"In spite of myself, God has allowed me to serve in His Kingdom....
I was a good kid. Never got into trouble at school, did enough to get A's and B's, participated in a variety of activities and just loved life growing up in a very small town five minutes from the Canadian border in Vermont. Life was simple and life was good. My folks worked hard and I had two brothers who made sure to remind me it was their duty to drive me crazy on a daily basis.
I was first introduced to God by my Aunt and Uncle who would watch me and my brothers occasionally when my folks went out of town for the weekend. They attended the Baptist Church in town and at the age of 6 or so, I loved the excitement of learning songs, and being around other happy people. I soon began to ask them to pick me up every Sunday. Several years later I would be baptized at the age of 16. I had accepted Christ much earlier, but finally understood the significance of that decision and wanted the world to know who I belonged to.
I began to study earnestly around that same time. I eventually became consumed with my love for eschatology and read everything I could get my hands on....which was very little in the late 1980's. I went off to college and got involved with Campus Crusade for Christ and continued volunteering at Christian camps in the summer, but like most young adults, fell in love and that eventually changed the course of my life.
I quit college in Vermont and moved to MD in 1990 to be with my boyfriend. I quickly realized being 19 and having $300 and two credit cards was not going to do me much good so I got a job and began looking at schools in MD. I ended up graduating from college in 1995 and a year later the love of my life decided he had other plans. What do I do now?
See, I had allowed my relationship to take the place of my first love...God. I did not mean for it to happen, but I allowed it. I cried out to God to mend my broken heart and forgive me for replacing Him only to be met with silence (at least that is what I thought). I was angry, hurt and at times did not care to even wake up the next day if it meant the pain would go away. I had wrapped my entire identity up in the life of another human being and had no idea who I was or that I had any value.
In my pain, I continued to pray but that was all. I refused to listen to God and for the next four years remained angry. All I did was work and participate in the one thing that allowed me joy...dancing. But even this was empty as I would go out clubbing 3 and 4 nights a week in places that although often fun, were void of God.
Then my life changed once again. I found myself pregnant and unmarried. I screamed out loud one night "Stace...what are you doing?" Almost immediately I knew what I needed to do. I was in church that next Sunday and listened to C.J.
Mahaney at Covenant Life Church tell me Jesus is so holy that I am not even worthy to tie the laces of His sandals, YET He died for me! I lost it and right then and there asked God to forgive me for straying so far from Him. The peace that entered my heart at that moment of true confession and repentance is indescribable. I felt the Holy Spirit fill me and left that service knowing God is merciful.
That was 14 years ago when I was 29. Things did not change overnight and I did not receive a halo shipped by UPS in the mail the following week, but I did commit to being in God's presence by reading again and going to church faithfully. The love I received through these two things, god's Word and His people were overwhelming. I began to realize my value and that I am responsible for fulfilling my role in God's Kingdom by being obedient to Him.
It was not long after this I became restless and longed to serve God. I grew increasingly hopeless because I was a single mom of two toddlers and kept running into roadblocks in my attempts to minister. I continued in my walk and it eventually led me to Bethany Church. I was not at all interested in leaving my former church and argued for almost a year with God before surrendering. It was at that point of surrender that He answered my prayer of serving. Literally within days I was serving at my new church home. And, eventually would have to choose which areas to serve in because of all the opportunities and needs being brought to me.
God remained faithful, even when I was not. God heard every single prayer even when I thought He was not listening. God showed me His vision was far greater than mine and that His plan is perfect...not mine.
I know how to screw it up, boy do I! I am amazed God hung in there as long as He did and did not throw in the towel when I repeatedly chose the world over Him. Thank God He used me in spite of myself.
God is good and He wants you to know it does not matter where you are, He loves you and life can be different if you simply surrender to Him. I promise it will be the best decision you ever make. Love you my friend. "
- Stacy Gosselin