Tuesday, October 25, 2011

No Regrets Part Two: Naked Writing

Part two is about baring my soul.  Being vulnerable.  Naked writing. 

Back to Billy and Shanna's couch:

As I sat there pondering the verses I had read, I started asking myself some questions.  Perhaps this strategy came from the speakers at Desperation Conference, as they taught the kids how to read their Bibles and pray.  Maybe I just needed a new plan that morning.  Here is what I asked myself:

Who is God in this story?
Who is Satan?
Who am I?

I am not usually a formula reader.  I agree with Donald Miller and many others on that point.  Relationship with God can't be broken down into three action points that translate into great blessing.  The Bible does give life and instruction.  But I do not feel we should attempt to allegorize the entire thing to fit our circumstances. 

But those questions were on my heart that morning, so I sought answers.  They came instantly. 

God was represented by David in the story.  Satan was the evil, cruel, lawless Mallies.  Who was I?  I was the plunder.  Carried off to be enslaved, tortured, used, and humiliated, a possession for sport. 

Off the couch for a little backstory...

I gave my heart to Jesus when I was nine.  At Calvary Tabernacle on Orange Ave in Roanoke, Virginia, where my mom and dad got married.  Every Sunday we would sing Just As I Am  at the close of service, during the alter call.  One Sunday I walked to the front all by myself.  I can still remember how long the aisle seemed that morning, stretching from a few feet into a mile before I finally reached the front. My Sunday School teacher met me there and prayed with me.  My parents cried.  And that was it, I was officially a Christ follower. 

But I didn't always follow.  I made some poor decisions during high school.  Got involved in a bad relationship.  I walked away from God in shame, then returned.  Other times I walked away in rebellion- I wanted to do whatever felt good at the time.  "Walking away" can take many forms- dismissing the teachings of one's youth, building walls of protection, outright sin, apathy, the list is endless.  But Satan has opportunity to plunder when we walk away...we are his for the stealing, as defenseless as David's wives in Ziklag.  He chips away at our souls.  We might feel carefree and euphoric at first, but then we are plunged into numbness.  Hopeless and unsatisfied.  Sadly, I have walked away quite a few times since I was nine.  There has been ample opportunity for Satan to plunder.

What do most of us do with our dumb and painful mistakes of the past?  We usually ignore them for as long as possible.  Then we regret.  Every person alive has at least one BIG regret they can bring to mind instantly, right?  Do you have any regrets when you look back at your past?  What"s the BIG one? Think about it for a minute please.  I am sure it is glaring at you now that you've given it a little attention.  It's okay to let it sit there in the front of your mind, we'll come back to visit REGRET in a little while.

Back to the couch:

As I said in part 1, verses 18-20 gripped my heart.  What did they mean in the context of my own life story? 

I could say a lot here, but instead I am going to copy straight from my journal entry that morning.  Here I go getting naked.  I'll admit I'm nervous...this is vulnerable stuff.  I wonder if you'll reject my words?  My journal entry is messy, real, and intense.  I ask you to hear my heart.  Here goes:

     "What is God saying to me?

     He came, and found Satan had destroyed/burned my life, and taken me off captive.  He came searching for me, to RESCUE me back...to bring me home to Him because I am precious beyond measure to Him.  God has fought for me unceasingly...two days for David has been years for me.  God actually did this on the cross, through Christ, 2000 years ago.  For me.  But he never stopped pursuing, never stopped fighting for me.  Last night He got me back completely...all the broken pieces of me.

     -What about my great regrets from my captivity and Satan's destruction in my life?  What is God saying to me about that? 
"18 David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back. 20 He took all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock, saying, “This is David’s plunder.”

     God recovered EVERYTHING- every part of me.  God recovered His Beloved, and nothing was missing-  there is no part of me Jesus didn't recover. No part of me was left with Satan or his destruction.  He recovered my heart, my innocence, my dreams, my hopes, my past, my wasted years- He recovered it all.  Again- nothing is missing from me. Satan did not utterly destroy me.  God has me back whole, intact."
End journal entry.

I had cried at Desperation the night before, without really knowing the details of why.  On the couch that morning I wept with understanding and gratitude.  I felt deep peace I've never known in my life.  I honestly couldn't even remember my regrets.  It was as if God had taken a gigantic fuzzy cloth to the dry erase board of my life and smudged out all the ugly parts. With Christ's blood. I really did feel whole.  I still feel whole.  Intact.  My future is as wide and bright and full of possibilities as when I was twelve. 

I spoke about that morning at our Mother Daughter Day for Girltime this summer.  I am not an eloquent public speaker yet, but the moms were gracious to me.  They were the first people to hear the words from my journal.   After I shared, I asked each of the moms to write down their biggest regret(s) on a small slip of paper. Then we folded up the papers, took them outside and dropped them in a metal bucket.  We prayed over them.  They gave their regrets to God.  Then we lit the papers on fire, burning them to ashes.  I saw freedom in the eyes of some of the moms that day after their regrets were dust in the bottom of the bucket.  It was incredible. 

So is your regret still clear in your mind?  Bring it back if it wandered into the recesses.  I want to ask you to be brave.  Give it to God- fully and completely give it to Him.  Close your eyes and picture your regret on a piece of paper resting in your hands.  Then hold your hands out to God.  Give it to Him.  Get your past and your future back.  Then imagine that paper burning into ashes.  Smell the smoke.  Be free. 

If you aren't ready to do that, it's okay.  But ponder it please.  And hey- if you want to write your regret down and burn it with real fire, I say go for it.  It's very freeing. 

It is very late and I am all out of words.  Thank you for listening and allowing me the freedom to share the deep stuff of my heart.  I am so thankful tonight for no more regrets. I am praying the same for you.

Peace dear readers. 

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