Now that same day two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. Together they were discussing everything that had taken place. And while they were discussing and arguing, Jesus himself came near and began to walk along with them.
Luke 24:13-15 (CSB)
I was in the middle of a wilderness season, spiritually parched and lost, unsure of the answer to every who, what, where question I was asked. I had stepped away from church ministry, uprooted my family from our home city of seven years, and moved back to my husband’s childhood home to live with his parents. The move wasn’t a part of the original plan we had been so sure God had for us when we first moved into our community and church. But for a solid year, God confirmed and affirmed that being with family, taking risks with our careers, and entering into a wilderness was exactly where He wanted us to be.
We came into this new chapter of our lives with naive hopes and dreams — of me starting a writing career and of my husband opening up a restaurant. It made sense that this was the time to do these things, with extra hands for childcare and saved up resources. We were ready to take on whatever would come our way, holding hands and cheering each other on.
But a wilderness season is just that — a wilderness. We can’t predict next steps or plan for the future because no clear path is available. There are dangers we can’t avoid and pitfalls we don’t expect. Our weakest points become exposed with nowhere to hide and nothing to cover ourselves.
Though we knew it would be difficult, we couldn’t have imagined the pain, the disappointment, the confusion that would ensue. My husband’s desire for a restaurant stalled and eventually staled. Our marriage became fragile, every painful silence and harsh word creating a chasm between us. My mental health crumbled into depression and suicidal ideation. I didn’t know who I was outside of my role as wife, mother, and daughter-in-law, and it seemed that my gifts of leading and pastoring others were no longer needed.
And in that emptied place is where God showed me that my influence hadn’t ended.
I ran into a young woman, a friend of a friend’s, at a local church seminar on racial reconciliation, and though we had met one-on-one a few times before, we were still getting to know each other. In a room full of strangers, I was relieved and grateful to see a familiar face. We chatted in between sessions, and at the end of the seminar, she approached me and asked if I’d consider mentoring her.
I was taken aback by her question. Who was I to invest in someone? What did I have to pour out to her? Surely I wasn’t in the right place spiritually, emotionally, and mentally to be of any use. But as these thoughts swirled around my mind, I also inquired of God: What do You think I should do? And almost immediately, I felt God answer, If others don’t walk with you during your wilderness season, how will they know how to walk through theirs?
Before I could second guess myself, I heard the word “yes” come emphatically out of my mouth. She squealed with delight, and instead of squirming in regretful doubt, I was at perfect peace.
Over the next year or so, we spent time together, read books, had meals and coffee. We didn’t follow a discipleship program or center our mentorship on gaining more knowledge for the sake of our spiritual growth. Instead, we built a friendship. We committed a designated time each month to meet and talk and kept to it as best we could. We walked together through our doubts and fears, witnessed each other’s grief, and celebrated the breakthroughs. And through it all, we saw God.
The last thing I thought I’d do during my wilderness season was to mentor, but no matter who we are or where we’re at in life, we all have influence to share. Influence is simply the capacity to affect change on someone. It isn’t only for pastors and leaders in the church. It’s not about having a position of power or years of experience. It has nothing to do with age or gender or how much clout we already have.
And influence might look different for every person. It can look like using our gifts, skills, time, and effort. It can be about where God has placed us — our location or our proximity to someone else or the role we play in our families, jobs, and communities. All of us have been given influence in Christ, and we are to use it to encourage and lead others toward Him.
Wherever we are, however God has made us, in Christ, we are women of influence.
Story by Grace P. Cho, as published in HomeLife Magazine
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Amen! Thank you, Grace.
“If others don’t walk with you during your wilderness season, how will they know how to walk through theirs?”
This spoke volumes to me. It is so true. And yet we tend to draw back during those times and not want to share them with others. Sometimes because we don’t feel we have the strength to share at those times. But God knew that was exactly what you needed to do. And it’s what we all need. Thank you for sharing, Grace. I always appreciate your wisdom.
Krista C. says
This was great. I’m grateful for this reminder & perspective. Thank you!
Gail Mattox says
Thank you Grace for being transparent today, I need it today, I always think I am not good enough, or I don’t have anything to offer to anyone let alone to influence anyone. Would like the book. But I am a senior citizen, don’t have the extra to purchase the book. 2200 Kerwin Rd. #411, Cleveland, OH 44118.
Ruth B Mills says
The old adage you may be the only Bible some people ever read, speaks to our influence of where we are. May we be pointing others to Jesus even in our low wilderness points! Thank you for sharing! You are so appropriately named, Grace!
Janet Williams says
Thank you Grace. I can’t tell you how often I think of, and am grateful for, ALL the women that have walked before me and beside me. Helped me recognize the girl, young mother, woman, wife, grandmother and friend I am today. How they reminded me to honor her, love her and share her as a daughter of God. Beautiful message Grace.
I’m sorry your wilderness time produced such pain, and yet such beautiful words. God bearing fruit in our fragile times! Thanks for your vulnerability.
Thank you Grace.
If and only if wilderness can make us to hv perseverance & endurance,we are able to slow down pondering His beauty & influencing others.
Beth Williams says
Influence is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something. It is in our wilderness times that we are growing & becoming more like Christ. The world is looking at us & watching to see how we handle ourselves. Walking through a wilderness is often when we tend to isolate ourselves. That isn’t what God wants. He expects us to stay in community allowing others to pray for us. That is the exact time we could walk along with others. Helping them in their trials or just being there for them. You may be surprised how much influence you have daily on people. Let’s all be Women of Influence.