Sharing Sunday- Testimony

Friends, Isn’t it funny how God works sometimes??!!! Today the sermon at church was totally something I needed to hear from God and I just love how he allows others to speak those truths into our lives. Thank you, Pastor Moses for speaking the message that God placed on your heart that I’m sure was mean’t for so many, but was also so clearly for me. So as some of you may know, or maybe you don’t- This has been one of the most challenging years in my career as a teacher. So much so that I have thought numerous times about quitting and trying to find a new career. But when I have contemplated this, I am struck with paralysis and fear- What would I do? I have worked so hard in my studies and throughout my five years that I just can’t quit and when the going gets tough, I have never allowed myself to quit. Anyone that knows me or even slightly knows me, knows that I am completely obsessed with performing and teaching- It is my life and has been for years!!! The very thought of quitting something that I am so passionate about, has really placed doubt and fear inside me… Am I in the right place? Should I continue? Why are things so hard this year? These are all the questions I have been pondering and if you’ve been an active reader, you know I have really been doing some soul searching this school year.

This last week was another really hard week for me as a teacher. I was getting everything ready for our last concert and totally feeling emotional since it was the last concert of the year and also the last time I would have my 8th graders perform with me. If you don’t know, I am a very emotional person and I cry when things touch my heart.  Music touches my heart and when my students tap into their playing and they perform from their hearts, it touches my heart and I many times shed some tears. This has become something to achieve- ” If you can make Mrs. Ross cry, then you’ve achieved..” So of course this is something that many of my students strive for and I absolutely love that they want to touch my heart and see this… that’s what music is all about!!! Well anyway- I was already emotional realizing that the last concert was a couple days away and feeling stressed to get everything done in time for the concert and get the students performance ready, but then I got hit with a couple of angry parents emails and phone calls. All of the calls and emails,  were misunderstandings on both sides, yet the way that I was treated and the things that were spoken to me, or written about me, brought me back to the thought of  ” Is this really what I should be doing?” I’m not going to go into details because I think that would be inappropriate, but what I can tell you is that it deeply wounded me because I am a people pleaser and I always want to show the best side of myself. I think we all are like this to a certain extent… we can say we don’t care, but somewhere deep inside you do care, at least a little.

I absolutely love teaching students and helping them become better people through participating in a musical group, become more determined and driving to achieve their goals for themselves, as well as the class, and I ultimately want to give my students a great love for music. But I have let the little things, circumstantial things and rude parents/ children overshadow the joys of teaching, the light-bulb moments, and the successes that we have experienced this year. I have let doubt and fear seep in and have questioned and have allowed those little things to make me feel defeated. Women!!! Men!!! Wake up!!! Light bulb moment for this teacher- this is exactly what the devil wants to do to us! He wants to destroy the Testimony that God has for our lives!!! When we know we have been called to something, before we can have a testimony, we have to have a test.  The devil doesn’t want us to make progress! He wants us to keep coming back to a place of doubt and fear. We will be put through opposition, tested and tried, before we are able to have a testimony- I believe that this year has been my testing time… I have two choices: to grow through what I have gone through or become bitter.

Nehemiah had the same thing happen to him when he went to rebuild the wall- The gates and the walls of Jerusalem had been torn down.

Nehemiah’s Prayer

The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah:

In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.

They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.Then I said:

Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you.We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

Nehemiah was called to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem! By the way- I don’t know if you’ve experienced this or not, but many times the very things we pray about or we see needing done, God will call us to those very things, for us to accomplish the work. This is exactly what happened to Nehemiah… he saw that the walls were torn down, and the gates had been burned, and while it had lasted like that for a hundred years, he would be the one to rebuild- it would be his testimony! It wasn’t at all easy for him… he had his fair share of critics opposing him and taunting him- ” What makes you think you can do this? Others have tried and they have failed… You will fail as well.” Our enemy ( the devil) will attempt to discourage us with forces from outside.

Nehemiah 2New International Version (NIV)

Artaxerxes Sends Nehemiah to Jerusalem

In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”

I was very much afraid,but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

The king said to me, “What is it you want?”

Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”

Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.

I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah?And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests.So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.

When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.

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Just like Nehemiah had others ( Sanballat) outside of the situation looking in and saying ” You will fail… or it can’t be done, ” –  I have experienced this with parents this year and with some students. The opposition has been very apparent this year. When opposition arises, doubt begins to seep in and it makes us doubt where God has placed us. We must not allow the voices of the outside to be greater than the voice from our heavenly father. I’m sure doubt arose in Nehemiah, similar to my doubts of continuing in my profession, but instead of allowing those thoughts to consume his mind, he went to God. Instead or responding to the people seeing the rubble, the mess, and thinking it would never happen, it could never be rebuilt, he instead looked to God for guidance and trusted Him. Not only was he opposed by outside forces, but inside forces also came at him. The devil will find any and all ways to shut you down, to shut your testimony down and he may even use the people closest to you to do this- Don’t respond by being hateful, or unkind- instead pray about the situation and ask for guidance.

Nehemiah 4New International Version (NIV)

Opposition to the Rebuilding

4 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews,and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?”

Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”

Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity.Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.

So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.

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So I leave this post with the following things we can learn from this story and the things I know God spoke to me today!

There will always be situations or circumstances that the devil will use to bring doubt into our minds and hearts, to ultimately cause us to give up and not be able to have an incredible testimony of what God has done in our lives or the situations.  The devil will come against us with opposition from outside sources, as well as sometimes inside sources, and we must continue to work hard in those instances and continue to look for guidance from God. Fear and doubt are the first things we will feel when we step out to see what God will do or has for us. But if it is His will, it may be hard and we will feel opposition because the devil doesn’t want God’s incredible plans for our lives, but if we continue on, working hard, fighting for what we know God has, we will have an incredible testimony to share with others. Romans 8:31 ” What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? ”

Be encouraged, friends! Don’t let the devil win- I’m not about too!!!

I would love to hear from you… are you dealing with something similar? Have you experienced some opposition lately… Please share your story with me. I love to hear!

Happy Sunday, Erin Ruscel

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