healing

All posts tagged healing

Because He First Loved Me

Published June 18, 2017 by Dawn

I had a very humbling experience the other day. I was lying in bed the other morning It was really early … like, the birds weren’t even up yet. I laid there hoping for the best in terms of falling back to sleep and eventually slipped into a nap. I had this dream that the Lord was looking for me, searching deeper and deeper into the depths of this really dark pit. He finally made it to the bottom, still faithfully calling out my name. There at the bottom, he lifted up this thick covering and there I was, hiding underneath it. I looked up at him with fire in my eyes and venom on my tongue as I hissed, “I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.”

I was a little kid who had lost a game of hide and seek. The Lord searched until he found me, and to my shame, when he finally found me, I was insolent and hateful. I had the sensation that this dream was a picture of Jesus. He was searching out the deepness of my heart, looking for me. I was humbled to hear myself whisper such a horrendous thing to my Lord. His gentle love in that moment humbled me greatly as I heard the Spirit whisper, “…because he first loved me.”

Being transparent seems easy for me, but I have to admit that this one was hard to even delve into for myself, much less admit it out loud for the world to know. I’ve prided myself for years … Is it okay if I get really transparent here? I might not have admitted this out loud to anyone before, but the truth is that me not being who I once was is a huge deal (to me). I took pride in it for years. Being redeemed, being transformed … I took pride in that. You will say to me, “That’s not Christ-like.” I know, friend. I know. I couldn’t help myself. I know that person, and I know myself now. I know the pit I came out of and I felt the weight of escaping it (though now I know I didn’t feel hardly anything compared to what Christ carried for me), but I felt it and the memories made me very proud to be where I am now. Are you hearing the echoes of pride as you read this? Is it turning you off? I am so sorry. I just want you to know what happened to me the other morning and to understand, you have to understand where I was at. I was proud. Of myself.

I have spent the last 8 years of my life in the arms of Christ. I have patiently bore the suffering for His name and His purpose in my life. I have not created my own way and called it good. I have remained as faithful as I can to His Will. Don’t abandon reading now … I know what this sounds like, but bear with me. I have, through all of this, nurtured this pride that somehow, I have attained “good enough” because I have strived for holiness, wrestled with flesh and maintained a firm hold on my own righteousness.

Yes, I credited God with my mouth. I thanked Jesus from my heart. What he did for me on that cross was amazing: buying me from the clutches of sin so I could pursue holiness. And each step forward, I patted myself on the back. That’s why Christ uncovered me. Because all this time, I have given credit to myself for something I could never have done on my own. There, in the secret place of my heart, I watched in horror as my child-like self hissed “I hate you” to the one who sought me, found me and pulled me out. What is there to be proud of when you know yourself like this?

That wasn’t the worst part, though. That wasn’t what did me in. Here’s what did it: He looked at me tenderly in that moment and I could see it on His face. He loved me in that moment.

Something happened. I broke. Jesus, hearing my rebellious heart hate Him, looked me in the eye with such compassion and reached for me anyway.

I don’t think I’ve ever fully understood the cross until this moment. I have spent endless hours reading the Word of God, drinking in the love story of He and Us, but the truth of it never hit me as powerfully until this moment, when His compassion destroyed my pride. I can’t even love Him without Him first loving me.  To me, that would be the easy part compared to some of the things I have been through. If I can’t even do that one thing without His help, how can I claim credit for anything?

I can’t.

Not only do I know now who I am without Him, I know fully what I am capable of. Without Him, I can do nothing. Without Him, I have done nothing. Without Him, I’m full of wickedness and a lover of darkness. I only have light because of Christ. I only walk in light and share light because of Jesus. Paul bids me to “take care lest ye fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12) and now I know just how far I am capable of falling. I am also humbly aware of just how much Jesus has done for me, in spite of myself. Not only am I ashamed of my pride, I am ashamed of my propensities outside of Christ. I thought I had a hold of righteousness, but it turns out I am fully capable of making the devil blush.

I’m in awe of Him. I am in awe of a God who can know this about me and still love me fiercely. He is all-knowing, all-powerful and I am so unworthy. Who could blame God for dealing harshly with someone like me? But that’s the incredible thing: He doesn’t.

He loves me.

Not just me, though. You too, friend. You too.

 

Dear Lord,

Your love is so incomprehensible. I can’t fathom the depths of your mercy. I am so humbled and grateful. Please continue to heal me and lighten what’s dark and forgive me. Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for your compassions that don’t fail. I love you … now, even from the depths of my heart, I can honestly say I love you. Thank you for your patience on my behalf. You are so good.

 

Happy Freedom!

Published April 16, 2017 by Dawn

“Look, Lord, on my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed” (1:9).

I woke up the other morning with no words. Surprising, right? No words to express to my Husband, my King … no exaltations, no entreaties. No words to describe my feelings or my heart toward Him. No words even to describe my deep hurt and pain. I was numb and empty.

I’ve been pushing Him away for a while. When life hurts, I tend to do that. When I do finally speak to Him, it’s with a big pink elephant in the room because there’s nothing in my but a submissive crying at His feet and saying, “Thy will be done.” Sometimes, I have to, at the same time, push down feelings of bitterness because my hope is in the One who is afflicting me and my children.

“Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come” (3:38).

It’s such an uncomfortable truth, but true nonetheless, isn’t it? I mean, you either believe the Word of God or you don’t. All that we go through is overseen by a tremendously powerful God, and some of it is good and some of it is bad. And the bad hurts. In our case, the hurt has become unbearable and every time I pray about it, God assures me He is making warriors in my home. I want my kids to be mighty warriors, but the cost is heavy on a mother’s heart. My kids are learning deep spiritual truths for themselves and I can’t save them from the breaking. Thank God He forgives my disapproving, accusatory glances.

As my children learn spiritual warfare, I try my best to teach them truths that have delivered me but it is not easy.  “Those who pursue us are at our heels; we are weary and find no rest” (5:5) … All [our] enemies open their mouths wide against [us]; they scoff and they gnash their teeth and say, ‘We have swallowed her up. This is the day we have waited for; we have lived to see it’” (2:16).

Naturally, I find myself saying, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord” (3:18).

In His faithfulness, but with such a purpose I cannot fathom the depth of, He whispers back to my screaming heart,  “Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to Him for the lives of your children who faint from hunger at every street corner” (2:19).

Bitterness will keep a person quiet for a long time, but age will make sure you don’t miss that clarion call of the Lord. How many mornings have I been awakened in the darkness of the early morning out of a dead sleep. The Father looking down at me, waiting for my to speak the words my heart refuses to utter in mutiny. He knows them already, but He bids me speak so I might be free. So many nights over the past few months, but it finally happened just this morning. I woke up wanting to thank Jesus for His sacrifice, but the heaviness wouldn’t allow me to be grateful until I had spoken my peace. I found my heart-cry in Lamentation yesterday, and it was exactly what I needed to express to my Savior:

“Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure” (5:21;22). “For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone” (3:31-32). “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.’ The Lord Is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (3:22-26). “You came near when I called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear.’ You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life” (3:57-58).

I poured forth my heart in tears this morning, weeping over time lost and lies that have bound me for so long. Finally emptied, I was able to tell Jesus how much His love and sacrifice means to me. I heard His response so clear: Today is the day Satan knew he was defeated. Do you know it? Take off your graveclothes and live again!”

Oh. My. Goodness. To be washed in freedom. Thank you, Jesus, for your life. Your death. Your resurrection. Your intercession. Your mighty ways. I love you.

 *All Scriptures from Lamentations. 

 

 

 

Some Christians Have Absolutely No Common Sense!

Published May 4, 2013 by Dawn

We’ve been hearing it for months. As one man in our congregation appears to suffer more and more each week from the effects of cancer, he continues to proclaim his healing. God spoke it, he keeps saying, and he and his family keep talking about this healing even though you can obviously tell that cancer is winning inside of him. I felt led to take the day off work today, and shortly after waking up, got a text that he was in the hospital and the doctors had given him his death sentence: he has days to live. Immediately, I knew why I had taken the day off work. I had to be there for the family, to pray with and encourage my sisters and brothers in Christ through this horrible trying of their faith.

My prayer was that God would help them to have a whole faith. A faith that acknowledges God’s sovereignty regardless of the outcome. A faith that acknowledges His divine will in the face of desperate circumstances. I know that they had received a promise from God. I had no doubt of it. But professing it with your mouth is one thing; believing it in your heart is quite another.

When I arrived, I spent time with the family, being careful to speak softly as he drifted in and out of sleep. He was heavily medicated and I didn’t want to disturb him. I was also careful to only encourage with the help of the Holy Spirit. I didn’t want to say anything that I was not led to say for fear that I would instill hope in a hopeless situation. Not that I felt the situation was hopeless. I just had yet to hear God speak definitely to me regarding his situation. It was painful to stand there and listen to his family speak with such surety of his divine healing when inside me was so much uncertainty. I believed God was able and even willing. It just hadn’t come and this faithful man was on his deathbed.

Over the course of the next hour, his situation got worse quickly, until his wife was told to decide how to proceed should he be put on dialysis and not regain consciousness. As my pastor did his best to discuss the situation and the impending decision, I watched his son and daughter, and his wife, wrestle with the pain of facing death with him. And when my pastor said to him, “Of course, we believe that God can heal. If the time comes when the doctors say there is truly nothing more that can be done, what do you want to do? Do you want to be put on dialysis and risk your wife having to make the decision to take you off if you don’t recover, or do you want them to let you go without further resuscitative measures?” The man was silent, and his wife stood next to him gripping his hand and kissing it, tears streaming down her face. His son sat beside him overwhelmed with emotion, and his daughter cried silently while holding on to his arm. Then he looked at his wife and said, “You know what I would want, but it’s not going to come to that.” And he looked my pastor right in the eye and told him, “I will be healed.”

It was at that moment that I recognized the battle taking place. This family had stood solidly on this promise for so long, proclaiming his healing even when all evidence pointed to the contrary. It reminded me of Abraham, who walked up Mount Moriah holding the hand of a curious Isaac and then proceeded to bind him and place him on the altar, still holding out hope that God would provide the ram. He was brought to the point of almost driving the knife before God came through. Abraham stood on a promise that he would become the father of many through this son, even though his immediate situation spoke death for Isaac. When I watched this man, through short painstaking breaths, proclaim again his healing even while the nurses prepped him for what seemed inevitable, I was so encouraged. I was witnessing a show-down between he and Satan, and he adamantly refused to even entertain the thought that he might die. He was very convinced of his healing. And when he said it, I felt in my spirit the “I know.” What he had been saying all along finally bore witness in my spirit. Not that he needed it or that my witness had any bearings on his healing. He was going to receive it whether anyone else believed or not. It’s just nice to feel confident about God’s will when you are praying, I guess. Especially in such seeming direness.

After this amazing fight of faith, in which God brought this man to the ultimate point of either belief or surrender, those of us in the room were moved by the spirit to pray and so, in the middle of a busy and very full MICU, we rushed the throne room of God to plead for his restoration. Then, those but the immediate family left the room, and I had to head back home. All the way home, this thought tumbled around in my head: Some Christians have no common sense.

It’s a family trait, I think. I mean, Jesus had no common sense either. Common sense would have told him that you can’t walk on water. Common sense would have told him not to spit in someone’s eye to heal them of blindness. Common sense would have said that Lazarus had been dead way too long to experience any type of healing. Common sense would have said water does not just turn into wine. Common sense would have told him not to speak to crazy men in a graveyard as if they were demon-possessed. Common sense would have said that paralyzed men don’t just get up and carry their mats home. Common sense would have said that leprosy is an incurable and deadly disease. Common sense would have scoffed at the idea of being put through such horrific beatings, being nailed to a cross and thinking that a couple days later, you’d walk out in a new body. Common sense would vehemently opposed the idea of resurrection and eternal life. And I know it’s a family trait because even before Christ, common sense was missing. Common sense would have told Abraham that there’s no way God would test his faith by telling him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Common sense would have told Moses raging rivers do not part, and water does not come from rocks, nor does manna rain from the sky. Common sense would have told Joshua that walls do not fall by walking around them for a week. Common sense would have told Ruth there was no hope for a happily ever after, and Esther would not have dared hope that the king would notice her, a Jewish teenager. Common sense would have told David there was no way a couple stones would be able to beat the champion giant of the Philistines. And I can just imagine what common sense would have said to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego … or Daniel, who faced a den of hungry lions for defying the king’s edict. Yes, as I read through the scriptures it is quite evident that some believers lack common sense. And thank God for that!

It seems that sometimes, the greatest enemy of a promise from God is common sense. Thank you, Father, for giving us faith to defy what is common, and thank you that when we do, you work amazing miracles among us.

I called someone who was still at the hospital a few hours later and was told that he is doing much better than they expected. The nurses can’t explain it. But while many there are baffled, there’s a few that simply expected this all along. I can’t wait until he comes home with a complete healing, a wonderful anointing for the calling God has placed on him, and faith that defies logic and common sense!

Lessons in the Lawn: Dealing with The Blight

Published March 29, 2013 by Dawn

I am so sore and achy from what may have been one of the toughest and most physically taxing conversations I’ve had with The Father. Well, that is, He used my chore yesterday to speak to me of many truths I needed to hear. I only hope I can remember all of them in relating them today.

I got up yesterday morning knowing that before the end of the day, I needed to rake the yard to get all the sticks out of the way so I could mow. I don’t usually put this much effort into preparing the yard for mowing because, well, it’s hard work. My yard is much bigger than I like when it comes to yard work, though I think it’s perfectly adequate for town life any other day. So I guess since I already mentioned that I usually do not put this much work into the yard, you can rightly deduce that my yard was quite a mess. I’ve lived here for over four years and had never raked the yard in it’s entirety. I was totally cool with the disheveled look of leaves everywhere, which come with the territory here. Five tall oaks literally surround my house and then there is random foliage everywhere in the back. I could make a pile as tall as Babel if I wanted to. But I don’t, and never have, so I did the minimal work necessary to ensure that the front and back door were accessible. I’m not lazy, it’s just too much work! I always figured, “…to dust you will return.” Keeps the worms busy.

So yesterday, I had to tackle this nasty mess of a yard because for the first time in four years, it really bugged me. Well, not really. What bugged me was the fact that every summer for the past four years, I’ve bought a new lawnmower because they keep breaking on me. Finally it dawned on me: maybe it’s the terrain. Maybe the sticks and dirt are screwing up the lawnmower. Or maybe it’s because I let the grass grow just long enough to annoy the guy who puts out weed notices before I get out the mower. Maybe the mower can’t handle all the overgrown wildness. So, I submitted to all this overwhelming evidence convicting me and decided to take care of the yard this year, and even bought a lawnmower that will only screw up if I screw it up. It’s a rotary mower, which means I don’t have to mess with gas, oil or oil filters, or those stupid cables that get it working. All I have to do is push it. And since I decided to finally do the yard justice, I had to first rake it. So I started out, and immediately realized what a tough task it was going to be. Four years of sticks built up and pushed to the outer edge of the yard required some major muscle. It would not have been so hard, except that there was also this massive entanglement of weeds to rake through to get the sticks into a pile that could then be moved to a fire. Oh my aching back! As I was raking the front yard, the Spirit began speaking to me and revealed this truth: this is a lot like what our lives are like. It’s totally a human approach to dealing with things. We brush things off to the side and let them accumulate in a place that isn’t as visible and won’t get in the way while we get on with life. The problem is, the junk doesn’t go anywhere, it just sits there and builds up over time and will eventually have to be dealt with. And the longer it sits, the more embedded it becomes and the harder it is to remove, and to aggravate the process of dealing with it when you eventually get around to it is this massive entanglement that’s grown up around it. Oh my! What work!

I got through the front yard, not without difficulty but still relatively easily compared to what awaited me in the back. Halfway around the house, I realized that I would have to set my face like flint and press on to get the job done. The closer I got to the backyard, the less I like this job, but I knew I had to press on and press on I did.

I should mention here that I had enlisted both kids for this work. For the first time in their royal lives, I told the prince and princess they were going to help me. I taught my son yesterday that there should never be a gentleman sitting around watching while a lady works. If she rolls up her sleeves, then buddy, you had better be one step ahead of her making her job a little lighter. He did great for a while, but right after I set my face like flint in order to not be overwhelmed by the size of the backyard awaiting me, the pressure got to him. I’m pretty sure it was the devil trying to get me to throw up my hands in defeat, but I was determined to finish it. He wasn’t, and he threw a huge fit, ran away (ran around the block and came back home) and broke my heart with his hateful words. But I kept my calm while he ranted, prayed while he ran, and fell apart the moment he wasn’t looking anymore. I looked to Heaven and cried, “He is your son and I’m done dealing with this today! If you won’t help me with the yard, deal with your son! …And please protect him because I am not running after him this time” Yes, I embarrassingly admit I said that to the Lord. And then I apologized for not being humble. Emotions were high and I was still hating yard work, even though I had committed myself to finishing it.

My son eventually came back and apologized. He told me he was tired of the work and it was making him angry. I get that. I totally get that. Nothing makes me boil more than yard work, truly. Well, yard work and fighting with my kids. While he was throwing his tantrum, my daughter was inside screaming for me to help her do something that I had asked her to do. She made it very clear she was either incapable or unwilling to do it without my help. I ended up doing it myself. I went back outside and the Spirit began to speak again. Through my children, I learned that there will be those who come alongside you to help who cannot keep up with the work. They will desert you or overwhelm you with their endless need for help. In other words, they will distract you. You have to remain committed to the work and press on even as these things come at you. Life will continue to go on around you and your work for God. It doesn’t stop and it doesn’t get easier. In reality, you can be assured it will get much harder. You simply have to deal with it and continue the job. There is no other option.

As I moved into the backyard, the mere size of it tempted me to quit. Where do I start? How will I ever get this done? Doubt and fear and anxiety attacked me all at once. I was sinking into despair very quickly, when I realized this was an attack. An anxiety attack. Deal with it! So, I began to rake in big circles with the pile in the middle, and a little at a time, parts of the yard were finished. I could not have handled it had I kept my eye on the big picture. So instead I focused on small chunks of the yard and accomplished each one, feeling success instead of defeat as the yard slowly became more appealing to the eyes. This must be why God, in His infinite mercy, reveals to us a little at a time. He only asks that we worry about and focus on today. We would literally be paralyzed and unable to move in any direction if we saw the entirety of His work. He instead gives us a little of it at a time, and strengthens us to handle it. Encourages us to finish it, and then moves us on into something that is usually bigger and harder. But by then, we are prepared for it. How ingenious!

Midway through the back yard, which was hours into the work, my son left with my friend Amy and I was left with my princess as my only help. This part hurt. My lighter died, so instead of burning small piles, it became necessary to pick up the small piles and take them to the big pile. Oh dear me, you would have thought she was going to die! She whined and complained, asked hundreds of questions that could have been answered by some good old common sense, and otherwise drove me nuts with her inability to do anything on her own, including think! I was numb from muscle pain, aggravated by the high-pitched screeching was having a hard enough time thinking for myself, much less for her too. I began to pray, and things got really ironic. I looked at her and saw myself … this is what I do to God. All the time. I’m a whiny princess who has a million questions and doubts that I can do anything right without constant reassurance. I laughed and cried at this revelation. I had been doing this to God all day. Well, okay, all my life really.

With three-fourths of the yard done, I was becoming weary. It had been a long day. I literally raked for seven hours, minus a short break to fight with my son, a moment to drink a glass of water, and about half an hour to talk with a friend. So about six hours of raking time. My muscles were torn to shreds, my heart was torn to shreds, and I was so close to being done. Not the yard, me. I was close to calling it quits when the Spirit spoke again. This is it: the moment when most people call it “good enough” and walk away without finishing the work. To finish means pushing yourselves past the limits. To quit now seems like an act of mercy on yourself. After all, you’ve done so much already, and it looks great! The effects of your work are clearly visible, and what’s left of the mess can’t possibly make that much of a difference. You’ve done well. Walk away. Oh, it sounded so good! But I knew in my spirit, I had come too far to quit. There were still sticks to be raked and those sticks could still damage my lawnmower. Sure, I had done an amazing job and spent myself far beyond what I normally would have. Sure, it was “good enough.” But the job wasn’t done. I hadn’t given it my all. I hadn’t finished yet. The last fourth of the yard was literally the hardest physical demand I had ever faced and if it weren’t for the spiritual lesson being learned in it, I would have quit. I had never in my life persevered through something so rigorous to my flesh. Even fasting had never hurt this much. And the Spirit kept saying, “This is perseverance. This is continuing when everything in you wants to quit, and everyone else had quit on you. This is the moment that truly matters. The finish line is ahead, keep going!” I cried out in pain and frustration, I paused to simply breathe, I raked on. I stopped, looked at the yard that was left, felt desperately far from done and encouraged myself to keep going. When I finally finished raking the yard, I surveyed the yard in satisfaction, and then realized there was more work to be done. Everyone had quit on me, remember? And their work had to be done still. I straightened myself up and pushed on. Finish it. Finish all of it. You can do this! And finally, it was finished!

I woke up this morning in pain. I ache in places I didn’t know you could ache in. Muscles I have not used in years are screaming at me every time I move. It was worth it. I looked outside this morning and realized it had rained last night. There are sticks all over my yard again. Yep, I’m going to have to do it again. I’m not exactly excited about it, but I have atleast embraced the responsibility. And I have learned much in it. And each time I rake the yard, I will remember these things, which will serve me well the rest of my life. I am done taking the easy road, done giving up when everyone else does, done complaining and whining when things get tough, and done quitting when it’s “good enough.” Thank you, Lord, for your Spirit’s guidance.