Praying for a Stranger

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“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

I prayed a prayer the other day for a stranger I may never meet.

The only evidence of this stranger’s existence was on the edge of a toilet paper dispenser in the bathroom of a local restaurant in the guise of a plastic wrapper—a pregnancy test wrapper.

My heart was burdened as I thought of the young woman or girl who laid it there. Questions arose wondering the outcome of the test. Did she leave the bathroom elated or desperate? Was this a happy occasion or one that caused her despair as she wrung her hands at the possibilities that laid before her? It’s just plastic—but it represents a life of a person and her heart in that moment.

This encounter with plastic set in motion a memory which seems surreal as if it were a stranger’s story.    

In life there are moments like pinpoints on a timeline signifying something significant happened here.  These memories are imprinted in bold while some moments drift away to be forever forgotten. It is a mysterious phenomenon. The memory this pregnancy test invoked is one in bold never to be forgotten.

It was the end of my freshman year of college. I had been dating a boy for about a month.  Life was full of promise as summer approached.  However, there were symptoms that perhaps I could be pregnant. Anxiety swept in bringing with it a myriad of questions and what ifs.  We bought a test—a pregnancy test.  Did the thing you do and waited in the other room. Minutes seemed like eternity. Both of us did not want to look but we knew we needed to look. Together we faced the results. There it was—red and bold—a plus sign. It may have been small, but in my mind, it was large, starring at me, hauntingly mocking me. My world was forever about to be changed.

In my mind, a baby was out of the question. I was only nineteen, a freshman in college, not ready to be a mom. What about my future? What about my dreams. Couldn’t everything go back to “normal”, the way it was before the red plus sign? Can I have a “do over” please?

In my mind abortion was the “do over” button. What I didn’t know was abortion is not an easy fix but more like a red nuclear button with tremendous fallout. No one wins. Nothing would ever be the same again.

The short version of this story is I chose abortion. The long version of this story is long and well, more complicated than that. Most stories are more complicated than the short version.

The long version involves my parents finding out about the red plus sign, a wedding planned, a wedding canceled, all my family and friends knowing about the pregnancy and the abortion, a date rape, depression, a breakup, and self-destructive behaviors…until Jesus. Like I said, much more complicated than the short version.

When I saw the pregnancy test wrapper lying in the bathroom that day, I couldn’t help but think, “What is her story? What is her complicated story?” Was this lady also considering abortion, feeling hopeless and alone? Or had she been trying for months or years to get pregnant? Did she leave there rejoicing or anxious with what ifs? Did she leave with disappointment for once again seeing a negative sign or relief?

I said a prayer for her that day, whoever she is. I wish I knew her story. If she was like me at nineteen full of anxious thoughts at seeing that plus sign, I would hold her and tell her:

It’s going to be ok, you can do this. Be strong and courageous. Life is a gift, embrace the gift. A baby may not have been in the plan, but all life is God-given. God has a design and destiny for this life, this baby and He chose you, beautiful you to be this person’s mother. God doesn’t make mistakes, He chose you and this baby is not a mistake. With the Lord Jesus, this is possible. You can do this. Choose life. I didn’t and I can never go back and choose again. With abortion no one wins. You are stronger and more able than you know. This crisis is but one moment on the timeline of life. The crisis will pass and will either symbolize a beautiful gift to love and cherish or empty arms and a heart broken with regret and sorrow.

Would you join me in praying for all facing a plus sign to see life in the womb for the beautiful miracle that it is, fully God ordained and full of destiny and purpose. And would you pray for the hearts of those hoping and waiting for God’s perfect plan.

Father, I pray for every person taking a pregnancy test today. Lord, would you infuse them with hope and courage. Lord, I pray that someone considering abortion would read this today and choose life. May your truth be louder than fear. And for those once again disappointed, hoping and waiting for a child, would you encourage them as well and bring peace to their hearts as they wait on your perfect plan to unfold. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Mingling with Idols

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“But they mingled with the [idolatrous] nations and learned their ways, and served their idols, which became a [dreadful] snare to them.” Psalm 106:35

Father, forgive us for our complacency and acceptance of what our culture says is normal and common. Father, may our thoughts and measure of what is true, right and good line up with the standards of your Holy Word.  Help us rightly divide Your truth from what is false and stand up for Your truth.  In Jesus’ Name.

My daughter and I were watching a popular talent show on the television the other day.  Some of the acts were funny, others were inspiring. Seeing the gifts and talents the Lord has given others is wonderful. We are all uniquely and divinely created for His purpose and glory. 

One act was a group of talented male dancers from another country. The act was impressive as these well synced young men danced in choreographed harmony. The audience and judges were taken by surprise when all these men changed shoes at one point and put on gold high heels.  Yes, men in gold high heels. The judges and audience applauded the shock factor of their costume change.

My eleven-year-old daughter leaned over to me in a factual voice and said, “This is the world we live in.”

She is right. This is the world we live in. However, it doesn’t mean we are of this world nor have to accept the standards the world sets for us.

The standards around the world for right and wrong, what is legal and illegal are varying.  God’s Word never varies and His standards never change. 

Culture attempts to dictate to us what is acceptable and true, but culture isn’t the measuring stick.

God warned the Israelites not to mingle with the idolatrous nations and learn their ways and serve their idols because these ways would become a snare to them. It is no different today. Sex before marriage and living as married but not is commonplace. Homosexuality is more and more commonplace and accepted. The transgender issue.  Abortion.  

There are Christians who are blind and numb to the truth of God’s ways. These sins place self above God. No condemning here, just stating truth. My heart is to see people free from all bondage, whatever form it takes. God says my people perish for lack of knowledge. What is seen as commonplace in culture can be sin in the eyes of God. Our culture continually denies and pushes the line. Accepting sin never frees or helps anyone, it only pushes them further into bondage. Sin hinders relationship with God and left unchecked leads to spiritual death.  

In cultures and countries around the world, abortion is not only accepted but celebrated. In China, abortion is considered “normal” and we have heard several times from different people from China, “Abortion is just what we do.”

Callousness comes from cultural conditioning until what was once unthinkable becomes a way of life. Cultural change in standards doesn’t happen as fast as boys changing into gold high heeled shoes off the stage. If it did, we would be shocked and even perhaps reject it. Instead, it happens incrementally until little by little it becomes normal. Cultural decline happens one compromise at a time until we look back and think, “How did we get here?”

May we be diligent in keeping our eyes on the truth of God’s Word so we are not deceived. May we teach our children the truth of God’s Word, His ways and standards. Otherwise, the world around us will imprint its own system of values and measurements of right and wrong, good and evil on our hearts. We must not lose sight of what is true, good and right—a standard only set by the truth of God’s Word, which is not negotiable.

If we just acquiesce to accepting “This is the world we live in”, then we should not be surprised or shocked by whatever comes out from behind the curtain onto the stage of life. We are called to be in this world but not of this world.  I pray that we would live according to God’s ways and not be caught in the snares of the idols of this world. It is easy to trip in gold high-heeled shoes, just sayin’.

 

 

Is Abortion Compassionate?

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“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

There is a belief that “pro-lifers” do not care about children after they are born but rather they just do not want women to have the choice of abortion. This stance may coexist with an opinion that it is more compassionate for a woman to have an abortion than for a child to grow up in foster care, abandoned, in poverty, drug-exposed, abused or raised by someone who had no business being a parent. In this view, abortion is the more compassionate choice. Curious, I did a little reading on the pro-choice side to increase understanding of this viewpoint. 

In an article entitled, “Argument for Abortion: A Q & A with Rebecca Todd Peters”, the author writes:

A reproductive-justice framework highlights the difficulties women face when they do have children, raising those children in a country that tolerates obscene levels of poverty, obscene levels of racism and damage to vulnerable children and families. 

She further says:

Having a child, I argue, is a larger moral decision than having an abortion, because the moral requirements of motherhood are enormous.

Even writing those words breaks my heart. This viewpoint neglects vital facts. One is our Creator God who has designed each person and formed them together in the womb and knew each of their days before they were even born.  (Psalm 139)

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. Psalm 139: 13-16

Also, each person is uniquely created by God for a divine and specific purpose, fashioned together with His perfect design. Abortion squelches a life meant for divine purpose and design. It snuffs the life out of a person who had a life to live. Sixty-million lives lost this year in the world through abortion. Children who will never grow to live out their full God-given destiny and purpose. 

In addition, the viewpoint expressed by this author and others also dismisses individually responsibility for being a parent and takes God completely out of the picture.  How many grown men and women living and active today as productive and life-giving members of society have come from less than desirable beginnings? All people are precious and deserving of life no matter where they are or where they come from. 

Thirdly, this viewpoint discounts the devasting results of abortion on an individual, families and society as a whole. Abortion steals and destroys a mother and father’s heart. No wonder there are so many in our culture and world unable to parent effectively and nurture the way the Lord intended. Our mother’s and father’s hearts have been destroyed in the name of choice. And children around the world are suffering for it. But to continue the cycle by validating the vicious culprit that had much to do with the poverty of spirit to begin with makes as much sense as drinking poison to try to cure a different poison ingested. Only further harm results and lives are devasted in the process. 

For the past five years, I have served at fifteen Deeper Still retreats. Fifteen retreats, where I have seen 100’s of women and men who have had an abortion. These women and men come broken, hurting, damaged, and desperate for healing. Abortion hurts women and men. It steals, kills and destroys. There is nothing life-giving in it. It is only through the blood of Jesus and His restoration and healing power that these lives are transformed and healed.  And then these men and women rise up to speak the truth and the positive cycle can advance. 

We must continue to speak the truth and counter the darkness. Children are precious and every child deserves to be in a loving home, but if that cannot be the case for everyone, is destroying the life before birth the answer? Is that compassionate?  And is it compassionate for the mothers and fathers who make that choice?  Is our God able to rescue and restore lives that are hurting and broken?  Is He not God? Who are we to decide which lives are worthy of living and which are not? There is a greater mission here than some would care to acknowledge. It is worthy of the cost. These children lost to abortion are worth the fight and God is bigger. He is God and He is able. He is compassion. He is life. He is love.

Father, we pray for those who have been blinded into believing that abortion is compassionate. Lord, I pray for eyes to be open to your truth about life and who you are as the Creator and Giver of life. Father, I pray for those thinking about abortion this minute to be awakened to the truth of who you are and how you will make a way for them and their child to live if they just reach out their hands to you. Lord, we also pray for every child that is being born into less than desirable circumstances. Would you rescue your sweet ones and protect them from the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy. May your truth that you have come to bring life shed hope on the hopeless, lost and broken. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

If you have had an abortion, there is healing. Go to www.godeeperstill.org for more information on our retreats.

Tragedy in Ireland

thousands in a crowd as they celebrate the news that they now have the freedom to have abortions. (1)

“Jesus said ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’” Luke 23:34

Father, forgive those who just voted to repeal the ban on abortion in Ireland.  They know not what they do.  Lord, we pray for an awaking in the people in Ireland and around the world to the truth of abortion and the darkness to be exposed.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Miles of air separated us from the ground below as we sped across the country in flight.  The beauty of being in the air is that for a moment, reality seems to suspend and time stands still.  For a moment everything in our world has to wait.  But somewhere beneath all that air, life is happening with all its highs and lows, joys and sorrows, light and darkness.

A newspaper article in the back of the plane jarred me back into reality with the headline, “Quiet Revolution ends Ireland’s abortion ban”.  The title is accompanied by a picture equally as heartbreaking—smiles of hundreds to thousands in a crowd as they celebrate the news that they now have the freedom to have abortions.  In the middle of the crowd, a father smiling with delight holds up his about eleven-year-old daughter (the same age as my daughter) and this girl too is raising her hand in victory celebrating the outcome of legal abortion in Ireland. She has no idea her merriment in this moment holds misery later. 

The irony (if that was even adequate to describe the contrast) was that we had just left a retreat for ministering healing to those who have been wounded by the pain of abortion.  If all those people smiling in the crowd pictured in the newspaper had seen what we just encountered, if they knew the devastation and agony of abortion, would they still be rejoicing? 

As one who ministers to those with abortion-wounded hearts, I can tell you the other side of abortion is void of celebration.  There are no victory cries, smiles, or hurrahs.  The other side is laden with sadness, regret, heartache, guilt, and shame.  If they only knew.  Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.  Have mercy on Ireland, O Lord.  Unfortunately, in time, they will know.  In time, those shouts of praise will turn to sobs of sorrow—anguish so deep it seems even too hard for our God to heal.

Thankfully nothing is too difficult for our God and He can and does heal the broken-hearted.  Ireland is about to embark on a journey into darkness for its people, a darkness that once released is relentless and not easily escaped.  How I wish Deeper Still wasn’t needed in Ireland or anywhere in the world. But even if there were a miracle and abortion ended in our lifetime (which could happen, anything is possible-YES and AMEN!), as of right now, there are millions upon millions who have suffered from abortion, who have an abortion-wounded heart right now.  All in need of healing (whether they are aware of it or not—there is always deeper with Jesus).  My friends, that alone is heartbreaking.  All those millions living in a place less than Jesus has for them.  Many of them living in quiet shame, regret, and guilt—fearing anyone ever knowing the truth, fearing reality. 

Many with abortion wounded hearts are living in an airplane state—if I just stay here, high above my reality, then maybe everything will be fine on the ground.  My reality can be suspended as I live in an alternate reality avoiding what is happening far below in the deep places of my heart.  However, eventually, truth roars on the runway of our hearts often in unexpected, subconscious or shrouded ways.  We search for reasons we act the way we do or have the relationship issues we have or insecurities we face and the “quiet revolution” in our souls ends as we cannot stand to remain the same.  Suddenly facing the pain is the only way to escape the pain.  

The “Quiet Revolution” in Ireland may have ended the ban of abortion there, but there is another quiet torment that is about to begin.  They have no idea the trade they made.  May the next revolution not be so quiet as truth about life is declared and may the silence of the pain of abortion end.

Feeling Unworthy in the Upper Room {Repost}

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“And he arose and came to his father.  But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.  And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet…for this my son was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found.  And they began to be merry.”  Luke 15: 20-21

 Above the library in the church was a quaint meeting room like an after-thought finishing of an attic–an upper room.   The ceiling angled to a point, stretching as if it begged to reach heaven.  It felt comfortable and safe.  Every Sunday, our Sunday School class would meet there.  An elder couple led the group of couples ranging in age from early 20’s just married to mid-thirties with kids.  I was in the early 20’s group and had recently given my life to Jesus.  Feelings of unworthiness haunted me in spite of the comfortable and safe upper room.  “What if they knew?” My thoughts tormented me.

Then one day I couldn’t take anymore.  I don’t remember the question but my heart was pounding like if I didn’t answer it would burst out of my chest.  In between sobs, my words cascaded like a waterfall dammed up and then let loose.  Darkness clouded my vision, my sight blurry from tears and eyes partly shut.  It was as if part of me rationalized if I can’t see them, they won’t see me.  Maybe they won’t truly see me.

All I could say is:

Jesus has saved me from so much.  I’m not the same person I once was.  I’m ashamed of who I was and I fear you wouldn’t like me if you knew what I have done.  I don’t feel worthy to be in this class or with all you wonderful people.  You all seem like you have known Jesus forever.   I’m afraid I’m not good enough to be here.

After exposing my heart and fears to this group of about 20 young married couples, I’m not sure what I expected.  Perhaps I was looking for a “Me too” or  “I understand.  I’ve been where you are and you are not alone.”  I’m not sure they knew how to respond to all that raw pent up emotion breaking loose.  Then the bell rang and I sat, slightly unsure of my next move.   Maybe I was alone.   Then one girl responded.  She was a new friend.  I didn’t really have Christian friends yet, but she was becoming a friend.  She responded— the only one.

 She walked up to my chair.  It was a moment forever etched in my mind.  Instead of running from my need, she embraced it.  Her words were ones of invitation.  She wanted to know me.  She wasn’t afraid of my brokenness.  She saw me, truly saw me and decided I was worth knowing.  Isn’t that the longing of every human heart–for someone to decide you are worth knowing? And we are still close friends today, nearly 19 years after that initial invitation in the upper room.

Feelings of unworthiness are common for men and women who have experienced abortion.  Feelings of being less-than cause those with abortion-wounded hearts to choose less-than.

My friend knew something I didn’t know at that point in my life—Jesus didn’t see me as less-than

 Jesus doesn’t see me as less-than.  Jesus sees those with abortion-wounded hearts as in need of a healer.  He doesn’t run from the need.  In contrary, He embraces the need.  He embraces you.  He invites you.  He isn’t afraid of your brokenness.  He truly sees you and decided a long time ago you are worth knowing.  You are not alone.  You are never alone and never have been alone.  Your healer delights in you and desires a close friendship with you.  Jesus is just waiting for you to respond to the invitation in the upper room.

If you have had an abortion and have struggled with feelings of unworthiness or feeling less-than, you can go to www.godeeperstill.org to find out how to register for a retreat.  This is your invitation from the One who responds to your every need.

Lord Father, we pray for those who feel unworthy due to the sin of abortion to find healing, freedom and truth.  Lord, thank you that you never run from our need but instead, you run to us and embrace our need.  Lord, we pray for those with abortion-wounded hearts to rise and come to you and receive their robe of righteousness and ring of worthiness in the Son.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

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Stepping into the River {Guest post}

“For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatever disease he had.” John 5: 4

Today’s post was partially written and inspired by Deeper Still Team member, Lindsey Martin. 

During a recent prayer meeting for Deeper Still, the Lord brought to my mind a picture for Deeper Still. The picture was of a raging river, with people standing on both sides. One side had several people standing, gazing across the river with no emotion, just numb. There were several men there.

On the other side of the river, there were team members, softly smiling, calling out to the people on the other side and encouraging them.  Gentle calls of courage echoed telling them not to be afraid.  The team stood with arms open and up, inviting those of the other side to step in.

The Lord showed me the gap between pain and healing is separated by the river. Freedom is on the other side of that river, but it appears scary and impossible to cross. Their eyes are skewed by pain, shame, guilt – and all they see is a frightening raging river and fear strips tenacity. BUT the Lord says that the river is the Living Water, Jesus Christ.  

The Deeper Still leaders and volunteers cheer them on, encouraging them to come and step in. And as they step in. and walk through the river (meeting Christ at the retreat), they are refreshed, healed, renewed and washed clean…stepping into freedom on the other side of the river. On this side, they look back and the river is no longer raging and formidable, instead, it is now calm and inviting.  The river is a place to find rest and refreshment while grace grows deep roots. He will calm the storm, call them deeper, and deliver them from their pain.  ~Lindsey Marin

In John 5:4, it says that an angel came down and “troubled the water”.  The Greek word for “troubled” in this passage is tarasso and it means, “to stir up”.  When the Lord is about to do a healing, He stirs up something inside of us.  He creates “trouble” to invoke in us a deeper desire for healing, a healing that can only come from the Living Water.  

The pool mentioned above wasn’t always stirring.  I believe the Lord creates specific opportunities for healing, He stirs the waters when the time is right and we just need to be willing and ready to step in.  The troublesome water may appear risky, but we can know that when our Lord stirs in our hearts, He is gentle and kind. He will lead us into the water safely.  And on the other side, there truly is a new level of freedom and deliverance.  Don’t be afraid.  Weeping may endure for the night, but joy truly does come in the morning as you are made whole.

Father, thank you for stirring the waters.  Lord we pray for each and every Deeper Still participant across the globe to step into your healing waters and find freedom, healing and deliverance.  Lord, we stand against fear and every other hindrance to healing.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

To See and Be Seen

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“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

The sun set in the distance. The warm spring air shifted as the sun said its goodbyes and the night sky rose.  Two friends met outside exchanging words while light faded into the night.  One of these friends expressed her heart—in it a cry or a plea from the depths—a desperation to be seen. 

Isn’t this the longing of all human hearts—to be truly seen, to be truly known. Not known for what they do.  Not known for their status or occupation or position, but to be just known—personally and intimately.  What their favorite color is, favorite movie or song.  If they like ketchup or mayonnaise, the warm weather or cold.  What makes their hearts dance and sing and what makes them cry. How they have been hurt or are still being hurt and to know that someone cares and sees and wants to know them.  There is no greater gift than to give the gift of knowing another.

The other side of this knowing comes with risk.  The risk is if I let another in, will they accept me?  Will they love me?  Is who I am enough?  Without veil, without cover. With no applause, no accolades, no accomplishment.  Will I be loved and accepted for just being me?  For me, that would mean, will you love me—Sue—whose favorite color is blue, whose favorite movie is Pride and Prejudice, who loves to spend time with my family, taking walks, running with friends, and basking in the warmth of the sun on a clear day.   One of my joys is cuddling with my husband, feeling the warmth of his strength as we embrace.  My children make my heart sing and hurting people wreck me.  The Lord’s goodness undoes me and I long to see His people set free. 

In fear of being known or risking knowing others, we self-protect.  This is an overlooked sin that isn’t preached about on Sunday morning.  We don’t let others too close nor do we get too close to others.  As a result, the human condition is in dire straits.  Our hearts long to be known but at the same time, we fear the risk is too great.  We suffer from the pretense of it all while longing for more.  But what if we risked?  What if we threw caution to the wind and risked being known or risked knowing others.  What could happen in our churches, in our communities if we stepped outside of our comforts and took a step of faith across the aisle or across the street into the life of another to know them, truly know them?  I ask because I truly wonder and need to be better at this as well.  It would change our churches, our communities and possibly eventually our world. 

Another one of my favorite movies is the live motion picture Cinderella (2015).  There is a line from this movie that says:

“Was who she was, who she really was, really enough?  This is perhaps the greatest risk any of us will ever take:  To be seen as we truly are. “  Cinderella (2015) 

This is the question on the heart of mankind.  Am I enough?

Cinderella fell in love with the prince.   Although she loved the prince, inside she feared she really wasn’t enough.  But the prince loved her just as she was.  She was enough.

You have a Prince who loves you as you are…dirt, rags and all, who is crazy in love with you.  He loves you just because you are you.  He already knows your favorite color and what you like to do on a rainy day.  He knows your joys and your sadness.  There is nothing to fear—He loves perfectly.  You are enough. 

It is a seemingly hard task or tall order to be as Jesus and love as He does, a Prince who sees us just as we are and loves us perfectly in that.  What he actually sees is who He created us to be and He sees us according to our destiny. He sees us with unveiled faces as we are transformed into His image from glory to glory. What a worthy challenge and charge to love as He does and see people and treat them as He does—according to their royal destiny and His glory yet to come.  

People should not be defined by their past or even present.  There is much more to the story.  May we be free to love and see people for who they are and be courageous enough to let others see us, truly see us.  To truly know and be known is one of the greatest gifts.

Father, thank you for knowing me– truly knowing me, in every way, and loving me. Forgive me for ways I have self-protected and hid from others.  Help me to love others like you do and see them and know them. Help me see myself and others with an unveiled face as you transform us into Your image from glory to glory.  Also, help me to be willing to let others know me and enter into relationships with others. Help me truly take off the veil that separates me from you and others.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

 

God Sees You

God SEes You (1)

“Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-The-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘ Have I also here seen Him who sees me?’”  Genesis 16:13

One of the names of God in the Bible is El Roi.  This name is introduced by a woman most would have counted as disqualified to give a name to God.  First, she was a woman—not a positive back in the Bible times. She was a maid.  Strike two.  She became a concubine—not a position with strong influence normally.  Then was treated harshly by her master’s wife and fled while pregnant with her master’s child.  Her name was Hagar, the mother of the son of Abraham called Ishmael.  (The Bible is anything but boring! This sounds like it could be a reality TV show called The Real Wives of Bible Times!)

Her story is tragic.  You can read more about it in Genesis 16.  Can you imagine her pain?  Did anyone really see her up to that point?  Her identity and labels had been: maid, concubine, and a way for Abraham and Sarah to have a baby. Used and abused.  No one really saw her…no one saw who she was as a person—Hagar. No one but El Roi—the God who sees. 

Hagar was more than a maid, concubine, or even the mother of Abraham’s son. She was a daughter, God’s daughter.  And you don’t mess with Daddy’s little girl.

El Roi sees you.   He sees your pain.  He sees your loneliness.  He sees you just as you are and He loves you just as you are…You are His little girl or boy.

Perhaps today you are wondering if anyone sees you.  Maybe labels have been placed on you. Post-abortive, abused, rejected, abandoned.  Perhaps you have been mistreated and abused.  Your identity is not your past or mistakes you made.  It is also not your successes or positions you hold.  Labels can also come in the forms positives or position:  Pastor, intercessor, leader, teacher, professional, driven, talented, etc.  None of these labels define you.   Your identity is simply…daughter or son of the Most- High God.  Your identity is solely what Hagar discovered…that God saw her as His daughter, His beloved.  You are His beloved daughter and He is your loving Father.

Father, may we tear down the labels we have placed on ourselves or that others have placed on us.  Lord God, El Roi, thank you that you see us just as we are, your beloved daughter or son.  May our identity rest completely in that truth and all other labels are demolished.  Thank you that we don’t have to fear being seen by you, our loving Father.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

 

Freedom From Shame Put on You

The blood of Jesus defeated the power of shame, all shame, whether self-inflicted or outwardly induced.

“My dishonor is continually before me, and the shame of my face has covered me, because of the voice of him who reproaches and reviles, because of the enemy and the avenger.” Psalm 44: 15-16

Shame and abortion often are tied together until revelation of the cross of Christ breaking the power of shame is unveiled and deeply rooted.  The living Word of God cuts through the tie shame holds on identity.  And once cut and truth is rooted deep, shame has no more hold.  This is true not only for abortion but any sin or strongholds strongly tied to identity.

Sin and shame co-exist well together in a dysfunctional way.  Jesus broke the power of both. 

What is often overlooked is the shame not caused by a personal sin, but rather of those who sinned against you or shame that was “put on” you by others.  The common expression “Shame on you” is a prime example of how people place a garment on shame unwittingly on others.   These three little words contain immense weight. 

Often times these people are even placing this garment of shame on ones they love and care for, unknowing the toxic implications of their words. 

This shame can lay dormant masking as insecurity.  It can cause those affected to hide and self-protect, unwilling or unable to fully enter into relationships and community.  We can be hiding as a result of the cloak covering and binding us.

The Lord revealed this to me as I have been walking through new revelations of shame I was unaware of due to words and actions others placed on me in childhood.  It was not a result of a sin I committed.  Words have power.  Actions have power.  Shame has power.  But there is a power greater.  The blood of Jesus defeated the power of shame, all shame, whether self-inflicted or outwardly induced.

The Psalmist in Psalm 44: 15-16 experienced shame due to those in close proximity inflicting dishonor on him.  This shame hides in the shadows and is often overlooked.  The Lord wants to expose and expel all shame.  

Whether you have had an abortion or have another sin in your life causing shame to latch onto your identity, or if there is shame lingering due to the sins of others against you, there is good news for you!  Jesus broke the power of all shame!  The enemy of our soul shames.  His goal is to go after identity.  If He can convince you of how unworthy you are and tie shame to your feet, He knows He has you bound and you won’t move far. 

We can take off the garment of shame and lay it at the foot of the cross. This action frees us to accept who God says we are, His beloved daughter or son, the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  No one can take that identity from us.  It is our true identity. 

Father, thank you for sending Jesus to break the power of shame, whether self-inflicted or placed on us by others.  Thank you, Lord, for the cross of Jesus Christ that expels shame.  Help us lay down our garment of shame placed on us by the enemy or others and pick up our true garment of praise and righteousness, fully loved as a daughter/son of our Heavenly Father. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I Have a Secret to Keep

birds flying with quote

 

“But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  1 John 1:7

 All three of my children know about my abortion. The Lord led me on three different occasions to share my story with them.  At some point, I may write about those experiences.  But for now, I will say each of them received the news with showers of grace and love.  However, one of them asked me a question poignant with power, “Does this mean I now have a secret to keep?” 

Thankful he revealed this thought in his little heart, I immediately refuted his fear.

“No, my son.  I don’t want you to have a secret to keep.  In fact, this isn’t a secret at all.  My mission is to tell my story so others can make a better choice than I made or find healing and hope if they had also had an abortion.  This isn’t a secret.   You probably don’t need to go tell all your friends right now about it, but if the Holy Spirit leads you to share it, I want you to know you have freedom to share.  This is not a secret.”

A sigh of relief came over him knowing he didn’t have a secret to keep.  In the words of Aunt Mae from the movie The Amazing Spiderman, “Secrets have a cost.  They are not for free.”  Secrets are exhausting, draining and down-right depressing.  I would never want to burden my son with a secret. 

However, most with abortion in their past, do hold onto keeping this secret at whatever the cost.  Secrecy surrounds abortion and can latch onto your identity clutching on for dear life.  It was interesting to me that my twelve-year-old son inherently knew that if he had to keep a secret, he would be robbed of something. Secrets have a cost.  They are never for free and in his twelve-year-old mind, he knew this truth. 

It is freeing to live fully in the light unhindered by the fear of secrets being discovered.  Living in the light of truth is a beautiful way to live—knowing we are forgiven and loved and cleansed by the blood of Jesus from all sin.  

Father, thank you for the gift of freedom.  Thank you that we can live fully in the light of your grace and truth, fully hidden and protected by you even when we feel completely exposed.  Lord, help us to live in the light in community with one another, covered in your love. Help us, your beloved,  to come out of hiding. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.