“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world… But it gives the only opportunity the bad man can have for amendment. It removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of the rebel soul.” – C.S. Lewis, in The Problem of Pain
Have you ever had a random painful memory of the past? Have you thought about why? Have you noticed what do you do afterwards? From what I have experienced, when God is the one who brought up a memory of the past, my human nature, out of fear and shame, not only dismisses the pain but also denies it. As I have learned when a memory surfaces, that it is sometimes God screaming “Stop…look!” What begins to happen often after stopping and looking, is a softening of my heart, and with tears, affirming that the event mattered, that it hurt and has left me deeply wounded. The time presents itself where I need to make the frightening and painful decision to surrender all fear and enter into the smog in order to forgive myself and the people involved. When I enter inside the heavy fog, I hear screeching lies saying “You deserved this… or you are an idiot, a failure, you will never be good or pretty enough, you are pathetic and insecure, no one will ever understand you, or no one cared…” I also see the sad truth of my heart’s condition at that particular moment. I see with some memories whom I wrongfully gave the authority to validate me as a woman. But with the squinting of the eyes and the tuning of my ears, I see God being my Braveheart Warrior passionately cutting open those horrid lies and speaking truth.
As the haze of deceit evaporates, God is then able to be what He truly desires to be for me… my “intimate Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6). It becomes clear to see His truth and His grace in that past memory. I find some understanding in the confusion; questions are being answered. Any validations are now being transferred over to Yahwh. I also learn, depending on the memory, a new perspective on how my selfish actions may have wounded someone else. The sharp reality that I, myself, am a factor of someones else’s foggy forest is not a nice reality but a needed realization in order to repent and evoke change. Any sins I committed in my heart and/or wounds and hurts which I inflicted on others are being taken to Him. Forgiveness is sought after (in a relational sense) and I begin to walk the path of repentance. (All my sins have been forgiven and paid for already on the Cross; positionally I am forever redeemed.) It is His masculine protection and His never-bending faithfulness that become the conquering flag in this fortress, waving Victory, Life, and Truth. Psalms 119:71, 81 says “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes… In your steadfast love, give me life.” It is only after that I lay a hold of all of His revelation, tears act like springs of healing water that rush into my heart cultivating and watering a deeper and intimate relationship. Psalms 119:136 says “Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.”
If God is the one bringing up the memories of the past, go hike with Him into the smog; be not afraid. If you are not sure if its God, hear the tone of the voice of the thought. Is it condemning and filled with regret or is it filled with grace and gentleness? John Eldridge says that “we will not find healing in the midst of the Matrix.” Be still and vanish any distractions and tune into His voice, open His Word and allow God’s Holy Word to become your counselor so that He can mend the broken branches in your heart with words of truth, grace and love. This is one reason why the Sabbath’s rest is so delightful; it allows for Psalms 23:2-3 and 119:24 to become such a glorious verisimilitude in one’s life: “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul,” and “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.”
As for me, I know it will take more than one eerie hike with Him and at times, lots of tears, but there is progress and I am glad that He is with me every mile, saving all my tears in a jar (Psalms 56:8) as we walk through the thick murkiness of my past.
I wish to give credit to the Ministry of “Ransomed Hearts” and the authors of “Wild at Heart” and “Captivating.” They have been a staple to my growth, healing and understanding of Yahwh’s Warrior Heart for me.
Reading that passage, one cannot only fully understand the motive behind why Yahwh gave His people the Sabbath rest, but you can also see His grace and character. The Israelites did not stop working, they were slaves to work… it was about getting things done, being and staying productive under the rule of the Pharaoh. And we see the same robotic-like pattern in today’s fast paced, overtime grabbing, possession and promotion seeking, anxiety driven, restless culture. Sigh, just typing that makes me want to take a 10 minute nap! But why the need for non-stop? Where is the Lord in all of this? Who and what are we putting our trust in? This is so noteworthy to me because in one’s life filled with a long scroll of errands and anxiety filled hearts, Yahwh, in the clutter of our to-do’s is trying to tell us to trust in Him and to rest. “To the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith will be counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:5).
The core of the Sabbath rest is a perfect illustration of God’s self-reliance and steadfast power to provide for His sheep. How can God feed His sheep if we keep running around town? How can He heal and tend to our wounds if we are never sitting still? When Yahwh freed the Israelites from exile, He wanted to lavish them with His powerful character in their lives. The Sabbath rest was established in stone so that they can stop and mesmerize on who He is and remember what He has freed them from. “I am Yahwh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Exodus 20:2). He wants the same for you and for me. Hebrews 4:9-10 says “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.”
I have come to understand that we have an amazing King who actually says to His bride, “honey, do not worry. I will meet your needs. Just relax and sleep in a little longer… you have worked hard enough and after you do, let’s talk and read together.” My gosh, how romantically beautiful and gentle of Him! You think it would be easy to grab a hold of this gracious gift of rest, but the resistance just proves to me how I have been strongly influenced by the world and business of this culture. I still have to remind myself to put the phone down. I have to remind myself that it is OK to end the text conversation a little sooner, and that it is perfectly fine if I have a missed phone call or two…if it is an emergency they will call twice or three times. The reason He graciously tells us to rest is because it is only good for us. As Psalms 119:68 says, “You are good and do good.”
Before leaving on a trip, God used intuition to whisper quite warningly, “Elizabeth you are going to see your dirt, be Ok with that.” Friend, the dirt displayed for all to see! It was during a trip that the Lord unveiled to me by my conscience and through a faithful friend how my speech can use a smidgen of fine-tuning in the sense of gentleness and graciousness when patience is being tested. Nothing is closer to the truth when C.S Lewis writes in one of my favorite books, Mere Christianity….“When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him.” One morning conversing to Yahwh about the still tightly twisted and tangled vines of my heart, I sat down with the Bible on my lap and opened it to Colossians 4:6 (After going to the concordance). It reads, “Let your speech always [Yeshua pauses there…always…always…always] be gracious, and seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” It does not say when you are having a delightful day, it does not say when you are glad and feel light as a feather. It says…always. And I ponder, Oh dear…how I have let precious moments just slip between my fingertips to be gracious with my words and tone. All that missed glory to my King… all those moments in the past where I could have been such a testimony…but how kind is He who refuses to let me dwell and stay in the ruins of my past… by the power of His redemptive and healing grace, He turns my neck slowly so that I may focus on Calvary, and He sweetly reminds me of His love and forgiveness and that He is not finished gardening. Selah.
I would like to share with you an excerpt of a sermon I listened to, called “The Speech of the New Man” that is based off of Colossians 4:6. I hope you enjoy it and that it blesses you as it has and will continue to bless me.
“You’re a new man, did you know that? And along with those other things, with your new lifestyle should come a new speech.
The problem with us new people, new creatures, is not that we have two natures, the good and the bad, the old and the new. The problem is the new nature, the new I, has been so strongly influenced by the flesh that it just can’t shake it. An illustration.
You might take a whiskey bottle and dump out all its contents. Empty it of all that rot that’s in there. And you know what happens? Smell it. It stinks. The odor remains. You want to know something? That’s not unlike a Christian. You are a new creature; the old contents are gone, you are new, but you know something? Some of the old stink is there. You pour into that whiskey bottle that you’ve got there a fresh water supply, and then you pour it out. And you pour more in, you pour – and you just keep filling it, keep filling it. And little by little by little by little, the smell will fade.
How’s it going to be removed? Look what he says. “Put off some things,” remember those? Chapter 3: “Put on some things.” Chapter 3, verse 15: “Let the peace of Christ rule.” Verse 16: “Let the Word of Christ dwell.” Verse 17: “Let the name of Christ rule.”
Take care how you live in the family; wives, husband, children, father, servants, masters. Take care of your mouth, as we saw in our study, from verses 2 to 6 of chapter 4. And when you take care of all of those things, in the energy of the Spirit of God, then the new man is going to be the man that God created the new man to be. Listen, beloved, Christ is sufficient, isn’t He? He’s sufficient to make you a new creature. And when you’ve been made a new creature He asks that you have the aroma of a new creature, and that means taking care of some of those old things by the cleansing agency of the filling of the Spirit of God as you yield to Him.”
Beloved, thank God that He has given us the Holy Spirit to enable us live a life that it may be a sweet aroma of a blossoming garden to Him and to those who walk along beside us. Let us all yield to Him more and more each day, have His Word dwell in us richly so that we may abide by His Word, and bloom…for His glory! In Christ’s name, Amen!