(This devotional blog was written by Amber)

Hey Girls! I’m so excited for the opportunity to write this month’s devotional! Since trusting God was a topic for a chat we had a few weeks ago and since many of you seemed to really be encouraged by the Overcome video that I recently posted on the forum, I thought I’d combine the two to tell you a little about my experience with both. For those of you who have watched the video (and for those of you who haven’t I’ve attached it below) you know that my church over the last two years has endured scandal, murder and terror…and it all happened within the span of 13 months. It started with waking up one morning to find my pastor plastered all over the media and our church, the top headline on just about every newspaper and TV site nation-wide. The details that follow were grueling and are still sometimes hard for me to talk about because the trauma continued for so long before resolution came. But in that moment…in the midst of grief and pain, I had a life-changing decision to make. Would I walk away from the anguish and humiliation we were walking through as a church and find another place to call my house of worship, or would I, with my church family, walk through the valley pained with trauma and fear of not knowing what was to come? I had no idea how long it would take before the trauma ended…I certainly never dreamed it to be a full 13 months, nor did I have any idea that a year into it a gunman would come into our building right after services and murder two of our teenage girls. I’m actually thankful that I didn’t know how long it would endure when I internally agreed to walk it out because I don’t know if I would have made it. But all I could do is walk through one awful day at a time convicted deep inside somewhere by the fact that we were a family, and families stick together.

Through it all, I was in a way forced to lean on God for my strength, because I certainly didn’t have enough on my own.

But I’ll tell you what…I found a new capacity and depth of trusting God during that 13 months than I‘ve ever known before. It took huge faith for me to believe that the humiliation we faced, the reputation that was destroyed, the pain we endured would somehow dissipate and that one day God would lift us out of that place and allow us influence once more. And it was by no means an instant process. A few weeks ago, we experienced the 1 year mark since the shooting and while we’ve healed as a church tremendously, many of us are still walking through the pain on a personal level, trying to decipher how we can ever trust another human, another pastor after such deception for so long. And how you can ever know if a person is truly who they claim to be if the person with the most Christian influence in your life who, in my case had been my pastor for over a decade, had been leading a double life.

How do you trust then?

One of the biggest things we’ve learned as a church is to not put our trust in man, but in God and God alone. And I think that’s something we have to learn on a personal level over time and by experience, but if I can in any way encourage you and bring you a long a little farther so that perhaps you don’t have to experience quite as much pain as I have to get there, I beg you to learn from my experience.

See…it was out of our pain that the song “Overcome” was written and has since become the anthem over our church. Taken from Rev. 12:11, it says, “We will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony…everyone overcome!” And I believe the family and core people at our church have done that. It completely amazes me to go to church on Sundays and still see thousands of people gathering to worship God, because according to statistics, with all that happened, our building should be closed down and used for storage. But God had more in mind and how thankful I am.

You too can overcome, by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony.

Prov 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” On another worship song (I’m a big fan of worship if you can’t tell) it says, “Here in your presence, everything bows before you.” And as I’ve thought about it during this season of life, it’s become a very comforting concept to me. Think about it…EVERYTHING bows before God…all circumstances, all relationships, all situations…your work, your family, your schooling…all your hopes, your fears, your dreams…the mountains, the seas…your pain, your emotions, your desires to self-harm…everything.

Ultimately EVERYTHING must bow before the name of Jesus.

And when I start to think about all that ‘everything’ includes, I find great comfort. I encourage you girls also, to begin thinking about everything in your life that must bow before Christ. Maybe make a list, surrendering them each individually to God. Recently I’ve found myself laying prostrate on my living room floor telling God (and reminding myself) that everything in my life bows before Him. If you’d like, I’d love for you to join me in doing the same. I think it’s a process…a constant proclaiming to God and reminder to ourselves as we let the truth sink deep into our hearts and lives. I would love for you girls to join me in this journey of trusting God. It’s tough…you must be willing to risk it all. But I promise you it’s worth it.

Lay your life before Him, allowing everything to bow before His name. And together, let’s everyone, overcome!

You can find the Overcome Video on Youtube by following these links:

Overcome Story….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9yoKNzBq3g

Overcome Song….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sjYWrpNoCs

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