Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Who are we?

We have been given a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of dispair.  Through the righteousness of Christ, we are like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory! ~ Isaiah 61:3

I was recently asked to share my story at a reunion celebration for Surrendering the Secret, as a token representation of where each of us has been and from what we have come through. However, in asking the Lord what to say, He reminded me that my story is not about what I've been through or work I have done, nor the works of others helping me heal this pain from my past. Instead, my story is one of many; each one meant to glorify the name of the Lord. Every redemption a praise offering to Him for healing this wound in His bride.

I am humbled to be able to be amongst those who know the tremendous blessing it is for each fo us to hear our redeemer's voice through Surrendering the Secret. This sisterhood is comprise of women from our early 20's to late 60's. We are your pew mates, your friends, your daughters, your ministry leaders, your pastor's wives, your Bible study teachers, your sisters. We come from strong Christian upbringings and non-believing homes. We have experienced abortion as long ago as 30 years, or as recently as 2 days prior to finding our Surrendering group.

  • One out of every 4 pregnancies conceived in the United States is terminated through abortion (about 1.2 million per year).

  • In more than 14 metropolitan areas, abortions outnumber live births.

  • More than 30 million abortions have occurred since 1973.

  • Approximately 45% of women seeking abortion today have had at least one prior abortion.*

We each have hidden from our pain using drugs or alcohol, relationships, eating disorders, perfectionism, our earthly children, careers, image manipulation, our church persona, even service to our Lord. Yet for all that hiding, we felt separated, distant from God. Alone. Like we were the only one not able to look our Heavenly Father completely in His eyes.

  • 92% of women who've had abortions experience emotional deadening

  • 86% experience anger or rage

  • 86% fear others finding out

  • 82% experience intense feelings of loneliness or isolation

  • 63% experience denial

  • 58% battle nightmares

  • 56% develop suicidal feelings

  • 53% engage in drug abuse

  • 39% have eating disorders**

Until whatever initially drew our attention to Surrendering the Secretunsettled something inside of us, so that our spirits would no be quiet.  Because in our hearts, places we might not have even admitted to ourselves, we knew God had something to say about our past abortions.  So we make that phone call, get into a group, and then some of us try desperately to get out of said group.  Eventually, we make it through the doors, wearing our masks of "I'm fine;" but underneath we are broken, frightened, and ashamed.  We spend time in God's Word, the only thing that will set us on the path to His healing.  As the weeks progress, we peel off layer after layer of the shame we endured, the lies we've believed, the anger we buried, and the pain we cling to.  We surrender all of our secret to Christ, until we kneel at the foot of the cross, ready to finally trade our past for the promise of His future.

And then, what initially brought us to this group is no longer what defines us; nor does it bind us in sisterhood now.  We are now defined, along with every believer, as a beloved child of God through Jesus Christ ~ a holy people redeemed by the Lord for His glory (Isaiah 62:12).


**Layton, Pat.  Surrendering the Secret: Healing the Heartbreak of Abortion. Lifeway Press, 2008. pg. 45

Monday, September 14, 2009

I will

“’As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down,’ declares the Sovereign LORD. ‘I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak’”
Ezekiel 34:12, 15-16 [part]

I am a bit of an English nerd (thanks, Mom!). While I’m certainly not an expert, I do like my modifiers in the appropriate places. And, yes, I am constantly seeking metaphors. I read and then re-read sentences to gain meaning from their construction, their tone, their choice of words. I could literally spend hours on one or two well-turned phrases, extracting their full depth and enriching their meaning.

For example, the above Scripture is one of my favorites (yes, I do say that a lot ~ guess I really just love God’s word). At first glance it tells me that GOD Himself cares for me. HE says so, “I myself will tend my sheep;” and I’ve learned HE doesn’t flippantly say, or not say, anything (Ezk 34:15). This passage does not say, “I’m sending my angels in descending order to look after my sheep depending upon their righteous living. The martyrs warrant archangels, the prophets and missionaries get cherubim and seraphim, while the rest of you sinners can look out for yourselves.” No! The Sovereign LORD says, “I myself will tend my sheep.” GOD will personally search for the lost, retrieve those who wander, and heal the hurts of those wrecked by sin. GOD, who spoke the entire universe into existence, is personally looking after you; searching for you, calling you back, desiring to heal your wounds and strengthen you.

Amazing, isn’t it? You might have noticed that HE doesn’t just say that once. GOD says, “I will” five times. In case you didn’t catch it on the first read, HE reiterates that fact ~ in five separate instances. The Almighty GOD will personally tend to you.

The other part of this passage that I love is the use of the word, “will.” Notice the word is not “did;” GOD’s Son, Jesus Christ, did die for all the sins of the world ~ past tense. But the Creator of the Universe chose “will” to describe His relationship with us. This word shows futurity ~ it is going to happen. It denotes habitual action ~ something that is repeated again and again; then, now, & tomorrow. And it indicates an inevitable tendency ~ the action [or verb] following “will” is certain to take place.

The Sovereign LORD does not forgive us once & then abandon us to our soul-destructive tendencies. Instead, HE teaches us that it is HIS character, HIS very nature, to keep rescuing us, keep finding us, keep healing us. Even if HE has to take us back to the day of clouds and darkness to do so. And HE will continue to tend to us for all eternity. For we are HIS and HE is ours!