• guilt&shame,  Redemption,  Relationships,  Sanctification,  The Cross

    Dinner With GOD

     

    “Satan dines upon what we withhold from God.” Francis Frangipane

     

    “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5

    There are moments in our lives when we realize that the cocoons of comfort we’ve woven around ourselves to protect us from the threats we thought were “out there” have become more like death rags, wrapping us up and binding us to the even greater danger that lurks within.

    It’s a scary thing to not feel safe within yourself.

    To realize that your biggest enemy may just be the person staring back at you in the mirror.  And to realize with sickening horror that the infestation that’s been eating away at you your whole life is coming from the one place you can’t escape, your own heart.

    As the lyrics of a popular song state, “where do you run to escape from yourself?” (Switchfoot).

    This realization started for me not far into my Christian walk. Up until then, I had lived a life of chaos, I didn’t realize it, but the constant drama and activity always around me had become my favorite hiding place, my cocoon.  But, once I came to Jesus, the chaos that I had once kept myself cloaked in, did not fit anymore.  I was learning to be brave, to risk my first steps outside of the cloud of my own debris that had kept me enveloped my whole life. I knew that to stay in the chaos was to reject the peace that Jesus was offering me, and Heaven knows I needed His peace.

    But an odd thing happened once my heart became still enough to catch up to myself, I began to FEEL!  And it was terrifying!  It was as if all the pent-up anger, fear, guilt, shame, abandonment and insecurity as well as feelings and emotions too strong to ever find words for began to chase after me and wrestle me down into a powerless heap.

    There is a story in Genesis 32 that depicts what this season was like better than I can ever describe.  It is where Jacob, a man who had been a deceiver and a hider his whole life, is finally called by God (after 20 years) to return home.  Only, to return home means that he must face his greatest fear, the confrontation with his brother, Esau, whom he had stolen a birth right from. On the night before Jacob is about to enter the land where he is sure to meet confrontation with his brother, God allows a strange event to happen.  I will let the scriptures tell what happens next,

    And Jacob was left alone.  And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.  When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.  Then he said, “Let me go for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” Genesis 32:24-28

    Sometimes God will allow us to catch up with the Truth about ourselves so that we can watch Him wrestle it off us.

    For Jacob, it was a one-night wrestling match that had taken 20 years to build up to.  My wrestling match has lasted years, and I am only now beginning to really walk in to my identity as one who has striven with God and men and is prevailing.  And I would be lying if I said that my old identity didn’t come looking for a “re-match” from time to time.

    Now, when those old familiar feelings come back and stare me down in the mirror, threatening to reclaim the territory of my heart, there is only one response I can offer to escape my sure defeat and secure the boundaries of my conquered territory. That is to refer them to God’s TRUTH about me. His identity for me is everlasting and stands. It’s stronger than any of my defenses and it’s the only one that secures life, not only for me, but for those whose life I am in care for.

  • Redemption,  The Cross,  Trusting God

    The Mountains Between Us

    I am speaking on guilt and shame next week and so I am meditating on this topic this week, and so doing hope to be sharing a little of the overflow from what Jesus is sharing with me. I hope you enjoy!

    Love yall,

    Rhonda

    When my youngest was a toddler, she would reach her arms up to me, hands wagging, and say in the sweetest, littlest voice, “I hold you?”

    It was her way of asking for comfort and shelter from a world that had suddenly grown overwhelming to her.

    It’s funny because, once we are BIG GIRLS, one of the HARDEST lessons to learn is to accept and receive that same comfort and shelter from the only ONE Who is able to truly offer it.

    Like bookends that encapsulate all my JUNK, Guilt and Shame always followed me around, trying to capture me, trapping me back inside their dark and isolating domain.  The territory is familiar there, and I dare say, even comfortable.  I know how to live in guilt and shame.  They were my home and dwelling for most of my young adult and early Christian life, and I was ready to defend my right to camp there should anyone dare try  convince me to move. I had earned my right to that camp! Haven’t we all?

    It’s funny how we can become heroic about our stink piles.

    I use to guard mine, lest anyone come too close and smell the REAL me.

    I can’t fully explain how my piles around me began to lessen, the stink began to decrease other than to say, I let HIM in.

    It was the BRAVEST thing I ever did.

    And as He dwelled with me, amidst my mess, and accepted me, I felt loved by Him.

    And my need to hide behind those piles became less and less as I grew to receive what He said about me more and more.

    The most amazing thing happened.  He never removed my piles, He transformed them!

    My shame of, “I am not enough”, became , “I am enough in You.”

    My guilt of, “I haven’t done enough,” became, “It is Finished in You.”

    There was never a defining moment when He or I moved a mountain, but there were millions of tiny, almost inconceivable moments that I allowed Him to move tiny fragments of a mountain in me.  So that one day I looked up, and there it was!  The piles of all my guilt and shame had been transformed into a mountain that I now could climb up, and see the world from, in a WHOLE new LIGHT!

    IN HIS LIGHT!

    And it was BEAUTIFUL and ABUNDANT!

    The older I become the more I have come to see a pattern evolving in this beautiful love between my Savior and I.

    I see that I started out as His little girl, fully trusting in Him, but like the prodigal, I wanted to leave Him and go and live my life away from Him.

    And, in love, He gave me the freedom and provision to do so.

    I came back, in desperation, and with lots of PILES!

    I wanted reconciliation at a distance because I didn’t know how to rid myself of guilt and shame.

    But, He wanted His child back.  And, at the CROSS He took care of any pile (or mountain) that will ever stand between us.

    And He never stops wanting that little girl who is vulnerable to Him, and trusting of Him enough to lift up her arms and say, “You hold me?”

     

     

     

     

  • Friendship,  Redemption,  Relationships,  Sanctification,  Seeing,  Trusting God

    Jesus Friends

     

    “If we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection…” (Romans 6:5)

     

    One of the greatest joys in coming to Christ has been the freedom to experience relationships as someone who can be “naked and unashamed.”  This has become especially true in my relationships with other women, which I use to fear and, in my BC (before Christ) days, became a source of great insecurity.

    Back then, my relationships with women tended to be based around mutual interests, a slight need for comparison and competition, as well as a desire for someone to engage in meaningful self-reflection with.  The thought of disagreeing with one of my BC friends based on moral issues never occurred to me.  This was because, in my mind at least, there existed a silent agreement that the friend existed in my world to help me justify what I felt was right or wrong in my own eyes, and that failure to do so risked disqualifying that person from friendship with me.  And, as long as the “friend” did this for me, I would gladly listen to countless scenarios of how she had or had not been treated in a said way and I would find the areas where she needed  validation, or a snarky remark or two aimed at the one who had failed to properly acknowledge her as she had expected, as well as meet up with her at various times so we could escape the circumstances of our lives together for at least a little while.  Our friendship was based around shared secrets and experiences, and even shared biases more than it was around true, meaningful relationship, perhaps it was because I didn’t know how to experience anything else.

    As a new Christian, I remember wondering (and being terrified of) how friendships with women would work within the Body of Christ.  I mean, what is there to talk about if we are not sinning, much more, what was there to do? I laugh now, but these were REAL thoughts that I experienced, and I often wondered if I would be able to make REAL friends within the church.

    It was because of this fear that I spent my first few months as a new believer avoiding women, and social situations.

    My first bible study is where I at last began to SEE how all of this would work.  I came in to the study doing my best to pretend like I fit in, as best as I could.  I was so out-of-place, and just BEING there, a dirty girl amidst ALL those clean ladies, made me feel so vulnerable.  As I watched the women interact, I noticed something I had never experienced before in my life.  These women weren’t hiding from one another, or even themselves.  

  • abortion,  Salvation. Faith,  The Cross

    What Does Jesus Do About Abortion?

    Had I of known that Jesus was going to require me to “deal” with my sin of abortion when I began following Him, I probably would have run the other way.  We are such strange creatures, so willing to trade in our eternal soul just for a temporary hiding place here on earth.  The thought that Jesus cared as much about me as my babies that I had aborted, never occurred to me.  But He did and He does.

    To me, the miracle that Jesus restored in my heart towards myself as a woman who choose abortion three times, as well as restoring my heart as a mother towards my children I aborted is as great a miracle, maybe even greater than His parting the Red Sea.

    In Luke 8:26-39, the account is given of Jesus healing a man who was demon-possessed.  It says of him that, “For a long time he had worn no clothes and he had not lived in a house, but among the tombs.”

    Something about my abortion experiences allowed me to relate to this man.  No matter how much I tried to “dress it up” in validations, or justifications, or later as a Christian, even scripture references that assured me that I was “okay” and “forgiven”, I could never believe in my heart I was FREE, and Jesus knew it.  I had no place to hide or take refuge from the sin of my past, and, like the man from Luke 8, I had no place to truly call “home” because I still lived among the tombs.  Guilt and shame followed me and colored every aspect of my life in grey tones.

    I was a Christian, but I had not allowed the Life of Jesus to take me off of the cross I felt I had to carry due to my shame.

    And because of that, I never TRULY understood the FULLNESS of what He had done.