The lyrics of Meredith Andrews song resonate in my head.
Lift up your head and throw off every chain
Lift up your eyes to the one who doesn’t change
Lift up your hands, their broken he will mend
Lift up your head
My hands lifted again, in praise, in thanks, in joy, in worship,and in the storms. I love to lift them up but – after many storms, my hands were growing more and more weary.
He was speaking to me all the while.
I cannot throw off the chains. – I can
I life my eyes up and they are cast down again. – I am watching you
I cry at his feet. – I will wipe away your tears
My hands cover my eyes. Tears roll. I’m desperate. – I AM
I am where He wanted me to be…
– You are here with Me
In the days prior to leaving, I could barely get out of bed. Packing seemed far off and something I couldn’t even do in my thoughts. Everything within me felt weighed down by the chain around me. It is one that I have worn before. Maybe you have worn it too? It is truly heavy and it is often made link by link.
Guilt – Condemnation – Failure – Fear – Despair – Depression
My head filled with lies. I knew they were lies, yet the accuser kept whispering them to me and I couldn’t get rid of them.
The more I fought, the more deceptive and subtle the enemy became.
I started to listen more and as I did my resolve and my hope dwindled considerably. The voice of God was becoming quieter and farther off. I hated this. Knowing what I know and believing as I do, the feeling of darkness covering me made it easy to feel even worse. I should be rejoicing in the LORD! …like I used to do.
Even so, He was there with me in the pain and the sadness and the darkness. He kept reminding me so much of Him through His word, through prayer and through beautiful songs of praise and worship.
He said things to me over and over again. I have not left you. I have not forsaken you. He kept telling me not to fear.
“It is the LORD who goes before you.
He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.
Do not fear or be dismayed.”
He reminded me – Keep your eyes fixed on me.
That song again, (Meredith Andrews)
Joy? Where had it gone? It was something longed for, but something just out of reach.
Then He did as He often does. Morning came and the Lord provided the mercies I needed for the new day. He had made it clear that he wanted me to go. I needed to go. My trust was solely on Him. It had to be.
So, I packed and I went.
Day One meant heading straight into a place where memories would flood in and it meant facing painful circumstances. He gave me the strength I needed for that day, and for each moment as they came.
Towards the end of Day One, my Father gave me a gift. The gift of an unexpected conversation. The gift of being the one to offer forgiveness when I did not know forgiveness was even sought. What a joyous gift it was!
When I first saw her, well over a year ago, I thought we could be friends. I sought her eyes and hoped to meet, but our eyes never met and I shrugged it off. At that time, I had a strong need and desire for new friends. It was during the largest step of faith I had ever taken where I was plunged into a new community and unfamiliar territory. I often felt alone.
Yet, during this time, the Lord helped me to take every moment, every need and every situation, to Him, and release it. For the most part, releasing my worries and concerns in this particular journey was pretty easy. This alone was a miracle. Let go? REALLY trust? Yeah – that wasn’t how I operated most of the time.
God has graciously given me many blessings through surrendered faith. Even so, every moment, large and small, left its imprint on my heart. After many months, those imprints began to meld together and the enemy used these and other painful wounds as well as the whispers of his lies to wear me down in every way possible.
When she came to me, and asked me to sit down with her, I was surprised. It was the first time we had spoken. For me, her imprint was small, quite small, considering the many, many other imprints over this journey. Yet, her presence, her love, her humility and her heart-felt conversation with me that night was large. Quite large.
Often, my heart hurts greatly when I see or feel someone dishonoring God. In the same way, when I see someone show great honor and love I am deeply moved and exhilarated. Seeing a precious and beautiful daughter of our King, my sister-in-Christ, moved to tears and humbly asking for forgiveness gave me great, great joy. Not because I felt it was needed or ever expected it, but because she is so precious in God’s eyes and her act was so pleasing to Him that I couldn’t help but rejoice! What a gift!
In 24 hours I had gone from a desperately low place in my spirit to a place of awe and wonder. I began to feel loved more deeply through her act, and through the brilliant smiles of a few friends I hadn’t seen in several months.
A Journey to Father Love
Day One began a journey of healing.
Days Two, Three and Four were filled with more love and more large movements in my heart. By trusting a dear friend, I agreed to attend a “Walk to Emmaus” event. God would use this time to draw me oh so close in His embrace. Through this event, the people that were involved and the activities I participated in, God brought about a beautiful caressing and nurturing to my heart.
On Day Three the Lord began to give me beautiful images to revel in as He spoke of His love, fellowship, and Fatherhood.
I pondered the story of Emmaus as recorded in the book of Luke. As Cleopas and “the other” walked along the road to Emmaus with Jesus, they did not know that the one who joined them on their journey was the very one they longed for. Luke 24:26 says “But their eyes were kept from recognizing him”.
How often we do not see the one who is there with us?
Sometimes it is because we are not looking, but at other times we want so much to see Him, feel Him, be near to Him and yet our eyes are kept from really seeing how close He is.
Perhaps, sometimes when we do not see how near He is, there is a great purpose in the revealing moments and in the story of not seeing. Perhaps, our seeing Him more clearly is all part of His plan and is fully within His control and timing, to bring about His glory and His purposes.
I pictured an image of walking along a dusty road, alone. Then, I saw Jesus there. I stopped walking and looked into his eyes. He spoke and reminded me of who He is. He gave me a glimpse of understanding that His purposes were being carried out through the journey.
I held his hand and we walked together.
I could not see ahead of me on the path, but He was with me.
He was there all the time. – I will never leave you or forsake you.
That evening another beautiful picture came to mind. Through an act of love, and a small thing, I was given a beautiful, heart wrenching image. In this picture, God reminded me of His Fatherly love. It’s so, so much better than any broken, flawed, human reality of a father. I began to really feel like a daughter to the most precious and amazing Father ever.
I heard him say, I have so much more to show you and to give to you. I love you tenderly dear daughter. Keep walking with me. I will reveal more to you.
In my heart, I really felt as if I had fallen into the arms of love and had been released of the heavy chains. He reached for my hand and I was able to lift my eyes again with hope and expectation to the future of what He wants to show me and where He wants to take me.
By the end of Day Four, I sang.
Facing Fear in the Faith of Fellowship
A bit of caution here. Those who know me know….I…do…not…sing.
Well, that is, unless it is in front of an audience and really embarrassing, like at my wedding. Or as a backup singer with the man who would become the next CEO of Dell Computers and to a large room full of executives and Mr. Dell himself. Or, as I did this evening, to a room full of women I am only beginning to know..
I dressed in black and sang to the tunes of Johnny Cash. Yep, sure did. I was excited too, despite fears, insecurities and only a few days before having been in an emotional place where I didn’t want to be around anyone. ANYone.
Honestly, I am not one who jumps at the chance for the microphone. Yet, when it comes to my great God, something happens. Sometimes the spirit’s prompting is just too clear and sometimes I just do things He asks me to do. Later I think, “I did what?!?”
Fears that hold us back from doing what God wants us to do can not occupy the frontal place of our mind when trust is put in Him and His Spirit takes over.
This four day journey came to a close and God had chosen to use it as the means to bring about healing and renewal in my spirit. In the days prior to obediently going when and where God was leading me, I could hardly make it out of bed. During the journey, he lifted my head and broke off the chains of the enemy.
Going forward, I walk on the dusty path holding His hand.
My arms will quite likely get tired again, but His hand will still be holding mine.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power of work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20,21 (emphasis mine)