…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.
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