The church sanctuary is beautiful will all the lilies lifting their faces upward in their own form of worship. The service is filled with special music, the people greeting each other with the passing of the peace and "Happy Easter". The sermon speaks of the hope we have in a risen Savior.
And then I hear the whisper halfway through, as I glance down the long empty pew. "You are alone again." A familiar sadness blankets me even in the midst of Easter joy. I sit by myself. It's not like I am truly alone, my husband is right up front, speaking words of worship as he helps pastor a congregation. I am surrounded by lovely people. It is just that sometimes I miss having the presence of our family that once filled the pew. Sometimes I miss having my husband by my side, my cowboy preacher who has shepherded congregations going back to 1971, nine years before ever being ordained. He loves what he does and I love what he has been called to do. Yet the spirit of loneliness still seeks me out at times. Looking around the church I see others who also are a pew of one. Do they feel it too? The pull of sadness while rejoicing? Then a calm Voice speaks into my listening heart. "Lo I am with you always." I drink the words of Living Water in deeply, thirsty for them, while sounds of the organ playing "hallelujah" echoes off sanctuary walls.
This is a part of my story. Today I am linking up with Bonnie at Faith Barista as I write on her prompt word for today, "your story".
As we live and breathe, we all have a story to tell. Parents, siblings, relatives, friends and even strangers play a role in writing our personal screenplay. Mine is no different. Intertwined in the love I experienced as a child is what is "said" to make us stronger....sexual abuse, death, alcoholism, and neglect. No condemnation expressed here, just the script of my early years. Those experiences took root creating strongholds of fear and loneliness that shaped how I lived and perceived life at times, and still try to take up residence.....even on this Easter morning decades later. But that is not the end of my story!
Following Joel's overnight healing miracle, our eye opening journey led us to my healing from Lyme Disease. Yet there was more to come. Jesus began peeling back the layers of fear, releasing me from confinement, and healing me with His love. As repressed memories came to the surface, PTS spoke often, but under His guidance and touch and my surrender, fear lost it's hold. Out of love Jesus urged me farther along the path, and recently He opened up the door of loneliness and feelings of abandonment that were buried so deep it took Holy Spirit power to unearth them. Gently and slowly He washed me in Living Water and wrapped me in Holy Spirit hugs, cleansing me of the lies the enemy had used for so long to keep me captive. The lies that said my past is my present and my future.
Sitting in church on Easter Sunday old feelings surfaced, but I had a choice.....listen to the echoes of the past the enemy threw at me, or walk into the life He had always had planned for His beloved child. It is a process, but that morning I spoke quietly to the little girl who was tempted to believe the residue of an old emotion, reminding her that this was not the truth. Jesus was always with me. He still is. Declaring this, peace returned once again with the affirmation that the enemy has no power.
The past I shared today is only a part of my story. A story filled with great good, some bad and even the ugly. But it all needs to be told in order to speak of victory with Jesus, bring hope to a hurting world, and give God the glory. Just like yours, my story continues on. My screenplay is still being written, but it is not being written by my past. It is being written by God who is loving me back to a full life ~ a life of freedom.
"It is for freedom that Christ set me free!
So I will stand firm then and never again be burdened
by a yoke of slavery."
(to fear, to loneliness, to the past)
(to fear, to loneliness, to the past)