I find it no strange coincidence that after two full weeks of absolutely amazing, mind-blowingly beautiful, redemptive community, love and the overwhelming goodness of God, that eventually the other shoe would drop. After all, we live in a fallen, broken world.
I belong to a family of broken people. Me, my parents, my siblings, my friends – we’re a mess, the lot of us. Driving home to Wisconsin from Minneapolis last week with my aunt, we stopped to visit the grave of my grandparents. Buried next to the graves and names of their parents, and theirs. I walked among their headstones filled with so many conflicting emotions. Joy. Pain. Laughter and deep sadness.
You see my life, and the ones who came before me, is not without it’s share of grief, loss and complicated story. Crouched beneath the cover of trees, off an old country road, I poured out my heart and many tears over the grave of my grandma. If you read my book you know the pain and abandonment that lives in the midst of the joy and beautiful memory of that relationship. I forgive her, though she never once asked. I didn’t need her to. And I wish she were still here to have known my husband, our children. The woman I have become.
It was beautifully peaceful there, and my tears and honest grief-filled words over her grave brought deep healing. Just one small part of a much bigger story God was writing.
On the three hour drive, my aunt shared story after story of drama, intrigue and downright crazy. We’re a messy bunch, with a whole lot of story, but I wouldn’t change a word of it. The hardest parts have made us who we are, and if I could boil it all down to a single word it would be this: real. There’s not a fake bone in a single one of us. I like that.
Our stories have made us real.
But I believe just as every one of us has struggled pain and loss and complicated lives, under every shadow is a redemption story. It just takes a long time for some of us to find it. Last week I found mine. I found it folded in the pages of the deepest parts of my own life, and where they met the darkness, fear, shame and grief of another. Where they carved out the truest, most real essence of who I am. Over the last two weeks I met God in the most tangible, profound ways and I will never be the same. He showed up in the most intimate ways, day after day, disguised as human flesh to tell me I am KNOWN. I am SAFE. And I am ENOUGH. Not because of anything I have done or not done, but simply because I am. HIS.
And finally, assuredly, without a doubt in my mind: I believe Him.
For as long as I believed the lies, in one swift motion, He wiped them away. Of course the shoe would drop. Of course the message I have shared with every person I’ve met over the last two weeks of God’s goodness, His faithfulness and His glory would meet it’s challenge. Would be under attack. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
Today he came for me. He came at me in a place where I have always been weak, but where, by His grace, I am now strong. A place where he has tempted me, tricked me and tortured me for years. But not this day. Today I saw him and said, I see you, prowling lion and I call your bluff. Today, you have no power over me. Today, your control, your lies, your power and your reign in my life ends. And it has.
In John 8:44 Jesus said of the devil: “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” He is so predictable. His methods, his timing, his ways. He comes at us again and again in our weakest places with the same tactics, the same stories, the same ugly lies. Prowling around he looks to kill, steal and destroy. He is the author of deception and death because it is who he is. In this world, darkness will roar and people will speak death over us. God’s word speaks LIFE. Circumstances, situations, people and life will come at us with so many things to test us, try us, and find what we believe. Will we believe the lies? God says: “You will know the truth. And the truth will set you free.”
Be free. Shine light in the darkness, rise up before the prowling lion, and stand firm in the truth that God knows who you are. And you are His. You are Known. You are Safe. And You are Enough. Believe him.
Father God, help each one of us to stand on your firm foundation. Your truth. That which brings life. May we resist the temptation and lies of the evil one, and find our refuge, our strength and our salvation in you. You are so good to us. Amen.