One day a number of years ago, I felt led to call a friend I hadn’t seen in months.
When I asked how she was doing, she tearfully said, “Bad. I left my husband today.”
In the past when hearing such words, I’d listen, then say, “I’ll be praying for you,” or offer a short prayer on the telephone. Maybe I’d send a note. Then I would avoid further contact until the crisis passed.
What often ruled my interactions with people in crisis was, “You could get hurt getting too close to hurting people.” Then I’d remember how I already had.
However on this particular day God’s instruction of “Go to her; pray with her” was louder than my inner “You could get hurt” warning.
I did go to my friend immediately and spent time with her. I listened, hugged, prayed, and cried. I told of painful times in my marriage, which were similar to what she was going through.
“You know just how I feel,” she said at one point in our conversation.
My friend communicated later, “That day I had cried out to God, ‘I have no one.’ The next thing I knew you called me, and then you were right there with me.” This friend went back to her husband after our time together, and God worked mightily in both of their lives to bring healing.
As I reflect on this incident, I’m reminded of how deep into the bondage of self-protection I was. Even though at times I fall back into this sin habit, that day was a turning point. God showed me He could use me powerfully if I would take my eyes off of myself. Instead I needed to follow His instructions and reach out to hurting people while depending on Him to direct me on what to say and do.
Letting down the walls of self-protection has drawn me closer to God and to people. When I don’t hold back out of fear of being hurt emotionally or feeling overwhelmed and out of my comfort zone, I receive blessings which self-protection stole from me. One blessing is to be used by God—to see Him at work in and through me.
When I’m trying to protect myself emotionally, it shows I don’t trust God to protect me. The Word promises He is my protector.
He is a shield to all those who take refuge and put their trust in Him. Psalm 18:30 AMP
A couple of days ago someone who is unsaved called to tell me of multiple crises. Instead of withdrawing, which I had done with this individual in the past, I extended an invitation for him to come to our home for dinner.
By faith I’m believing the words of encouragement my husband and I spoke and the love we showed drew this person closer to receiving Jesus as Savior. He did express gratitude to us for spending time with him. I praise God he also admitted (finally) that much of the suffering he’s going through is due to his own wrong choices.
Sometimes I will be rejected, hurt, or feel like a failure when I reach out to others. Yet if I withdraw to avoid this, I won’t know the joy of Christian bonding, of leading someone to salvation in Christ, or of helping fellow Christians draw closer to the Lord. I also won’t experience the joy of obedience.
The truth that’s finally hitting home to my heart is, “There is no safer place to be than in the center of God’s will for me.”
How about you? Do you withdraw from difficult situations or relationships to protect yourself emotionally—ignoring the call of God to reach out and minister? Renounce the habit of self-protection, seek the Lord and ask Him, “What do I do next?” You will be amazed at how God will use you to bring healing to the hurting.