Greetings, fellow travelers. You who journey with Jesus Christ, partaking of the divine nature, grafted to the life-giving vine, and working out your salvation with fear and trembling. Today I bring a word of encouragement, inspired by very real and personal recent events. This is my testimony.
We serve a timeless, all-powerful, loving, merciful God. The God of Abraham, Moses, King David, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The God who spoke to Moses from the burning bush, who passed by Elijah in the cleft on the mountain, who audibly and publicly spoke of his love and pride for his only begotten Son, this is the same God who speaks to us today. The God of the Bible, who sits on the throne of Heaven, who is forever and ever, speaks with us in the quietness of our hearts, even in our darkest hours.
If you have been on this journey for any length of time, you know that miraculous process of transformation that begins when we say “I do” to Jesus and invite him to sit upon the throne of our hearts. It is a process. I have been on this journey. Sometimes it seems like one step forward and two steps back, and there are seasons where I am tempted to doubt whether Jesus sits upon any throne in my life, especially when I focus on all of the things I “get wrong”. But in time we begin to see and experience real change, measurable growth, and we experience freedom where once there was captivity.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. 2 Corinthians 3:18
Over the last six years of my life, there has been tremendous inner healing. While this road was marked with numerous victories and a few setbacks, it has been an amazing journey, and I am seeing and experiencing new life and healing and freedom like never before. Yet, a deep sense of shame continued hounding me. I couldn’t shake the shame at the depth of my being. I could literally feel myself shrink inside as I walked into any Christian gathering, especially in the presence of other Christian men. As layer upon layer of healing occurred along the way, I expected we would arrive at the source of this shame, but it remained elusive. I could feel shame growing weaker, then it would strengthen, and it felt like a never-ending cycle. I am sure my closest confidants grew weary of hearing about shame, shame, and more shame.
Recently, I woke up in the middle of the night. I don’t remember what I was dreaming about or what stirred all the emotions, but I awoke weeping and repenting, overwhelmed with condemnation and grief. I found myself asking for forgiveness and repenting of all the same things I’d been forgiven for years ago, so many times in the past. All the things that led to a failed marriage, feeling the loss of relationship and family, so many heavy, grievous things. It was a night like so many others in the past, and all I could do was throw myself at the mercy of the Lord and ask for help as I had done so many times before.
And then, suddenly on this night I felt an interruption: A knock on the door of my heart from a familiar place. It was so abrupt and so strong it jolted me out of my blathering, and I got quiet.
And I heard a question being asked, “Will you invite me into this?”
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20
Now, there are people I know who say that they can tell which member of the triune God is speaking to them at any given moment, whether it is God the Father, the Holy Spirit or Jesus. I usually refer to God speaking and often don’t know the difference, because to me they are one. But this night I didn’t even think about it, in my heart of hearts it was Jesus speaking.
I answered that inner prompting, “YES. Please. I invite you into this moment with me.”
And friends, peace was restored immediately! Complete peace.
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3
I remained quiet and allowed Jesus to speak. I don’t think much time passed, but it felt as if time slowed down. You know how time seems to slow down when something dramatic happens, like a traffic accident? Or if you’re an athlete on the field and the “game slows down” and a lot of information can be processed in mere moments? This felt like one of those moments.
Jesus showed me that there was an area of my heart that I withheld from him, which was a surprise, as I was not conscious of it. I believed until that moment that I had given my whole heart over to the Lord, but as soon as he shed light on it, I could see and knew that it was the truth. This area of my heart is one of deep sensitivity and brokenness, one that I thought had already been relinquished to his care, but clearly had not. Not fully.
He asked if I would invite him into this broken place in my heart, and if I would give it to him. In this moment of Jesus-clarity, I could see how tightly I held onto this wounded place for decades, not allowing anyone or anything inside. Held so tightly and for so long, in fact, that part of my identity had formed around it. A part of my identity that brought shame with it.
Seeing all of this, I responded, “Yes, Lord. I invite you in. I give to you this part of me. Take it, I welcome you in.”
My friends, this night was a couple of months ago, and I have felt different since then. A few months might not seem like a long time, but when you have felt the weight of shame every day for as long as you can remember, two months of relief is glorious.
It has not been without struggle, the enemy comes to steal what God gives, and there were moments where I was tempted to take back the reigns. But the jig is up – Jesus revealed what he wants to heal, and I’m going to let him. It’s scary. This is something I have always controlled and felt like I needed to be safe and whole, but not anymore. I cannot fully explain what happened or what has changed, but I feel the change, and I am grateful.
We serve a timeless, all-powerful, loving, merciful God. The God who speaks. The God who pursues. The God who sent his son Jesus to reconcile us to himself, to bind up the brokenhearted, and to set captives free. What extravagant, ridiculous, humbling love is this? That the God of the universe would care to meet us in our moment of need? This is mind-blowing.
To anyone reading this, feeling heartbroken, ashamed, or dogged by something you can’t seem to shake. Take heart. Be encouraged. God loves his children and is committed to your salvation, growth, and freedom.
Our job is to stay connected, stay grafted to the vine. Jesus is the vine, we are the branches. Our life and sustenance are drawn from that connection. Jesus already paid the price for that connection, our responsibility is to keep reaching out and give him access to our hearts and be available, he does all of the rest. And what he does is miraculous.
…I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10
Blessings Friends, Michael