Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Lie Believed

God really quite clearly put the message for this week on my heart. It is amazing how He works. And when we take the time to piece the puzzle together, quite often a beautiful image has formed from the jagged parts.

Most are familiar with the well-known Christian author Karen Kingsbury. While perusing the library bookshelves, I found her stash. And wouldn't you know it, just at that moment my husband and son were next to me and ready to go. I just gabbed two books, quite randomly, or so I thought. One of them was entitled Shades of Blue. Little did I know that it was a post-abortion story of redemption, acceptance, healing, forgiveness and love. As Mrs. Kingsbury's website says about the book, "Three people must work through the repercussions of a decision made long ago before any of them can look toward a new future."

Yes, even as much as we stuff and hide and pretend, the fact that we had an abortion is still there. It clings to the very network of vessels that run throughout our bodies. The trauma, the pain, the guilt, the sadness, the shame, the fear, all of it, it is still within us. Oh yes, some do a better job of looking good on the outside than others. Some can pretend so well. But pretending isn't what Jesus calls us to do. Friends, there is healing and wholeness in Him.

I devoured the book in one day and night. I knew Mrs. Kingsbury would weave a cloth of healing for all involved. She does that sort of thing with her characters. What I liked from the book is that she made the memories so heartbreakingly real that I didn't dare set the book down. I am healed. I am free. So in reading the story, I was only that frightened and confused teenager for a minute. Because Jesus is way bigger than my mistakes and my pain and my regret, I was able to read it through. And in doing so, I realized once again how many women (and men) are suffering in silent agony. Bumping shoulders in the check-out line, but not sharing broken hearts at church. Hiding. We are good at that.

Then this morning I looked back at my journal entry from one year ago today. I wrote of how God was speaking to me to do something with my post-abortion healing. I wrote about following God's will in the endeavor to lead others to the cross too. And at the bottom of the page I wrote

an idol can be a lie believed

Ouch. I remember that. How that truth pierced my heart back then. And how it pierces my heart again today. It is easy to say we don't have idols. Yeah, especially us church-going, Bible-study attending women. Me? Not me. Even if one of the more commonly recognised things of today (like money or shopping or your home or your wardrobe or any number of things) is not an idol in your life, there are other not-so-talked-about things can creep into that spotlight.

Things like believing you do not need God's mercy and grace.

Things like believing no one will understand.

Things like believing you are the only one.

Things like believing you are meant to suffer alone.

Things like believing your sin is too big.

On second thought, do you have any idols?

God kept putting this message on my heart... After reading last year's journal entry, I flipped to my reading for today.

Mark 7

Defilement Comes from Within

Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.

Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?”
(7:1-5 NKJV)

-> Religious leaders were very busy looking holy. They focused on outward appearances, rather than honoring God.

He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

--> As the Life Application Study version of my New King James Version Bible says in regard to this reading, hypocrisy is "pretending to be something you are not and have no intention of being.

It goes on to say that "we become hypocrites when we pay more attention to reputation than to character."

Friends, are you a hypocrite? I was. Although I didn't purposefully and intentionally sit there in my pew condemning those who had suffered abortions, I condemned myself. I thought I was not worthy of healing. I thought I was unforgivable. In all, I thought too lowly of myself. I became a backward hypocrite. A hypocrite nonetheless.

I had placed my (mistaken) unworthiness above the love of Jesus. A lie (or a bunch of them) believed had indeed become my idol.

When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?”

--> Also stated in those wonderful study notes regarding this passage Jesus explains how "sin begins in the attitude of the inner person."

I wreaked of that sin. The aroma of that sin, of believing I was unworthy, was a rotten stench. It wafted into every nook and cranny of my life. Now, in hindsight, I can see how it tainted my relationship with my husband. I can see how the stink lingered on my clothes, how I took it with me wherever I went. To town, to the grocery store, to church. I filtered what other people said through that sieve of lies. Friends, that is not a good thing to do. Everything comes out a bigger mess.

From there He arose and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And He entered a house and wanted no one to know it, but He could not be hidden. For a woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit heard about Him, and she came and fell at His feet. The woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. But Jesus said to her, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

And she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.”

Then He said to her, “For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.”

And when she had come to her house, she found the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed.

--> Friends, just like this woman, come to Jesus! Come as you are. Fall at His feet. She compared herself to the little house dogs that were pets of that day. She said she was willing to eat from not the crumbs, but the children's crumbs that fell to the floor. The crumbs that the little doggies ate.

Be that woman!

She not only believed that if she just got a tiny morsel of what Jesus offered, her daughter would be healed, but she humbled herself. She likened herself to a dog. No, I don't think she did it in a negative way. I can only imagine that she was glad to be in Jesus' presence. That she was so filled with faith that she only desired an itty-bitty piece of His healing.

Friends. God clearly spoke to me over the last couple of days. And He put you, yes you, front and center on my heart. Don't pretend things are okay with your heart and mind. Whether or not you suffer from having had an abortion, chances are high that you believe some lie. Chances are that you have made an idol out of that lie. And unfortunately you may have made a hypocrite of yourself in the process.

Don't stop looking for crumbs. In fact, get out from under the table. Pull up a chair. Sit next to me. And let us look to the head of the table at the seat reserved for our Healer. Our God. Just ask. I know He will pass you a gigantic heaping of healing and renewing.

Just like the characters in Shades of Blue, you also will find clarity and Truth at the foot of the cross.

Let us humbly pray:
Lord God, help us this day to put none before You. If there are idols in our lives, even though they may be unintentional and unrecognized, help us to see them for what they are. Lord replace lies with Truth. You are the ultimate Healer. Don't let undiagnosed hypocrisy ruin who you want us to be in You. Father, just as this book and Your Words in Mark spoke clear to me over the last couple of days, use something to speak clear to other women and men who are haunted by their past. Please bring them to a place of healing and renewing. In Jesus' name, amen.

Do consider reading the book I spoke of in today's post. It is an insightful and tender look at how abortion torments not only women, but men. Girls and boys. Mrs. Kingsbury shares a personal story in the post script that demonstrates how each of us (even if we haven't personally suffered the trauma) has the capacity to influence those who wrongly think abortion is their only option.

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