As a little girl, I learnt to suppress and stuff pain away. I was afraid of what it did with me. I didn’t know what to do with the raw anger, the emptiness, the confusion.
Known and loved as the “good girl”, ever obedient, compassionate and kind, I couldn’t look myself in the mirror and admit what lay hidden in my heart. I didn’t know this girl and didn’t want to start. Instead I let shame become my clothing and fear determine the course I took.
But one day, as the pain went so deep it split my heart back open, the God I had fled in fear poured His incredible peace out upon me. This Person of Peace turned me to His face in my sinful mess and opened my eyes like never before. He awakened a thirst in me to know the One True God.
Ever since, He has called me to receive His mercy and grace, again and again, that I may bear witness to the truth of genuine faith: my sinful humanity wrapped in His righteous love.
My Savior keeps patiently and compassionately drawing me back out from my hiding into His love, to cleanse and renew me in the truth of His love.
Ever so slowly, I am learning that although I may be afraid of the darkness lurking in my heart, He isn’t. He chose to drink my pain, my sin and my shame. He chose to make it all His own, so that He could make me His own, so every single piece of my darkness could be bathed in the light of His righteousness. So my brokenness could be held together in His wholeness and completion.
There is hope in my pain because just as a mother journeys through contractions to meet her new child, so do we, God’s children, walk through the birth pangs of our adoption, to receive what is being birthed within us – genuine faith built upon nothing less than Jesus Christ, our righteousness (1 Peter 1: 3 – 9 ESV).
Just this weekend, I was reminded of Zachaeus. No-one wanted to befriend this man in his sin. Yet, Jesus sought Zachaeus out because he looked beneath the hardness of this man’s broken heart, to see the truth (Luke 19: 9 ESV):
. . . “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.
God reminded me that salvation has come to me because I am His daughter. I am His little girl, fully restored and fully redeemed by the blood of the spotless Lamb of God. My past does not dictate my destiny, no matter how hard the enemy tries to convince me otherwise.
For my God’s mercies are new every morning.
2 Corinthians 5: 17 NLT
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
Ever so slowly, I am beginning to embrace my birthing into this newness that is mine in Christ Jesus with patience, trust and hope. Jesus is teaching me to look to Him and the growth He is bringing, rather than sink into the quicksand of shame and pain in my weakness and sin.
That is the biggest blessing God has given me with the writing team of Beloved Prodigal. They have been His smile of truth and love upon me, through my sinful struggles in their midst.
When we are hurting we do not flee to the rich and healthy for wisdom and real comfort. We seek out those who have fellowshipped in the sufferings of Jesus.
Michael Card, A Fragile Stone: The Emotional Life of Simon Peter, p.53
Through their open confessions of many past and present trials they are teaching me that what the enemy sends to steal, kill and destroy, Christ transforms into a gift for us.
As the Holy Spirit and the Word of God opens our eyes in our pain, we become those who grieve with hope. God teaches us, again and again, that our trials are proof of His love for us and that they have only been permitted:
My Beloved Prodigal friends have shone the Light of Christ into my heart. Through my fellowship with them, He has cleansed me of sin and shame that has held me back from love.
They have been as Christ to me, not because of their perfection, but because of the genuineness of their life and faith before me. God has been so visible in their midst because they have been humble enough to be real about their struggles and truthful to me in my own. They continually remind me of this old Sunday school truth:
Proverbs 22: 11 NLT
Whoever loves a pure heart and gracious speech
will have the king as a friend.
These precious sisters have helped strip me of so much shame. I am now able to see that God has walked me through so much severing in my relationships, to birth more of the true Friend inside of me. Removing me from unsafe environments, as I recover from traumatic experiences, He has been rooting me more firmly in the truth of His love and grace.
Praise be to the One who purposefully knit each one of us in our mother’s womb, who is in all things and before all things and holds all things so beautifully and intricately together in Him (Colossians 1:17), the author and perfector of our faith.
May His living Word be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, birthing a genuine faith in us all.
John 14:2-3 (KJV)
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Father God, Abba Father, thank You that You know. Thank You that You care. Thank You that You never ever turn Your face from us, Your children, even when we turn our face away from You, fearful and ashamed.
Thank You that You do not give us the silent treatment. Thank You that You do not placate us to please our fleshly desires. Thank You that You are genuine in Your love for us, choosing to speak the truth to us, full of tender compassion, whether we receive it or not.
Thank You that You continue to pursue our hearts into more of You, that You never give up drawing us to Yourself in our trembling shame just so You can lift our downcast head up to Your face. So we can behold the Truth: Your radiant smile and the light of Your love reflected in holy eyes that deem us beloved, sons and daughters of the Most High King, saved by grace alone.
Thank You that You are not afraid of our anger, our bitterness, our doubts, of our holding tight to pain. Thank You that You have felt every single one of our emotions, hanging on the Cross.
Thank You that unlike we so often have, You chose not to flee Your Cross. Thank You that You chose to endure the excruciating pain, just so that You might nail our sin and shame to the Cross, once and for all. Thank You that You have disarmed all powers and authorities, that You have made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross and that they now have NO power over us.
Thank You that the curse of sin and death has been ripped in two and we may now enter into the Holy of Holies, covered in the righteousness of the spotless Lamb of God. Thank You that our fleshly turning never annuls the deposit of the Holy Spirit in us – the seal of our Sonship in Christ.
Help us to remember this truth and believe in YOU alone – to entrust ourselves and our loved ones into Your safe hands, confident in Your Promise to us that You always complete the good works You begin. In Jesus’ Mighty Name, Amen.