Steps of Love

Something broke inside of me and I slipped into a deep depression. I wrote:

Some months ago one judgmental remark from someone put me into a tailspin and brought me face to face with painful memories of past abuse. At first I disassociated from my feelings. I didn’t want to feel at all, because it hurt too much. I continued on in life like a robot. But I became more and more depressed until one day something inside me broke. I sobbed and cried, “I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m so sick of being strong for everyone around me…”

It was like I was sinking deeper and deeper into a sea of turmoil, gulping up water. In my mind Jesus was standing above the surface looking down at me and shaking his head. “Hopeless case, that one…” I felt so forsaken of God. His promises seemed bogus, and I could not grasp a single one.

The weight of depression stomped me down, down, down…

Roaring In

Shame-slapping Scowls

Stormy Emotions

Stomping Down

Sinking Me

I couldn’t have made it that dark day without the grace of God. By the end of the day my heart was still heavy, but the care and compassion loved ones gave me lifted me up to see a pinpoint of hope. And the next day, God had a pleasant surprise for  me.

“I will give thanks and praise the Lord, with all my heart;

I will tell aloud all Your wonders and marvelous deeds.”

Psalm 9:1

My husband suggested I take my writing pad and go to the Falls. He knew nature often relaxes and comforts me. It helps me to remember God still has all things in His control. I sat on a rock and watched the water rush over the red rock formations. I let the sound of it sooth my weary soul. I imagined the wind as the breath of God kissing my face and telling me I will make it through this.

When I walked along the paths and around the Art Barn, I stopped in awe. There in front of me written in chalk down the front of the steps was a message that still impacts me today. “I will love you every step of the way. ♥” I knew it was God speaking directly to my despairing heart.

Then I remembered a song – “Steady My Heart” by Kari Jobe.

“Wish it could be easy

Why is life so messy?

Why is pain a part of us?

There are days I feel like

Nothing ever goes right

Sometimes it just hurts so much

But You’re here

You’re real

I know I can trust You

Even when it hurts

Even when it’s hard

Even when it all just falls apart

I will run to You

‘Cause I know that You are

Lover of my soul

Healer of my scars

You steady my heart.”

Sometimes God sends the greatest comforts out of the deepest valleys, doesn’t He? My heart still felt wounded, but I knew I could run to Jesus and He would pull me up again out of the pit and set my feet upon the Rock.

“He reached down and drew me from the deep,

dark hole where I was stranded,

mired in the muck and clay.

With a gentle hand, He pulled me out

To set me down safely on a warm rock;

He held me until I was steady enough

to continue the journey again.”

Psalm 40:2 Voice

That toxic shame still often pierces the core of who I am and screams, “You’re worthless. How can someone like you ever make a positive difference? You don’t deserve comfort. You don’t deserve to be accepted. ”

Panic still creeps in and shouts, “Watch out! You’re going to be hurt again. Reinforce that wall.”

Healing is a process though, right? I have learned that many struggle with inadequacy, shame, and fear of trusting. And I know there are others who also do but remain silent onlookers. And that’s ok. 

All of us have a story to tell, and there is not one story that is less important than another. There is not one hurt that is less painful than anyone else’s. Every story counts. Every. Single. One. So don’t let that bug bite you and tell you, “Your burdens are not as bad as someone else’s.” I know by experience that can stifle the grieving process. Every hurt needs grieving in order to start healing.

Remember! You are so special to God! You have been created uniquely for a special purpose only you can fill. Jesus loves you so much that He sacrificed His life for you. His arms are wide open with welcome, longing for you to run into them. Yes, life can be messy. Yes, it can hurt so much and be so hard. But He cares about broken hearts and delights to heal them.

Precious Lord Jesus, sometimes life can hurt so much and be so hard, but You have promised You care about our broken hearts and You delight to heal us. When shame poisons our perspective, please help us to see that in You, we are beautiful and valuable. When we feel like we’re drowning in the storms of life, please help us to reach up and grasp Your hand ever reaching out to us. Your hand of unfailing love and compassion. Please break all the chains that still bind us and keep us from dancing in Your victory for us. Heal us ever more deeply! Thank You for Your unconditional love and powerful grace!

This post is excerpted from Trudy Den Hoed’s blog post: https://freedtofly.me/2016/05/03/depression-and-deliverance/

which was first published in 2016.

Trudy’s passion is to encourage others there is hope in Jesus and His love in the midst of loss, heartache, and trauma. Jesus has become the needed oxygen for her soul as she continues on a lifelong journey of healing from past abuse. She lives in the midwestern United States and is grateful to be blessed with a loving husband and precious children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Wrapped in Royal Thread

“Take a sacred offering for the Lord. Let those with generous hearts present the following gifts to the Lord:
6 blue, purple, and scarlet thread; Exodus 35:5-6

The color purple, woven into the curtains of the Temple, represents royalty: the perfect kingdom that is promised for us in God’s Heavenly Kingdom.  But what if we could see the gift of royalty that our Jesus won for us, here and now, as we embrace Him as our Savior?

They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, King of the Jews. Mark 15:17-18 ESV

By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. Hebrews 10:20 NLT

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. 1 John 1:4-5 ESV

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. I Peter 2:9 ESV

So often in this life we find ourselves walking a broken path. We face wounding from those in the world, and even from those within the Church. Maybe your own loved ones have faced the effects of those woundings?

When Bettie’s family walked through painful hurts at the hands of those who were in Church leadership, her sons later suffered a deep brokenness as the pain increased their wanderings.  It felt like there was an attack being directed by those very ones who were supposed to be family within Christ’s Church. 

Similar pain also formed a part of Anna’s wanderings as a Prodigal. Even after her return to the LORD, Anna’s heart still heaved with the pain of the past, exacerbated by the loss of her mother, who had served the LORD with such devotion, to brain cancer. 

But then, one day, as she returned to the memories of her childhood, the LORD gave her a beautiful vision. In it she saw, felt and heard Jesus, as He picked her up and held her frail little body tight. He asked her to kick, scream and flail as a toddler and He promised to hold her tight through it all.

As she saw herself do so, she literally felt the tension that she hadn’t realized had held her body captive for so very long, depart her body, as she rested in her Savior’s safe and loving arms. And then, she heard Jesus speak such beautiful, beautiful Words of truth: “You can’t see it yet, Anna, but trust me, I am working all of this, all of it, together for good.” 

Even now, this Promise from God’s Word brings tears to Anna’s eyes as she waits for it to be fulfilled in so many of her loved ones’ lives. She is already witnessing the LORD work such good into her own life and heart through the pain she has walked through in both the past and more recently. If anything this hurt and pain has shown her that she cannot walk a life holy and pleasing unto the Lord without the empowering work of His grace. 

For:

“our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 ESV

So, let us:

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; Ephesians 6: 16 ESV

Oh how much of this painful world doesn’t yet make sense, but we have a Savior who understands. A Savior who lived and walked a life of rejection and persecution on this earth at the hands of His own, and who is not aloof to our pain and our hurt. This loving Friend invites us into His arms that He may release us from our burdens and whisper the truth into our weary hearts. 

A Friend who does not withhold His mercy from us, but wields it powerfully through us to bring abundant life. 

5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Genesis 45: 5 – 8 ESV

So, what if we began to see that color of royalty woven into the hearts of those in our fellowship? And what if we could see that those hurtful attacks have not come from our brothers and sisters, but from the forces of evil that the enemy of our souls wields over this world? Forces of evil that have been overcome by the blood of the Lamb. 

Where would our forgiveness lie if we would embrace each other as daughters and sons of the Most High God and see the truth of our incredible inheritance? What would happen if we lifted up our hurting hearts to our Savior and invited Him to wrap the Promise of HEAVEN (blue thread) and ROYAL PRIESTHOOD (purple thread) around us all?

The Lord has given Anna a beautiful poem to share with you. We pray that the Lord will speak to you of the beautiful inheritance that you and your loved ones have been promised:

NO POWER HERE WILL STAND

You sit upon the throne
All in Your hands You hold
All things to You they bow
No power too great for You to fell.

And in this cloak
Your Mighty Spirit
We, your children stand
We’ll stand and not be shaken.


All diseases
All afflictions
To You they bow
For Your compassion faileth not.

No child
Unwelcome here
Us in Your loving hands You hold
No hate too great for You to break.

You sit upon the throne
All in Your hands You hold
All things to You they bow
No power too great for You to fell.

LORD send Your many laborers,
Send out Your Love
So bright, so great, so deep
Into this, Your harvest ready, ripe.

All diseases
All afflictions
To You they’ll bow
For Your compassion faileth not.

No child
Unwelcome here
Us in Your loving hands You hold
No hate too great for You to break.

For You, You sit upon the throne
Our Father, us in Your hands You hold
All darkness to You, it bows
No power here will stand, but Yours.

Is there a wound, inflicted by someone within the Church, which has been festering in your soul? Can you let the Lord of Heaven uncover it today? Will you let Him show you the beauty and royalty that dwells within His Body of Believers, and then bring to you His own sweet gift of forgiveness?

Perhaps the wound has been carried over into the lives of your loved ones who are running from the LORD.  Can you pray for God’s Grace to begin a sweet work of uncovering and healing in their lives also?

As we bow our knees in prayer right now, let’s sit a moment with a Promise from our God’s Word that He spoke through Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel. Speak, O LORD, through this, Your precious Word, for Your servants are listening:

    He lifts the poor from the dust
    and the needy from the garbage dump.
He sets them among princes,
    placing them in seats of honor.
For all the earth is the Lord’s,
    and he has set the world in order.

“He will protect his faithful ones,
    but the wicked will disappear in darkness.
No one will succeed by strength alone. 

Those who fight against the Lord will be shattered.
He thunders against them from heaven;
    the Lord judges throughout the earth.
He gives power to his king;
    he increases the strength of his anointed one.”

1 Samuel 2: 8 – 10 NLT

May we pray for you today?

Dear Lord Jesus, We come to You today and confess that we are a broken people. We have been wounded, and we ourselves have inflicted wounds. And, yet You still call us precious, royal members of Your own household of faith.  Will you please forgive us where we have brought pain into the lives of our brothers and sisters? And will you bring to our own hearts a willingness to face forgiveness for those who have wounded us?  

Strengthen and invigorate us, LORD, with all power, according to Your glorious might, to attain every kind of endurance and patience with joy; that we may give thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the Light (Colossians 1: 11-12)

Thank you for washing us clean, and inviting us into Your family. We stand in awe of Your great gift, and worship You, our true King.  In Your precious name we pray, Amen.

This post was first published as a newsletter, sent to subscribers of the now closed down belovedprodigal.com. It was co-written by Bettie Gilbert and the steward of shalomaleh.com, Anna Smit.

Bettie, blogs at BettieGsRASeasons, writes Scriptural based prayer prompts and shepherds the Prayer Pond at the Chronic Joy ministry. The Prayer Pond is a safe harbor, where the chronically ill and their friends and family are encouraged to share prayer requests, updates and shouts of praise. 

Thanks to James Coleman @jhc for making the profile photo for this post available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/6n44KH_lEoE

Defender True

God is asking me to publish this early. So, a week earlier than planned, here is Defender True: may God’s will be done through these words He has asked me to share.

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Titus 3:5

Do you hear those voices too?

The ones that tell you

You’re not enough

You’ll never change

All you do is make things worse?

Do you hear the voice that follows then

The one that tells you

Defend yourself

Hold on tight

To who you

Wish you were

Lest he rips it from your weary

Tight-clenched hands?

Or the one that pushes you

To lie there in that bed

A bed that covers you in blankets

Grief, despair and loathing cruel

Chaining you to who

You believe you truly are

Lost

Forevermore?

Now, stop

And still

Feel an angel’s hand

Upon your shoulder

Warm bread

And cool water

Set lovingly before you

Hear his call

To rise, to eat, to drink.

Follow him out that cave

Feel the ground shake fierce

See the fire blaze hot

Let glorious truth

Shake off the dust

Burn all the dross

To reveal

The gold in you.

Now be still

And listen for

The whisper

For glorious Truth

Kissing

The kind, sweet

Gentle Voice of

Grace.

Feel those

Rushing waters pure

Waterfalls of grace

Pouring from your Savior’s mouth

Washing away

All that’s died

Upon the Cross

To now reveal

The lavish gift

Of Christ

In you.

Hear His gentle

Tender Voice

Unveiling

The many gifts

Hidden in

His heart

In you.

Beloved

Chosen

Holy

Pure

Purposed

True

You are His

Masterpiece.

Created anew

In Christ Jesus

You shall perform

The good works

HE

Has long

Prepared for

You.

No accusing tongue

Has power here

For God Himself

Has cast these columns

This Temple

Not of human hands

But with His own

Establishing

And strengthening.

For, it’s no longer you

Who lives

But the great

I AM:

Our One and Only

Slayer of all sin

Stiller of all accusations

Defender True.

NO sin is too bad, too shameful, too ugly for Christ to forgive. Never let the enemy convince you otherwise. Christ isn’t ashamed of you in your sin. No! His heart breaks for you. His heart longs for you to know the depths of His compassion and mercy. 

Sin wages war against every human: yes, even Christians. But that’s why Christ came. Not for the (pretending to be) healthy, but the sick. To heal us from our affliction, piece by piece on earth, until in heaven we are fully healed and whole.

The beauty is that because we have given our lives to Jesus, we are already, even now, dead to sin and alive to Christ. Romans 6: 18 tells us: “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”  So, though the flesh wages war against us here on earth, it cannot overcome us. For Jesus continually gives life to our mortal bodies through His Holy Spirit, turning us to repentance and freeing us from our accuser.

Romans 8: 10-11, 16 – 17

10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

When I came home to Jesus, my dear friend Emily sent me this song:

God connected us on the internet, five years earlier, when I was a Prodigal. My friend Emily has constantly reminded me through her own boasting in her weakness that WITH Christ, our advocate and our atoning sacrifice, who has promised never to leave or forsake us, we are always more than enough.

Not only do we stand justified by the blood He shed on the Cross, we are also being transformed from glory to glory, moment by moment, to look more and more like Jesus. Through Christ, we in fact only make things more and more beautiful, through the blood of the Lamb and His testimony at work in us.

Our loving Heavenly Father is not ashamed of us or angry at us. He is furious when our enemy convinces us that we are captives to sin, shame and fear. Christ knows exactly what we have been through and are still going through, He knows our every weakness (Hebrews 2: 18, Isaiah 53:4). He also knows just how much our hearts yearn to do His will. He will never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). Instead, He will move to defend us through the power of His Word and Holy Spirit.

He will shake off the old, burn away the dross and cover us in the waterfalls of His love, truth and grace (Psalm 42). He will lead us onward into greater and greater freedom from sin and shame. Let us be encouraged in the truth that “Those who look to Him are radiant, and their face shall never be ashamed (Psalm 34: 5 ESV).

For, Christ has already paid the price for the wages of our sin, cleansing us by His blood from our sin. Washing us in the refreshing truth of His Word, He reminds us that we are not defined by any of the impurity He shakes off us and burns away. For, we are already clean by the Word He has spoken to us (John 15:3). When the Father looks at us, He sees Jesus. No, nothing can separate us from His love for us (Romans 8:35-39).

Every single day, every single moment, we can walk afresh into the new awaiting us because of His blood shed at the Cross for us.

Will you join me in prayer?

Thank You, LORD, that in our imperfection, You offer us Your own perfection. Thank You for Your never-ending loving kindness to us in our weakness and need. LORD, when we get discouraged by the sins we commit and our frailty, help us to remember the truth of the Cross. Help us to cast our burdens at Your feet. Help us to pour out our hearts, allowing You to uncover any wickedness in us, to purify and cleanse us of our sin and to restore us unto Yourself.

When we are afraid and sinking in shame, send out Your kindness and perfect love to cast out all fear of punishment in us. Help us to draw near to You with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our heart sprinkled to cleanse us of a guilty conscience and having our body washed with pure water (Hebrews 10:22).

Help us to remember that: ‘The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day’ (Proverbs 4:18). Help us to remain ‘confident of this, that he who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 1: 6 NIV).

Forgive us for those moments we have turned away from You to hide our sins or have tried to defend ourselves, allowing the enemy to make us believe it is our perfection that will save us, rather than Yours. LORD, we turn to You now, confessing our sins to receive your waterfall of grace, believing and trusting that Your grace is sufficient for us, that Your power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Thank You, LORD, that You are our Defender True and will always shepherd us in love, kindness, truth and grace. Father, I ask You to surround each reader of this post with brothers and sisters in Christ who openly boast in their weakness, confess their sins freely and give glory to Your saving power. And I ask You to pour back into Emily’s lap a pressed together and overflowing abundance of love and kindness – the same love and kindness You poured out upon me through her. Amen.

Be blessed in the knowledge today that His mercy is more. More than all our sins: past, present and future. More than enough to cover us in our nakedness of want and need. More than enough to hold us tight through any suffering that comes our way.