GIVE! Your Ashes – Guest Post by Stephanie Shott
Today we finish our GIVE! guest posts with this beautiful and redemptive story from Stephanie Shott. Sometimes the best thing you can give others is the story of your ashes, the story of God’s redemption in your life… your story of hope.
Stephanie is a Bible teacher, speaker, missionary and author of the soon to be released ladies Bible study on Ecclesiastes entitled Understanding What Matters Most.
My backstory isn’t a pretty one. In fact, I didn’t even begin life as an sweet little planned bundle of joy. My mom was raped and I was the result.
I was adopted by two wonderful parents who loved me and raised me as their own. But from the age of 3 until about the age of 12 my concept of love became skewed and shattered as I was repeatedly molested and raped by two different people in my family.
I was pregnant at 17. Then married. Divorced and a single mom at 19. I spent the next five years looking for love in all the wrong places – which is exactly where I met my husband – in a bar. He was the drummer in the band and our lifestyle was a reflection of the whole rock and roll band scene. Not a pretty picture. But then again, no picture is pretty without God in the middle of it.
Sitting in my apartment one afternoon, I watched a tele -evangelist share a message I had never really heard before. Or maybe I had, but this time it began to make sense. I wanted what he talked about. Salvation. Eternal life. A real relationship with Jesus. But I also wanted my life to remain mine. And so it did. Even though I cried, prayed and thought I was saved, my life remained my own and I remained unchanged.
But about two years later, at the age of 24 I was ready. Ready to surrender all I was for all Jesus is. I knew He was the only one who could save my wretched self, and this time, I was not only ready – but I was willing.
It was a sweet October day in 1987 when Jesus reached down, captured my heart and life and radically changed this broken girl with a bad past and a bleak future. Jesus loved me just as I was. With all my failures. With all my sins – He still loved me so much that He died for me. I didn’t have to ‘prove’ my love for Him, I just had to accept His love for me.
For the first time in my life, I understood what the term, “born again” meant. That’s exactly what I was…brand new…born again by the Great I Am. Sin became something I not only noticed in my life, but for the first time it grieved my heart to grieve His. God’s Word nourished me more than food. It consumed me and I found that it was unlike any other book on planet earth. It changed me. I became incessantly passionate about living for the Living God.
Twenty three years later, I still am.
Through the years, He has continually called me to serve His daughters – passionately teaching His Word, speaking His truth and His principles into lives of women who are hurting and in need of hope, redemption, restoration and forgiveness. I love when God’s girls fulfill their God-given destinies and become who they were created to be.
Today, I shared parts of my painful past that I normally like to keep neatly wrapped in the Christian package stamped “Clean” and hidden from view. Although the Lord has allowed me the privilege of using my past to speak redemption and hope into other women’s futures, it’s not something I freely share.
But I had to. Someone reading this post today needs to know that your value is not based on what you have to offer someone. It doesn’t lie in the web of lies someone has told you. You are loved because you are His creation. Because He chose to place you on planet earth for such a time as this and He longs for you to run to Him – to accept His love for you. It doesn’t matter what your past has whispered to your heart; God delights in using broken vessels. I know because I am one.
Sweet friend, you are never too battered, too broken, too dirty, too unlovable, too unworthy or too unforgivable. He is a Loving God who can make beauty out of ashes. So, for whoever it is that I’m writing this to today, I’m asking you to give Jesus the ashes of your life and let Him make it something beautiful. That’s exactly what He did for me and I know He’ll do the same for you.