This is a rather long post, but I woke up this morning and, well, I just felt I needed to share this…so my apologies for the length.
I’ve never really shared much about how God’s mercy and His loving kindness has restored my dignity after divorce. The reason is because restored dignity is a process, a long process that (for me) began with repentance and then literally, one step at a time, required craving His mercy and His Word … one new day at a time.
During and after divorce, for the longest time, I thought, I truly thought, that God’s love and care for my life was “less than” it once was. I was told that I was now a “lesser Christian,” so in my mind I reasoned that to mean … His love for me was less, too.
I thought God didn’t want me as much as He once did. That’s how I felt every. single. day. After all, that was how I was now being treated by other Christians, so doesn’t that mean they are reflecting HIM and HIS nature towards me now? Can’t I safely interpret their rejection to also be His?
I thought that way.
I elevated their response to equate His.
I felt the rumors, the shaming, and the rejection of others (other Christians) that punctuated even more of what I was already feeling – unloved and unwanted. If they could write me off and write off my children, then that must be what God is doing; at least that’s how I reasoned it all out because I knew what strong Christians they were and evidently they never sinned … like I had.
I’m telling you, Satan had a hay day with my thoughts. A plum hay day!
I refused to discuss any details of the divorce issues out of respect for my children. I had multiple opportunities to defend, and explain and seek understanding, but I didn’t because all I was personally dealing with at the time was my own sin in it all.
I hated my sin. There was no point in trying to justify it, explain it or endorse it in any way. And any attempts in trying to justify it were (I knew in my heart) pointless. I sure wasn’t convincing God of anything. It was sin, plain and simple, and I had to not only hate it, but own it and stop trying to dilute it with any self rights.
And the thing was this …. if I hated it so much, how in this world could a sinless and holy God possibly still love me? Still want me? After all, didn’t my sin now mark me? Didn’t it now cause an uncrossable bridge in mine and His relationship? Didn’t it now shuv me to the back of His mind and worse of all, didn’t it place me completely outside of His attention? His desire? His interest?
God hates sin. And at the time, I interpreted that to mean … God hated me. Was I now among the wicked and the tares? Was He just not interested in me anymore? (Just in typing all that out, I’m reminded of how Satan worked so aggressively in trying to convince me of all those lies!)
I’ll just go ahead and shoot straight … I felt unsaved. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, but I just felt as though me and Jesus now had an unrepairable relationship. I felt far far away from Him and I grieved like I have never grieved in my entire life.
My valley was dark morning, noon and night. I hated where I was, where I felt I was with my Father. Feeling totally without Him. I felt cast out from His presence and from the presence of folks that were once my friends. And at the time, all I could think was, “And rightfully so!”
A roaring and restless river of emotions ragged in my heart that was not only loud when things were quiet, but all day, every day. The noise that drowned out my “sanity” was the sound of fearing my own sin – afraid of God and afraid of the consequences that would follow. I feared being forsaken by Him because after all … I broke His moral law.
John Macarthur explains breaking God’s moral law:
The standard by which sin is defined is the Word of God, the law of God, the Scripture in which God has revealed His moral law. Sin is breaking His moral law. It is living as if there was no God, no law, and no consequences. Any act, any word, any thought, any motive that in any way violates God’s holy, just, perfect, moral law is sin. And God is the authority who has established the law. He set the standard for man to live by. Any violation of it constitutes sin.
The personal battles to maintain my integrity were challenged and sometimes I won and sometimes I lost those challenges. I hated my witness. I hated my testimony. I hated what was happening. And …
I hated the fact that I lived hiding and hurting all at the same time.
But then one morning, the Holy Spirit took me to a certain page in my Bible. He wanted me to read where someone else He knows hated the fact that they were living hiding and hurting, too, … had been for quite a while … until he owned and confessed and repented of his sin against God. It was the man after God’s own heart, King David, who wrote:
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit. (Psalm 51)
I wept as I read and received every single word of this Psalm. I bathed in it! The Holy Spirit washed me in that moment … and I felt it! It was a feeling that I had not felt in so long!! The feeling of redemption. The feeling of His favor and smile on my life! I felt the Word of my Lord not only hug me with His reassuring and everlasting arms, but I felt the Hand of God lift my chin, wipe away my tears and say to me,
“I love you, Lisa. I forgive you.”
Y’all, I will never ever forget that morning! I will never forget, nor will I ever get over hearing joy and gladness in my heart for the first time in a long time. I will never get over hearing my Lord say, “I have NOT cast you away from My presence, only your sin.” I will never take for granted a single day the restored JOY of His salvation in my life!! I sat there with God, the God who loved me so much that He sent His only begotten Son that if I would believe in Him, I would have eternal life … and nothing, no sin, no sin at all would EVER separate me from the Love of God! I (for the first time) understood the GRACE, and the MERCY and the POWER in the blood of Christ Jesus … and it’s my longing to PRIZE THE BLOOD EVERY DAY He gives me to live for HIM!! I’m telling you, I made every single syllable of Psalm 51 my prayer and the prayer for my children.
The ashes of my life has most definitely been made into beauty of His doing … a beauty that I can honestly say, is all HIM!
The battles I fought were all mental, emotional, and spiritual. And the battles couldn’t be fought any other way than through one act on my part – surrender. I had to surrender “my rights, my perspectives, my hurt, my justifying myself, my pride, and my defenses.”
I had to become breakable. And the most loving thing my Father has ever done in my life is break me. He had to.
Because when His law has been broken, there is nothing YOU can do to restore yourself. When His law has been broken, the only thing you can do is give Him the pile of ashes that you’ve been wallowing in.
Gracious people … where ever you are in your life with Him, please understand this … He truly does delight in forgiveness!!
Micah 7:18 – “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”
Our Lord loves us, y’all, and that amazing love forgives, renews, and REBUILDS the life of the person who only wants one thing – a personal relationship with Him that starts with repentance and continues with surrender, trust, obedience, and belief! And if there is one truth I feel so strongly He wanted me to learn concerning His nature it’s this … that no sin can separate us from the Love of God. No, not one! Nothing. (Romans 8:35-39)
Now, that doesn’t mean all consequences are removed. But what it does mean is that His mercy and love will carry you through them. God is just and when His moral law is broken, there are consequences, … but when you know that you know that you know those consequences are from a very loving Father, you aren’t afraid. When you know those consequences CAN’T keep you out of His care and out of His presence, then you face them. And you face them with Him. Because the main thing is — knowing Him. No matter what … that is always the main thing. Knowing God.
After talking with my friend and mentor, Nan Thompson, she reminded me of this: God’s goodness and mercy DOES follow us all the days of our life, and that includes the good, the bad, the ugly, and the stupid days. I can’t begin to tell you how much my children have been through and what they have experienced, but I can tell you this … they’re OVERCOMERS and it’s my prayer that they will know this love, this all consuming mercy and love of God ALL THE DAYS OF THEIR LIFE!!
It was in believing that God’s Word DID still apply to me, that I began to experience a level of mercy and grace from God that made the Cross become even MORE real!! I don’t deserve salvation. I don’t deserve to be forgiven. None of us do. But the Jesus who hung on the Cross for my sin and your sin is the same Jesus who hung on the Cross for King David’s sins. Miss Nan always taught me that the Old Testament sins were forgiven “on credit” and when Jesus hung on that Cross my sins were on His body, with King David’s sins … the author of the inspired words of God in Psalm 51.
After He broke me, He began to mold me into a new vessel for His use! And now that I’m on “this side” of the valley, the next verse to follow in Psalm 51 is my prayer:
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
It’s hard sometimes talking about painful areas of our life that, quite honestly, we either would like to forget or we’d rather not bring a smidgin’ of attention to it. And I’m not one who believes you should tell every tit-for-tat of your shortcomings in order for there to be a full restoration or in being “real.” Again, Miss Nan taught me that, too — Once God has forgiven, He’s forgotten it, so discussing what He has forgotten isn’t always for His glory and our good.
But the “cherry on top” of it all is that GOD FORGIVES AND GOD LOVES AND GOD RESTORES AND GOD KEEPS HAVING A PLAN FOR OUR LIFE!!! Now, that’s one big cherry!! But you know, that’s God. That’s God toward any truly repentant person. And that’s the message of this post.
God loves you. He forgives all sin because of the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, and He still has a purpose to use you for the glory and growth of His kingdom!
I love you, too, and I prayed that whoever reads this, will be strengthened in your faith and will be encouraged to seek the mercy of God.
Thank you dear Lisa! Powerful post! God uses your powerful words to build up and equip the saints…to overcome and strengthen ourselves. Interesting that I just spoke about God’s sea of forgetfulness in my regrets post. I love you sister!
I love you too Libby and you are so right…if we don’t seek and desire to hear from God, HIS perspective on our life, and how much he desperately loves us, we could spend a lifetime allowing “regret” to snowball our emotions into a horrible mess. THANK GOODNESS for the life of the WORD OF GOD!!