Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Across the ocean blue.


Psalm 104:31

“May the glory of the Lord endure forever, may the Lord rejoice in His works.”



God has been speaking to my heart for the past few weeks about resharing something.

I contemplated, and argued, and doubted what to do, and if it was a story that just needed to be told once.

Oh, how the enemy was busy filling my head with unbelief.

I've watched God unfold in our lives over the past few months bringing forth new life and new miracles by the day.

My soul trembles in awe as I have seen God's sovereign hand move and flow in our hearts bringing resurrection life to a family in need.

And yet,
I fear to retell a story of resurrection.

Today...
I tell the story from eyes renewed and a faith flowing from a God-given resurrection.

I'd grown up knowing God my entire life and depending on Him for my everything.

I was in my thirties and loving Him with all of my heart,
or so I thought.

On the outside, I was the loving wife, devoted mom, good friend to all, church goer and faith-filled Christian.

On the inside, I was bitter, angry, hurt, and dying.

I had learned early on how to cover up pain and wear the mask of "happy" for all to see.

A characteristic that I was forced to take with a smile.

A role that I had grown very good at playing.

My anger and bitterness stemmed from the hurt I had endured from a few women in my life that had "done me wrong"  so to speak.

My mother.
A close friend.
A church leader.

They hurt me, hurt my children, hurt my family.

I was hurt and I backed up that hurt with my Christian faith.

I used it as an excuse to harbor the anger and bitterness.

It grew weeds on top of weeds of unforgiveness.

I had all the right things to say to God,

"But you know what they did to me."

"You know what they did to my child, to my family."
"You know they are wrong."

"You know how hurt I am."

"You don't want me to be hurt again, do you God?"


"You know how hard it would be for me to forgive them. I'm just not ready for that."

"You know I'm the faithful one God, not them."

I even began walking around with a "better than them" attitude, because I was the "good Christian" who had been hurt by the " bad people", the "bad Christians".


I held on to that unforgiveness and used it whenever I could to plead my case with God.


Little did I know, that it was hurting my walk with Him,


and that I was dying on the inside.

I continued on with my smile and my secrets.


Believing that God would "understand" and give me a pardon.


I mean...
 I did all the right things in my life.
Made all the right decisions.
Walked the perfect line.
Said all the right words.
Went to church.
Listened to Christian music.
Taught Sunday school and sang in the choir.
I even read my bible each day.



I played the part like it was made just for me.
I thought, on several occasions, that I would forgive them "tomorrow" or "down the road" or "if they beg for my forgiveness"  or "if they admit they were wrong"  or  " if they make things right with me".


And one day, when they would come running to me, I would hand them my gift of "forgiveness".

I used my unforgiveness towards them as a weapon of control over them, over the hurt they caused, because I was determined, that they "weren't going to get the best of me!"



Maybe, I thought,
that if I forgave them, it would somehow make what they did to me okay.


Surely God would give me the grace I needed.
Surely He knew where I was coming from.
I had slowly begun to take advantage of His gift of grace.


When I was 36,
I began to have some female issues and after months of pain and very little sleep, I decided, with my doctor and husband, that it was time to have a hysterectomy.


It was the night before the surgery and I laid down to try and get a good night's sleep before surgery the next morning.

I closed my eyes, and fell fast asleep.


That night, I had a dream.


In the dream I saw one of the women that had hurt me and my family.

She was sobbing and crying and holding her face within the palms of her hands.

I could feel her sorrow.

Every aching ounce of it.

She too was hurting from the situation that had happened between us.

And I could feel that hurt.

I wanted to wake up and escape the pain, but I couldn't.

I had to endure it.

All of it.


Every tear that fell and every wretching pain in her heart.

Before me, sat a broken woman.

I began to sob and ache with her, attempting to reach out my hand and comfort her.

But, I couldn't.

I had to just sit back and watch, and feel, and hurt right along with her.


My insides aching with despair for her.


I even felt the physical pain of her broken heart.


As I sat watching and crying, compassion began to fill my heart, removing the anger, the resentment, and the unforgiveness.


I awoke the next morning, with wet cheeks.

As my eyes opened, I saw the inside of my heart and all of the unforgiveness that filled it.

It was black and decayed looking.

The unforgiveness was stealing the life from me.
I was dying a spiritual death.

I then realized it was the morning of the surgery and I thought to myself,

"I'm having major surgery today.  What if I die during surgery and go to meet God today with all of this unforgiveness on my heart?"


I was reminded of the scripture,

Matthew 6:15
But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.


I knew at that moment, that my unforgiveness would possibly separate me from God.


I climbed out of bed, and got on my knees on the side of my bed, something I don't think I have ever done in my lifetime...get on my knees before God.

I pleaded for His forgiveness and handed over the hurt feelings that had been buried in my heart for so long.

I lay at His feet each woman that hurt me, and prayed that God would forgive me for having such ill thoughts about His daughters.  I prayed that God would only allow me to see the good in them.  I prayed that He would replace those hurt feelings I had towards them, with compassion and  love for each of them.

I prayed for healing in my relationships with them.
I prayed that He would remove everything from my heart that did not bring Him Glory.
I knew in that moment that God had forgiven me and that He had uprooted those weeds of bitterness and unforgiveness.
I knew I was free from the bondage the unforgiveness had on my life and heart.


Psalm 103:12
As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.




I cleaned my face and began to get ready to leave for the hospital.

Later that morning, I had my surgery.
Everything went fine and I was wheeled into my room to get some needed rest.

Not long after being in my room, I realized that I was in an excrutiating pain.
It seemed unnormal, so I allerted my nurse.

The nurse came in and told me that she would contact the doctor and see if there was anything else she could give me for pain.

Moments later she came in with a syringe of pain medicine.


My dad and step-mother were in the room with me and opted to leave because of the pain I was in.  They thought I had too much company and needed some time to rest.

My dad kissed me on the cheek, my step-mother placed a wooden cross in my hand, squeezed it and said "I love you."


I smiled, said my I love yous and squeezed that little wooden cross in the palm of my hand.


That was the last thing I remember,
 before waking up to a room filled with nurses and doctors standing at the foot and side of my bed.

My husband was holding my hand and he had tears running down his face.

Unbeknowngst to me...

the second shot of pain medicine had stopped my heart.


I died in that hospital room just moments after my father and step-mother left.

My husband and daughter were in the room with me at the time.

They had decided to go downstairs to get something to eat now that I was sleeping.

My husband grabbed my hand and realized that I was cold to the touch.

He then noticed my skin was turning a gray-blue right in front of him.

My daughter ran to get a nurse and they immediately came into my room to begin to try to revive me.

My body lay lifeless and without a beating heart for 8 minutes.

On the outside of the door,
a hospital counselor met my husband and daughter to prepare them for the worst.

She began to prepare my daughter to be motherless, my husband to be widowed, explaining that there would need to be arrangements made and that she could get someone to help make those arrangements.

Immediately my daughter shouted to her,
"No!  She is not dead!  God is going to bring her back to life! I need her!  We need her!"

My daughter then began to pray with her dad, and the nurse in the hallway for God to bring me back to life.

A few minutes later,
the nurse appeared from inside my room and told them that my heart had began to beat again.

Resurrection life filled that hospital room.

And as I type this,
 my hands are shaking with a feeling that I can't explain or put words to.


I have no memory of those 8 minutes, nor did I see anything.

If I had to explain it...
I would say that it was 8 minutes of dark nothing.

Dark. Nothing.

When I came to and realized what had happened to me, I was reminded of my dream and how I had just asked God that morning to forgive me for my unforgiveness.


God showed me that the dark nothing that I experienced was what my heart looked like on the inside.


The blackness of unforgiveness had taken over my heart, and there was nothing in it but that.



I can't explain what happened in that room,

but like the blind man said when asked if the Messiah had healed him...

I once was blind, but now I see!

I once was dead, but now I'm alive!

 The tears roll down my cheeks as I attempt to write this story and I am still in awe of what God has done in my life and heart.

I can't explain the newness of life that He has shown me, what He has revealed and is continuing to reveal through that incident.



Well today I found myself
After searching all these years
And the man that I saw
He wasn't at all who I thought he'd be

I was lost when you found me here
And I was broken beyond repair
Then You came along
And You sang Your song over me

It feels like I'm born again
It feels like I'm living
For the very first time
 For the very first time in my life

Make a promise to me now
Reassure my heart somehow
That the love that I feel
Is so much more real than anything

It feels like I'm born again
It feels like I'm living
For the very first time
For the very first time

~~Born Again lyrics by Third Day



This story has always been hard for me to talk about, without having feelings of anxiety and fear.

But, I believe that has been the devil's attempt to keep me quiet.

To hush out the praises that God needs to hear.


To put to rest a story that needs to be told.


But not anymore!



My daughter just came home from a trip to Romania.

Her and her fellow XMC classmates have been there ministering for two weeks.

She came home yesterday to spend the day with us, and her face was all aglow to tell us what God had done in Romania, across the ocean blue.

Tears poured down my face as she told the story of an elderly woman she had the opportunity to witness to.

She explained how the woman did not know English and that there was a translator helping them to better communicate with eachother.

The little elderly woman, no taller than my nine year old son she explains, had a son that had a heart condition at a very young age.

She collapsed on the floor in despair as she told my daughter and a handful of other students that she was afraid that he was going to die and that she would lose her son.

She felt hopeless and out of answers.
She felt that death was looming all around her and her son.


Not knowing exactly what to tell her, Amber and the others stooped down on the floor with her and comforted her with laying hands and prayers of healing and hope.

As they began to exit her home,
Amber was reminded of what happened to me, to her...

Amber had witnessed me dying before her eyes just a few years before, and had never before been able to talk about it to anyone.

For her it represented the day her mom died and the pain she felt on that day.


Just nights before, in a little room in the XMC boarding house in Romania, she shared that story with a fellow student.

The student encouraged her to tell that story to someone.

To tell of God's resurrection power!

How He brings life from death!

Amber stopped as she got to the doorway to leave that little elderly woman's house, and told her leader that she had something else she needed to tell her.

She began to tell her what had happened in that hospital room a few years ago, and how God had brought resurrection life into her mother's dead body and heart.

"If He can do that for my mom who was dead," she told her, "surely He can do that for your son who is still alive."

The little woman began to jump up and down and shout praises unto God,  running all around her house rejoicing.


She told them that she had lost her joy years ago,
and that she had gotten it back in that very moment.

She had found again, her hope in Jesus.


In that moment, at my kitchen table,  as my daughter told me the story,  I too found hope again.


If God can take that moment in my life and use it for His gain,
even across the ocean blue in Romania,

what can He do here?

What else can He accomplish through sharing what He did that day?


Revelation 12:11
"And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death."




What can He do if I continue to share His resurrection power with others?

Or better yet...what can He do with your story if you tell it?

What if He were to use your story to benefit someone else?

to bring hope.
to bring joy.
to bring healing.
to bring love.
to bring salvation.
to bring resurrection!

What if through the retelling of your story--He would bring hope back to you!


I realized through that experience a few years back, that God is not interested in the pretty things on the outside that we offer to Him.

He is interested in the gifts of the heart that we offer to Him.

He wanted all of me...even my unforgiveness, bitterness, and hurt.

He wanted the messy stuff, so He could give me His good stuff!


Do I still have issues with unforgiveness at times?

Of course I do.

But, I am much quicker to lay it down at His feet.

Matthew 18:21-22
 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times



I learned that if I am holding onto unforgiveness with all that I have,
there is no room for me to grab onto Jesus.

Therefore, I will not be able to fully embrace Him.
I can't fully worship Him.
 I will not be able to recieve what He has for me,
and what He is so eager to share with me.



A couple of weeks after I left the hospital, I returned to visit with the nurses that had worked to revive me and that had taken care of me while I was there.

As I walked in, their eyes grew large.

They were still shocked and surprised that I was alive and walking.

The head nurse administrator hugged me and told me,

"I've been a nurse for 27 years.  I know what death looks like. You were gray. You were gone. You were dead! There is no other way to say it.  You were dead!  And now you stand here with me, strong and alive!  I still can't wrap my mind around it."


I don't know where you are today.
What pain you have gone through.
It may look gray.
All your hope is gone.
You may have lost your joy.
Your situation may look like it is dead, without any life at all.
 Everything around you may be telling you to give up, make arrangements to bury what is already dead.


But, God wants to bring you to a resurrection!

He wants to fill you with His LIFE!


John 11:25
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,"



As I get into bed each night, I see that little wooden cross that I clinched in my hand that day in the hospital, sitting on my night stand.




It's a reminder for me of that day and what God did in that hospital room,
and it also reminds me to continue to cling to Him with all that I have.

 To not ever forget the sacrifice He made on the cross to give me forgiveness of my sins.


 I urge you...

wherever you are, wherever you have lost your hope,

cling to the cross that is Jesus and allow Him to give you a brand new heart!

Allow Him to bring you to that place of resurrection!



Mary and Martha wanted healing for Lazarus, but Jesus wanted a resurrection!
~~Heidi Reiszner


Put your hope in Him!



If He can do it for a little old lady across the ocean blue, for a blind man, for my daughter, for my family, for Lazarus, for countless others, for me...
surely He will do it for you!



Romans 2:11
For there is no partiality with God.

Psalm 95:1-6

Come, let's shout praises to God, raise the roof for the Rock who saved us!
Let's march into his presence singing praises,
lifting the rafters with our hymns!
3-5 And why? Because God is the best,
High King over all the gods.
In one hand he holds deep caves and caverns,
in the other hand grasps the high mountains.
He made Ocean—he owns it!
His hands sculpted Earth!
6-7 So come, let us worship: bow before him,
on your knees before God, who made us!
Oh yes, he's our God,
and we're the people he pastures, the flock he feeds.



2 comments:

  1. Praise the Lord! How Great is Our God!!! So thankful you shared. Powerful.

    ReplyDelete
  2. i'm so glad he brought you back. i would never have known you; you've been such a gift to me, speaking life over me... i'm so glad he brought you back.

    ReplyDelete

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