I wrote this post for another. I don’t know who it is, but I do hope they receive what they need from it. I sincerely don’t want to come across that I’m falling down on my sword or “Oh woe is me”. This is truly not my intent. “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
I have lived long enough to know that all the painful things I’ve made it through in this life, the tragic experiences I’ve endured, and the sometimes hopeless circumstances that may still haunt me (and yet “I’m free” with Jesus)… are not only for me- but to share.
With God (and armed with our testimony), we are readied to “go”, lay down and out our lives for our friends (and sometimes our enemies), open the blinds, bend ears to hear, give a hand up to the lame, believe hope for the hopeless, bandage those kicked to the curb, show mercy and “His life” to those left for dead, love ‘em like Jesus, lend a hand out that points to Him, and embrace the love that heals… a broken heart. All this, that even one, may turn around and be “that witness”, again.
“And they overcame him (the enemy) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” (Revelation 12:11)
Somebody out there is still living in the world’s rags… instead of the Lord’s riches. (And I’m not referring to money here.) Get out of “that place”! ‘Our Father’, definitely, and then His family… are here to help. “God Bless YOU!”
“Oh God, I so miss those days, that church, and “that girl”!”
I miss… feeling the layers of my filth, and the circumstances of life, fall off me as I walk into His room, engage in His worship, and embrace His presence; that no matter how I start, I feel lighter, refreshed, delightfully exhausted- like “I’m born, again” -by the end; when I realize I can’t help myself– “I surrender”; to ‘know what love is’ and then love people, anyway; to feel a warmth again in my heart and in my spirit, that I just cannot explain; to embrace the moment when I began to see the beauty from the ashes, an oil of joy for mourning, and a garment of praise over a spirit of heaviness; and finally- return to a time when it really didn’t matter what the people looked like, what they said, or what they, too, came in with… there’s love.
And to Jesus… “please, to love You again- like “that girl”.”
Lord knows… I want to be her again. The one who– no matter what I walk in with, as soon as I see Him, everything I was carrying, falls away; who can look into the eyes of others and see like He sees… the beauty, without the excess; and- no matter what the circumstance or location, can run straight ahead, in, or through – trusting that the Lord of my life is “right” there, and before me. Oh, to be child-like again, and cry out without reservation or hesitation, time after time… “Oh my God, I don’t care if it kills me- I need to see You, I need to hear You, I need to feel You here with me.”
As a young child, probably around 8 years old, I would cry out each night with the same prayer “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Thank You Jesus for everything! God bless Mommy and Daddy, my sisters, my grandmas and grandpas, my aunts and uncles and my cousins, and… (I probably didn’t say friends – I only had one and His name’s Jesus). And please dear God, make Mommy stop drinking, I promise I’ll be good (better, perfect).” I don’t think I loved Him more, than I did then. (Please Lord, like that, again.)
Well, if you know me, you know where I stand with the whole good thing. (And I don’t appear to be getting much better. As for perfect, it’s never been my strength- no matter how much I’ve tried.) And just for the record- Mommy didn’t stop drinking, either, until her freedom was taken away (stroke, heart attacks, etc.), that is.
Sadly, this prayer that went on night after night for year after year, having appeared to remain unanswered, served to be the catalyst for my departure. “If You’re not going to listen to me God, I’m not going to listen to You, either.” It was then, I ran away from His home.
I find it “so God” this morning as I write, that the very love, devotion, dependence, and trust I had for Him as a child,
are the very things I desire to return to “this very day”.
After decades of seemingly running around and around in the wrong circles, I’d “finally” made my journey back home (as the longest distance running prodigal I know). As I think back on my return, so much appears to be “missing” from “that time” until now, and even with “that church”. “Man, I miss my church!”
I miss walking up to the doors of the church and feeling the crud, the sin, my depressing circumstances, and the dead skin in my life, peel off me as soon as I’ve laid my eyes on Jesus, heard His worship start, and His presence is felt. (There’s no better feeling in the World.) It didn’t matter what I came in with, I felt new again, when I left. And while still inside, being overcome with such a great love, that I couldn’t help but touch You (and you)… and to see the beauty from the ashes, an oil of joy for mourning, and a garment of praise over a spirit of heaviness. Isaiah 61 really had life in it. It didn’t matter what the people looked like, what they said, or what they, too, came in with… there was love. And I’d so love to- find myself looking around the room again and feel the need to share it.
Oh God, I so miss those days, that church, and “that girl”!
But sadly, instead of what I long for, I have been… feeling the pinch of my oppressors, hearing the trumpets of the enemies’ advances, and seeing dark clouds from so many witnesses; And I know (He told me… Revelation 2) that I have left my first love. (This part breaks my heart the most.)
“Oh God, how did I run so far away from Who and what I love for? May I please get back to that place?! I so want to be Your girl who can love like that… ‘again, please’!”
Isaiah 61 has been on my mind and heart often, lately. I still remember the time I visited The Seed of Abraham Messianic Jewish Congregation in the Albany area nearly five years ago… Where I danced like David danced, worshipped as “one new man”, rejoiced at the sound of His Word, and truly embraced the beauty for ashes, an oil of joy for mourning, and a garment of praise over a spirit of heaviness (having heard this very Scripture read over me by the Rabbi in prayer). I may have danced but my feet never hit the dance floor. And even after I had left, this feeling didn’t leave me for quite some time… Until the day I looked around, and noticed that it did.
(Ever felt like “Finally my house is clean”,
only to look around a very short time later
to find that someone else has been through it
with a tornado?)
As much as Isaiah 61 has meant to me and I have pondered it over the years, I suddenly saw it recently, as a revelation. Before… the liberty as captives and the prison doors opened; the mention of the proclamation that Jesus is near (and “the Holy Spirit lives here”), where God will surely have the last Word; a comfort to all of His who mourn; the beauty, the joy, and the praise to our Living God; when we may be called trees of righteousness and be planted for His glory; and even before… the rebuilding, the raising up, the repairs, and restoration of the old ruins, former desolations, ruined cities, and the messes we’ve made… named the priests of the Lord, and called servants of our God… where instead of shame, there’s double honor, and in place of confusion- a rejoicing in one’s portion… when others will see and know just who “God Blesses”… as the bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and a bride adorns herself with her jewels… “So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” (Isaiah 61:11)
Before all this I noticed– Jesus heals a broken heart. (Isaiah 61:1)
If it were not for all the painful circumstances, the trials, the storms, the sheer brokenness, and the shattered dreams in my life, I never would have found Jesus standing there next to me; or have the heart (and words to say) to reach others in those places, either.
I am so thankful that the good Lord can make beauty from the ashes, an oil of joy for the mourning, a garment of praise (to Him) over a spirit of heaviness, cause all things to work together for good… And then, show us how to do the same. God is so good!!!
Today, I am humbly blessed… as “that girl!” “Thank You Lord!”
Revelation 2 (NASB)…
2 ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; 3 and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. 6 Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’
Isaiah 61 (NKJV)…
The Good News of Salvation
1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
4 And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.
5 Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,
And the sons of the foreigner
Shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
6 But you shall be named the priests of the Lord,
They shall call you the servants of our God.
You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,
And in their glory you shall boast.
7 Instead of your shame you shall have double honor,
And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.
Therefore in their land they shall possess double;
Everlasting joy shall be theirs.
8 “For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery for burnt offering;
I will direct their work in truth,
And will make with them an everlasting covenant.
9 Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles,
And their offspring among the people.
All who see them shall acknowledge them,
That they are the posterity whom the Lord has blessed.”
10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.