The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
Proverbs 29:25 ESV
Less than a year after burying my Mum, the flashbacks began. I saw my mother’s broken-by-cancer body ever before me. It was as if I was locked in those moments before she took her final breath. I couldn’t just see her broken body, I could even hear, smell, feel and taste death’s hold.
But into that horror God began to breathe His new life into me. As I cried out to Him in brutally raw honesty and anger like never before, He didn’t turn His face from me in disgust at my “lack of faith and trust in His Word”.
No, He met my childlike heart of hunger and thirst for His righteousness.
He met my deep yearning for His justice wrought at the Cross against our accuser – with pure fatherly affection and mercy. He looked with deep compassion right at me and breathed Word after sacred Word I had ingested since I was a little girl, alive in my heart.
Faithful to His Word to me (and to Simon Peter), He began to restore, confirm, strengthen and establish me in the midst of my suffering:
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10 ESV
He began to give me His eyes to see, His ears to hear and His heart to know our Heavenly Papa and His sovereign power. He began restoring all that had been stolen from me, right before my eyes. That room of death transformed into a room of life and beauty – where all I could now see, hear, smell, feel and taste was life eternal unfolding in all its glory before me. My Savior gave me palpable evidence for His Promise to us all that:
Colossians 1:17 ESV . . . he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Ever since that awakening of His Word in me, God’s begun to open the eyes of my heart to know Him more and more. When all I can see is my sin and my failings and the brokenness of this world before me, He is turning me toward the mirror to see His beautiful face looking right back at me. He’s giving me eyes to see the blood of Jesus that flows for us all, the blood that has purchased our redemption in full.
When the fear of man laid a snare for my feet as a little girl, the fear of God in me – Jesus Himself – laid down His life for me, that He might lift me high above my accuser’s schemes to turn what was meant to kill me into life abundant. As Colossians 3:3-4 (MSG) reminds us:
3-4 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.
Now I can see how He led me by the hand, even with my eyes blinded by sin, that I might come to know Him ever more in His death and resurrection. So that when my eyes opened again by His power alone, I would begin to taste and know a love like no other and be empowered to give that same love away freely.
Now, my heart and soul deep down knows that our God walked this earth in human flesh, taking upon Himself our suffering and our brokenness, humbling Himself even unto death, not so that He might point the finger at us, not so that He might hurt us and not so that He might condemn us in our weakness and need.
No, now I know He came to seek and save us – His lost sheep. He came to breathe His wholeness into us. He came to join us together in His pure heart. He came that we might be made One, no longer divided and broken apart from one another by the flesh that blinds us, but united and made whole in His pure Spirit of love for us all.
All those years ago as that little eleven year old, on the eve of my Prodigal departure, I remember listening to a young mother share her testimony with me. She spoke of her longing for her kids to grow up “safe” in the church like I had and not to walk through the abuse and suffering and trauma she had known. And yet, as she said that, I looked at the beauty of Jesus glowing in her and found my own heart longing to know Jesus and His grace, like she did.
Oh yes, my Papa always knew His little girl like no other. And so He began to give me what my heart most desired. Now, as my Heavenly Papa cries out “I know You, Anna”, my heart responds “Oh how I know You do, Papa.” as He daily plunges me into knowing Him and being known by Him ever more.
Celebrate Jesus and Behold Him Face to Face
Before we rest in today’s Word together, would you join me in listening to or singing this song today? May the Spirit of love and truth set us free to hear Him, see Him and know Him through His Word to us today:
Our Prodigal loved ones are sealed by the Holy Spirit unto eternity (Ephesians 1:13-14). That means they are the LORD’s – they are, even now, vital and purposed members of His Body. May the LORD guide us through His Spirit to pray for them according to His good and perfect will and not according to our flesh.
When my Mum prayed for my future husband through my early Prodigal years, she didn’t ask for God to gift me a believer. She asked God to give me a man who would love me for who I am. When she met my future husband and his family for the first time, she knew the LORD had answered her prayers. She knew they loved me for the heart of Jesus in me.
And my Dad? He had great peace in his heart, as he gave me away in marriage to my unbelieving Dutchman. I now look back and feel the pride of my Heavenly Father in my earthly father’s eyes that day. Did I mention already that our Heavenly Papa loves to perfect His power in our weakness – through His perfect love?
As we read the Scripture below, aloud, what word or phrase lingers? Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to see, know or do in response to His Word to us:
For the sake of my servant Jacob,Isaiah 45: 4 – 13 (ESV)
and Israel my chosen,
I call you by your name,
I name you, though you do not know me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other,
besides me there is no God;
I equip you, though you do not know me,
that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me;
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness;
I make well-being and create calamity;
I am the Lord, who does all these things. “Shower, O heavens, from above,
and let the clouds rain down righteousness;
let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit;
let the earth cause them both to sprout;
I the Lord have created it. “Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’ Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’” Thus says the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him:
“Ask me of things to come;
will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?
I made the earth
and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
and I commanded all their host.
I have stirred him up in righteousness,
and I will make all his ways level;
he shall build my city
and set my exiles free,
not for price or reward,” says the Lord of hosts.