I have been anxious to sit down and write this post all day. After yesterday's post, I've been mulling over my thoughts on shame and what I've learned in the past few months regarding it.
This post contains truth I've learned recently that can and will change my life. It's that important, and it is a perfect example of the Lord providing me the tools I need.
Just for a little background, remember a couple months ago I went to our church's women's retreat? Well I did. (You can refresh your memory here.) Before I went, I was also contemplating going to a conference for Christian writers and bloggers called She Speaks. I have a very subtle, way down deep idea that God may want me to write more than just blog posts. That maybe I'm being prepared for something beyond the scope of my words in this space. I'm open to His ideas, and curious about them.
Also, I know that the Bible speaks a lot about telling others of God's great work in our lives. If He has loved me, changed me, shown up for me, then part of my story is certainly to give Him glory by encouraging someone through sharing that experience. I've known this for a long time, so I'd say over the past 15 years, I've felt an ever-growing conviction about telling God's stories. In fact, that conviction is part of why I'm passionate about this lil' blog.
So I went to the women's retreat with that mental backdrop. On Saturday night, during a message that was not really speaking to me all that much, the speaker threw out a verse from Revelation so casually. It was even off topic. That verse may have been the whole reason I was there that weekend. (Remember, Revelation is a record of visions John saw regarding the end times.) Here is the verse with some more context:
And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.
"And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death."
The speakers voice faded into nothing in my ears. I instantly had this image of my arch enemy standing before the throne in heaven, day and night, accusing me and all believers. I saw it. I felt it. And I knew it to be true. Picture it. Can you hear the accusations? (Perhaps you heard some today.)
Did you hear what she just said? What an awful mother. I can't believe she's even a parent. Wow, is she screwing up their lives.
Her husband doesn't care about her anyway. She's just not what he needs. He'd much rather have someone different.
She is just spinning her wheels, not making any difference to anyone.
She doesn't have any real friends, and she'd lose the ones she has if she were any more vulnerable. What a mess.
She is just a big fraud. If anyone really knew what was going on, she'd be an embarrassment.
Going to church? Bible study? What a waste of time. Nothing's ever going to change. It's just too late for her.
I fought back the ugly cry in that moment, when the speaker had already gone onto another topic. I knew it all too well, how that dark, deceitful spirit presses me down with lies. Thick, cloudy, bold-faced lies.
But the ugly cry was not for the shame I regularly battled. It was actually for joy, because of the remedies spelled out in the passage. I was so humbly thankful for the two things, the two specific weapons God clearly showed me that I could wield against the Accuser: the blood of the Lamb, and the power of my testimony.
Do you see the pieces coming together for me here? I hope I am doing the Lord justice with this story because it is amazing how in His great compassion, He saw my shame, and He handed me the tools I needed to fight.
"And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb..."
My first weapon is the blood of Jesus. I can claim redemption because blood was shed for me. The resurrection happened; we just celebrated it a few weeks ago. For shame to begin to dissolve, I need only recall that my spiritual debts are cleared once and for all. The Accuser has nothing on me. My sin has been removed from me as far as the east is from the west. There is no accusation that the blood can't cover. Period.
"Now there is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
"...and because of the word of their testimony."
My second weapon is the power of my testimony. Let me just say that as soon as I share a bit of my story, whether in a blog post or over coffee with a friend, I feel stronger. The accusations stop because I am focused on God's work in the bigger picture, and I feel useful to Him. Friends, don't underestimate the power of your testimony not only to affect someone else's life, but to protect your own soul from the Accuser! It is so important to be willing to speak out the ways the Lord is at work in our lives. It helps both the speaker and the hearer to remember what life is all about. It is all from Him and through Him and to Him (Romans 11:36). The Accuser's big trick is to get us to focus on ourselves; one big pity-party is all we need to open ourselves up to attack.
If you at all resonated with my last post, you cannot afford to let go of your two weapons, the blood of the Lamb, and the power of your testimony. Use them, and then encourage me to, since I so easily forget! We are fighting the same fight, sisters. Let's shake off the shame God never intended for us to bear, and then watch each other's backs.