Who’s the bad guy?

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I feel heavy. This morning when I woke, my head ached and my legs were leaden. No wonder as I’m heavy with child, this coming Monday to be 40 weeks. That is if she hangs in there till then. But with the progression of morning, rather than sleepy aches and pains diminishing, I found the heaviness to escalate. So much so, it eventually made its way to my heart. Thus, I find today I’m not only heavy with child, but also heavy of heart. And when I tried to pray, I could do nothing but weep…

They said to me, “The survivors in the province, who returned from the exile, are in great trouble and disgrace. Jerusalem’s wall has been broken down, and its gates have been burned down.” When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. I mourned… Nehemiah 1:3-4

Nehemiah wept, too, when he finally heard the news. See, he was the King’s cupbearer and must have been somewhat isolated from everything that was happening in his homeland. He had to have been in a bit of a protective bubble from the outside world as he resided with the King of Persia. For he had a pretty cushy job in comfortable surroundings. But in the course of time, his brother arrived and Nehemiah asked. How’s it going? And when he heard of the broken down state of his homeland, he cried. Nehemiah was heavy of heart. So much so, his face reflected it. The king even asked, “Why are you sad, when you aren’t sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.” That’s when Nehemiah found the courage to speak up. He said, “Why should I not be sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” He was braver still when he made a request, “Send me to Judah and to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I may rebuild it.”

And here, I see the similarity between me and Nehemiah. Because we cry for the same reason. When I finally heard the news of my homeland, I could do nothing but weep. See, I’ve been in a protective bubble. I have a cushy job as I work from home. My contact with the outside world has been minimal. And I’ve been so busy. And so preoccupied preparing for my joyful arrival, who is imminent any day. I’ve been living in my own world… until this past week, that is. Finally, I was caught up, all preparations complete. And finally, I was laid up as I reached maximum physical capacity, all energy sapped. So this week, I rested. There’s been a lot of couch time. And with what’s happening in our country today, in addition to what’s going on globally, naturally the news has become the focus of my attention this past week. I couldn’t tear my eyes away.

Last night, I dreamt of protests. No wonder as Ferguson is flooding the news. I’ve been feasting on what the networks feed me, and I found that I made up my mind. I made a decision based on the media. I decided who the good guy is. I judged who the bad guy is. This past week, I’ve become so upset and stirred up and self-righteous that I lost sight of the most important thing. There is a mother. And there was a son. I saw her picture on the internet first thing today, and my heart broke. For her. She lost her son. And no matter what happens in Ferguson, she will live with the loss of the boy she loved. And so, I was halted. By her tears. And mine.

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Oh, this week I’ve been full of tirades and speeches. I’ve ranted about what’s just and fair. I’ve been full of what’s right and wrong. For I thought I knew. This one’s the bad guy and this one’s the good guy. And isn’t that the basic question? Isn’t that the reason for the protest. The world has already decided. This one’s good and this one’s bad. This one’s right and this one’s wrong. And it doesn’t stop with only the two persons involved. It’s ever more far reaching than that. More questions arise. And so, lines are drawn. Anger is fueled. Love is taken out of the equation and hate is perpetuated. And the whole world focuses on this. Ferguson, Missouri. The whole world forms an opinion. Each person is right in his own mind. Each one knows what is just. And fair. Every single one of us knows. We all think we know who the good guy is. And who the bad guy is. And we draw our lines, form our opinions and walk in the way we think is right.

The way of Cain…

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On August 15, I penned in my journal the following question, “Who’s the Bad Guy?” And I contemplated all the following: Jihad and Hamas, ISIS and Israel, and of course, Michael Brown and Darren Wilson. And so, I went to my frame of reference. My guiding light. My moral compass. I sought God’s word. Through Hebrews I meditated on pursue peace with everyone and let brotherly love continue. And there, I realized God gives warning about two particular souls… He gives us examples of who not to follow. For in reading about brotherly love, the words of Cain echoed in the chambers of my heart, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” And so, I pause at Cain… the firstborn murderer. The first bad guy.

1 John 3:12 says, “We should love one another, unlike Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil…” Cain murdered because he was angry. Furious. And it was there, right where fury originated, that God cautioned Cain. Sin is crouching at the door and its desire is for you, but you must master it. But Cain didn’t. He must have fed on that fury. He must have fueled that fire for he led his brother into the field. He attacked him. And then, he then killed him. 

“What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground!” Genesis 4:10

God called out to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” though He already knew. Abel’s blood had already cried foul and God heard it. So I’m not sure why God asked where Abel was. Perhaps He posed the question in order to prick Cain’s conscience. Maybe He simply wanted Cain to realize the gravity of what he had done. Where is he… the one you killed? Or, was God giving Cain the opportunity to take responsibility for his actions? But I don’t think Cain did. Because I find his response to be kind of flippant. “I don’t know… Am I my brother’s keeper? Am I his guardian?”

And so, Cain is a bad guy in my book. Obviously. He was a cold-blooded murderer and God says to not be like him. But wait. Just. One. Second. It’s there in 1 John 3. Yes, God’s warning. God’s words. “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer.” And so, the way of Cain is a little less clear to me. It’s not so black and white. Not so easy to discern. For God says hate is as bad as murder. And isn’t there a time to hate? Can’t hate be justified?

Bitter Stew…

Esau and Jacob

On August 15, I began in Hebrews. That’s where another bad guy was illuminated through the pages of Scripture. His name was Esau. God’s words are clear, “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble by it, defiling many. And see that there isn’t any immoral and irreverent person like Esau who sold his birthright in exchange for one meal.” What made Esau so bad? He’s called godless. And honestly, I can empathize with him through his story. I felt sorry for him. It began with stew.   

He worked in the fields one day and so, when he came home he was hungry. He asked for some of his brother’s stew, but rather than just graciously serving him, Jacob wanted something in return. Give me your birthright. And Esau did. A foolish thing to do, but Jacob isn’t so innocent in this scene. And later, Jacob tricked their father into giving him Esau’s blessing, too. Jacob got Esau’s birthright and blessing. Oh, the injustice. How unfair! When I read about Esau crying to his father, I cried, too. But see, here’s the thing. Esau stewed over what was done to him. He nursed a grudge. He comforted himself thinking about the day he would murder Jacob. And though we read about the brothers later meeting and reconciling, I don’t think Esau ever let go of what Jacob did to him. It’s in Hebrews. Esau never repented. Meaning, he never changed his mind, or heart, about the way he felt when he lost his blessing. He wanted to murder Jacob. And perhaps over time, furious thoughts of murder ebbed to a slow flow of simmering, bubbling hate. But the fact is, the spark ignited the day Esau feasted on Jacob’s stew never went out. Oh, the flames may have lost their intensity over time. But time just made the coals burn hotter. Hate is what Esau passed on to his offspring. 

The proof? Obadiah’s prophecies against Edom, Esau’s line. Destruction because of the violence done to his brother, Jacob. See, Esau’s line stood aloof when Jerusalem fell. They didn’t help when strangers captured the city. God said they were just like the forces who attacked. For they gloated over Jerusalem’s calamity and fall. They rejoiced. Because in their minds, wasn’t this justice? Remember what Jacob did to Esau. He tricked and stole. And so, when Jacob’s descendants went down, Esau’s lineage felt justification. The sweetness of Jerusalem’s fall went down smoother than the bitter stew Edom feasted on. That hateful concoction… it simmered on low and never went out. That old, old issue never fully went away. The one that flooded their hearts and mind again and again through the years.

Yep, it’s clear. Just as Cain is a bad guy in God’s book, so is Esau and his lineage. There’s no denying it… we’re not to follow their ways. And so, again, I ask the question, “Who’s the bad guy?” For today, with everything that’s going on in the world, who exactly is the bad guy? Can I glean enough knowledge and insight and discernment from God’s word to judge on my own?

The way of Pam…

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Truth is, I’m the bad guy. Because I’ve smugly sat here in my comfortable home and judged the entire world by simply listening to biased reports. I hear one thing, and think one way. I hear another, and am steered the other way. All the while, my rage has been fueled. I’ve been feasting on pots of bitterness that have been simmering for way too long. I have been so irate over the unfairness of the situations I’ve seen. I’ve been angry. And yes, there has been hate in my heart. Hate. For love has been snuffed out through my self-righteous attitude. And God says if you have hate for your brother, you’re no different than a murderer. I’ve been walking in the way of Cain feasting on Esau’s stew this past week. And from a week’s worth of broadcasting, I think I know. Right and wrong. Just and fair. But I don’t.  I don’t know everything about what’s happening. And because I live in a small, secluded, safe town, there is no way I can possibly fathom the reality of what those on the outside are dealing with. I haven’t a clue.

There is a war today. It’s right here on our home soil. Our walls are broken down. And this morning, I cried as if I had lost a loved one. It was the picture of a mother. Her tears. It was a reality check. See, in the heatedness of recent activities, I lost sight of what really happened. A woman lost her son. What of her?

And so, my eyes are opened. I see the real war begins right here in my home. It begins with me. It’s the battle that rages in my heart. It’s the one of love vs. hate. And sometimes, hate wins. As it advances through the chambers of my heart, love is diminished. Until there’s none left. And the hate makes me a murderer. It makes me divisive. I draw lines and project all the things I stand against, rather than the things I really stand for. Like peace… blessed are the peacemakers. I rant about the bad guys or the enemies, but this itself makes me one of them! And what does God say, but to love your enemies and pray for those who hurt you. And so, He calls us to love. For love covers a multitude of sins. Especially the sin of hate.

Yes, this morning I felt heavy. So heavy. Now I know it was the hate. For I had been feasting on divisiveness. But it was the eyes of a mother who brought me to my senses. It was her heartache that made me realize the truth. I’m the bad guy. And so tears that began over the state of my nation turned to tears for me. And a wordless prayer for my country turned to prayer for me, the enemy. The persecutor. For in my own way, I had been murdering and pillaging. Though I had no words to offer God, He knew. And afterward, it was as if He said, “Where is your brother?” And in truth, my brother is everywhere. He is Michael Brown. And he is Darren Wilson. I am my brother’s keeper. And that means, I am to love them both. God help me.  

 When they heard these things, they were enraged in their hearts and gnashed their teeth at him. Then they screamed at the top of their voices, stopped their ears, and rushed together against him. They threw him out of the city and began to stone him. They were stoning Stephen as he called out: “Lord, do not charge them with this sin!” Acts 7

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Annabelle’s Announcement

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This flower appeared on our azalea bush a day or so ago. I didn’t pay much attention at first, assuming there were others. But last night, Jason pointed out there’s only one. He also reminded me that the bushes had already bloomed earlier this Summer. So really, it’s unusual that this one bloom came back. Thus, we wondered… is it her flower? A sign of what, or who, is coming our way. And in admiring this pale, blush colored blossom, I have to think yes. It’s hers. For this is the color that adorns her walls and bedding. It’s definitely Annabelle’s flower.

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I’ve been pretty busy lately as this past Summer has been a season of preparation. See, I’m preparing the way for the new life that’s about to enter our world. Her name is Annabelle and for now, she resides inside me. I keep thinking any day, but alas, my womb continues to encompass her. She is surrounded by me. And so, I find new ways to prepare every day. Her room was done a month ago, so I moved on to filling her dresser drawers and closet with clean sleepers and every adorable outfit you can imagine. When the clothes were done, I moved on to sterilizing bottles and nipples. And then packing her bag, eagerly anticipating the big day as I bustled along. My thinking the whole time was, it could be any moment. And if I were to judge by yesterday’s sonogram, I’d say she’s overdue. She should be here already. But God’s timing is perfect, and Annabelle will arrive when the time is right.

And so, perhaps Annabelle’s announcement may seem a bit premature. Isn’t it customary for birth announcements to go out after the baby arrives? But this morning, her impending arrival is all I can think about. And so, I’m ready to make the announcement. Annabelle is coming. And I want her message to go out to the world.

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As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:15

I began receiving gifts for Annabelle in January and the theme seemed to be feet. The first two cards portrayed baby feet and baby shoes, while the first two presents were wee little slippers and dainty pink sandals. Feet. And so, we wondered, would she be a missionary? What purpose did God already have for this little girl growing in my womb? And as I sit here today, her birth feels significant. That there’s something God wants to do through her… and so, I go back to feet. Her feet. And my feet.

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Lovely, aren’t they? My ankles have nearly disappeared and my feet are so fat I can barely wiggle my toes. So aesthetically, perhaps not so pretty to gaze upon. But when I think of what they represent, I’d say these are some of the most beautiful feet that trod the earth. At least for today. Because I bring good news. I announce the birth of my baby girl. She’s coming. And so despite my swollen size nines (or tens), I’ll continue to prepare the way… for her. I’ll prepare the way for new life, and this is what makes these feet of mine lovely.

The past few days, I’ve been thinking about another set of feet. They belonged to a man named John. I wondered if his feet became achy and swollen. Or if they were dirty or sandy as he prepared the way. See, upon John’s birth it was asked, “What then will this child become?” The answer… “And child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways.” John was chosen to give the people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins. And when the time was right, he prepared the way for Jesus’ arrival. Though he didn’t know the exact date, he knew that the Dawn from on high was coming. He knew that Jesus would shine on those who lived in darkness and in the shadow of death… that the One to come would guide others’ feet into the way of peace. And that made his feet lovely. For John brought good news.

Funny thing, though. John’s message to the people was “Repent!” And honestly, this just doesn’t sit well today. When we hear repent, don’t we feel more like cringing than rejoicing? It doesn’t sound like good news, does it? Almost harsh. And it’s here at this point, I imagine some people may wonder what in the world repentance has to do with a birth announcement… with Annabelle’s announcement. And personally, I have to say everything. Everything. My daughter’s very name points to a message of repentance. And the thing is, I believe the name was given to her by God. Though I selected it because it means joy, I find I’ve been residing in a state of repentance instead. Ever since February, in fact. And so I deem this to be an act of God. Annabelle pointing me in another direction. 

Yes, Annabelle’s coming and her name means joy. But you know what? Through the book of James, God tells me my laughter must change to mourning and my joy to sorrow. And this doesn’t sound like good news. But you see, there’s hope. For in Psalm 30, I read that weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning. Joy is coming for it follows repentance. It comes when you really turn from something you know you need to leave behind. Because if you hold to the thing you’re not supposed to, it kills you. It’s like poison. I know this to be true. And so, I find I’m repenting. As I turn loose of what He said to, I find I am able to turn to Him. And this prepares the way for new life. And not just the new life that resides inside me named Annabelle. For I come to life alongside her. My Joy is birthed as I prepare to birth her. That’s the very reason I picked her name… for I was longing for joy. And so now, Jesus comes to me. His arrival is right on time and He ministers to me…

The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me,
because the Lord has anointed Me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and freedom to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of our God’s vengeance;
to comfort all who mourn,
to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning,
and splendid clothes instead of despair. Isaiah 61:1-3

Jesus must have had lovely feet. For He brought good news to the poor. And He was sent to heal those brokenhearted souls. He came to comfort those who mourn and sorrow. This is a picture of repentance. And so I see it’s not a harsh message, after all. It is good news and it’s quite lovely. And I feel such hope. For I am poised to rise from the ashes. He will replace my mourning and sorrow with oil of joy. Joy. And that’s what her name means. And this is why Annabelle’s birth is so significant. She has great purpose. For her very name, and her birth announcement, proclaims the One to come. Her lovely, little feet that have not yet trod the world already prepares the way for Him. That’s what she’s been doing in my heart… preparing the way. Lovely feet. Good news.

Oh, I have been preparing. For months. I’ve been paving the way for my daughter’s appearance. But in addition, I’ve been turning. My heart has been changing as it aligns to the ways of Jesus. His ways are becoming my ways. And so, Scripture comes to life. In me. For repentance is simply this change of mind. It’s this change of direction. And so in preparing the way for Annabelle, I find I’ve also been preparing the way for Christ. While I’ve been making room for her in my home, I’ve been making space for Him in my heart. And ultimately, His way will guide my feet into the way of peace. The path of joy…

She’s coming. And He is, too. When the time is right.

“I assure you: You will weep and wail, but the world will rejoice. You will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy. When a woman is in labor she has pain because her time has come. But when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the suffering because of the joy that a person has been born into the world. So you also have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Your hearts will rejoice, and no one will rob you of your joy. John 16:20-22

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Just Jesus

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Today, I contemplate words. The word of God vs. words of men. God’s way or man’s way. See, there are just too many directions to go in life. So many opinions and traditions and denominations. Choices. And as time marches on, man’s words begin to mingle with God’s word. His word is not so clear amidst the noise pollution, and so, we become confused. Which way’s the right way? Before long, we may find we’re headed in the wrong direction. At least that’s been my experience. Until recently, I think I was going the wrong way… following man’s ways instead of God’s. And so after hearing too many voices for way too long, I longed for simplicity. I decided I wanted out. I rejected the words of man in favor of the Word of God. It’s His voice, His word, I chose to follow. I looked to the Word of God… to Jesus. That’s the way I decided to go. That was about four years ago.

He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is called the Word of God. Revelation 19:13

Suppose there were only one way like in the book of Acts. For the followers of Christ were referred to in that manner… they belonged to the Way. Jesus even said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” So then, if He is the way as He proclaimed, He’s the only direction to go. For His path leads to God. And so today, as I contemplate the Word of God, I contemplate WWJD (what would Jesus do). I realize I should never let those letters flippantly escape my lips. Not unless I’m really willing to trod His path. And not unless I’m truly willing to imitate His ways. And so I ask myself, am I willing today? Because really… WWJD? The cross, of course, is what first comes to mind. He hung on a tree, for me. And though images of the crucifixion portray Jesus wearing a loin cloth, in actuality, He probably wasn’t. He was likely naked for all to see as He was lifted up. He was vulnerable. Exposed. He wore one thing only that day… it was sin that covered His nakedness. The only piece of clothing draped across His body was a robe of blood. Tinged by a spirit of despair, its color was dark, stitched together by years of past, present and future sins. This is what my Lord wore upon that cross. My sin.

After crucifying Him they divided His clothes by casting lots. Matthew 27:35

And so I again consider WWJD. Am I willing to do what He did? Will I allow myself to be naked before my fellow man? Will I be so vulnerable? So exposed? Will I strip down to my true self baring my soul in view of many while donning only my garment of sin? Can I be so bold? Because this was His way. And if I dare call myself a follower of Christ, isn’t this the direction I take? For He calls out, “Follow me…” And He is the Way. The Truth. The Life. His way is the only way that leads to God. And so, leaving the voices of others behind I hear Him. And I find the answer is yes. I’m willing. There shall be no pretense. This writing is my attempt at transparency. This is how I abandon all other ways, all of man’s ways, in order to follow His way.

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. Genesis 3:21

When Adam and Eve trod this earth, they were naked. And nothing separated them from God until that fateful day of the apple. It was this event led that led to a new thing… playing dress up. For God’s creation sought to cover up their sin. And so, Adam and Eve were the first play the game. Although placed in Eden to dress the earth, they dressed their bodies instead. Adam and Eve made a choice to travel the path of sin, and so entered their vulnerability. They felt exposed and did what was natural… they tried to cover up their deed along with their bodies. Fig leaves were used to hide their nakedness. And ever since then, that’s what the human race has been doing. Playing dress up to cover the truth. Using fig leaves, or masks, to hide our sins. And over the centuries, we’ve become masters in the art of deception. And of pretense. Of imaging. Pretending. And playing dress up.

Me? I learned to play dress up as a young thing. That’s because I wanted everyone to like me. And so I changed myself to fit in with my surroundings. Like a chameleon. I learned the art of deception early on in that I pretended to be whatever I thought someone wanted me to be. I strapped on a mask at five years old, and there it stayed till middle-age. In truth, I never knew the real me till I was forty years old. And that’s because I was always trying to be someone I’m not. But see, there’s a danger in practicing deception, or covering up, or wearing a mask. Eventually, you come to believe the lie. And what amazes me the most is that this carried on while I was in church. Perhaps even more so for church was a new venture for me. It was a new path and there were so many voices. So many opinions. And so, I tried to imitate what I saw. At first uncomfortable, I adapted. I did what came natural in that I strapped on a good-girl church mask and walked forward. Basically, I played dress up. And over time I began to feel good about me and all that church stuff I was doing. As the years progressed, I simply forgot about the old me. The real me who lie beneath the mask. And in my own mind, I came to believe I was exactly like the part I was playing. My mask portrayed a sinless, perfect, godly woman, and eventually, I believed I was just that. Sinless. And perfect. My costume was just too convincing.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14

Basically, I believed a lie. I was such a good actress by the time I reached my late thirties, I fell for my own act. And the perfect, sinless, godly woman I portrayed to be had no need of change. I had succumbed to the art of deception. I thought I was just who I projected to be. And thus, I was totally blind. And thus, I was totally covered up, masked up and dressed up. Nothing about me was real. The worst was when I began to condemn others. See, I had adapted to man’s mindset… not God’s. And so, I weighed people by my own set of scales (faulty ones) and by what I could see (totally blind). I would look at someone and judge them in an instant just by appearance. But remember, in my own eyes I was sinless. And perfect. And because I felt so good about me and the things I did, others usually fell short. See, the mask I wore obstructed my view. I could no longer see what was actual because fake became my reality. And because I came to believe I was just like the part I had been playing, there was nothing for me to feel conviction over. I was so righteous (self).

But alas, after too many years of too much pretense, I knew there had to be more. Roughly four years ago, I began to long for something deeper. Something real. Something authentic. Finally, I wanted to really be who I professed to be. A follower of Christ. And after years of traveling my own way, man’s way, I decided there had to be another way. Which happens to be the Way. The Word of God. And so, as I stepped onto His path, I slowly began to tune out the voices of others. Over time, I began to hear Him. The Word of God. And ever so slowly, the way became clear…

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. Job 1:21

What did Jesus do? He was born. A naked babe birthed from his mother’s loins. And when the time came, Jesus began His ministry. He said to repent for the kingdom of God had come near. But also, He said that He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. Simply, He calls out to those who are going in the wrong direction to come and follow Him in the opposite direction. For His way is the right way. But what’s key is only sinners can hear Him when He calls. The self-righteous totally miss Him as He walks by. Because in their eyes, they’re already righteous. They’re already on the right path. Blinded by their own masks and deafened to conviction because in their minds, they’re perfect. And sinless. And up till a couple of years ago, this was me. This was the mask I wore.

But today I see. For light has been shed upon my path and I know the way to go. But before I do so, there is one requirement. Honesty. I must not pretend. To walk His way, the mask has to come off. Because His way is the way of transparency. Of authenticity. There’s no room for playing dress up when you travel the path of Jesus. And so, that’s what I do. I lift off my mask and strip off my play clothes. And what’s left behind is only me. Just Pam. And when the pretend perfect is removed, all that remains draped across my body is a dark robe tinged with the spirit of despair, woven together by years of my sin, stitched by decades of transgression. Unmasked, and naked, this is all I have left… my gown of offense. And I feel vulnerable and exposed. Naturally, I want to cover up. But He says no. Because this is my natural covering. This is what He wants me to see. Because the robe of sin that covers my own body is the very one He wore, and bore, on my behalf. This is what Jesus wore on the cross as He died. In His nakedness, He wore only my iniquity.

Naked Jesus came into this world and naked He left. And He calls me, a sinner, to do the same. He calls me to be naked. Because when I’m so bold, or so vulnerable, as to strip down to my true self in plain view of everyone, people will see me. Only me. Just Pam. And that’s what He wants. Because when all the pretense and the pretend and the masks are thrown out, I’m real. And He’s real. Finally, I am who I proclaim to be. A follower of Christ. And this act alone makes me more like Jesus than anything. My nakedness. Because when all else is stripped away, I allow Him to dress me the way He wants to. He exchanges my despair for splendid clothes as He wraps me in gowns of salvation and robes of righteousness. And the miracle is that over time, I naturally will become more and more like Him. Simply by walking His way – the Way – I’ll transform. Eventually, there won’t be much of the old me left at all. Instead, there will be only Him. And as the years progress, when people look at me, He’ll be who they really see. Not me. Just Jesus.

She was permitted to wear fine linen, bright and pure. For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints. Revelation 19:8

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The Binding of a Boy

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And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. Genesis 22:7-9

I’ve had him almost eight years now. And from the moment he first drew breath, I kept him as close to me as I possibly could. But no matter how tightly I clung to him, and no matter how closely I watched him, my fears grew anyway. I used a positioner in his crib to keep him from movement. I allowed no loose blankets because SIDS hung over me. When his Nonnie laid him on his belly to sleep, she jumped up to reassure me that she was right there beside him. As he grew, I gave him teeny, tiny bites of food in order to avoid choking hazards. Even to this day, I cut grapes in half. Well, at least the big fat ones. And you know, even as a little thing, this guy knew. He knew my fear. Perhaps he could smell it. Because when he was only 2 and a 1/2 years old, he delighted in cramming as much food as he could into his mouth, only to look over at me with his lips stretched out as wide as they would go. He wanted me to see inside. It was as if he were saying, “Look, Mama. Look at this choking hazard.” Honestly, I believe my little boy took pleasure in witnessing the panic as it reached my eyes.

With each new year and with each new milestone, a new fear presented. When he could walk, I feared he would be hit by a car. When he could run, I feared he would get too far ahead of me in a store and be kidnapped. When he could jump in a body of water, I feared he would drown. When he became curious, I feared his little prodding fingers would be struck by a copperhead or a black widow. And the list goes on. And on. And on. Fear. And so, I’ve  been working on this. For at least two years now, I’ve been trying to get to the root of my fear. And I’ve made great progress. I know where it stems from, and I know what spurs it on. But no matter how far I’ve come, fear still presents when I least expect it. Like a truly horrendous nightmare a couple of months ago… my son abducted by sex traffickers. Or like last week when I read about dry-drowning on the verge of summer activities. The fact is, despite all I’ve learned about conquering my fear, it still rears its ugly head every now and then. Fear.

Funny thing is, through the story of Abraham and Isaac, I see fear and worship are linked together. When Abraham was called to sacrifice his son on an altar of wood, he called it worship. Imagine the fear in that. And Abraham lay the wood on Isaac’s back while he himself carried the fire and the knife. And when they got to where they were going, Abraham bound his son. He bound him. That means he tied him up before laying him down. Can you imagine? But at the last moment when Abraham reached out for that knife… God intervened. An Angel of the Lord cried out, “Abraham, Abraham!” Oh, the relief Abraham must have felt when he answered, “Here I am.” And there in the thicket was a ram. God provided a substitute sacrifice and Isaac’s life was spared. His son would live. Abraham was told, “Now I know you fear God since you have not withheld your only son from Me.” Yes, Abraham surely feared God. And so did his son. It’s apparent that Isaac followed his father’s footsteps by what I read in Genesis 31:42. “He is the God of Abraham and the God Isaac worshiped.” Or as the HCSB puts it, “The God of my father, the God of Abraham, The Fear of Isaac…” See, fear and worship. They’re interchangeable here.

And then, there’s my son…

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This picture is priceless. There’s my little boy on his tractor with his own baby… as close as can be. And can you see how tightly that little bear is bound? When I finally started using a blanket, the one I used was wound just as tight around my own baby. The only difference is my son’s blanket never extended beyond his armpits. No, that blanket had to go under the arms to be tucked in behind his back. No way would I have allowed it to hover around his neck and ears. Way too close to his nose and mouth… too close to danger. And so, this picture evidences that my son is following my footsteps for sure. And in more ways than can be seen. See, when my son began riding that tractor, he stuck to one path only. A small, round one. He’d spend all his time making that circle… around and around and around. Despite having a whole yard to navigate, he stuck to what was comfortable. The circle. And so it appears that my ways have rubbed off on him. And despite his taking glee in my own panic, I find that he avoids his own. For he has become a cautious little guy. He avoids danger as best he can and is incredibly careful. Like me. And today, I wonder if perhaps that’s not always such a good thing. For I fear I’ve wrapped him too tightly with my overbearing nature over the years. And in doing so, I fear I’ve bound him not to the God above, but to the fear below. And my worry? That he will become what I became in life. Too scared to really live.

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Here’s my boy today. Literally. I took those shots this afternoon. This was the first time on his very own four-wheeler. And I was scared. Fretful. Him? I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I believe he had just a touch of trepidation. For there was a lot of careful riding. And the path he chose? A small, round one. He went around and around and around. He stuck to what was comfortable. The circle. Like when he was three. Daddy told him he could go off in another direction. But when he tried, he was unsuccessful in managing that small incline. See, he needed more speed and he was reluctant to go faster. So, he went back to his circle. Yes, it’s quite clear I’ve rubbed off on him. But again, is that really such a good thing?

Fear. We all have it. Me? Perhaps more than my fair share. But the fear that lays claim to my heart is not meant to be shared. Least of all with my son. Because fear of the unseen and fear of the world and fear of trying new things is not from God. It’s from below. Oh, there’s nothing wrong with being cautious. But from experience, I know that when I’m overly-careful or fear holds me back, I’m prohibited from living. I’m kept from being fully alive. In fact, before I know it, I’m bound. I find myself tied to an altar I don’t want to be tied to. Because it’s the wrong altar. And before I know it, I find I am bowing down to fear… not to God.

And then, there’s my son. Without meaning to, I find my actions bind not just me, but my little boy. Without meaning to, I’ve bound him to the wrong altar. And so by following my faulty footsteps, my son is led astray. I cause him to bow down in worship not to God above, but to a god below. The god of fear. Because he can worry so. And he can be so utterly careful. Too careful at times. And in the binding of my son, he finds himself tethered to a point on this earth that causes him to go around and around in circles. The careful path. And I don’t want that for him. I want for him what Abraham wanted for his own son. I want my child to be bound to one thing only. And I want for him to fear one person only. God. This is how my son can worship. For fear and worship go hand in hand. They’re interchangeable here.

My prayer is that my son will follow my footsteps. But only those steps that lead him in the right direction… the ones that lead him to the proper altar. God’s altar. And by my leading him, perhaps Levi’s own offspring will follow the same path. And when they speak of God, just maybe they’ll say, “He is the God of Pam and the God Levi worshiped.” Or in other words, “He is The Fear of Levi.” See, fear and worship. They’re linked. Hand in hand. But only one fear is the right fear. That’s the fear of the LORD. That’s worship. And the other… well, that’s just plain fear. That’s the fear that will bind you.

No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 54:17

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My Son, A Burnt Offering

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“There can be no doubt that this possessive clinging to things is one of the most harmful habits in life… we are often hindered from giving up our treasures to the Lord out of fear for their safety.” A.W. Tozer

I often write about the journey. Because that’s just what I’m on. And not just me, but each one of us is on a pilgrimage of sorts… a spiritual trek through a temporary land. But personally, my journey doesn’t always feel so spiritual. For the temporal is what lies before me, swallowing me whole as the eternal dims in my view. It’s the tangible that I touch, and smell, and hear and taste. And so, what’s right before my eyes feels the most real to me. This is what I cling to. The things I can hold.

This week, I found myself facing something yet one more time. Something I don’t like to think about at all. But sometimes, it consumes me. Every fiber of my being is filled with terror. It’s the thought of losing my child. My son. My one and only son, whom I love. The fear began the day he was born. I’m sure most moms face this fear, but with me, I think mine is a bit irrational. Some may even say I’m a bit high-strung. See, after my child was born, I didn’t know what to do with myself and could not relax. I found myself creeping to his crib more than once a night to hear the sound of his breathing and to feel the rise and fall of his chest. And the poor guy couldn’t sleep. Probably because I used a sleep positioner so he couldn’t budge an inch. No, I didn’t want him to move at all. Not only that, no blankets were allowed for some time. The thought of SIDS overwhelmed me, so I used a zip on blanket. Finally, when I relented and allowed a real blanket to share his crib, it had to be wrapped around him super snug, to the armpits only, and inside the positioner. I didn’t want it to come loose. See, I tried to bind my son and keep him from movement in hopes of warding off harm. And then there was the video monitor. That was a necessity for I wanted to lay my eyes on him anywhere and anytime. It comforted me to see him. All of this reassured me. The tangible. I’d touch him and hear him and hold him. Attached is the word I’d use. I was so attached to my son. And over time, he became attached to me.

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This week, it was an article on dry-drowning that tripped me up. And my goodness, I’ve traveled so far with this issue. I thought I was over and done with it. And yet, I read about a little one dying hours after being at a water hole. This horrified me. Immediately, my thoughts jumped to this coming summer… a future lake vacation and later, summer camp. My son will visit a lake two times. And water happens to be one of my greatest fears. I swim minimally so this is something I project onto my son. I fear for him when it comes to water play. And two days ago, the reality of dry-drowning (I won’t go into details) had me in a sheer panic. So, worry utterly consumed me. The article was before my eyes and tangible. It was real. And so, as I read the words, I became filled with fear and dread. Fear of losing what’s so important to me. My son. My one and only boy child, whom I love.

Amazing how God works. See, I read that scary article about dry-drowning but it was later that morning when I read something else. The second chapter A.W. Tozer’s book, The Pursuit of God, is called The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing. And within those pages, Tozer visited the story of Abraham and Isaac. So, just hours after reading about a child dying, God led me to this very issue through the words of Tozer. And through His very own words located in Genesis 22. Which happens to be a chapter in the Bible I try to avoid. Because it scares me.

One day, God called out to Abraham with instructions. I wonder if he would have replied so readily if he knew what God was going to say. For on the heels of answering God, “Here I am,” Abraham was told to sacrifice his son. And this puts chills down my spine. For God called out, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” And although it’s not mentioned in Genesis, Tozer brings to mind the struggle Abraham must have gone through. He remarked on what a wrestling match it must have been between Abraham and God. And this is what brings tears to my eyes. Do you think Abraham argued with God? Do you think he pleaded as Jesus did in the garden before He Himself was sacrificed? Did Abraham utter, “If possible, take this cup from me. But nevertheless, Your will be done and not my own?” How he must have writhed in agony and dreaded the following morning when he was to set off on a journey. Three days it took to reach the designated spot. Did each footstep fall heavier and heavier? Finally, the time arrived. And Abraham’s words to his fellow journeyers? “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.” Worship. That’s what Abraham said.

Two days ago, I contemplated Abraham’s words. He was leading his child to an altar. His child was to be the sacrifice. And this is what he called worship. Abraham worshiped God in taking wood and laying it on the very back of the boy who was to be slain. The very picture of Jesus who, on His own journey to sacrifice, had to carry His own wood. Abraham carried the fire and the knife and walked on with his son to do the unthinkable. How Abraham must have inwardly wept when Isaac looked up at his daddy with trusting eyes… “My father.” In reply, “Here I am, my son.” The boy made inquiry… “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Where is the lamb? Oh, Abraham’s heartbreak for he was staring right at the little lamb. How trusting Abraham must have been as he uttered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And that He did years and years later in offering up His own Son. His one and only in whom He loved.

The two walked on to the place God told of, and there, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood. He bound his son Isaac and placed him on the altar on top of the wood. Do you think Abraham looked into his son’s eyes as he did so? Were they filled with tears? Were Isaacs? How could Abraham have had the strength to reach for that knife? I don’t know that I could have. I just don’t. But Abraham did. He reached out for it in order to slay his son. And this act… this offering of his son, His one and only son Isaac, whom he loved, is what he meant when he said they were going to worship.

No, it’s no accident I read about dry-drowning and the story of Abraham and Isaac in one day. Because through two separate sources, something was brought to the forefront of my heart and mind. See, I thought I already dealt with the irrational fear. Over and done with. Finished. But Tuesday morning, I knew a remnant remained within. So, on the floor of my bathroom I cried out and prayed to the God who hears. For I saw what God wanted me to… the blessedness of possessing nothing. Abraham’s act highlighted this lack of possession. For in offering his son, he was releasing the hold he had on Isaac. Or rather, the hold Isaac had on him. See, Isaac had become too much of his reality. Abraham saw him daily. He touched and smelled and heard and held his son. And because he had been holding to him for so long, this is what Abraham held the tightest. Isaac replaced God. And so, God said stop. Give what you hold dearest to me. And this is what God says to me.

It’s true, I cling to my child. Always have. I’m over-protective. Because I think my overbearing manner will protect him. I think that if I’m with him, I can keep him safe. My eyes and hands on him. Touching him. Directing him. But what I know to be true is that the more I try to possess my son – to own him and keep him – the more I am possessed by him. My little one owns me in that he fills my thoughts. My heart. And I cannot bear the thought of losing him. Thus, fear. Thoughts of keeping this little boy of mine safe consume me. Replacing God. For my son is who I see daily. Before my eyes. He is my one and only, whom I love.

And so Tuesday morning, God got my attention. Again. He called out to me and said, “Pam! Take your son, your only son, whom you love, and offer him to me as a burnt offering.” And so, once more I tried to. On the floor of my bathroom. I wrestled. I cried out, “Take this cup from me. But nonetheless, not my will but Yours be done.” And so afterward, I offered my son. My only son. To God. On the altar of my bathroom floor. And in releasing him to God, my son’s hold on me is loosened. My grip is not as tight. For I realize he was never truly mine to begin with. For He’s God’s possession. So, in releasing what’s tangible, what I can see and smell and hear and hold, I am freed to grab hold of something else. The intangible. The unseen. By offering my son, a burnt offering, I find I am free to take hold of God once more. Once again, there’s room in my heart for Him. This is how I worship God.

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Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1

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Navagating Stones

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“The LORD then said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the disgrace of Egypt from you.” Therefore, that place has been called Gilgal to this day.” Joshua 5:9

The land belonged to the Israelites. God promised it to them and they simply needed to take it. But the Jordan river was an obstacle. So the priests carried the ark of God as they set foot in raging waters. And just as the Red Sea dried up years earlier, the Jordan River did the same. A miracle took place as the entire nation crossed the Jordan. Afterward 12 men were sent back to the middle of the river to take up 12 stones from among where the priests feet rested. Joshua commanded the people to set up the stones, standing stones, as a memorial to the day. And after crossing the river, the Israelites found themselves at a place called Gilgal, which means to roll. For that’s where God rolled away the disgrace of their past. The stones were a reminder. And so, Joshua commanded the people, “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ you should tell them, ‘The waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the LORD’s covenant. When it crossed the Jordan, the Jordan’s waters were cut off.’ Therefore these stones will always be a memorial for the Israelites.”

Handwritten notes in my Bible show Gilgal to be “a place of worship, rest, no battle.” Basically, Gilgal is the place I find myself after crossing a raging river that once stood before me like an impenetrable wall. It’s where I find myself once I’ve given up the struggle, allowing God to fight for me. And it’s where I stand in awe and worship because of the might God displayed on my behalf. Gilgal is where I found myself at the end of January. For that’s when I realized I am forgiven. I accepted it and believed it. And that’s when the reproach of my past rolled away. In Gilgal. It was then, after crossing the raging river of my past, that I readied myself to move forward in order to possess the land God laid out before me. But first, a standing stone. Thus, the last blog written as a memorial to God’s activity in my life. It’s there so that when my children ask me, “What does this stone mean to you….” I can tell them.

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And then, last week. A fiery dart or a fiery trial, I cannot say as I found myself facing a new stone. But unlike a standing stone, this one could cause me to stumble. See, I had just sent forth words as a memorial to God. I wanted everyone to know the works of His hand… how He dried up the raging rivers of my past as I crossed over to camp out at Gilgal. And yet, immediately after setting up that standing stone, I found sadness. For I learned a loved one pointed a finger at me for the very thing I had overcome. Unbeknownst to me, a scarlet “A” had been thrust upon my chest. But unlike Hawthorne’s red letter, which stands for adultery, my “A” represents abortion. And I wasn’t even there to defend myself when words were spoken against me. I couldn’t open my mouth in defense for I hadn’t a clue as to what had been said months earlier. And this hurts because it was a loved one who spewed out the ugliness about my past to another loved one. But it wasn’t to build me up. No, it was meant to make me less. The very thing I overcame, my past, was used against me to cast a negative light in my direction. And so, a woman I deeply care for heard something about me from another woman’s quick lips. And last week, it felt as if a rock were thrown at me. A stone was cast in my direction.

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Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?”  They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse Him. Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. When Jesus stood up, He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answered. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” John 8:3-11

Today, I find myself at a fork in the road for a decision has to be made. See, in his wisdom, King Solomon said there’s a time to throw away stones and a time to gather stones. And in reading his words, I know there’s a time for everything… a time for every purpose under heaven. And today, I need to know if it’s time. Is it time to hold the stone flung my way, or time to throw it out? And I can keep it if I want to. Oh, I can carry that rock as long as I want… even till it becomes so heavy that it bogs me down and I stall. In truth, that stone can easily push me back into the pit I so recently exited. It can roll right over top of me, if I allow it, sealing the door of my tomb. A rolling stone. Or, I can choose to let that stone roll right on by. Right now. Instead of gathering thrown stones of finger pointing and condemnation, I can gather the standing stones. Like the one I recently set up at Gilgal when my reproach was rolled away. I can choose to cling tightly to standing stones rather than trouble stones. The stumbling stones. The thrown stones. That’s my choice… to gather or to throw away stones.

In order to resume my journey with God today, I have to know how to navigate stones. For they lie all around me. And today, I choose to discard the stumbling stone that so recently rolled onto my path. Rather than trip over the rock that had my past written all over it, I lift my foot high and step right over it. One quick glance backward assures me I successfully made it past the hurdle. And so, once more, I cross what seemed impenetrable. And once more, my reproach rolls away from me. I move forward another step into the land of Gilgal. For I find myself at a place of worship. And a place or rest. No battle is necessary here. And so, once more I’m ready to carry on. It’s time to possess the land the lies before me… navigating stones along the way.

Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they went to the tomb at sunrise.  They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb for us?”  Looking up, they observed that the stone—which was very large—had been rolled away.  Mark 16:2-5

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The Visitation

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…and they will not leave one stone on another in you, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”              Luke 19:44

How do you know when it’s time to leave your tomb? How do you know when it’s time to leave the past behind and move forward into your destiny… to embrace a new thing that God’s calling you to? I imagine that answer is different for us all, as God speaks to each one individually. But for me, it was after I recognized the time of my visitation. This is when I knew the time for walking forward drew near.

I consider January 31, 2014 as the day that God came down to meet with me. This was the time of my visitation for He entered my bedroom and met me right where I was. And there was a finality to what He said… “It is finished.” And so, I let go of my past. Finally. I gave up the struggle and accepted reality. Because I realized with certainty that I cannot save myself, which is what I had been trying to do for so long. And I could not rehash my past one more day, expecting God’s wrath to rain down for deeds done long ago. So that day, I just stopped. Everything. I realized the futility in trying to ward off God’s anger by being a good girl. Because in truth, I can never be good enough. Furthermore, His anger was satisfied by the work of the cross, which was completed long ago. And so, on January 31, 2014, I surrendered. I embraced the fact that I am a forgiven woman. That’s the day the old faded away, and the new shimmered on the horizon. That was the day of my visitation.

 “Is not Ephraim my dear son,
    the child in whom I delight?
Though I often speak against him,
    I still remember him.
Therefore my heart yearns for him;
    I have great compassion for him,”
declares the Lord. Jeremiah 31:20

In January, I came head to head with my past. I decided the time had come for me to really deal with two abortions I had when I was younger. Once and for all. And so, I turned to the familiar pages of Jeremiah because the weeping prophet’s words always seemed to speak directly to me about what I had done. But on the 31st, I saw something new. It was the above verse that caused an abrupt intake of air. Because when I let those words fall fresh, I heard Him. He confirmed everything I had doubted, for He said I’m really His. He said His heart yearned for me. Furthermore, He told me, “I have great compassion for you.” And it was there in that one word, compassion, that I recognized my visitation.

I had two abortions when I was younger. But because I buried that time in the sand and ignored my stuff for so long, it was always there with me. This fed into my fears. Especially when I had my own child. I was so scared for him… that I’d lose him. And then, I had two miscarriages. And in my skewed opinion of God, always working to gain His approval, I wondered if those miscarriages were punishment. I even wondered… two for two. Abortion + abortion = miscarriage + miscarriage. But on January 31, 2014, God couldn’t make it any more clear that I was forgiven. The past was dead and gone. Bear with me…

Jeremiah 31:20 moved me in such a way that I felt compelled to look up compassion in the Strong’s concordance. And it didn’t surprise me to find the word is interchangeable with mercy, as shown by the first picture below. In the second picture, you get an idea of just how many times mercy/compassion is used in Scripture. But it’s that last picture that brings a smile to my face even now. There you see Jeremiah 31:20. And in over 270 entries in the Bible, this is the only time you see it twice. 7355+7355. Double mercy. Compassion squared. I will surely have mercy upon him. But God was talking to me in January. He was extending mercy to me. Mercy + mercy. And that day I really dealt with my abortion + abortion. Because He told me I am forgiven + forgiven. Over and done with for He had mercy + mercy on me. Like He said, “It is finished.” It is finished.

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January 31, 2014 was one of the biggest days of my life. For it was the time of my visitation. God came down… to me. And He spoke to me through the words of a prophet named Jeremiah. And today, I’m not surprised to learn that his name can mean Yahweh Loosens [the womb]. For so much of my past was tied to my own womb. But that day, the past lost its grip on me. And unwarranted fears regarding my own womb were loosened. I was released as I released my past. It continues to grow dimmer in my sight. The future gleams brighter. For today I know… I am forgiven.

There’s a story in the 7th chapter of Luke that’s so stirring. It’s about another woman who recognized the time of her visitation. She, too, recognized the mercy God extended to her through Jesus. But the truth is, until January, I always identified with the “bad guy” of the story more so than I did with her. But now, the table’s turned. See, there was a Pharisee who held a dinner party and Jesus was a guest. And this woman entered and wept over Jesus’ feet. She washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair. She kissed them as she anointed them with oil. The Pharisee’s thoughts? Who does she think she is, and if Jesus were really who He said He was, then He would know what kind of woman she was. The Pharisee thought Jesus should shun her. But Jesus had something to say…

Jesus replied to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he said, “say it.” “A creditor had two debtors. One owed 500 denarii, and the other 50. Since they could not pay it back, he graciously forgave them both. So, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one he forgave more.” “You have judged correctly,” He told him. Turning to the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she, with her tears, has washed My feet and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss, but she hasn’t stopped kissing My feet since I came in. You didn’t anoint My head with olive oil, but she has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Luke 7:40-48

For so long, I was a picture of this Pharisee. Because I had been working for forgiveness. And I worked hard (in my own eyes) to be righteous. And so, blinded to my own depravity, I didn’t realize my need for a Savior. Because I thought I was pretty good. And since the bar was set so high for myself, I held it just as high for others. No one ever measured up, including me. And so there I was, a hard, bitter woman who lacked forgiveness in every sense of the way. I hadn’t received it, nor did I have any to dispense. Because just like I worked for it, I expected everyone else to, as well. And so busy was I at work, that I just couldn’t see the truth. I once was blind, but now I see, but it took years for me to begin to see. And that happened only as I lay in stillness, saturating myself with His word. And is was in the tomb of my bedroom where I finally saw the truth. Because I saw Him. And He saw me. And it was then that I knew my need. I needed Jesus. And when I comprehended my need, He was right there to meet me. Just where I was. He came down to my bedroom. It was the time of my visitation.

All this writing… all these blogs… this has been part of my journey. All of this the Lord has made me understand in writing, the work of His plans, by His hand upon me. Thousands of words have helped me understand my own journey. My own transformation. And the forgiveness I’ve received. And so, my past fades as the future becomes bright. Destiny calls out, for she who is forgiven much loves much. And this is the new thing I’ve been seeking. As I leave my tomb behind, God calls me to walk forward into the next leg of the journey, which is love. And as I walk in the love and mercy He’s lavished upon me, I will love much along the way. For this is what happens with a forgiven woman. It’s what happens when she recognizes the time of her visitation.

Because of our God’s merciful compassion, the Dawn from on high will visit us to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:78-79

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