GIVEAWAY: God’s Best-Kept Secret

Gwen Smith Blog, Giveaways 87 Comments

HAPPY FRIDAY! Today we have MARK MAULDING as our giveaway-giver and guest post writer. What?! Yes. A man is in our midst! But with great reason… his writings encourage readers to know and trust God more… which, as you know, is what I’m all about. I always appreciate an honest story that nudges my heart to remember God’s faithfulness. I expect that you will appreciate this message as well. So grab a mug of your favorite drink and leave a comment to enter the giveaway after you consider the message of this excerpt from Mark’s new book, God’s Best-Kept Secret.

Would you be surprised if I told you Christianity is easier than you think because of suffering? That may sound contradictory, but it’s true. Our loving Father often reveals to us the life-giving power of his best-kept secret in the New Covenant through our personal suffering.

A few years ago the church I had founded was failing. It was a real time of crisis for me, and therefore my family. As the time passed things got so bad it seemed as though my life was falling apart. I was doing my best to obey and serve God, but he was allowing one difficulty after another.

I was unable to love my sweet wife, Ellen, like I wanted to. Don’t misunderstand; we didn’t have a terrible relationship. And she was not my problem. My problem was an inability within me to feel and express genuine love for her. I felt totally frustrated about this struggle, but I was incapable of changing it.

At the same time, my closest friends pulled away from me for no apparent reason. It wasn’t that we had conflicts. Each of them just seemed to be too busy and somewhat disconnected from our relationship. I felt isolated and rejected.

My struggles eventually moved from my mind into my body. I began to experience pain in my upper and lower back, which added another layer to my angst and discouragement. In the midst of it all, a scene crept into my mind one day as I gazed at our small kitchen table. For some reason I envisioned each leg falling off, one by one, until the tabletop fell flat on the floor. This felt like what was happening in my life. Just like each of the legs, everything I had relied on to give me meaning in life had fallen off, one by one. Like that tabletop, I now had no one and no circumstances to prop me up. I felt more alone than I ever had in my life. I sunk into a dungeon of emotional darkness, where depression and anxiety constantly lurked.

Worst of all, God seemed completely silent.

Finally, all this suffering brought me to the end of my rope. Then as my strength gave out, I had to let go of it. I just couldn’t go on living this kind of Christianity. I was done. I did not have the mental, emotional, or physical strength to do it.

My heavenly dad then spoke the life-giving words of grace I didn’t even know I needed to hear. “Mark, even if this church fails, I still accept you.”

Starting the next day, I became so full of God’s love that it changed me forever. Now I could express deep love for Ellen. My depression was replaced with joy. My physical pains began to subside. And it no longer mattered that my friends were absent from my life, because Jesus was my best friend.

God had a specific plan he had been carrying out through my suffering, but I had been blind to it. God had been loving me by letting my life fall apart, using all my losses and struggles to bring me to this point.

Why? For the most important purpose he has for every Christian. He wanted to reveal Jesus Christ in me as my all in all. He wanted to glorify himself through this revelation of his Son in me. He wanted me to finally understand that Jesus Christ alone is my life, as Colossians 3:4 says: “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (NASB). He wanted to reveal to me that Christ being my life is abundant life as well as eternal life because he is all of that! Once he did, the sun came out, brightly warming my soul with his great love for me, and the thick fog of gloom burned away.

My suffering had a surprise ending that I wouldn’t have imagined while I was going through it. That’s often the secret about suffering for Christians we counsel and teach. The surprise ending is the revelation of Jesus Christ in us that frees and heals us in ways nothing or no one else can.

This doesn’t mean we will never struggle or suffer again. But it does mean Christianity will be easier than we ever thought. Why? Because we will be living more and more from a place of relying on Jesus Christ in us. That’s what it means when I say God designed us as Christians to become stronger in suffering—through his strength, not ours.

As you can see from my life, our desperation is often God’s preparation for his revelation!

TAKEN FROM: Mark Maulding’s God’s Best-Kept Secret, Baker,
a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2017, Used by permission.

Congratulations to our giveaway winners: Christie McFadden, Kim Bingham & Kimberly Puhrmann!


Mark Maulding is founder of Grace Life International, one of the largest Christian counseling and teaching ministries in America. A speaker, counselor, and leadership coach, Maulding is a regular blogger who is passionate about sharing the transforming message of God’s grace with a world in desperate need of it. He and his wife, Ellen, have four adult children, including a daughter with Down syndrome who, along with her three brothers, recently finished college. They live near Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Comments 87

  1. Jesus was the perfect example of giving it all to God….perfect surrender through trials! He showed us the outcome was life eternal….that has been a truth I cling to, as well as the lives and testimonials of real people going thru real trials who are victorious because of Christ, and Him alone!

  2. Mark’s book sounds like what I’ve been working on! I kept trying and failing to be the Christian I thought I was supposed to be, but then the Holy Spirit started working on me…. I was trying to hard to be “good” instead of just accepting who I was in Christ!! Still a long ways to go…this book sounds like an excellent resource to help give me more insight!! Blessings to all who commented, Gwen and guest author Mark.

  3. Brother Mark, this is so beautiful. I needed to read these exact words today. God Bless you and your family always.

  4. Wow! This sounds like a book so many of us need to read! I’ve been there and I know the feeling of everything around us just seems to be crumbling. I’ve learned that when we cling tightly to our Father, nothing can bring us down. But still, I find myself with that sinking feeling, allowing that stinking thinking of the enemy to creep in and try to convince me it’s just not worth it! I’m so glad we have the gift of the Holy Spirit who comes to us every time and reminds us of the One who overcame the world! Thank you for the chance to win! This is a book that I would love to read and then pass on to others!

  5. Mark’s events sound just like what I’ve been going through lately. Our church is dwindling, my home/family life is in chaos. It would be such a joy to be able to sit and read his book.

  6. Amen Amen. God always leads me to the words I so need to hear at the right time. So many weeks I have questioned certain aspects of my life, certain relationships with both family and friends, God showed me the way to the answers. This is exactly what I needed. It is amazing how healing words can be, long or short, when they are about and for our Lord and Savior. I am now ready to face the next day, week ahead with bright joy in my heart. God is my driver, I am his passenger, he knows which roads to take me, no matter how sharp, or how winding they may be.

  7. Just what I needed to hear, as I am going through some trials in my life right now. I need your prayers, please and I thank you.

  8. What a powerful post! I have reached the end of my rope a few times in my life, and when I no longer had the strength to hold on, I let go & Jesus caught me. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of the book.

  9. This is a prime example of when life gives you lemons, God makes sweet lemonaide. I am so grateful for Mike’s lack of compromise or excuses in telling his story. From his heart through Christ’s heart, to mine.

  10. I can’t wait to read this book and appreciate Mark’s willingness to share his story to bring hope to those still struggling. It is truly amazing how each person’s journey is different but I can attest to the fact that in our darkest hour, a moment that truly feels like defeat, our loving Lord gently nudges us to remind us that he is there and always has been. As crazy as it sounds I appreciate the struggles I face more because I’m reminded to lean in to him for my strength and I’m thankful daily for that revelation.

  11. Understanding that The Father will NEVER abandon us does wonders for finding our true identity and living it with joy each and every day.

  12. I need to read this book! I am at a place where I believe I’m ready to hear His voice on my identity in Christ .

  13. This statement made me smile:)
    My suffering had a surprise ending that I wouldn’t have imagined while I was going through it. That’s often the secret about suffering for Christians we counsel and teach. The surprise ending is the revelation of Jesus Christ in us that frees and heals us in ways nothing or no one else can.

  14. Happy Friday, and blessings sent. (Jeremiah 33:3 ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’)

  15. So thankful that he was able to be genuine with us about what he was going through. Life hasn’t been so easy for many people and now he can have empathy for others going through what he also had to walk through. So thankful that the Lord is faithful and loving even when others seem to be so far away. My strength is made perfect in weakness..Many times the Lord has to bring us to desperation to get our attention but He is still in control

  16. I would love to read this book!! I suffer with constant pain, anxiety and depression problems and had childhood abuse. I have problems seeing God in the days when it is so dark. I go to counseling but would love reading a book to help learn to stay connected to God even when times are really dark!!!! Thank you for this chance to win!!
    Have a blessed day!! 😊

  17. By the Grace and Glory of our Father we are all blessed with love wisdom and strenghts.

    I am thankful and proud to be a blessed daughter of Christ.

    I would enjoy and share this book if awarded.

    Thank you for all you share with us.


  18. Well, your situation about loving your spouse hit home. I would hope something in this book would encourage me as you seem to have moving along that route.

  19. just love that we have God to get us through so hard to do it without God he’s all we need he truly is we somehow think we can do it without God but we can’t we have to relied on God and be free from our worries.

  20. Mark has helped me to understand “becoming stronger thru His strength” . It is not only strength for the moment, but if we remember and nurture everyday our relationship with Jesus, we will always have His strength.

  21. I have been searching for some time now ….for God’s secret…..and His purpose for my life. I would love to read this book. Thank you in advance.

  22. Such a awesome message!
    3 years back, we lost a very special person in our life to suicide. My big sister. It was devastating to say the least. But God took hold of me real quick and insured in me what waa true strength was and that’s His Joy! He penetrated my heart with His Joy and He then became my boat in the storm. And I won’t go into every devastation that rocked out world during that season, but we were hit hard with more! God truly knew what I needed right then and there! I’ve gone on to encourage other about what His Joy really means. Tomorrow, just so happens, we are walking yet again for “Out of the Darkness, Suicide Awareness.

    I love what you said, that your depression was replaced by “Joy”. My heart leaped and my head said “Yes!”.

    Thank you! And I truly have to say AMEN!

  23. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us this morning! This is just what I needed this morning! I know some people that I would love to share this book with. I would love to win one of the copies!

  24. I’m very happy with all god does in my life. He’s been there for me always. In his times things do happen for us.

  25. I really needed this inspiration. Have a friend that has addiction problem. And it’s affecting all around him. I pray for him always. He’s hit rock bottom in past 2 years. Which i see hopefully he will see the light before he passes

  26. Happy Friday is a great way to end the week by reading Marks inspirational story. How true it is we are so wrapped up doing God’s work we forget that he is seeking our time To just be with us , love on us and for us to know he is all we need to survive life. Thank you Mark

  27. I have been journaling about this in my life. God, in His infinite wisdom and timing, is revealing Himself to me a little more each day. He surrounds me with his beauty in every aspect of my life whether good, bad, happy, or sad. He gives beauty for ashes, strength for fear, gladness for mourning and peace for despair. Jesus is my constant companion, my wonderful Counselor, my gentle comforter and friend!

  28. Powerful excerpt. I was going in to work and I stopped to view my email. I usually do not do this because I’m usually running late. I’m so glad I did. Thank you for sharing

  29. Wow my life has felt as though I’m sinking in the sand gasping to keep a float .. This is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you for reminding me God is my safe port. !!!

  30. That was an amazing story of his life. Thank you for sharing that with us. I think we all feel that way at times. But I’m grateful that you gave it to God and you were better. Id love to read your book. Thank you!


  32. Even when God may not seem present or actively working in your life, the greatest secret of His is He in fact is not only present in your life at all times, never leaving one to be or feel alone as they never truly are, but that He is indeed actively working in each of our lives and He knows precisely what each of us need and when we need it. This is His will and the majesty of His Kingdom, both what He offered each of us as the greatest gift of all times, eternal life, but also in that He works nonstop to ensure each life is fulfilled completely while living here on earth. To truly become aware and certain of this, often many patience, meditation, prayer, seeking of His plan to slowly and timely reveal itself to one, strengthening and growing us because of how much He loves and cares for each of His children, all in one the same. Magnanimous in Glory and most high Honor, with love and deepest respect, each life, despite all circumstances is more then blessed, more then any could possibly ever earn, same as grace be given, awesome in power, love.

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