Braving the Light

Awhile back I was planning a retreat with some friends,
A retreat for us sisters in Christ to go away and relax, 
replenish and re-focus.

As I prayed over the schedule I heard God tell me He wanted me to share my testimony there.

I had never shared my testimony anywhere.  
My story was my story.
I didn't want people to feel sorry for me.
I hadn't really let anyone in.
Its a scary thought that someone might hear and think differently about me afterwards.
My story could change where I stood.

I hated the feelings I got when I thought about some past hurt.
I basically blanked it out.
If anyone asked I was vague.

The thing is, I felt it best to avoid bringing up the past.
Why dredge up bad feelings and regrets?
I figured that newness in Christ and starting my new life in Him meant that the past didn't matter anymore.
So why talk about it?

In the end, I agreed with God and said I would do it.

The minute I agreed in my spirit, the darkness came.
I felt it heavy on top of me. A physical weight.  
At first I could walk around and go about my day, but the weight got heavier.
I finally sat in my Deep Place and could no longer move.
Something unseen was holding me down.

My thoughts went blank.
My emotions turned to fear and loathing.
I felt stuck in place.

Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.-1 Peter 5:8

I was being attacked by an enemy who wanted me to stay in the jail of secrecy.

For nearly 5 hours I stayed sitting there. 
I couldn't concentrate or change my emotion.
I was fully burdened by the darkness that sought me. 
A blank stare on my face.

Its strange, when it was happening it took me awhile to realize I was being spiritually attacked.
I thought it was happening because I was going to have to go into those deep places and share.

I finally decided to call a good friend of mine and tell her how I was feeling.
I confided in her, "I need help.  I'm so weighed down and I feel like I can't stand up and face my day."

She gently walked me through the scene for over an hour.
Explaining that the enemy only had one thing over me, that was my secrets.
If only he could keep me silent and hiding.
He was going to do everything he could to keep me there. 
Keep his hold on me.

She said, "Think about the ripple effect of you sharing how Christ lifted you to where you are now.  Think about how that will lend an ease to the women at the retreat who hear your story and in turn want to be open and share theirs.  You're making way for the light."

  It hadn't crossed my mind that the enemy would be involved.  
I was so disappointed I hadn't realized it before. 
My hiding was his victory, not my defense.

Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?"  The woman said, "The serpent deceived me and I ate." - Genesis 3:13

Oh, how we prayed together and the heaviness lifted. 
I was free again and this time, 
More determined then ever.

My God had saved me from that life. He rescued me and gave me a new name.
I was His child.  Bought with a price.
I would do anything for Him. 

I began to pray for the courage I needed and the words to come. 
I wanted my story to be about His redemption and His victory. 
I wanted others to see Him in all His splendor among the words I spoke.

It's like the verse in Mark 4:21.

Then Jesus asked them, "Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed?  Of course not!  A lamp is placed on a stand, where it's light will shine."

Jesus asks us to step into His plan.  
To shine for His glory.
What good is my redemption story if I hide it where no one can catch its spark?

1 Peter 2:5 tells us that we are living stones, being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 
The central idea of sacrifice is surrender to God. 
Surrendering in the deepest place, our inner self.

When we decide that no matter what happens.
No matter the repercussions good or bad,
We are going to be vulnerable and share,
That is pure personal sacrifice.
That is revealing God's heart.

I am asked to make a spiritual sacrifice to the one who sacrificed the most. 
To come out of my denial and share how He broke my chains.
To share about His restoration.
To be a living testimony of proof that He loves us. 
That there is no one that He wouldn't save.

So, I prepared and I shared.  
It wasn't magically easy. 
When it came time for me to lead the testimony session I was shaking.
I was full of anxious thoughts and I needed a team to pray over me.
I am still human. 
The events still occurred.
Until I am in Heaven I will probably always hate what happened.
But, I'm praying to be free from the emotions that come when I go there.
And I'm a work in progress.

One thing is for certain.

I will never hide my light again.

Then Jesus again spoke to them saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."- John 8:12

I want my life to be a continual offering of gratefulness for what He did for me and is doing even now.
The self-protection I had been doing by avoiding the hard stuff, was actually what was keeping me from knowing more of Christ's heart.
He wasn't trying to keep it from me, I just wouldn't let Him in there.

When I finally said the whole truth out loud, I experienced a new depth of Christ.
I wasn't dredging up the past like I thought it would feel like if I talked about the hard stuff.
It's not dredging when you're giving God the glory.
I felt different spiritually.
I felt different emotionally.
I had finally let someone see the whole me.
The whole story.
My story.

I realized that people aren't as scary as I had thought.
They still accepted me.
I actually felt like I could be more of myself around those women after that night.
All because now they knew my heart.

We all have a story to share.
God has woven Himself inside each one.
The healing was for us yes,
But a new level of sacrifice comes when we share it to aid the hearts of people around us.
To let them know we aren't as perfect as we let ourselves look.
To give them someone to resonate with.
To hear about a breakthrough.
When they might be waiting for their own.

Living as a sacrifice for God means denying ourselves and doing the hard stuff.
He will see us through.
And the goodness on the other side is so beautiful.
Its addicting.

Lord, You are my light,
The light of the world.
Your glory shines.
You shine on the darkest days.
For all You are, I will always praise You.
Help me to surrender my humanness
Help me to hear You clearer
Give me Your eyes.
Show me where to share my story, Lord.
You redeemed me 
You gave me a new life.
Let me be Your light.


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