Friday, June 7, 2019

Who is Sitting at your Table?

Sixteen years ago I was in a lot of emotional pain as I was participating in an abuse group similar to the Passionate Heart Groups at our church. Shortly after the group ended in the fall, I was in an accident and suffered a severely broken ankle that left me housebound for a year. During that year I had a dream in which every woman I passed on the street had no mouth and dead, haunted eyes. I woke up crying and I pleaded with God to give women their voices. Soon after Jesus gave me the desire to write Growing a Passionate Heart and instilled in me a vision for the ministry of which I am apart. And, it is not a surprise that it is a ministry that God uses to not only help women find their voices but help and healing as well. 

Women often come into our groups looking for quick fixes for traumatic wounds, emotional pain, eating disorders, and relational problems. But, instead we ask them to do a lot of hard work and walk them through processes in which they uncover, examine, and clean emotional wounds so that they can heal. They often discover their pain began early in life when they experienced abuse, rejection, harsh criticism, emotional or physical abandonment, or grew up in the chaos of having parents struggling with addictions or mental illness. And, sadly many come to realize rape, incest, and molestation aren't just words to forgive, but deeply wounding actions that impacted every part of their lives. 

Over time, our ladies begin to understand the truth that Jesus understands what they have been through. He understands because He lived in a fallen world and was abused and wounded by people who should have loved Him. He understands because He endured beatings that left Him unrecognizable and experienced rejection by those He came to save. He understands because He went through pain similar to theirs, having been stripped and hung naked and exposed on the cross where He bore the blame for things He didn't do. He understands because He was abandoned and left to bear the painful consequences of others’ sin. He understands because He was perceived as crazy and demon possessed. He even felt forsaken by God as He cried out, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” Over time our ladies come to understand Christ hanging on the cross is the proof they need that God cares and deals with the evil that exists in this world! For in a very public arena, Jesus bore sin and shame in His body. He was innocent, yet wounded and chastised for sin, dying a very violent death. 

The end of group is always hard for leaders because they will no longer be there on a weekly basis to remind ladies of the truths they learned in group. As I was writing this years graduation talk I watched a sermon on line given by Louis Giglio at Liberty University. The sermon was on Psalm 23:8, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” I realized our leaders worry that some of their ladies will faulter because they will forget that since the fall humans, who were created for paradise living, are living inbetween Eden and Heaven, sharing space with a very real Enemy and his cohorts. The Word tells us clearly that Satan was defeated on the cross, but we know the Serpent is still writhing and seeking whom He can destroy with his lies. Because he is evil, he goes after those made vulnerable by loss, by trauma, by abuse, by catastrophes, and by moral failures and speaks ugly lies into their vulnerable minds--lies meant to destroy both the person and their relationship with God. 

I loved the picture Giglio presented in his talk. God has prepared us a table not away from the enemy, but in the presence of him. But, we sometimes fail to remember we have the power and authority to choose who sits at our table. As a believer, imagine you are sitting at your beautifully decorated table with the Lord and engaging with Him as you read His Word, pray, meditate on His Truth, trust Him, and obey Him. As you engage with Jesus, He reminds you of His Holiness, His goodness, His power, His faithfulness, and His great love. He reminds you that He has redeemed you, that He has reconciled you to Himself, that He has chosen you, and that He has fully accepted you based on your faith in Him. He also reminds you that you are beautiful, loved, treasured, a part of a royal priesthood, an ambassador whose real home is heaven, and His adopted daughter with the full rights of sonship. He reminds you that the Holy Spirit empowers, comforts, and calls to mind all that you need for living the live to which He has called you. He reminds you the Spirit has also given you spiritual gifts that enable you to build up the body of Christ. When you are fully engaging with Christ, the Enemy maybe hovering over your table, but you don’t even notice him. 

But, when you get triggered, succumb to temptation, are realing from a painful traumatic event, or simply ignore Jesus, Satan sees it as his opportunity to pull up a chair and plop down at your table. Sometimes, you recognize the Enemy for who he is and tell him he is not welcome at your table. But, there are other times the Enemy speaks a lie or a half truth that resonates so much with what you are already thinking or feeling that you get hooked and begin to pay attention to him. Before long your have turned your chair away from the Lord and towards the Enemy. You begin to fully engaged with the Enemy, buying into one ugly lie after another. Before you know it, you've forgotten the Lord who is sitting at your table and you are chewing on Satan's lies. You know those lies. You are ugly. You are fat. You are a failure. You are unloved. You are unwanted. You are too broken. You are too much. You are not enough. You are nothing but damaged goods. You deserve to be battered. You are weak. You are invisible. You don’t deserve God’s forgiveness. You deserved the abuse you experienced. Something in you caused the man to do those vile things. Everything wrong is your fault. You are responsible for everyone’s happiness. And the ugliest lie of all--Jesus didn’t really love you, what you experienced has proven that.

All the while Jesus is still sitting at your table, you have just turned your attention to the Enemy. The Lord gently nudges you, but you ignore Him because you are so filled with confusion, shame, pain, and anger. After a moment or two, an hour or two, a day or two, a week or two, a month or two, or a year or two or maybe more, you realize you have been listening to the Enemy and have given him power over you. Then the Spirit within you or maybe someone you know reminds you that you can have the authority to take back your power. And, you yell, “STOP, LEAVE!” You turn back to the Lord who never left and reengage with Him, hanging on to His truth and begin, once again, to live out your faith. It sounds easy, but it isn't. When there is trauma those lies Satan uses are deeply embedded into our core. To overcome them, we must change our core by constantly taking our thoughts captive to God's truth and that is a 24-7 job. 

So, who is sitting at your table? To whose voice are you listening? I can tell you God’s voice isn’t a condemning one, that is the Enemy’s. We would do well to remember, as believers, we get to decide who sits at our table. Fear, insecurity, lack of peace, condemnation, bitterness, the ugly things we think about ourselves, and the paranoid things we think about others--these are all things that indicate we have let the enemy sit down at our tables. We, as believers, have One who is dwelling in us who is more powerful than the Enemy and He gives us the power and authority to tell the Enemy to leave and allows us to redirect our focus back on the ever present, ever loving Jesus so we can enjoy Him and experience His peace, His love, and His healing power.    


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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!