Beth Moore Gets Real

Maybe you've worked through one of her Bible studies, heard her speak at a conference, or read one of her books. Maybe you admire her from a distance, but you suspect the two of you would become fast friends if you lived in the same town because she seems to really understand where you are and what you're going through. It seems she's been there — and she made it through.

And that's the point exactly: Beth Moore is all she's cracked up to be. That is, she started out with a thoroughly cracked heart, but God scooped her up, healed her, and taught her how to stand.

Out of the pit

If you're looking for someone who's got it all together, you should keep looking. The last thing Beth Moore wants is to give you the wrong impression. She gave that up long ago.

"I don't struggle much anymore with trying to appear to be something that I'm not," she says. "I think that's a struggle especially for believers because there's such an expectation of what ‘church people' ought to look like. And in all fairness to the body of Christ, we also want to be that way. In my young adult years, I wanted so much to be a righteous young woman, so I certainly wanted to appear that way and behave that way as much as I could."

"But that grew very distasteful to me because I used to look around and think everybody had it together, and I was the only one cycling in and out of a pit. Now that I'm a middle-aged woman, I know they didn't have it all together — but the fact that they acted like they did left me feeling hopeless. It's so harmful. I want people to know I struggled because I want them to feel hope."

Perhaps that explains why thousands of women are indeed feeling hope as they get to know Beth through her ministry. She is a beloved author and speaker not because she has it all together, but precisely because she doesn't — and she doesn't pretend to.

Not that she hasn't come a long way. God has taught her many invaluable lessons throughout her life, starting with the way He scooped her out of what she refers to as "the pit" of her young adult years.

"I look back over the course of my life now and think how faithful God was to refuse to let me find my answers in any other place but Him," Beth shares. "I really did have a heart for God; I wanted so much to be good, but I had a very hard time figuring out how to do that on any kind of consistent basis. I had so many hurts, so many things I was dealing with that were not very obvious in a lot of ways from the outside. I became desperate and began to act out of my handicapped state — and by ‘handicapped' I mean of heart and of mind.

"In my search to have any kind of healing of heart, I had, of course, a head-on collision with God and His Word. He sent His Word to heal my heart, and it became something that I saw work so dramatically and so miraculously that I wanted to share it with others. So the ministry was born out of pain and of finding that His Word was my prescription, and He was my healer."

Get real

Beth began to experience healing only after she "got real" with God and allowed Him into the broken places of her heart. She consistently encourages women to do the same. She has realized through letters and feedback received during years of ministry that literally thousands of women feel the way she used to feel.

"They think, if people really knew I'm struggling with this in my home ... or I have this temptation or that, they would think I'm a terrible person and I can't get my spiritual life together. We need to be able to come out with it," Beth says. "I'm not talking about having to get specific, but just saying, ‘I am so challenged to live in any kind of consistent victory, and I need help learning how.' That's where we need to be.

"God's Word tells us to seek Him in truth, and He means in honesty. He wants us to come to Him and pull out our hearts and tell Him what we're really dealing with. We have to learn to be more honest with one another in the body of Christ and certainly more honest with God. That's been a great help to me."

God calling

One thing Beth has no trouble being honest about is her battle with busyness. She celebrates the lessons God has taught her in that area, too.

Along the course of her ministry, she says, "I was overwhelmed with demands and responsibilities and all sorts of desires and burdens to see God work in a hundred different ways. What I learned, however, is that a need does not necessarily constitute a personal call.

"There's a Scripture in Philippians that I love that talks about being able to ‘discern what is best.' That's what I had to do; I had to really pray hard: ‘God, what is it that You want me to give my energies to?' Because none of us can do a hundred things well — we'll just end up driving ourselves into the ground.

"And it's not God's desire for us to be constantly and perpetually overwhelmed. It's His desire for us to be able to serve with joy and with a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction," she says.

Beth felt strongly God was calling her to sell out to two things: her family and her teaching and speaking ministry. The commitment didn't afford her much of a social life with friends, but she was willing to pay the cost because, she says, "even after so many busy years, my husband will tell you that he's had a wife, and my children will tell you that they've had a mother. And I pray that God has accomplished to some degree what He desired in ministry.

"Those were hard decisions to make, and they're not right for everybody. But that's what God was calling me to do. Each of us, as a servant, has to answer to God about the choices that we make in order to serve Him most effectively. It's not for the approval of man, but for God to approve."

A big part of Beth's ministry is challenging women to pursue the call of God on their lives - the good work He desires to complete in each of us, whether it's vocational ministry or something else. She fears many women never come to understand their calling.

"It's revealed to us through God's Spirit," she explains. "If we never take the challenge to begin to think with the spiritual mind of Christ according to His Word, we will never fully understand what God has called us to do or how to fulfill it because it's spiritual truth and not natural truth. Certainly we may do good works and noble things, but we will not be able to make the mark God desires for us to make for His kingdom. That's why it's critical that each believer seek to know God through His Word — because that's where it's going to be revealed."

One day at a time

Beth will be the first to tell you, however, that the real challenge starts after you've discovered your calling. If anyone has ever felt inadequate for a task, it's Beth.

"The thing that keeps me flat on my face is to believe day by day that I can walk in the present responsibilities of ministry that He has placed before me," she says. "I would've told you that I was a very poor choice for them. I can't tell you how often I ask Him — and I ask in reverence and in love — ‘God, what were You thinking? What in the world were You thinking?'

"So my biggest belief challenge has been to believe I can endure and not embarrass Him. Day by day I say, ‘God, please help me. I'm over my head here, and I never signed up for this.' But He signed me up for it. So we do it one day at a time.

"It's been many years since I've looked at life from the bottom of a pit, but not so long that I don't remember it. I don't ever want to go back there, so I have to believe constantly that He knew what He was doing when He called me, and that He who called me can sustain me and can sanctify me for the rest of my days, one day at a time."

Believing God

That's the key, she says — not to believe in ourselves or our own abilities but in God and His abilities. Beth experienced a major spiritual breakthrough a few years ago when she grasped the difference between really believing God and simply believing in Him. It's a concept she has been able to share with thousands of women through Bible studies and speaking events.

"Our salvation begins with believing in God, of course," Beth explains. We come to a place where we acknowledge that Christ Jesus is the Son of God; we believe in Him unto salvation.

"Believing Him means I take that step past believing in Him — I believe what His Word says is so; I believe He is who He says He is; I believe He can do what He says He can do; I believe I am who God says I am. There's a world of difference between those two."

Beth says for years she read God's Word and was blessed by it but didn't realize she could grow by leaps and bounds in her faith by living it. Now, instead of looking to God simply as a source of answers or direction, she asks God to cause His Word to "literally jump into my belief system and flow in my bone marrow. I want it to become part of me; I want it to change the way I think."

Realizing God is much bigger than she ever imagined and that absolutely nothing is impossible for Him has changed her radically — and, she says, it has made life "a whole lot more fun."

Beth's life is definitely fun. Her ministry is exploding, her children are for the most part grown (godly and hilarious young women, she calls them), and she's enjoying a sweet season of marriage with her husband, whom she knows better now than she ever has. But she doesn't take any of it for granted.

"I am proof that He can pull any life out of a pit," Beth says. "And that He would be gracious and merciful enough to forgive and redeem and dare to use me — that He would have chanced His good name on someone like me — is inconceivable."

Leslie McKellar is a freelance writer and photographer living in Charleston, South Carolina.

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