"Failure and disappointment plague us all... it is how we deal with it that sets us apart."Was I disappointed that the women's prison shut-down the teaching topic "Does God Care About My Intimate Relationships - Within My Sex Life?" Absolutely!
I wasn't expecting to have the whole Relationship series cancelled, nor did I see it coming. All I know is that women today struggle daily with these issues. God's idea of love, sex, marriage, identity and relationships are completely screwed up in today's world. The church has not done a good job of reaching out with Christ's love to those who are incarcerated and struggling with these issues. These wounds go deep and need to be healed by God's grace. No matter how deep your pit of failure - Jesus' love goes deeper still.
The Godly counsel of others is imperative during times such as these. Prayers, scripture verses and encouragement was my comfort. I kept reminding myself as well as coaching our team, not to miss a moment to grow in faith and character during this trial. I had a close friend ask me; "Shug, don't you feel defeated?" "Actually I never felt defeated - just blindsided. God has a divine purpose for this trial and I don't want to miss it."
Was I about to have a firing range pointing at me from either side?
On one side - were the prison officers looking for one wrong comment or move with the possibility of permanently canceling our church ministry? From the other - would the inmates be upset that the "Sex, Homosexuality and Marriage" talks that they personally requested were not going to be addressed? As a Christian, I desired to submit to God's authority and keep the peace at all costs.
"Our greatest glory consists of not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall." (O. Goldsmith)We have an army of prison prayer warriors that were praying specifically for us and this ministry issue. Having faith in God's promises carries us through these tough times. Through prayers and God's leading a newly created topic was created: "RISE-UP and Be Restored With Dignity!" (Of course, God spoke deeply to me while preparing this message.)
I was restored and ready in Christ and as soon as I entered the prison things seemed to be different. Had I entered the right prison? This did not seem like the same prison where the officers abruptly cancelled our sex talk mid-stream (and proceeded to write up seven offenses for our ministry). There was not one officer, not one objection and not one disruption. The dark veil of oppression was gone. I could not believe the calm and peace that permeated the room.
Had the pressure lifted because Satan left the prison in temporary victory OR had our Savior gone before us to calm the turbulent waters? I rest in this promise...