Beth Moore is an acclaimed Bible teacher, conference speaker and author. With her Texan drawl and wide smile, she is a bold lady who has faced several challenges in her life (including abuse). Here is her testimony of how she found Jesus and used the Word of God to break free from her past.
You have been a Christian for many years. Tell us about your journey...
Even though I committed my life to Christ as a child, as a young woman I lived the Christian life through my own determination. I was a very unhealthy person who made lots of destructive choices. I didn’t yet understand about God’s Spirit living through me.
Having been raised in the church, I’d memorised a fair amount of Scripture. But as far as God’s Word empowering me to have the renewed mind of Christ and to live differently, I was a long way from that. By the time I was married and in my mid-twenties, I’d taught children’s Sunday school classes, led a Christian fitness class and done some public speaking. When a position for a Sunday school teacher opened up, I was encouraged to go for it. But I was absolutely terrible at it. And I do mean terrible!
Where did you find your passion for the Word?
One day I read in my church bulletin about a Bible doctrine class on Sunday nights. I knew that while it would bore me to tears, God wanted me to go. At the first class, a former football player threw open his Bible and taught us with such a passion that tears filled his eyes. I couldn’t take a single note. When it was over, I ran to my car and burst into tears. I told God, “I don’t know what that was, but I want it!” That night God lit a fire in my heart for His Word that continues burning to this day. I’m adamant about this - I want more than anything for women to follow hard after Jesus because even when we can’t diagnose our problems, God’s Word can bring us healing and wholeness. It wasn’t until I fell in love with Jesus through His Word, that the chains of sin began dropping off.
What do you mean by ‘chains of sin’?
I’m careful to stay general with the details, but I’ve been open about the fact I was victimised as a child. The first time I can recall anything about my abuse, I was very young. My victimisation wasn’t constant, because my victimiser didn’t have continual access to me. But it certainly was enough to mess me up at a time when I was figuring out who I was. I was pigeon-toed and I had buckteeth. Even though I did well in school, I had the worst self-esteem imaginable.
Many wonderful things did, however, happen to me as a child. I was loved and I was raised in the Church.
What led you to Jesus?
My Sunday school teacher would hold up pictures of Jesus and He looked so nice. I needed a hero and Jesus seemed like one. I’d lie on the grass, stare up at the sky and wonder what Jesus was like. After my first year in college, I was a camp counsellor for sixth-grade girls. Early one morning, as the girls were sleeping, I sensed God’s presence enfold me. There were no audible words, no bright lights. But suddenly I knew, without a doubt, my future was entirely His. “You are now mine,” He told me.
It took me a long time to break free from self-destruction. Yet even in those turbulent years, Jesus drew me back every single time. His presence is everything to me.
How can we experience that kind of passion?
By studying His Word. I tell women to pick a Bible study and fully participate. Do the homework. Get together with the other women, and ask God to light a fire for His Word in your heart. That’s a prayer which He’ll never refuse. It doesn’t matter whose Bible study series it is, if it has a sound approach to God’s Word, for crying out loud, do it.
I love what it says in Matthew 13:11-12 - that to those who’ve been given Kingdom secrets, He gives more. In other words, Jesus reveals Himself progressively as we seek Him. He becomes a glorious, Holy addiction.
How would you advise busy Christians who have trouble making time for consistent Bible study?
The most important thing God ever taught me is to pray for what I lack. I’ve had to pray that above all else He would give me a love for Him and a hunger and thirst for His Word. So if you lack the time or the motivation, pray for it. There’s nothing God wants more than for us to have a heart that loves Him. It’s His top priority.
In a world of celebrities, how do you keep from becoming self-absorbed?
The more I become aware of this danger, the more I glimpse things in me I don’t care for. Maybe it’s buying something I really don’t need just because I can afford it. So I practise saying no to myself. The Lord has also shown me how important it is to stay in tune with what’s going on in the lives of oppressed people around the world. I pray daily beyond my own little world to keep me not only from being too self-centred, but also too family-centred. There’s a big world out there. I can implode with the self-absorption if I’m not careful.
Ever struggle with pride?
One of the most wonderful things God has done for me is to leave my memory about my miserable past intact. I’d be a fool to think highly of myself after where I’ve been! The very thing I hate the most is the thing that protects me from pride. This only happened one time, but it broke my heart. A pastor became aware I’d had a sinful past and decided I wasn’t appropriate for his women’s group. If what you need is a sparkling testimony, you’re not going to get it from me. But if you could use a testimony that there’s life after pit-dwelling, then maybe I can be your girl. I’m ashamed of my sins, but all I can do now is walk in the Holy Spirit’s power.
Have you confronted your turbulent past?
Yes. I went through a season of uncharacteristic despair in my early 30s. I’d never before looked straight at my victimisation, never allowed my mind to replay the images. Every single time they began to erupt, I pressed them down. But I no longer had the energy to do that. The victim in me took over. I felt like I was jumping off the highest cliff and descending into the bottom of a canyon. While Amanda and Melissa knew I was sad, they didn’t have an idea how severe it was. I was good at hiding it; you don’t have my kind of background and not develop a way to do that.
Did you seek counselling?
Yes. I’m a big believer in sound, godly counsel. So is my husband, Keith. You don’t go through what I went through and not get counsel. I needed someone to talk me through it. It was the worst season of my life. But God, in His goodness, brought such fruit out of my turmoil and despair. I like to translate 1 Peter 1:6-7 into layman’s terms - our fiery trials burn the fake out of us. For me, the fake was over. I didn’t have the desire for it anymore.
What do you tell others struggling with despair?
Grieve your loss, wrestle it out and throw a spiritual fit. But through those tears, allow the Word to reside in you.
Psalm 126:5-6 means the world to me: “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” Even when we think we’ll never get over this, if we stay faithful God promises we’ll reap a harvest of joy. He’ll never forsake us (Heb 13:5). That’s why we’ve got to know His Word - so when our feelings don’t match what we know to be true, we can still put one foot in front of the other.
You’ve admitted your marriage hasn’t been perfect…
Keith and I came as close to divorcing as you can and not divorce. We married when I was only 21 and I discovered I was pregnant with Amanda only eight weeks after our wedding. We each entered marriage carrying a deluxe, five-piece set of emotional baggage. We used to fight like cats and dogs! We’re an odd mix, but we’ve always been very attracted to each other. We’ve laughed repeatedly over how we saved the courts and us so much money, because we would have kept remarrying!
I’m a proponent of couples sticking things out. But I mean sticking it out and being in love; fighting not with each other, but for each other. That should be our goal, unless we’re being misused or abused. Then we need to fly as fast as we can to godly counsel and get to a safe place.
What advice would you give those with troubled marriages?
Keith wasn’t always a man of faith. In the past, he would go to church as often as he wouldn’t. But God told me to treat Keith as though he were already the spiritual leader of our home. When I needed advice, I’d think, “I don’t even know if Keith has a prayer life. And I’m to ask him what to do?” And God would tell me to go ahead. A mentor told me early on, “Beth, if you treat that man like he already is everything you want him to become, he’ll become it.” I could have cut Keith down with my tongue, but I didn’t think that was wise. A man needs his woman’s respect. So I asked God to raise Keith into a prayer warrior, and slowly but surely, I began to see those things happen!
I’m a big believer in the power of prayer. If your husband isn’t a believer and won’t let you go to church, pray for favour with that man. If you constantly make it a fight with him, that’s not going to win him over to Christ.
What message do you have for our readers?
I don’t have a testimony of a mother’s victorious walk. I can’t give you the testimony of a virgin bride. But I can tell you the Lord is my whole life. I love Him more than anything in this world and I know He’s real and He’s powerful. I’ll never understand God’s Grace. Not only did Jesus pull me out of a pit and restore me, but He also appointed me the privilege to serve others. I just want to be a servant. My life is Jesus.