As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. -- Isaiah 55:10-11

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

I am

For the last several weeks, I’ve been in a rather intense battle. In John 10:10 Jesus says that the enemy comes to steal kill and destroy. In contrast, Jesus comes to give life in abundance. While there is a spiritual war that we don’t often see, I have experienced the intense physical manifestations of this war, and it has been painful and joyous and overwhelming and freeing.

As I have watched this battle and experienced the personal blows, I have run the gamut of emotions from been heart sore to being ecstatic. I’ve also been ashamed and afraid, which the enemy wants because when we are ashamed or afraid, we cave up and close ourselves off. We become easy targets because while he is telling us all the lies, we have no one to counter with Truth. Well, my friends, I am here to tell you the Truth.

I have found that all warfare is mental. Sickness can be hard, but the big toll is on the mental state of a person. How well a person heals or not is directly related to positive mental health. If the enemy wants to take us out, he has to attack us mentally, and he does it in a myriad of ways. And he has a favorite time to attack you, too—when you are making progress.

At the beginning of the summer, a lot of wonderful things happened for me all at once. My pictures were published. I was asked to write an article for a women’s magazine. I had lunch with a group of talented, beautiful women who were the Lord’s voice of love and acceptance over me. I was preparing curriculum on identity to teach a women’s group this fall. My children were doing great, and I was feeling great about home school. I had even been given the “job” of photography a major women’s conference for our church’s magazine, and that was HUGE to me.

Wonderful things were happening, and the Lord was giving so much revelation for home school and the women’s group. I woke up waiting to see what gift I got to open that day knowing I was going to be lavished with something for the simple reason God loved me and loves to lavish His children with wonderful gifts.

Then, something happened. I started getting the hard gifts. Some of you know what I mean. They are the gifts that you love in retrospect, but cause deep heart ache when you are opening them. I got a series of those, and I did what I always do. I toughed it out.

I prayed in the morning. I prayed during the day. I remembered scripture. I remembered words the Lord had spoken to and over me. I knew what to do, except it didn’t work. Instead of coming up, I cratered.

Now, I’m not the first to crater. David cratered when he gazed at Bathsheba. Peter cratered when the rooster crowed. Thomas cratered when he dared someone to show him the holes in Jesus’ hands so he could stick his finger through them. I’m in good company.

One of the things all of them knew, though, was the gift of God’s Truth. It’s the gift that says God, not the crater, gets to define us.

David is the man after God’s heart (1 Samuel 13:14). Peter walked in so much power that people upon whom his shadow fell were healed (Acts 5:14-15). Thomas was undaunted when he declared Jesus as “my Lord and my God (John 20:28).

These men cratered, but that crater did not define them or determine their destinies. Those craters only make their testimonies more powerful and lend hope to those who come after them. These men had destinies of power because the Lord declared that over them. They had divine purpose, and as long as they receive that, they could not fail.

In the last few weeks, I have struggled with questions. I have struggled with failure, and I have struggled with shame. The enemy has brought up things from my childhood and my less than godly adolescence to throw at me and show me “who I am”. He has worked hard to kill my hopes, vision, dreams, faith, and identity because he wants to steal my destiny and destroy God’s power and glory in me.

One he other hand, there has been my Savior declaring that I am free, forgiven, and purposed. I have been deliberately chosen because of my strengths and weaknesses to accomplish great things for the kingdom, and He has blessed me with wonderful people who speak life into me daily.

Saturday was an amazing series of people and circumstances declaring God’s glory, love, and joy over me, and it was water to my soul. Talk about rivers in the desert. I danced and played in that river, and it was glorious.

Then today came.

One of the things about being in the company of folks like David, Peter, and Thomas is that you have to take the good with the bad. David is often remembered for his adultery more than his worship. Peter is known for sinking in the ocean more than walking on it. Thomas is know for being a doubter instead of a declarer. And today, I had my share of folks who obviously don’t think I am that special either.

I shared a personal prayer request with people I felt were safe, and one person blasted me and told me I wasn’t looking at it from God’s perspective and I didn’t have faith. I was too concerned about relationships and not enough about God’s view. I needed to pull it together and be a real Christian. Until then, I was a disappointment, and she had nothing to say.

Another person called to confirm our lunch Thursday. I am unable to meet for lunch near her home thirty minutes away, and then she told me what an inconvenience it was for her, and if she had known that, she would have come by yesterday when she was five minutes from my house anyway. There are two facts that I should mention: 1) I told her a week ago I couldn’t meet this week. 2) She has done this a number of times before. To me, it simply says she doesn’t think I am important enough to remember.

Then there were a few other significant people who did things that said I wasn’t important to them either.

Consciously, I don’t think any of them meant to convey that, but they didn’t consciously make effort not to convey it either. The enemy of course jumped right it with a great big, “See how unimportant you are. You aren’t valuable. People who claim to be your friend don’t care about you. You aren’t their effort. You aren’t worth remembering. You are worth the time. You are unimportant and worthless.”

And I won’t lie to you. The actions and words of those people hurt, and I spent way too much time stewing over them and giving my energy to these lies and acts of rejection. I wouldn’t be past the sting of one hit before another came. Then I was ashamed for letting these stupid things hurt me, and then fear hit me. Can I come out of this?

The answer is yes, but only with God’s Truth.

I received another response to the personal prayer request which started, “Thank you for trusting me with your heart.” She then shared about important people in her life and the lives of her sons who walked with them and carried them when her husband was killed in a car wreck two years ago.

I read a beautiful post written by Ben Powell whose son Ethan is a miracle of God’s healing power. You have to read the story to realize how truly miraculous Ethan’s life is. In this post, Ben talked about the people who had helped him and his wife walk through Ethan’s illness from the initial diagnosis in February to today. He shared the glorious blessing of relationships and how valuable support is.

Then there were phone calls and emails and God just loving on me in so many ways that said, “You ARE important. You ARE worth my time. You ARE mine.”

And as I write this incredibly lengthy post, that is where I am. That is WHO I am.

I am important.
I am worth God’s time.
I am forgiven.
I am loved.
I am chosen.
I am created with purpose.
I am beautiful.
I am free.
I am His.

He said so, and THAT, not what others say or how they treat me, is what defines me. What God says is the declaration of my value, my identity, and my destiny. You know why? Because God says, “I AM,” and therefore, I am.

Blessings on who you are according to I AM…

Copyright Jerri Phillips @ 2007

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