks before my 25th birthday!
As 2018 dawned and I celebrated two years since coming out of the cult, I was expecting to simply continue on this exciting journey and deeper my understanding of grace. But God had a new lesson in store for me to learn. February 1st began a series of events and attacks where it seemed as if everything I had built in my new life was now being taken away from me.
It started couple of years ago when I, along with 17 other women, who were all sexual abuse victims of a very evil man, attempted to stop the evil by seeking legal justice in a court room. This February, after a long battle, we were eventually forced to dismiss our case due to a cruel legal formality. Following this dismissal, I was ruthlessly attacked and slandered for my faith by this man on some large media networks. I was eventually falsely accused of perjury in a court of law and I faced a penalty of being fined more than I make in a year, and even loosing any of my possessions of value. Then, to make matters worse, my beloved pastor of my church was found out in extreme sin and choose to respond by running away and abandoning his flock. Finally, the stress of it all caused a severe breakdown in my health to where I wasn’t able to work and faced to possibility of losing my jobs.
Over the course of a few weeks, it seemed as if my entire life had fallen apart and I had lost most everything dear to me. But God hadn’t forgotten me. It was certainly no coincidence that I was studying Romans, for as each day passed and more attacks came, I found myself relating to Paul’s trials more and more.
This year in BSF I learned two crucial truths which have literally kept me alive during this spiritual battle and has even allowed me to be filled with joy.
The first lesson I learned was of the incredible security of the Sovereignty of God. I can understand why the topic of sovereignty can be a confusing subject, but for me, I’ve found that resting in His sovereignty is the absolute safest, most peaceful, most secure place I can possibly go. When my life feels like it’s falling apart and spinning out of control, resting in the truth of God’s sovereignty means I can be confident in knowing that God is not only in control, but is actually spinning things into place. It means that there is nothing that I, or evil men, or judges. or even Satan can do to thwart God’s plan for my life. It means that nothing takes God by surprise and that He is indeed in control of every outcome. My job is to trust him — to take all my worries, all my pain, and all my uncertainties, and surrender them to my faithful Father and trust in His plan, no matter what. Oh, what relief this is! I need not every fear of what the future holds, because God is completely in control and has even promised to work all things for good and to bring glory to Him.
The second things I learned was found in Romans chapter 8. As each day passed, and it seemed as if more of my life was crumbling away, one truth out of the entire book of Romans rang out far louder than all the others. That is: Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
As I would cry myself to sleep every night, mourning the loss of so many things dear to me, I would quote this passage over and over and over. During the days when Satan would suddenly appear and start attacking me and start filling my head with lies, I would take my Sword in hand and would verbally confront him. “Go away Satan! You’re wasting your time! I will NOT curse the name of Jesus. You can do take EVERYTHING away from me — my family, my church, my health, you can even kill me — but no matter what, NOTHING can separate me from the love of my Lord! He is holding on to me and He will never let go!” See, when we take this truth to heart, suddenly we will find courage to withstand any battle. For God’s love truly does cast out fear.
Jesus came so we may have life abundantly! But I think many people confuse what an “abundant life” actually means. The abundant life is not about our comfort, or the things around us, or the relationships in our lives. For I discovered that during my darkest hours over these last few months — the days it seemed I had lost my life as I had known it — I actually never felt more abundant!
That is because our abundance is found is Jesus and Jesus alone! All things truly do work together for good for the more we lose in our life here on earth, the closer we will draw to Christ and develop a richer relationship with Him. And THAT is what makes our lives exceedingly abundant!
I don’t have a happy ending to this testimony by the world’s standards for you — none of the trials I described earlier have gone away. I’ll still knee deep in Satan’s attacks right now. But yet, I am filled with more joy and peace and security than I’ve ever felt before. That is what God’s Word does for us! It gives us hope in the deepest valleys, comfort during the darkest nights, and it inspires faith that can move mountains. And that, is the happiest ending I can think of.
~ Emily Jaeger