God’s been growing me in and through my writing recently – He’s taking the weakness I boasted in – in the past – to belittle and shame myself and He is revealing His sweet gentleness and kindness to me there. He is lifting away the remnant legalistic belief in me that I have to pay my way to be acceptable in religious circles – specifically with the elder brothers, who haven’t been able to see their own need for God’s grace or, like me, receive His kindness to them in it.
God is bringing my true self and worth in Him out of hiding, by no longer allowing me to sink into self-depracation. He is no longer permitting me to make light of His deep love, mercy and compassion for me and through me, for His Body and is lifting away all regret in me. I am weeping again and again in His Presence, as God is revealing His deep knowing and understanding of my heart and life story.
He’s also doing this by showing me how my sharing through the years, and even very recently, has been His gentleness to others, lifting away our shame in revealing His deep compassion for us and His sweet kindness to us. It’s interesting to me to think about how I am and have been much less ashamed of my weakness and need in the presence of (former) Prodigals and more able to receive God’s love for me in their presence. God’s visible kindness and compassion to them (also through me) is healing to my own heart too.
A dear friend and sister-in-Christ’s more recent telling of her life story, in monthly installments, where she has been even more honest about her struggles as a missionary kid – specifically with her parents’ lack of understanding of and trust in God’s hand upon her as a kid have also been so very vital in that. I am SO very thankful God crossed our paths and that she invited me in to hear her stories and her heart.
Likewise, I feel like it was also SO important for my Velvet Ashes’ Connection Group Leader to gently mention to me last week that Micaiah is from 1 Kings and that she did not mean Micah – to have me go back to that story of the prophet Micaiah, who was the only prophet to speak the truth. God had me first reading through Micaiah’s story as I stood up (through my testimony) for the finished work of the Cross at my Dutch church. I watched both men and women visibly moved by God’s seeing of them and His kindness to them. They held my hands, sought me out to share a piece of their story and some wept openly with me.
But, you see, I also faced deep spiritual abuse in doing so (with childhood trauma being triggered in me), as the leadership of the church did not take seriously the Scriptures God asked me to share with them to warn them: just as my parents did not receive the Word God spoke through me as a little girl as I spoke up for my little traumatized adopted brother, who couldn’t speak for himself.
God shone His light, through the Words He gave me to share, on the freedom teaching my church was applying that was binding its congregation (including me and my leaders) in legalism and condemnation, triggering childhood trauma in us and hindering us from entering into the Presence of God to receive His love and comfort, personal guidance and the deep compassion of His Holy Spirit.
I would have taken my own life one night, amidst the enemy’s vicious attacks on my mind and body, was it not for God literally tethering my feet to the ground outside my former church. I wanted to throw myself in the canal across the road, but I felt my legs become like lead, as I cried out to my God: Why did you make a mistake with me? Why did you make me to repel your Body? and all I heard Him say was: stay here, as He tethered me to the ground.
Later it would remind me of this verse in King David’s Psalm:
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;Psalm 46:5 ESV
God will help her when morning dawns.
Not long later Iron Bell Music’s song I Belong to You came out and I wept and wept and wept, as I sung that song and saw that God’s actions (tethering me to the ground) spoke even louder than any words could in that moment as He physically and experientially affirmed that I have always belonged to Him:
It’s been more than five years, since that night God preserved my life and my heart. And it’s taken all those years for me to receive God’s gentleness and compassion for me afresh, that I had already received, when The Good Shepherd picked me up out of the thorn bush of my accuser in 2014 and brought this Prodigal home.
All these years, since God led me to leave my church, I have still clung to remnants of legalistic thinking, that I have applied to myself and also to others in my life, doing harm. But all these years, God has also been busy working for, in and through me. He has surrounded me in His gentle Spirit in others who have invited me to share my story and my heart with them, shared their own stories and hearts with me and prayed with and for me.
And He has purposely used others’ and my own weakness – and falling into sin – to perfect His power- to reveal that His Headship over and His ownership of His Body cannot ever be broken. For it’s our broken in repentance hearts and lives He uses to multiply His grace and restore and redeem us all, as we boast in our weakness, confess our sins to each and affirm Christ’s righteousness and saving blood for us.
The enemy tried to steal my Savior’s gentleness and compassion from me, as he played on my weakness – my desire to be loved and accepted in my local family of believers, believing that this determined my belonging and worth in Christ. When I faced rejection, and the trauma triggers in my body, I didn’t see or understand that all those who were rejecting God’s Word and His worth in me were in need of that very same gentleness and compassion He had extended to me as His little lost lamb. But, praise God! He is so very patient, so very tender and so very gracious to us all.
The raising up of barriers (which is what the Word “sufficiency” means in the verse “my grace is sufficient for you”) ushers in God’s gentleness for us and through that God’s gentleness and compassion also flows out upon others too, whose hearts open to Jesus. It’s making me so weepy seeing Jesus move in my midst- in both my own heart and in my loved ones’ Prodigal hearts, as together we are looking to Him and not to our thinking and understanding. I am turning to prayer in our conversations more and more and my Prodigal loved ones have begun praying personally now too.
I believe part of that barrier for me was 4.5 years apart from my family. That trip home was God’s kindness leading me to repentance, as those 4.5 years had increased my hunger and thirst and desire for God’s love -and my ability to receive Him (also through my Prodigal and unbelieving, but seeking loved ones).
And it was also a breaking of a friendship as I now I see how my friend – whom I treasured as my very best friend – and I had reached a point, where we needed each other out the way to see and receive God’s kindness and gentleness for us. It was never my job to open her eyes or hers to open mine to God’s love.
But it was our job to let God perfect His power in our weakness: to speak the truth in love to each other and to honor His pleasant boundary line for us. Since the breaking, He has compelled me to invite Him to be there for me and for my friend, so that He might become our very Best Friend and the only Rock upon whom we stand. So that He might take our imperfect, but devoted love for each other over those 19 years and perfect it in His love that is now casting out all my (and I trust also my friend’s) fears.
A hungry Prodigal friend and I listened to the song I Need You by Chris Thomlin and I burst into tears, as I sung the words – as God helped me to grieve and pray over what has been uncovered in a loved one, and to let Him comfort my heart and reassure me with His presence that is with her (and me) wherever she (and I) goes (go), whether I am there to comfort and support her physically or not.
As my friend and spiritual Mama, Bettie reminded me recently, when my heart was so broken at God setting me apart from so many dear friends and communities – He speaks His blessing of peace over us in that place of breaking.
Interestingly shalom means literally to join all essential parts into a whole. Isn’t that beautiful?
As God has been healing my heart and my loved ones’ hearts, His healing has been flowing out around us into each other and into others, without us even noticing. It is just so so so amazing the favor God is pouring out upon me now, as He is revealing the fruit of my own sharing in the lives of those I so love and treasure, who had been running from Him (like me) believing He is someone He is not, but are now coming home to His love. Yes! GOD’S grace and the easy yoke and light burden of Christ’s perfect love is sufficient for all of us.
It’s all been so humbling, but in that humility so freeing to see God’s boundary lines for us are SO pleasant, so vital, so good. Every single hemming in God has taken me through in my life has led me out into the spacious places of His heart for me. This time, I am breathing in this space to be present where He wants me to be that I might receive even more of His gentleness and compassion for me. My prayer in that is that His gentleness and compassion might also become more and more evident to others through me, as He binds us all together in love, in the freeing yoke of His Holy Spirit. In the grace of God given to us through the living sacrifice of Jesus for us, that we might also lay down our lives as a living sacrifice for each other that Christ and His love and healing for us all might be revealed in and amongst us, through the Holy Spirit:
Will you join me in singing one of my Mum’s favorite songs, she might just be singing with us from heaven. Oh may we see that cloud of witnesses before us and run our race full of faith, shedding the sin that so easily entangles us to declare the glory and coming of our LORD and King!
Postscript: moments after pressing publish on this post, this verse dropped into my email inbox with the subject title: Comfort Comfort. I just had to add it to bless you too:
“I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”John 14:27 (NLT)