Christ

All posts tagged Christ

Honoring God Through Unhappy Halloweens

Published November 1, 2017 by Dawn

For all the years growing up that I can remember, we didn’t celebrate Halloween. Somewhere in the Bible, something convinced my parents it was not honoring to God, so we never dressed up, never went trick-or-treating and never fit in on October 31st. Probably, there are a ton of Christian parents today who can relate to this. They have a similar story. Or, they did get to dress up, but were firmly convinced by mom and dad that “there is a good Halloween and bad Halloween … we are celebrating the good one.” They got to go knock on doors, smile cheesy and go to bed high on sugar.

Three weeks after becoming a mother, I dressed my daughter in the cutest bear costume and trudged through snow to the neighbor’s door for a kit-kat just so we could say she had a “first Halloween.” For several years afterward, we celebrated just like everyone else and my kids, for sure, were the cutest kids on the block. Then it happened: I began to study various literatures about the pagan ties to the holiday, the occult’s worship of this holiday in particular, and all the while 1 Thessalonians 5:22 resounded, “Abstain from all appearances of evil.”

You might have just rolled your eyes, but bear with me. I’ve read most everything that’s been written about Halloween. I’ve read the mommy blogs, where a well-meaning and genuine mother gives a heart-felt dissertation on why Halloween can be a fun outreach for the family, a moment to “be the light” in the darkness. I’ve read the Satanist’s giddy, mocking quip: “I’m so happy Christians let their children worship Satan one day a year.” I’ve read them both and I was ready to let this day go by without saying a word. As for me and my house, we call in Chinese and Netflix with the porch-light off. No big deal.

This year, I wanted to test the theory: Christians can use this holiday to reach the masses of unchurched people and people will come to Christ through our efforts.

Now, because handing out tracks is unscientific, in that I cannot accurately measure the amount of people who come to Christ through my efforts, I chose not to go that route. Likewise, how can I measure one’s acceptance of Christ by merely smiling and passing out candy? If we don’t talk about Jesus while they are with me, how will I ever know if my efforts to “share Christ” in such a way actually brought them to the foot of the cross? Lacking any other avenue of measurable means, I put a sign up on my front gate with the facts: No candy, but we have Jesus! Want Jesus? Knock! The door will be opened.

Yes, I did this. In the town my kids go to school in.

No one knocked.

No one chose to come to Christ when it was all I offered.

If I would have had a huge bowl of candy, I would have entertained the masses of strangers all over town but would any of them come to know Jesus … genuinely know Jesus, through my “evangelism outreach”? Would they dig any deeper than the bottom of their pillow case after a long walk home, to get to know my King? And all the while, I might have been showing my kids the opposite of what I preach:

  • That we don’t have to come out from among them and be separate.
  • That fear can be fun and exhilarating as long as they know that mommy is near.
  • That Satan is just a Halloween ghoul and witches are just people with green make-up on; the occult is nothing but a sham and Halloween fun.
  • That there is a good side to evil and everyone can partake because Jesus would never want us to feel left out.

Maybe this is just me rambling, but let me do so for a sec. The scripture clearly tells us that no one can even come to God unless the Spirit of God compels them to (John 6:44). Do I believe that all of these efforts to reach people are fruitless? No, not exactly. I believe God reaches people through any means necessary, and He works all things in conformity to His will. He can use even our sins and foolishness to draw people to Him because His purpose is unwavering even if we do things we shouldn’t. But are we honoring Him?

Does this matter to you like it matters to me? My heart broke the first time I had to explain to my kids that we would no longer be celebrating Halloween. No more huge buckets of candy, no parties, no costumes. This holiday fell off our calendar, so to speak. Yes, they have endured the pain of not partaking in something that brings a lot of joy to a ton of other kiddos. But isn’t this the reality of Christianity and sin in general? Don’t we want our kids to abstain from the things that dishonor God, even if the whole world is doing them? Then why do we make exceptions for this one holiday? Satan mocks God every year because of the millions of Christians who have chosen to justify their involvement in a holiday that glorifies darkness.

“I just want to honor God to the best of my ability,” I told them, through tears.

Here’s the truth, church: people will come to Christ as God compels them. That’s scriptural. God can use any means necessary, but He doesn’t need us in any way to do so. Be His hands and feet, but you don’t have to be so desperate to reach people that you worship at pagan altars next to the lost. Jesus didn’t do that. Did he eat with “sinners?” Sure. Did he engage in their sin so they didn’t shun him? Never. He was wholly set apart and different, and that’s probably why they were so drawn to him. He was weird and different, but full of love at the same time. Weren’t we called to be Christ-like?

Be Christ-like.

And, know that when you choose to be Christ-like, you will be treated as he was. Persecuted. Hated. The world will not accept you because it did not accept him (john 15:18). Even the church will mock and disdain you, my friend. Still, I encourage you to be Christ-like. The world will notice that you have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Not only, but your actions will please your Heavenly Father, which is worth more than the accolades any man can give. Be at peace!

 

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Yes, You Can Know God

Published October 11, 2017 by Dawn

It is amazing that across the eons of time, God has remained enshrouded in mystery and so incalculable to the human race. We dare not attempt to explain or define Him, because our finite understanding can never do justice to the God of the universe. There is so much about Him that doesn’t make sense in our limited understanding and so many facets of His nature and personality that we have yet to see even a glimpse of. The only thing we can say with absolute surety is that we will never understand God in all of His fullness, and even the things we do know about Him, we know pensively without absolution. God is so much more than we can ever imagine.

I found myself in speechless awe the other day as I was reading the book of John because a scripture I have read so many times finally came to light upon me with a clarity that stunned and enraptured me. Jesus said in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” I read it and went on to the next verse and the next until I read again in John 12:45, “The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.” Jesus continued further on, “If you really know me, you will know my Father as well” (John 14:7) … anyone who has seen me has seen the Father … The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father living in me, who is doing his work” (John 14:9-10).

Suddenly, I realized what it was Christ was getting at: we can begin to understand the nature of God by knowing the nature of Christ.

Y’all!

There are many religions that acquiesce to believe that Jesus was a great man, a prophet and a prolific teacher. But not Christianity. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus is the son of God, the incarnation of God in the flesh. I have professed this faith so many times, but it JUST NOW dawned on me: God is not unlike Christ. He is no better or worse than Christ. He is Christ. All the attributes that humanity witnessed in Christ belong to God, our Heavenly Father. He came to us to show us something of Himself, and although we know we do not comprehend even the smallest smidge of who God is in His fullness, we can know what He chose to reveal to us through our fellowship with the Word of God made flesh among us.

I know … you’re probably wondering how I could have read the Bible so many times and missed this truth. I have no idea. I just know that for the first time in my life, I finally see how God can be merciful and just, brutally honest but still loving, forgiving but confrontational too. Jesus was all of these things, and he told us, “For I do not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say” (John 12:49-50).

When Jesus drove money-changers out of the temple, we see that within God’s character is an element of righteous indignation. His house was being used flippantly for petty, worldly things. He had a standard for His temple and guarded it jealously. Scripture calls it “zeal.” God is full of zeal for His righteous standards, then.

When Jesus showed kindness to a woman caught in adultery, we can clearly see that God is kind toward the humiliated, weary soul. Christ did not affirm her in her sin, but He did not condemn and chastise either. His holiness alone was enough to convince her of her wickedness. Likewise, we know that God will defend the weak and miserable against the proud outrage of merciless humanity, but He will never stand in defense of sin, even when he stands in defense of a sinner. “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

When we read of Jesus waiting after knowing Lazarus was sick, we find that God is patient when proving something of Himself to stubborn unbelievers. We also see a brokenness in Christ over having to use such a drastic tragedy to illuminate people’s minds and hearts with truth. Jesus did not enjoy waiting and did not rejoice in the pain it brought to Lazarus’ family and friends. On the contrary, he cried with them. God loves us through the trying times, and even empathizes with us when His purposes momentarily cause us grief and pain.

When Jesus slept soundly in the bottom of a boat while men and women around him gawked in fear at the raging sea, we find our God is never troubled by the storms of life, no matter how fierce they seem. He does not stir in anticipation, but responds only to the heart-cry of His fearful sheep. Peter yelled, “Master, carest not thou that we perish?” Jesus immediately woke and calmed the storm. He didn’t pay attention to the wind and waves, but he couldn’t ignore the turbulence in Peter’s chilling cries. Our God also does not waver when chaos comes. He remains steadfast and immovable. He is only ever moved by one thing: the cries of His children. When we scream out in agony, fear or disbelief, God immediately responds because we have touched His heartstrings with the faith of a child. We don’t know what we expect of Him, we just know that He is where our hope lies.

I could go on, friend, talking about all the miracles and acts of love wherein Jesus showed us the Great Liberator, Provider, Healer, and Friend, but you can read for yourself and find more about the character of God. One event urges me forward to the most pivotal moment in all humanity: Christ died for us.

Can you even imagine the love of God? Can you imagine the seriousness of sin? Can you imagine the desperation of our Creator to be with us? Christ died for us.

Our God, full of repugnance at the thought of sin destroying His Beloved, came down and lived this life. Can you imagine? Who doesn’t, at some point, feel the anguish of living? The destitution, suffering, pain and rejection? God faced it all because in His wisdom, He knew we wouldn’t bring ourselves to His feet if we thought He couldn’t relate. He faced it because He wanted to fully understand our humanity under the spell of Satan. He faced it because He wanted the devil to know defeat at every angle. God, full of love and compassion for our fallen state, determined to have us again for all time and began just where we begin: born into a broken world. He came with no majesty, no physical appeal. He was cloaked in the most ordinary and unattractive way. He was true to Himself and therefore despised and rejected. And then, He did it. He allowed Himself, the Creator of all things, to be spit upon, beaten, shattered and torn – nailed to a cross in the utmost of human agony – God created the plan and submitted to all that Hell’s fury could aim at Him. All because He loved us.

His friends, tormented for days, felt the anguish of loss and were not comforted. Three days. Then, in unknown limitless power, Jesus rose. God Incarnate rose up from under the crushing weight of death that no man can defeat. God prevailed! For us!

Do you see it? How much God hates sin? How much He adores us? Oh, what Love! While there are many facets of God – many attributes of His character and nature – we finally must admit, Beloved, that in all that God is, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). In His justice, He is love. In His discipline, He is love. In His mercy, Love. In His grace, Love. In His righteousness, Love. In His fullness, God is love. In every way that God operates, He continually shows us the many ways He loves us. Too much to give up on us, too much to leave us in our sin, too much to abandon us. Everything He says and everything He does communicates His love for us. Sometimes, it’s tough love and sometimes, it’s a sweet, sweet salve. Always, it’s God’s love.

Us Against the World

Published May 17, 2017 by Dawn

There was them, and there was me. We were all doing the same thing from different ends of the hall, but they all stood in a large group at the other end, engaging in conversation and warding off delinquents by their size and presence. I stood alone at the my end, fending off the masses alone. No one ventured down to my end of the hall. They kept to their end and left me to mine. The students, of course, knew my end was the weaker one. They were scheming shenanigans and I was the softy letting them pass because I wanted them to have their last hoorah. I loudly ushered them back into their classes, enforced sternly where a breech of authority could be plainly seen, but otherwise slowly turned from their fun so they could have it. At the other end of the hallway, there was a reunion of teachers. They all seemed to be having a good time, providing a comedic escape for the haggard few enforcing authority down there. I reflected to myself: isn’t this how it’s always been? The Christian life, symbolized.

I’m a loner. Probably not by choice at first, but now I relish it. I used to relish people and activities, but years of isolation and loneliness have turned me from extrovert to introvert and I have finally just embraced it. The truth is, I don’t belong in most groups because there’s too much that goes on that I disdain. I don’t “get” most jokes because my humor is decently nonexistent. What the world finds funny, I abhor. I have a fresh dislike for gossip, having been the subject of a very painful strain lately. I think most opinions are ridiculous, having their root in human logic rather than the Word of God. This is me, as symbolized here, coming out from among them and being separate. I don’t think I chose this. I just read the Bible until it became the only truth I care about and it seems that this isolation and loneliness is a direct result of that one pursuit: the wisdom and knowledge of God.

“Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Cor. 1:20). Sadly, the church is trying to engage this present culture with their own smoke and mirrors. We try to engage the godless with the very things that offend the Holy Spirit, throwing off the cloak of righteousness that separates us in favor of anything we can find in the costume closet that makes the lost look at us with oooohs and ahhhhs. We might get their attention at first, but then we adopt their ways and call it “Christianity.” In fact, we are being less Christ-like and more like the devil every day. The world cannot distinguish us because we would rather fit in – make it into that gaggle at the end of the hallway – then stand alone.

I’m not judging. I know it’s painful to be the odd man out. I lived it for many years before I finally managed to silence the still small voice inside long enough to run into the world and taste it’s wild fruit. It’s intoxicating. Mezmerizing. Death to the man or woman of God inside. So I went back into the Word, and necessarily, farther from being able to “hang” with most of the people in my life because we just aren’t on the same page. The things most people revel in, I find repulsive. This is not to imply that I am perfect. I am not. But when the Holy Spirit is your most constant companion, your discernment for what pleases God is awakened and you struggle to abide by things you once found “normal human behavior.” You desire less of the world and more of heaven in your daily life.

It’ll happen, friend, if you aren’t careful. Get a little too reckless with your time and you will find that the more you give to God, the less you will like the world around you. The less you will fit in. The more you will fight the enemy because people will dislike you simply because of who your friends are. While they have so many, you will only have three: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. You will become an absurdity among men. Don’t fight it. You have been called to be a peculiarity (1 Peter 2:9). God has spoken your name, calling you to “come out from among them and be separate” (2 Cor. 6:17). You will either embrace the world with all it’s present, albeit fading, glory. Or you will embrace Christ. One offers you all that glitters in this life; the other, an eternity of being held in the arms of your Savior. One offers flesh all that it craves of attention and affection; the other promises to kill the flesh, but breathe eternal life into the spirit. You do have a choice, friend. God has laid it out and left it precariously in your hands. “You will hate the one and love the other” (Matt. 6:24). You cannot shirk the choice because to not decide is to decide in favor of this world. “Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of this world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4). And with that, the present state of the American church as it is quite clear: “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me” (Amos 5:21). Why? Because our churches are full of dead men. There is no revival in our hearts because we choose not to talk about what displeases God. We don’t preach so that men may know the error of their ways and repent, we preach so that men may feel justified in their sin. That message will make a man think he has no need of a Savior. What does he have to be saved from?

We bring in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny for young children and their adoring mothers. We even dress up and hand out candy on Halloween. We sell the church to rock bands Friday evening, and expect the Holy Spirit to reside in the same place we have allowed the devil to cavort. It is not that the Spirit cannot, but that the Spirit of God will not. The Spirit of God will not abide in a place ferreted out to the world six days of the week. The church thinks God has lowered His standards, but closer inspection of the Word reveals He cannot. “He is the same YESTERDAY, TODAY and FOREVER!” (Heb. 13:8).

Leonard Ravenhill once said that “The only reason we don’t have revival is because we are willing to live without it.” I would add that we are willing to live without it because we are afraid that God might reveal the darkness in us. He might call forth repentance, in which case we would have to acknowledge that we are not as righteous as we pretend to be. If revival were to fall in America, it would completely shake up the churches. Santa and the Easter bunny might have to find a new hangout among pagan temples because we would no longer welcome them in our hallowed halls. We would shut down our church bar coffee shops and stop making money of the fatigued Sunday School crew, because suddenly, Jesus’ tirade in the temple courts would make sense again. We would preach an unwavering message of holiness, “without which none shall see God” (Heb. 12:14).

The church must be willing to stand alone. We must be willing to swim against the tide, because while we talk about the direction the world is headed, we are sadly just swimming alongside our neighbors in the same direction, telling them all they want to hear because we don’t want to offend anyone. The church has taken on PC Culture as if we came up with it, but in truth, it’s the doctrine of the devil himself. Jesus did not engage in conversations in a PC manner. He confronted sin. He confronted rebelliousness in the hearts of people. Yes, he did it in love. But love is not completely disregarding the sinful nature of a lost humanity. Love is compelling people with tears to come to God. To run from sin. To avoid eternal damnation. To speak an uncomfortable truth that puts us at odds with most everyone. Our message will isolate us, for sure. It’ll be uncomfortable and we will often feel overwhelmed, uncomfortable and outnumbered. We will say, like Paul, “a great door of effective ministry has opened for me, and there are many who oppose me” (1 Cor. 16:9).

We have mistakenly believed for so long that the world will embrace us. No! The world will persecute, plunder, and put us to death. That is why we are implored to be courageous. That is why we must have faith. That is why we need the Holy Spirit filling us every moment of every day. The world will forever be at odds with the church of God that is truly after His heart, because the world is in the clutches of Satan. There will always be them and us. “No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval” (1 Cor. 11:19).

Choose you this day whom you will serve; as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15). We choose Christ knowing that it makes us enemies of the world. Knowing we face isolation and loneliness, persecution, disgrace, and everything else the world can lay siege to us because we bear that name that is above all other names. There is them, and there is me. Where are you?

What Kind of a Mother am I?

Published May 2, 2017 by Dawn

When my kids were little, they had such beautiful faith. Every ache, fever, whatever … they would come to me and plead, “Mom, can you pray over me?” They just knew that if we prayed, they would be healed. God was so gracious too. Most of the time – without medication – a simple prayer later, my kids were back to their normal selves. It really bolstered their faith, and they began to rely on my praying over them more and more.

There were times, of course, when praying wasn’t my number one priority. As sad as it is to admit, when my kids would come to me in the middle of the night and wake me out of a dead sleep with really bad knee pains or headaches, I remember pulling him or her into bed with me and cuddling a crying child, trying to schmooze him or her back to sleep. “Pray with me, Mom, please!” The pleading would fall on deaf ears. The humiliating truth is I just wanted to sleep. I was mostly exhausted from working 40 hours a week and going to school, and semi-taking care of a house/yard/two kids. My excuse, however seemingly valid at the time, kept me from performing my kids’ saving grace. They knew if I’d just pray, they would feel brand new. I thought that feeling was the result of sleep, so I slept on.

I was sitting on the couch this evening with my son laid across the couch beside me, his head in my lap. I was thinking about prayer and how powerful it is. How devastatingly underutilized it is … when this truth hit me: it’s all my fault.

Don’t try to console me. I need this truth. You see, it is my fault and I needed to hear this. I am not afraid of the truth. I like freedom. I like growing. The truth is vital to both. I said to myself, “This is all my fault. The depression my kids are battling. The ways Satan has manipulated my family. The way he’s winning most of the time. I just wanted to rest, but look at what’s happened! Instead of pressing in in prayer, I checked out in exhaustion and suddenly the battle is out of control!

“Pray with me, Mom.”

I’m broken. It’s all my fault. I shouldn’t have allowed this slumber to get the best of me. I shouldn’t have encouraged my kids to sleep too, when prayer has become such a necessity. What kind of a mother am I to leave my kids suffering in pain while I struggle to maintain my grasp on ease and comfort and rest? How can I, with the keys to the kingdom in my hands, leave things unlocked in my own home? How can I, having been given all power and authority, allow Satan to run rampant in our lives? What kind of a mother am I?

Don’t try to console me. I need this guilt and shame. I needed God look me square in the eye and speak this truth, and let me grapple with it because tonight, things changed. My son heard me weeping and awoke out of his slumber. “What’s wrong, Mom?

“I’m so sorry. I love you so much and I’m sorry for leaving you in your pain and not praying over you.” Then we cried and prayed together, like I should have done a long time ago. I should have awakened and prayed a long time ago.

I hesitated to write this because it’s painful and raw … and really embarrassing. But I wanted to share it because I wanted to encourage you: whatever it is, pray. Wake up and pray. Stop allowing Satan to lull you into complacency. That’s how he keeps us ineffectual. That’s how he keeps winning in our lives. Prayer is so powerful and he knows it. But so do you. “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Don’t say to me, “But I’m not righteous.” There’s a prayer for that too! Get right before God, then get down to the nitty-gritty and take care of business in your life, and the lives of those you love. Sometimes, we can do nothing more than pray. Thankfully, prayer is the best way to make a difference. What kind of a mother am I? A praying one – enemy beware!

Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me

Published December 6, 2016 by Dawn

“I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of Ages.”

                                                                                                                -C.H. Spurgeon

 

It isn’t a gentle lolling thing, it is a tempestuous monster. Gentle things don’t slam you. Mountainous, raging things slam you. They rock you to your core, throwing you around like the mud that you are. They make you forget that you are solid.

You break.

I found this quote today while scrolling through Pinterest in search of adequate expressions to quantify the last few months of my life. I’m clinging to the Rock at this moment, aware that to let go is to drown in the circumstances. I didn’t swim to this Rock, I was slammed into it by circumstances I can’t control. At this point, I can hardly even control myself. I may be holding to this Rock, but the storm is raging and I am hanging desperately to Him while my body thrashes helplessly about in the waves.

I’m not strong, so my grip is not solid. This wave pulls me away again and again, drags me out away from the comfort and safety of the cleft, but over and over slams me into the Rock of Ages.

This storm has taken all surety. I am no longer certain of anything other than the steadfastness of this Rock and the determination to hold on to Him. I feel hopelessly tossed in all that I know or ever considered to be true excepting this one thing: I can hold on to this Rock and He’s not moving.

I feel truly blessed here. Not because of the assaulting waves of life, but because they have cast me into the only position that brings peace: I am helpless at the Savior’s feet. As I worshipped at the altar this week from a place of surrender and brokenness, telling God to be glorified in the place I have fought so hard to keep from accepting, I heard His Spirit whisper, Glorify me now. This is what is means to be blessed and highly favored.

Suddenly, His definition of blessed dawned on me and I realized that we’ve had it all wrong. Where once I saw material gain as being the epitome of God’s pleasure pouring out on us, I now see God’s adoring smile because in my brokenness, I have chosen to cling to Him. He calls me blessed because He trusted me with something so monumental. Not things, but a message of comfort from a dark place that someone else might need. God entrusted that to me. His favor is in the message that others will hear, even though right now it hurts. This storm is knocking me about, bruising me and breaking me. Tearing through my flesh and hurling me again and again into the side of Christ. It hurts, but I have found where I belong. This cut, made by a soldier’s spear so long ago, was chiseled into His flesh so that one day, I might hide there and be safe from the storms of life. Rock of Ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in Thee.

I am certain of this one enduring truth: we belong there. That cut was made right beneath the heart of Christ. We belong there, next to His beating heart. Its rhythm is a tonic of peace we will never know unless we’ve been pressed into His side. It’s rapturous. Paul’s injunction to glory in our sufferings never made sense until now. How can we? Suffering is so hard. To rejoice in it is utterly impossible. Unless you’ve been there, nestled under his heart, lulled by the beating of His love for you. To glorify Him then is so normal. I have found it’s all I was made for. Everything else has suddenly become a chasing after the wind. Praising Him has become a weapon of my warfare. I can be here, nestled in the cleft, and reflect His adoration back toward His loving gaze, thoroughly enraging the enemy without fear because I am safe in His arms.

Oh! Beloved of God, surrender to the waves and allow yourself to be slammed into the Rock. Cling to our Rock. He is a mighty fortress and shield. Crawl into the cleft and be sheltered. Adore our Lord because He alone is worthy of all praise. Be blessed and highly favored there. Surely you know by now that the enemy doesn’t relent. He can only be defeated. Not by you or I because we are powerless. By our great and mighty King, who delivers all who delight in Him. Find your delight in the Rock of Ages and be delivered. In Jesus’ name, amen.

My Abortion Story

Published November 3, 2016 by Dawn

It was cold outside. I don’t remember what day or month, just that it was cold. I called my dad from school to ask him to come get me because I had been sick all day and it hadn’t let up. Nauseous. On the edge of vomit all day long. I just wanted to get home before it erupted. He took me home and I slept until the next morning. I awoke as nauseous as the day before. My sister and I talked about it in whispers while we got dressed … Could I be pregnant? Was this morning sickness? By the time we were ready to go, I was green. My mom agreed to let me stay home and my sister agreed to come get me later to go to the health department.

Our plans exploded around lunchtime and I found myself waiting on my mom instead. She drove me to the Health Department in silence. I was dying inside. When the test confirmed it, we were both pretty devastated. I didn’t see my life flash before my eyes. I watched it slowly go down the drain as this new reality set in.

My dad called me a whore when I told him.

I was devastated. I felt ruined. I felt the shame of every grown-up in my life. I felt the daggers of embarrassment cutting me to pieces through the eyes of everyone around me. Someone told me to face the facts, and then, in case I wasn’t aware of all of them, told me all the statistics about teen pregnancies and teenage mothers so I would know what was coming.

Hardship. Hardship was coming.

My mom said to me one day, “Why don’t you take some time and really think about your options. You can put this baby up for adoption. Or you can abort it.”

I know she was holding her breath in that moment. I squeaked in a panic, “Mom, please tell me that’s not an option. That can’t be an option.” She exhaled. “Well, I was hoping it’s not, but I wanted you to know you had options.”

But she hadn’t named them all. See, suicide is also an option. I didn’t want to kill an unborn baby, but myself? I could do that.

My life was an endless agony for the next few months. I was sick all the time, getting fatter, hating everyone, enduring their judgment and my own condemnation. Left alone to deal with it by the guy who fathered the child. It was hell.

I was going to end it. After having the baby, I was going to kill myself. I had a plan and a note. I had the resolve. I had an end in sight. The last month of pregnancy was the most hopeful month. I was ready to end it all.

I almost didn’t make it through delivery. It didn’t matter. I remember lying in the hospital room looking around while people talked and laughed, euphoric about the baby we were about to have. I was hurting so bad. Physically, but more so emotionally. My heart was breaking. Someone save me!

Someone did. It was the sweetest voice I had ever heard. Her tiny cry as they lifted her out through the incision reached into the depths of my broken soul and called forth a will I didn’t know was there. In one instant, I wanted to live for no other reason but to know and hear that voice.

And I did live on; so did my baby. But nine months later, the cycle started again. Another pregnancy he didn’t want. Another baby I wasn’t sure if I could deal with. More shame. More embarrassment. More statistical bullets shooting through any hope for my future.

I had him too. I endured it. I said this was about my abortion … I didn’t have one. I had a baby. I had two … before my high school graduation. I have lived on HUD, welfare, TANF, and I have raised two babies on my own for thirteen years. I know it’s hard. I know the shame is damning and I know about the nights you cry yourself to sleep because you are alone with thoughts nobody should be thinking. I know about the stigma and rejection. I know about the battles. I have lived them; so have my babies. We’ve all three survived.

I’m telling you this through tears. I understand not all pregnancies are planned. Some are even tragically the fault of another. But understand this: on the other side of that pain is a beautiful child who has the chance to live if only you will give it. She may grow up to love cheer and hate waking up in the morning. He may grow up with a weird obsession for cleanliness that makes housekeeping bearable. They may grow up to be the best thing that ever happened to you if you just get through this. The shame will subside. The pain will subside. The hardships make you stronger until you bust through those stereotypes and statistics and make something of yourself. Getting out from under the pressure and chaos and rejection are possible. The situations that grow you aren’t always preferable, maybe, but victory is possible. Your unwanted pregnancy is possible.

Just wanted you to know that. I love you, sister, and I pray for you and your baby every day. The world will tell you otherwise but most of them have never lived it. I have. You can do this. You’re strong enough. It doesn’t matter who fathered your baby or even if they help you raise the child. God gave that precious child to you. That baby may end up being the best gift you’ve ever received and God himself can and will help. Trust me. Trust yourself. Trust God.

 

The Message of Me

Published July 18, 2016 by Dawn

I was worshiping this morning, finally emerging from a dark cloud that had been over me for a little over a week. I’ve been joyless. This morning, while worshiping, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that the present message in the church is stealing the joy out of God’s people and making them ineffective. What message? The Message of Me.

The message that it’s all about us. That it’s all about favor and prosperity and reaping. The message that with enough of this and enough of that, we will be truly happy and our lives will be a testimony to how awesome God thinks we are. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it? That’s because it is.

We have become shipwrecked in our faith, church, because we are living in a fallen world listening to a doctrine that encourages us to exalt ourselves and selfishly pray that God exalts us too. God, give me this and that. I’ve earned it. Shouldn’t my life look like I’m living for you? Don’t you care that I prosper? Prosper me!

I’m not pointing fingers. I’ve been listening and taking this message to heart for a really long time. I am about to take my new car on a very long roadtrip down to Florida for my first family vacation! God is prospering us, and for this I prayed. I don’t dispute Jeremiah 29:11 because I like it, and I like when God gives favor to His people.

But I’m also lacking joy most of the time.

The Holy Spirit said to me, “How can you say ‘He must increase, and I must decrease’ if you are always asking God to make much of you? To exult your present circumstances. You have it backwards.”

We have no lasting joy or peace, church, because we expect our circumstances to be indicative of how God feels about us. Bad day? “God, did I do something wrong?” Bad week? “God, what did I do? Just tell me!” Bad month? “God, please! I love you! I’m sorry! Whatever it was, I’m so sorry!!” Bad year or years? “God. Hates. Me.”

Let me tell you something true: God loves you. You will, like Paul, know both plenty and want, and in both of these times, God will still love you. He is crazy about you. He loves you so much that, before you were conceived and had done neither right nor wrong, He sent Jesus to redeem you back to Himself because He loves you. We live in a fallen, war-torn world and every day that we live, Satan is attacking us and accusing us before our Father. Read Zechariah 3, when Satan accused Joshua before the Lord. Joshua was guilty by all accounts, but Jesus stood and said, “The Lord rebuke you! … Is he not a branch plucked from the fire?”

God loves you. Your circumstances merely reflect the living here. The days of plenty remind us of God’s goodness and the days of want remind us who our source is and where our hope lies. This is truth worth rejoicing! Neither height nor depth, present nor future, angels nor demons, life nor death … nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of Christ. We have to know this, church, because perilous times have come and are coming still. They will touch us. Not because God hates us, but because we are His and darkness must reign a bit. We must find joy in something more solid and enduring than our circumstances. Throw any other Gospel out the window. It’s trash, and the Bible says that such doctrine will lead you astray.