Face to Face

 

I remember around the year 2007 when I had begun to see the outward effects of how truly shattered a person I was. At that time I knew that my salvation was sure, but I did not believe in any way, shape, or form that I could ever fully recover emotionally, mentally, or spiritually from the blows that I had encountered in my life. I had been reading about Jacob’s fear [Gen. 32:9-32] of his brother (who was coming in the distance) and how he cried out to the Lord concerning His promises to bless him. And I remember, at that moment, vowing to myself and to the Lord that I would contend, I would wrestle, I would fight for my healing, for my deliverance; my blessing.

I made a decision that day that I would praise Him all of my days, through every storm, in the darkness, in the isolation and all the tears, where no one else could possibly imagine that a shattered mind can actually go when not kept in check. Regardless of the loneliness or the shame I felt when others simply could not fathom the depth or width of the conflict within me, in my own prison, I vowed to worship at His feet until He set this captive free or until I saw Him face to face. In my desperate mind, I was pressing into the presence of God for my freedom and I was ready to fight Him for it – because the truth was . . . I didn’t think He really wanted to give it to me – because I didn’t deserve it, because I had been a disgrace to Him and His name.

Clearly, these were lies. Somewhere in my mind I knew this fact; these were simply lies from the pit of hell. But they rang true within every part of me. I knew that if they could have been true, I was foolish for thinking that I could wrestle God like Jacob and walk away with just a limp, but I DID NOT CARE. I also knew that my fight was ultimately not with God, but with the enemy of my soul, who accuses God to all of us. So, that was it. I was going to give praise to my precious Jesus in the face of my enemy until my chains were broken. The following is a poem that I wrote in the darkest night of my soul.  A cry of hope. A promise of His truth:

Face To Face
Whispers, whispers of a day
When He will wash my tears away.
Perseverance is what I need;
On His sufficient grace I feed.
Praise Him will I, all my days;
For in His presence darkness fades.
And until I see Him face to face,
Bowing at His feet I’ll stay.

So, this afternoon I was reading from The Message, which for me, is a totally new experience. I tried a few lines once or twice before but was quite unimpressed by it. Today, however, I was drawn to read and re-read it, over and over again because the Holy Spirit within was stirring; something familiar was coming to my heart.

Psalms 28:

6-7 Blessed be God

    He heard me praying.

He proved He’s on my side;

    I’ve thrown my lot in with Him;

Now I’m jumping for joy, and shouting and singing my thanks to Him.

8-9 God is all strength for His people,

    ample refuge for His chosen leader;

Save your people

    and bless Your heritage.

Care for them;

    carry them like a good shepherd.

Today, I was reminded that when I made that promise years ago, I was going “all in”. In my mind, it was all-or-nothing. I had nothing else to lose, as far as I was concerned because – in my mind – I had lost everything. I had “thrown in my lot with Him.” He did hear me. He was always on my side. Always! From the beginning He was listening and waiting for me to allow Him to carry me; more than I could have (or dared to) imagine. For the last three months He’s been showing me what it means live a life of truly trusting Him. To experience Him “carrying me like a good shepherd”.

He reminded me of something that a precious pastor and friend, Jan Greenwood, shared once. She stated, “The most powerful position in spiritual warfare one can do is from a position of rest.” (I know I probably got that all mixed up and quoted it incorrectly, but that was the gist of it)   At the time, I heard her, but I was acutely aware that I did not comprehend in my heart the fullness of its meaning.

As I read the verses above, I am finding that He has indeed brought me to a new place of joy, shouting and singing my thanks to Him and He deserves every bit of my praise – for God is all strength for His people! And I can do it from a new level of peace and yes, from that position of rest, because in my own personal way, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” much like Jacob at Peniel.

If you have been shattered or are in a place of brokenness, darkness or desperation, THERE IS HOPE! Commit your heart and mind to Him. Press into Him. It’s worth fighting for. It  took me a long time to understand that I did not have to fight in order to get my healing – which, by the way, is still a work in progress – I had to fight a battle in my soul to LET GO so that I could receive His love, His affection, His healing, and. . . His rest. He really wants to carry you.

 

 

 

Precious Friend

The other day, as I was passing through the crowds at church, I saw a good handful of people who have walked with me for the last several years in my season of brokenness. Some, casual friends or pastors, and then the others who know all the ugly; inside and out. I couldn’t hide my smile, even in the midst of more frustrating news I had just received that the enemy keeps flying in my face lately. “Nope! He is not going to steal my joy today!” God has been so good to me. His gracious tenderness has astounded me; overwhelmed me, these last few years.

I was just thinking back to the first time I can remember feeling so alone in my broken state. I felt like no one saw me. No one cared. It felt like no matter what I said, no one could hear me. . . not even God. Of course I knew that wasn’t true, but sometimes I allow my feelings to trump the truth. We all do. But that is for another blog; another page.

Today, I just wanted to pull out an old poem that I wrote in 2003 for a precious woman of God, who befriended me and gave me hope when my world was falling apart. I was living in Italy at the time and she lived in South Africa. Rene, you still reside in a special corner of my heart! I love you.

No Greater Friend

A Friend To The Broken

Broken is a lonely road. It is a dry and desperate place and no one wants to live there. I will venture to say that all of us have lived at this address at one point or another in our lives, especially when we secretly whisper those three, sincere words, “God. . . use me!” And the ordained, tearing down and rebuilding of our hearts begins, if not for the first time, then once again to the glory and purpose of His will.

Broken, however, is not a road we do alone. Jesus was continuously connected to the Father, yes, but He did life with people too. He had His people! There were the crowds of thousands, the seventy, and even the twelve disciples. They were with Him doing life. Laughing with Him, ministering alongside Him, and experiencing tears and sorrow with Him. The twelve sat in the garden called Gethsemane. But there was His inner circle; the three that He took with Him. They saw it all; the ugly. In one way or another, they were with Jesus in His suffering to the very end on the cross. Were they perfect? No. Was their friendship messy? One-sided? Unfaithful? You bet! Jesus knew them though. He knew Peter’s true name: Rock. John, He loved. He knew their hearts!

Being a friend to the broken doesn’t mean perfection and it doesn’t always mean happy or pretty. It just IS BEING THERE for them, without the answers, without the words at times. On occasion, it’s not giving any time when the broken one wants your time, but you give your selfless prayers in battle for their minds and souls.

Be a friend to the broken.

 

The Broken Are Beautiful!

I’ve been thinking about what it means to be broken. My mind quickly floods with the usual dark, heavy thoughts; painful places from my own history, my failures and loneliness. But in my struggle to find a description that truly encompasses the fullness of the word, I began to nudge my Daddy, “Speak to me… please!” He is so good to me. I have to laugh because He knows how I get so easily stuck in the muck, the mud, the really depressing stuff. But He has faithfully shown me for weeks now, as I have been mulling over this question.

Consistently He’s reminded me of when I personally walked through the ancient streets of Pompeii, Rome, or Pozzuoli when I was a missionary doing prayer walks or leading other ministry groups, passing through the area we lived in. Just the thousands of years alone which brought destruction or broken vessels to the once lovely works of art! The sheer number of ancient ruins literally in millions of pieces beneath my feet had been intentionally saved by someone who believed that all these broken things still had some sort of worth. Many times items are repaired in an attempt to be like the original design, like the Mona Lisa. Other items are actually reconstructed into something entirely new and they are stunning works of art!

One ancient site where I was walking, I kept coming across some broken, marbled pieces that seemed to be sporadically placed within the ancient, stone path. I questioned one of the tour guides about it and they informed me that this was a typical custom which was done in order to be a guiding light in the night. This was an ancient holy site for pagan gods. These were paths leading up to the actual sites and the full moon would reflect off of the marble and light the way.

Whether a previous work of art that got broken and reconstructed into a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, or a seemingly useless, broken piece of something that can reflect light for someone who is lost, who will I be?

. . . . because the broken are still beautiful!