Jesus’ Church: Julie Wofford
The Holy Spirit has transforming power. John 6:63 tells us that “the Spirit gives life.” My speech and message are not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit’s power so that our faith might not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
We expect that there is a pronounced moment in time when old becomes new and all sin is killed and will never rear its ugly, dangerous head again. However, sanctification is an ongoing process.
The main difference between where I found myself a year ago verses where I am now is that today I stand before you with hope and confidence that God has not forsaken His people and that He will not forsake me. He is faithful to complete His good work. Just as when He heard the cries of the Israelites years ago, He hears my heart and my desire to know Him more fully and be fully known by Him—for His Spirit, which raised Christ from the dead, to daily sustain me and work through me for His glory. Over the past year the Holy Spirit has been molding me into a disciple who desires time with God, knows how to love His people well, and persistently and patiently follows His guidance.
When I began attending The Paradox Church I lacked boldness. I put Jesus away in a compartment that only select people could see. I believed in Him, but I did not profess His name. I learned to do the right things, and I honestly liked doing them. I filled my resume with volunteer hours, mission trips, and devotionals completed. I wanted God’s affirmation. I was searching for worth. But just as faith without good deeds is dead, good deeds without faith is dead (James 2:17).
Since attending The Paradox, Jesus has shown me—through the Word preached and examples of people in my City Group—that He wants me to speak His name boldly and share His grace and love to others, no matter their stage or status in life. I learned that the boldness necessary for this mission is not something I can attain or plan, but it is found in the strength of the Holy Spirit in me. I learned a lot about boldness and how Paul shared the Gospel in my recent study of Acts. Time and time again, God has taught me that if I simply heed His guidance in the simplest tasks that require boldness, He will delight in providing me with opportunities to proclaim His name and give glory to Him.
I love plans; I love plans that sound good for humanity and bring laughter and goodness into the world. I usually ask God to grant the beautiful plans that I have composed myself. However, only His plans are truly good. This summer I had the “perfect plan” of where to work: I wanted to work with children with special needs and put in volunteer hours…how noble. I prayed for the job. I wanted God to grant this “perfect plan” that I had constructed. I didn’t get the job. I was confused—how could this noble job not be what God had in store for me? It was so good.
I found another job in an emergency room at a hospital in Arlington. I never expected how much God would use me in this new role to further His kingdom and introduce Himself to people who desired to know Him.
I started off my third day at the ER in a prayer that God would provide me with an opportunity to share the Gospel. On that same day, Ann, a stranger, came up to me and asked if I knew God. I was caught off guard and said, “yes.” With fervent searching eyes she blurted out, “I need to know Him, will you help me?” This was the beginning of God using me to share His good news not only to this woman, but also to her entire family. Since then, we have been walking together through the ups and downs of loneliness, divorce, uncertainty, doubt, and temptation.
The past two months of pursuing Jesus together with Ann and her family have helped change my perspective from seeing myself as someone with a lot of problems to recognizing that I am a dearly loved daughter of God who doesn’t need to have a plan for all potential situations. Instead, I can rely on Him for strength and expect Him to do a good work. I have learned that I am called to believe and have faith, but not in the end results. God can use me in and out of plans and weave me through the stories of others, but their salvation and mine does not rest with me. All is in God’s hands.
I have learned that transformation as a disciple of Jesus is truly a slow and arduous process. In fact, Scripture speaks of this refinement as unlike silver, rather through the furnace of affliction. And this is true. Some of the most trying and painful seasons of my life have brought me to where I am now—seeking God with more fervor and wildness than ever before. I do not anticipate that such trials will stop anytime soon. Being transformed is not something at which we will arrive, but rather a journey.
I am being transformed into someone who knows how to love well, proclaim God’s unconditional grace, and trust in His plan and His strong hand. “If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12).
I still have uncertainty and desire from the bottom of my heart to plan out everything and solve the “equation of life,” but over the past few months God has revealed to me that He can use all things for good and that He has a future of good and hope planned for me.