I feel I should encourage you before you begin to read this post. It may at first sound like a hopeless and depressing word but let me begin by reminding you …
What the enemy intends for evil, God will use for good.
Every story of oppression turned to triumph includes darkness, sorrow, moments of hopelessness and pain. There are a lot of people who know this first hand. I hope you aren’t one of them. But if you aren’t, odds are you love someone who is.
Our God stories, whether dramatic or not, give hope to others. There are people who are just like you who will draw closer to Jesus because they can relate to you and your journey to faith. This is true whether your story is idyllic or tragic.
Never underestimate the value of sharing your story with others.
Our God stories, whether dramatic or not, give hope to others. [/pullquote]
When our story is one of the darker ones it isn’t easy to share. We must though. Our stories of triumph through the Love of Christ light the path for others still surrounded by darkness.
When Jesus is the hero of your story, the darkness of the hour that came before He arrived is the turning point that contains the Good News for us all: Jesus is our redeemer! (Isaiah 43:1). Jesus will trade us beauty for ashes! (Isaiah 61:3). Jesus is our ever-present help in times of trouble! (Psalm 46:1).
The infinite revelations of His great Power, Healing and Love aren’t contained in the Bible alone, but also in your story and mine. And we never know who most needs to hear them.
Only the very hungry truly rejoice over the food set before them. It’s the cold and weary that most appreciate a safe and warm place to lay their heads. The Good News is often taken for granted, but rarely by one who whose very life depends on hearing it.
Our stories all begin in the bosom of a family.
A healthy, loving family is a beautiful microcosm of the Family of God in society. Each a living showcase of love as described in the Bible . This was God’s design. (1 Corinthians 13)
Family is where we are supposed to be nurtured, so we grow to become nurturers.
Family is where our selfishness and weaknesses are challenged, so we mature and learn to contribute to the well-being of others.
We’re supposed to grow up surrounded by a family who loves us unconditionally and provides a compassionate place for us to recover from our failures as we strive to grow and develop our gifts and talents.
These are hallmarks of the healthy family God intended each of us should have.
If you grew up in a family like that, Praise God! But many, many of us were not so lucky.
My story, like yours, was set in motion long before I was born. There was evil and darkness in my family tree, and I don’t know how many generations back that reaches. What I do know is the only thing necessary to continue a dark family tradition, is one willing to visit that darkness upon the next generation (Numbers 14:18).
From my earliest sense of self awareness, I believed there was something “wrong” with me. I was afraid most of the time and I never felt secure or comfortable in my own skin. As a little girl who had been abused, I was too ashamed of myself to believe anyone would want to be my friend. Consequently, I spent a lot of my time alone.
I remember feeling fundamentally “different” from other children. At school, I saw other little girls had pretty dresses, frilly socks, patent leather shoes and shiny hair with bows in it. I wore ill fitting hand-me-downs mostly. My socks rarely matched much less had lace on them.
I imagined there must be something special about those other little girls that made them worthy of those pretty things. Worthy of being loved and protected from evil. It hurt me to my core, but it seemed clear, I was not.
Our family life was an endless stream of chaos and fear. I won’t go into detail here lest this post become unbearably long, but suffice it to say all the children in my family were deeply wounded in one way or another.
A child with a damaged identity will unwittingly take on the lies of the enemy in an effort to make sense of the crazy world that whirls around them. They grow up seeing every bad experience and disappointment as confirmation of their unworthiness. They accept the false-self satan gives them, and live each day with the pain and shame that come with it.
I was one of those. I believed that what I came from determined what I was worthy of.
There was a time when I blamed my parents for the hell my siblings and I grew up in.
But I don’t anymore. My dear mother and father grew up in their own hell. They met and married filled to overflowing with wounds caused by their parents. And their parents before them.
Our family tree was poisoned.
“So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit” Matthew 7:17
Bad fruit. Truth be told, those two words sum up how I saw myself for a long, long time.
But guess what? That was satan’s plan from the beginning.
By infecting our family trees with all manner of evil, satan works to destroy our identity before we can discover who we were created to be.
What better way to prevent us from walking in the Light than by convincing us we belong in the shadows?
What better way to keep us from receiving God’s Love than by convincing us we aren’t worthy of it?
But God’s Power, Plan and Presence in this world are greater than the schemes of the enemy.
The voice of God can be heard in the darkest of places. The Hand of our Savior is always within reach. Holy Spirit is continuously telling us how to escape the schemes of the enemy.
But often, tragically, the voice we listen to is the one we believe. And satan can be very persuasive.
This is the battleground the wounded and weak struggle through every day of their lives.
This is why it is so important for us to share our stories. People who share your pain are the ones who most need to hear how you came to be healed. God wants to use your testimony to light the way for others. YOU are His hand extended.
I praise God for the Christians He used to rescue me. It was them who gave me courage to approach the throne of Grace… and them who convinced me I’d be welcome there. They led me to Jesus.
I wish I could say it was all sunshine and roses from that moment on, but that wouldn’t be true. There was a lot to overcome and none of it was easy.
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.” John 16:13
Only with Jesus in our hearts do we have the ability to recognize the lies we’ve been living under. As our identity in Jesus grows clearer, the false-self satan gave us is revealed for what it is. One by one his lies are exposed, rebuked, then cast into the pit of hell where they belong.
As I consider my life before knowing Christ and after, I am amazed at the truly beautiful life He gave me, in exchange for the ashes I once believed I deserved.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release the prisoners from darkness to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61
How is that for Good News?!
No matter how many generations of poison is in our family trees, Jesus specifically chooses us and grafts us onto His own branch (Romans 11:23). He rescues us, renews us, and shows us how to be who we were truly created to be.
He turns our story from one of tragedy to one of triumph.
Life is often tragic and painful. No one escapes scot free. But when you experience the joy of knowing Christ, your painful memories and scars take on a new meaning. They are no longer a source of shame, but a testimony to the redeeming power of Christ’s Love.
You are not what you come from. You are a child of God born to make manifest His Glory in this world.
As you gain strength from His Word, you’ll become a source of strength for others.
Far from being fruit from a poisonous tree, you’ll become a new creature in Christ and set tall among those who serve Him.
“By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.” Ezekiel 47:12
To God be all the Glory!
If you are interested in knowing more about healing from the past please email me at info@40ChurchesIn40Weeks.com.