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.
“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
“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.”
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
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.
“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
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
The healing path is not a jaunt in the park. It is a life-rattling, heart-revealing journey that takes us through danger, harm, heartache … The healing path is glorious, but the only way we will stay on course and resist the temptation to flee to safer ground is by comprehending more deeply the assaults and losses we will face on our journey … ~Dan Allender
That’s where the rubber meets the road. That’s the point at which we decide if we really want to be healed.
Does the pain run too deep? Are the ramifications too wide-spread?
Is it possible to truly see the heartache you’ve caused without losing your mind?
To take responsibility for all you’ve caused, through selfish ambition, or loneliness…
Whatever the reason you chose your way, it caused heartache.
For you. For those you love. Maybe, even, for generations to come.
We can’t know how our loved ones will work through their pain.
We each have choices to make when we’ve been hurt. Will you choose to protect yourself? What form of defense mechanism works best to ward off shame? A drink here… an accusation there… a little bit of sugar… a wholelotta control… The choices for repression are about as numerous as the ramifications from your sin.
Denial, blame, control.
Phariseeism, alcoholism, workaholism.
Acting out, drug addiction, isolation.
The list goes on and on …
And the cycle continues …
Will you flee the path of healing, or will you stay on course?
The former might be arrogance or fear; the latter takes humility.
Will you puff up, or bow low?
I’ve been reading Lamentations and James. Both give a picture of grief and repentance that leads to godliness. I’ve had enough of the world’s wisdom. I am tired of lighting my own path and drinking from broken cisterns. I truly want to remain on the path of healing, no matter the cost.
“God sets Himself against the proud, but He shows favor to the humble.”
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and He will flee from you.
Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites.
Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done.
Let there be sorrow and deep grief.
Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy.
When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on Him,
He will lift you up and give you honor.
It seems a bit harsh in today’s world of “easy believism” and “seeker friendly” teaching to talk of sin, adulterers, and hypocrites. Most people run away from such words, feeling it’s condemnation. I don’t see it that way. As difficult as it is to admit, that is what we must deal with every day of our time on earth. Do we love this place more than we love God’s way?
When I see I have chosen to love the world more than God, by choosing a safer path than the one which leads to healing, I need to repent.
And then, times of refreshing may come…
Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away,
in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
“Each day we either live for God or for other gods. In each moment of hardship we fear either God or man. When we choose to worship gods and fear men our lives will suffer an emptiness and turmoil that is not much different than trying to fill our bellies with dirt. At first we may feel full, but in short order our violation of God’s plan will lead to torment…
But God will not let his children wander in the realm of death without giving them some kind of wake-up call.
Relationship with God requires leaving, letting go (of other gods), in order to pursue his promises. He calls his followers on a journey that takes them beyond the limits of their sight. Hosea tells us that God will woo us to the desert in order to win us back to himself…
Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. In that day,’ declares the LORD, ‘you will call me “my husband”; you will no longer call me “my master” ~Hosea 2:14-16
And what is the desert? It is the opposite of Eden, the garden green with luxury and life. The desert is brown, rocky, and desolate. It is not exactly the most romantic spot to renew a broken marriage between God and his bride. So why would God take his beloved to the desert in order to restore her? Because only there can he reveal to her the magnitude of his love…
The healing path must pass through the desert or else our healing will be the product of our own will and wisdom. It is in the silence in the desert that we hear our dependence on noise. It is in the poverty of the desert that we see clearly our attachments to the trinkets and baubles we cling to for security and pleasure. The desert shatters the soul’s arrogance and leaves body and soul crying out in thirst and hunger. In the desert, we trust God or we die.
God not only leads us through the desert, but he calls us to walk through the valley as the sun sets and shadows spread across the land. To get to the table set for us by God we are called to walk through danger. Any valley is dangerous terrain. Not only can rocks roll down on us unexpectedly, be we are surrounded by higher ground on which an enemy can perch and rain down assault. No military tactician would willingly send his troops marching through a valley; it is a place of death. And if one must march through a valley , the worst possible time to do so is at sunset when shadows distort and make it impossible to pick out enemies hiding in wait.
Why would God have us walk through danger to get to him? Again, because valleys strip us of the presumption of independence; danger draws us to a greater dependence on the only one who can provide and protect. The desert brings us to our knees with craving; the valley calls us to cling to the hem of the one who leads us to safety. The psalmist says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4)
God is with us. His rod and staff and his sure vision, steady balance, and infinite knowledge of the terrain will guide us as we walk through the shadowlands. But don’t be fooled: His leading does not always guide us out of harm’s way. Rather, God often leads us directly into the hottest and most perilous point of the battle…
The healing path is not a jaunt in the park. It is a life-rattling, heart-revealing journey that takes us through danger, harm, heartache — and ultimately to new trust, profound hope, and a love that can’t be scorched by assault or destroyed by loss. The healing path is glorious, but the only way we will stay on course and resist the temptation to flee to safer ground is by comprehending more deeply the assaults and losses we will face on our journey. In the desert and valley we will pass through the dangers of betrayal, powerlessness, and ambivalence. These three realities will pull faith, hope, and love right out from under us if we are not ready for them.” ~Dan Allender, Ph.D., The Healing Path