A little over year ago today, I penned a closing post for Beloved Prodigal that spoke of God calling for its death and resurrection. God is now fulfilling the second part of His Promise to us with the resurrection of this gathering place. In the year that it lay dormant, Jesus has worked such healing in me personally.
The old Beloved Prodigal was for friends and family members of Prodigals. I followed my logical reasoning that my deepest desires to write directly to you was a futile prospect. I remembered my own path home and reasoned that Prodigals like me would never go looking for a blog like mine. But, that burning desire never disappeared, as God kept reminding me that as we delight in Him He gives us the desires of our hearts. And so now I am writing to you, my fellow Beloved Prodigals, trusting that God will lead you here and that He will speak to you here in a way only He can, to your unique heart and story. I am trusting that His Ways are so much higher than ours.
As I wrote for family members and friends of the old Beloved Prodigal, God purified my desires. He exposed my selfish desire to have my intended audience recognize the pain inflicted upon myself and upon you, my fellow Beloved Prodigals, in the church. But as He uncovered these selfish desires, He revealed HIS desires for my audience of our family and friends.
Where I wanted to convict these men and women of their wrongdoing through my fixing, God wanted to comfort them, open their eyes to His beautiful Promises and through His kindness lead them to repentance. A repentance not intended to recognize my pain, but theirs. Not intended to lift a heavy weight off of my own shoulders, but a heavy weight of shame and fear off their shoulders. A heavy weight laid upon them inside our churches for their decision to continue loving us, talking about us and praying for us.
God’s purpose with the old Beloved Prodigal was to grow me in grace and the knowledge of my Savior Jesus Christ. It was to purify my desires and to uncover His beautiful desire for Beloved Prodigal. A desire fed by love and compassion, rather than anger and bitterness.
In the year away, God has brought me so much healing. When my dear friend and I stood worshipping at a Rend Collective concert, tears streamed down my face. We were singing “Weep with Me” and I felt God take me back to every single situation of abuse and rejection I and my loved ones have walked through in the church:
I felt God say: “Anna, I have always been there with you all through every single attack and I too have wept with you and I weep with you now too. I care. I see you and oh how my heart breaks WITH yours.” And it’s then the tears didn’t stop as I sung this next song with everything that was within me – singing with gusto the truth against every lie ever spoken over me:
In the year’s break for Beloved Prodigal, God has helped me to release the religious world’s definition of the word “prodigal” (shameful) to embrace its true definition (lavishly loved). He has helped me to see how the little four year old who gave her heart to Jesus at that very moment entered a Promise of restoration and redemption, a Promise sealed by the Holy Spirit.
He has reminded me that He began fulfilling His Promise to me through my Prodigal journey. A journey that brought me to my knees and into His arms. He ran towards me, wrapped His cloak around me and placed His ring upon my finger, claiming me, a sinner, as His.
My Savior led me to die to my sin and be born again. Now, I am receiving what my little four year old heart walked into so long ago- healing, wholeness, restoration, redemption and so much more. His Promises never return void.
Now, God is fulfilling the prayer, my friend, Mary DeMuth dropped into my inbox on Tuesday, 13 August, 2019.
“Lord thank You so much for creating Anna. Thank You for making Anna with such unique gifts to reach such a wide variety of people. Use Anna’s story to change the landscape of the kingdom of God. Renew Anna’s vision for a ministry that perhaps Anna has placed on the back burner. Resurrect what has been lost I pray. Amen.” Mary DeMuth
What is so beautiful to me is that Beloved Prodigal was first birthed in Mary’s midst. At her writers’ intensive in Burtigny, Switzerland, in October, 2016, God led me to sit with the story of the disciple Peter, his turning away, restoration and calling to feed God’s lambs and sheep. It’s there God called me to arise in His calling upon my life.
Unbeknown to Mary, I had just messaged friends about the prompting in my heart for the resurrection of this online home, asking them to pray with me. The same day, my friend Bettie Gilbert, who had prayed through the founding of the old Beloved Prodigal with me and then joined our prayer and writing teams, also sent me a photo of resurrection lilies in full bloom in her garden.
She told our friend Gayl and I: “I have never had so many of these blooms, ever since I first planted them in my garden.” It was such a beautiful affirmation of the Scriptures and devotionals God had been sending my way. Isn’t it beautiful how Jesus works? Every death God calls us to leads us to a beautiful resurrection. That is also something I pray you will see unfolding in your own life.
Mind if I pray over us all today?
Thank You, Father, that out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger (Psalm 8:2). Thank You that we will see this Promise unfold in our lives, as the faith we professed as children will come alive in us in new and stunning ways.
Thank You that You are (Psalm 9: 9-14 ESV): “a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. [We will] sing praises to [you], who sits enthroned in Zion! [We will] tell among the peoples [your] deeds! For [you] who avenges blood [are] mindful of [us and our loved ones]; [You do] not forget the cry of the afflicted. Be gracious to [us], O Lord! See [the] affliction from those who hate [us], O you who lift [us] up from the gates of death, that [we] may recount all your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion [we] may rejoice in your salvation.”
Open our eyes to see the enemy as a tool in Your hands to bring abundant blessings not just to us but many more from our heartache and our pain. Amen