Jesus, you know what’s inside of my heart,
When I am coming apart at the seams.
But that’s when my true colors come shining through,
I know that You are the One for me.
A song by Dan Marks, “All That I Need”
Oh, how I wish I had always known this in my innermost being!
I do get glimpses of it, knowing He has been, and will always be, the One who never leaves.
He is the One who will always love.
He accepts me. All of me.
Even the ugliest parts…He has them covered.
He forgives fully and without exception.
I am free with Him.
In Him, I can be me.
(He created me…He likes me!)
My struggle, and possibly yours, is my flesh wanting more.
Why do I keep running to the world?
Why, when deep inside of me I KNOW, He is all I need, do I still look for more…?
When the dark clouds come and bring down the rain,
I know that You will sustain me, Lord.
I surely haven’t always lived that truth.
I have had moments, even years, of living it:
I did get through the miscarriage with His sustaining power.
I did feel His strong hand supporting me through the trials of raising three children.
I was empowered through His strength when illness and homeschooling converged.
I guess that’s why I’m so befuddled with the whys of my most recent years…
…the last five, to be exact.
Why, when I knew Him in victory, did I not hold on to Him in tragedy?
Loneliness, revictimization, fatigue … these are all explanations of what happened within my self … Years of fighting with demons, stuffing the pain, and questioning my illness led to a yearning for relief, a way out of the despair.
That’s when I let go and I let my flesh reign.
I still grieve about it. And, I imagine I always will. He forgets all our sins, but He didn’t give us that ability. When we forget, much of the time it’s an act of denial because we do not want to see the truth of our actions.
Honestly, I don’t want to forget.
I’m okay with the grief.
I’m even okay with the recognition that I did not make a mistake.
I sinned against my husband, my children, and my family.
I sinned against a holy God who gave me the best gifts in life.
I spit in the face of His blessings.
The knowledge of that choice brings me to my knees again and again and again…
Not in self-loathing, or thinking I must continue to ask for forgiveness;
I know He has forgiven me.
I fall on my knees in overwhelming thanksgiving to a great God who loves unconditionally!
So, you see,
I don’t want to forget.
I don’t want to deny what I am capable of doing.
I want to remember the lesson for the remainder of my time on this earth.
And when I get to heaven, then He will wipe away all my tears…
Oh God, help me to remember what I’ve learned.
Your love is all that I need,
All that I need, all that I need.
Your love is all that I need…
All that I need is You.
He became sin for us…so that we might become the righteousness of God.
“The gospel tells us that the Creator has become our Redeemer. It announces that the Son of God has become man “for us men and for our salvation” and has died on the cross to save us from eternal judgment. The basic description of the saving death of Christ in the Bible is as a propitiation, that is, as that which quenched God’s wrath against us by obliterating our sins from his sight. God’s wrath is his righteousness reacting against unrighteousness; it shows itself in retributive justice. But Jesus Christ has shielded us from the nightmare prospect of retributive justice by becoming our representative substitute, in obedience to his Father’s will, and receiving the wages of our sin in our place.
By this means justice has been done, for the sins of all that will ever be pardoned were judged and punished in the person of God the Son, and it is on this basis that pardon is now offered to us offenders. Redeeming love and retributive justice joined hands, so to speak, at Calvary, for there God showed himself to be “just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.”
Do you understand this? If you do, you are now seeing to the very heart of the Christian gospel…” ~J.I. Packer, Knowing God
The Prophecy concerning Jesus as found in Isaiah 52-53:
“Look, my servant will succeed!
He will be elevated, lifted high, and greatly exalted
(just as many were horrified by the sight of you)
he was so disfigured he no longer looked like a man;
His form was so marred he no longer looked human
so now he will startle many nations.
Kings will be shocked by his exaltation,
for they will witness something unannounced to them,
and they will understand something they had not heard about.
Who would have believed what we just heard?
When was the Lord’s power revealed through him?
He sprouted up like a twig before God,
like a root out of parched soil;
he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention,
no special appearance that we should want to follow him.
He was despised and rejected by people,
one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness;
people hid their faces from him;
he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.
But he lifted up our illnesses,
he carried our pain;
even though we thought he was being punished,
attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.
He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds,
crushed because of our sins;
he endured punishment that made us well;
because of his wounds we have been healed.
All of us had wandered off like sheep;
each of us had strayed off on his own path,
but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him.
He was treated harshly and afflicted,
but he did not even open his mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block,
like a sheep silent before her shearers,
he did not even open his mouth.
He was led away after an unjust trial
but who even cared?
Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living;
because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded.
They intended to bury him with criminals,
but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb,
because he had committed no violent deeds,
nor had he spoken deceitfully.
Though the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill,
once restitution is made,
he will see descendants and enjoy long life,
and the Lord’s purpose will be accomplished through him.
Having suffered, he will reflect on his work,
he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done.
“My servant will acquit many,
for he carried their sins.
So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes,
he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful,
because he willingly submitted to death
and was numbered with the rebels,
when he lifted up the sin of many
and intervened on behalf of the rebels.”
…just as many were horrified by the sight of you…
He was so disfigured He no longer looked like a man;
His form was so marred He no longer looked human
so now He will startle many nations.
The revelation of His Story might be right around the corner —
The Suffering Servant will come to earth as The Exalted King!
Will you be found in Christ, alone?
My sin — oh the bliss of this glorious thought —
My sin — not in part but the whole —
Was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more!
Praise the Lord!
Praise the LORD,
Oh, my soul!!!
A note to the reader: For any who hurt due to abuse, it’s okay to stand up and speak out. It’s the hardest thing to do, but it will allow the healing to begin. Also, “you” is meant to be universal…I have had too many abusers in my life to name just one.
I am not your punching bag anymore.
I will not stand by and take whatever abuse you choose to dish out.
I will not remain in your presence, because your words are a lie straight from hell.
God says I am His.
God tells me I am beloved.
You tell me I am not worthy…not beautiful…not real.
I know I’m real.
I know what I feel and I know why I feel as I do.
I became a non-entity to you.
I filled up whatever need you may have had for a time…
And when I realized I couldn’t keep it up, I would never be enough…
I curled up into my shell.
And you left.
I was the butt of your jokes.
I was the blame behind your anger.
I was the target of your rage.
I learned I was an object at two years old.
Now, at fifty-two, I’ve decided to become a person.
I will be seen…by those who choose to cherish and not condemn.
I believe it’s time to realize I am worthy…
Because He is worthy.
He sacrificed Himself for me;
HE calls me His own.
Your names for me are a lie.
I choose to hear the Truth:
God loves me.
By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell…With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women He made in His image…Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
~verses from James 3
When the hurt runs deep…
He is deeper still.
(I must say I’m having a very difficult time leaving this post up…yet, somehow I feel I must. After so many years of not believing I was worthy to speak up, taking this first step toward doing so feels so foreign…so vulnerable…I want to run. But, I know I can’t. I know I must get the words said for no other reason than having it written to look back upon, and know there was one day…a moment in time…I did feel I could speak the truth. I only hope I can survive the honesty…)
I found the perfect spot in the library, away from all the bustle. I was thirty-one with two little boys at home and badly needing a day away to think. I can’t quite remember if my second relapse had hit me yet, but I knew I was in much need of rest. I found the perfect spot next to an enormous glass window overlooking the pond. While sitting on a little couch tucked under the stairwell, I asked the Father to please guide me to do the right thing. “Cause, I desperately want to do the right thing.” I took out my journal, my pencil, my Bible, and Bonhoeffer’s book, Life Together.
The book had been on the shelf for years, but I hadn’t ever read it, thinking it was too “theological” for me to enjoy. It’s not a very big book but, as I found, it is chock full of truth and wisdom for the church body to discern what living this life together “should” be like. It’s a book that radically changed the way I understood I am to “be” in the body. Practical spiritual wisdom for everyday life together.
God was faithful to guide me. I understood the admonishment from scripture, “as much as it depends upon you, be at peace with one another.” With tears streaming down my face, I wrote out the apology, understanding a heart-rending-deep-cleansing had been done.
God made it clear to me what the next step would be. The apology was sent and now it was time to hope for reconciliation. It was time to release the situation in order that Christ might deal…
“…spiritual love proves itself in that everything it says and does commends Christ. It will not seek to move others by all too personal, direct influence, by impure interference in the life of another. It will not take pleasure in pious, human fervor and excitement. It will rather meet the other person with the clear Word of God and be ready to leave him alone with this Word for a long time, willing to release him again in order that Christ may deal with him.”
~D. Bonhoeffer, Life Together
It might be time to read that little — powerful — book once again.
Some of the scriptures He has led me to recently:
I took them up in My arms; but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love.
I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks.
I bent down to them and fed them.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
I know, O LORD, that the way of human beings is not in their control,
that mortals as they walk cannot direct their steps.
I will lead the blind along an unfamiliar way; I will guide them down paths they have never traveled.
I will turn the darkness in front of them into light, and level out the rough ground.
This is what I will do for them. I will not abandon them.
Isaiah 42:16 (NET)
But I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way, who can’t see where they’re going.
I’ll be a personal guide to them, directing them through unknown country.
I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take, make sure they don’t fall into the ditch.
These are the things I’ll be doing for them–sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.
Isaiah 42:16 (MSG)
He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked.
Lamentations 3:9 (all of chapter 3…wow!)
Though the fig tree may not blossom,
nor the fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
and the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
and there be no herd in the stalls –
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord is my strength;
He will make my feet like hind’s feet,
And He will make me to walk upon my high places.
I’m letting these words sink in.
His bands of love will bind this broken heart.
I will recognize His healing thus far, and ask for courage to continue on the path.
“Follow Jesus, I will follow Jesus. Anywhere He leads me, I will follow.”
Please, continue praying for me.
God’s passion is to weave glory out of broken shards
of past sexual abuse,
or any other experience of powerlessness or sin.
Everything hinges on the past.
“The scars of sin and death can’t be erased, but they can become the weather-beaten marks of character that bring depth and intrigue to what would have been merely a beautiful but ordinary vase. God’s passion is to weave glory out of broken shards of past sexual abuse, an affair, financial disaster, a divorce, death, or any other experience of powerlessness or sin…
What was yesterday? The loss of a job, victimization, bottomless grief, pointless sacrifice that brought little good? Was it deep struggle, intense drama and terror that eventually brought us to our knees and to the face of God? Everything hinges on the past. We will project the past into every new moment and either repeat our past themes of victimization or marvel at the work of God in redeeming us in spite of our questions and doubt.”
~Dan Allender, The Healing Path
Everything hinges on the past.
If I’m beginning to repeat myself, please be patient.
It takes awhile for some things to sink in.
Especially if you’ve been living in shame-bound systems for fifty years…
We will project the past into every new moment and
Repeat our past themes of victimization
Marvel at the work of God in redeeming us
Oh, I have spent so many years allowing the theme of abuse to be projected into every moment of my life.
I desire to move forward. I really do.
However, before I can, I must allow the deeper work of healing to wash over me, to cleanse me through and through. Jesus prayed for us to be sanctified in the truth. His word is the Truth. Paul reminded the church that Christ died “so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”
I want to see the work of redemption in my story. I desire to see the Truth of the Word working in my life. I press forward recognizing betrayals can be redeemed through faith, powerlessness can be infused with hope, and ambivalence can be turned to bold love. These are the great gifts of redemption and restoration: Faith, Hope, and Love.
Many scars have formed over the years. I pray they will not be as numerous as the freckles… but, honestly,… there could be more.
This path of healing I am choosing to take may be a long one, so…
“I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.” ~Chris Cleave, Little Bee