Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lifter of my Head...

"Fear not, you will no longer live in shame. Don't be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood. For your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven's Armies is His name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth. For the Lord has called you back from your grief - as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband," says your God. "For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will take you back. In a burst of anger I turned my face away for a little while. But with everlasting love I will have compassion on you," says the Lord, your Redeemer. "Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you. For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken," says the Lord, who has mercy on you."  Isaiah 54:4-10

During my morning Bible reading this summer, I was reading these verses and experienced one of those "aha" moments; it was as if I was reading this passage for the first time, when in reality I can't tell you how many times I've read it throughout the years. Isn't it amazing how God works like that? It's one of the reasons I don't think I could ever tire of spending time in His Word...He never fails to bring fresh revelation when I'm open, ready, and willing to receive it, and it is always so life-changing, if even in the smallest way! This was no exception, either. It made a very big impact on my heart, and it was one I've been praying about sharing for a couple of weeks now. It's always difficult to decide what moments like this to share and what not to. This week, however, I really felt the Lord lay it on my hear to share, so here it is.

For most of my life - really almost as far back as I can remember - I have battled shame. Not just being easily embarrassed, but a true, harassing condemnation that would follow me wherever I'd go, regardless of who I was around. I could be sitting in a coffee shop at age 25 and be somehow reminded of something I did - whether "bad" or simply foolish - YEARS before and suddenly feel my neck and face grow warm with a fresh humiliation. This, my friends, is awful. And the Bible says it's unnecessary to boot! In fact, it promises in Romans 8:1 that there is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ, so why should I have to be walking in it, right? I would repeat this verse to myself over and over, get prayer, and it would go away for awhile...and then somehow, creep back into my mind. Whether because I'd mess up again in some area or another, or because in casual conversation someone would remind me of a time when...fill in the blank. At any rate, it was RIDICULOUS, and I'd had enough. One of the biggest things I'd been praying for this year was to finally shake off the shame and condemnation I'd been previously unable to and walk in the true freedom promised to us at the point of repentance and salvation. This summer, that prayer was finally answered and the breaking point came in the form of this beautiful passage from Isaiah.

Rather than give you an even fuller discourse, I will simply share with you the revelation I felt God gave me to accompany these verses:

"God has redeemed me! No longer do I need to hang my head in shame at the mistakes and sins of my past, He has dealt with me and disciplined me regarding them, and now He lifts my head, brings me into His loving embrace, and says it's time to move forward."

SO SIMPLE, RIGHT? And finally, it is. Whenever I feel that spirit try to knock at my door again, I simply say NO, because my God HAS redeemed me, HAS forgiven me, and HAS lifted my head so I can again keep my eyes on the high calling I have in Christ. Just like that!!!

If you are a Christian, you do NOT, no matter what some may say, have to walk in a feeling or state of perpetual overwhelming guilt over the mistakes of your past. If you have truly repented, and turned the other way from your sin, then you are covered by the grace of God and the work of the Cross. You are free! What God finally helped me to see was that I cannot walk in freedom and bondage at the same time. I had to choose one or the other. I chose freedom, and it has been beautiful. I encourage you, if this is a battle you ever struggle with, to really dive into His Word, read for yourself and get that personal revelation of the forgiveness that God has already, in His love, poured into your life. You are forgiven, you are free!!!

Thanks be to God, who loves us so much to continually speak to us in relevant ways. Because of Him, I'm still laughing, and in the most genuine of ways.


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