I am not your pastor,
not your preacher,
not your mother,
not your wife–
By the blood of Christ,
I am your sister.
And I love you.
This is my story.
This is your story.
Together, this is our story.
Last night, I cried out to God, our heavenly Father–
I said– “Father! My God! My Lord! I need you to hold me!
Hold me in your arms!
Never let me go!”
But my eyes would not open wide enough to see Him in the darkness of the night.
Alone and desperate, I could not find my own way,
I was lost, so deep within the Valley of the Shadow of Death,
That I–did— fear— evil,
His rod and his staff– they terrified me!
I looked high; I looked low; all I could see were the shadows of doubt–
And I did fear evil–
This was not the path of righteousness I set out to follow!
My God, My God, I cried out– Why have you forsaken me?!
Banging my fists upon the earth, face crusted with dirt and sweat and tears and despair,
Finally, I gave up.
Lord, My God, My Father, take me where you must.
This is not the path I saw in the light of day.
You have me here in this place,
in a place I never knew, never saw,
never wanted to know, never, Lord, never,
was this supposed to be–
But you alone are God, and I surrender.
Suddenly, as if by some flash of lightning, I was there walking with James.
And I understood that James had come to walk beside me.
As we walked along the way, he spoke to me–
He said, “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.”–
“Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
As he spoke, all I could I think was that he must not know–
How could he possibly know?–
The road I traveled was paved with anger and addiction, alcohol, and anxiety, and
And all those things I dare not say.
Lost in my own mind,
I heard him whisper,
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father, who does not change like the shifting shadows.”
And I doubted that He could even be speaking to me.
I used to have some very good and perfect gifts–but they are all gone now– my friends- they were good, but they’re gone now.
My mom- I loved her- she was so beautiful, so tender, so loving, once upon a time, she was so good– but that fairy tale didn’t have a happily ever after ending–
and she’s gone now too.
He must not know, I thought–
He must not know that this road I traveled
Was the road less traveled by–
And it was paved with sexual perversion and pornography and pain
and failure after failure after failure–
As we walked, he talked, and I, still trapped in my own mind,
I watched my feet and thought, how can these be the feet of Jesus?
I saw my hands, and I knew it could not be true–
These hands, my hands, below these wrists,
these scarred wrists with wounds so deep no ink could ever cover–
These are the hands of Jesus Christ? The Messiah? The Savior?–
These hands are not worthy,
I knew in the darkened depth of my decaying soul,
I knew my sin ran too deep,
To be covered by the blood of the lamb,
I was too lost to be resurrected to new life in Christ–
I felt the searing condemnation from the enemy below,
And I believed the lies,
The sinister lies,
From that curséd snake–
I shouldn’t be here.
I cannot be your teacher– after all, not many us should be teachers–
But Oh! How sly!– that the enemy would take the words of my Father and twist them, and turn them, and burn them, and beat them into the bloody mess I thought I had become–
I suddenly was shaken,
James took me by the shoulders,
uplifted my soul, and spoke once again–
As the Lord Jesus Christ delivered the gift of grace that was not of myself but of God–
This time, there was no whisper.
This time, the veil was torn. Tables turned–
This time, I could see, and I could hear
And I could feel, and
I could taste,
And I could smell the glorious victory–
As James repeated, “Get rid of all the filth and evil,
And humbly accept the Word planted in you, which can save you.”
And the Word planted in me– spoke this truth to me last night:
knit together in my mother’s womb,
Created in the image of God,
made for His glory,
by His glory,
Saved by His grace,
Delivered from evil,
Risen to new life,
Empowered by the Holy Spirit,
loved by the Prince of Peace,
The most high Priest,
The Creator of Heaven and Earth,
The LORD of all Creation,
The King of Kings,
The eternal– the Great I AM.
And I heard the voice of the Lord, my God, my refuge, my rock, – resounding from within–
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