This photo was taken already so long ago and such a different time and season of life but such a beautiful memory. Growing family. Young marriage. Little ones. The times seemed to linger as little ones were under foot and full of admiration of those that gave them the bread and other food that they needed for life. Now that they are grown, the seasons have evolved into other challenges. Challenges that cause a parent to fall to their knees again and again, and the wisdom of life trickles in. Those years when we were yet a child still do not seem afar off and yet we still feel like that child. It is funny how the seasons of life intertwine with the former year and yet life is such a glorious journey. I really mean it. I don’t just say it because it is all cake and pie, or that I have it all figured out. I have messed up a lot in my life and I have truly lived through the journey to learn and to tell about it. Some things are harder to learn than others, and as the Lord refines us, the fires seem to get hotter. We get into a process of our journey being moulded which is the most loving process of all. His loving hands only mean to make us a worthy vessel for His purposes.We start off as a lump of dirty clay just waiting for the hands to press, push, and form it. At first we are aware of what we are, the mere clay. But it is not us who make ourselves great for our Lord has the masters touch. He knows what we are made out of and how far the material can be stretched and for what force can be applied before breaking. Sometimes we get set on a shelf of life with a drying time. The leather hard clay will wilt and when bumped it can crack or fall to pieces for it becomes very brittle with this stage. A true master can mend the brittle clay before the firing. No matter what it looks like, the cracks, or scars, the master can glaze it over and set it in another fire to burn off the impurities until it shines. He makes it this glorious vessel, shining, pure, and strong. The vessel can hold light, bread, or even water. His living water that can be poured over to others.
It is not easy. Life never is. My husband said it best, “Everything comes with a price. Everything takes effort. Nothing is without a hassle if we want to grow!” It costs to love. When we let our guard down, we often act ourselves and sometimes the person we are is just messed up. If you think about it, apart from God, we are a mess. I have most of my life been a mess. The glorious part is that God uses our messes to make us better. It is like He really gets glorified from those of us that are so unworthy, and messed up, when he can really make us into something of a worthy purpose. The deeper He had to go to save us or teach us, the harder we were to seek out and fix, the more He is invested. At times I am sure He sits back and watches us. We fail. We brake. We hurt ourselves or others. We lay down flat with nothing left of ourselves. Nothing to brag about. Nothing to glory in.
It is the glorious moment, when we are down as far as we can go, down flat, down prostrate, when the only way to look is up. That is just the place the Lord has us from time to time. When we are down, we can only go up. Going up is the learning part. The growing part. When we realize our humanity, our very ability to make choices that impact where we go from here, we have this amazing realization that we need God even more. We HAVE to choose between LIFE or DEATH each time. We need redemption through Him and we need grace.
These past couple months were packed with emotion and when I failed for words, the Lord spoke into my heart. It was deep soul searching, wondering where I fit in the world. I mess of up course, and accusations come. I am the first to take ownership of my faults but I go beyond this for my enemies. I start to feel the pain of my wrong and I try to take ALL the burden. Because I was abused as a child, I have coped with the pain by creating more pain for myself to try to appease my enemies, to make them feel that I am getting my due. I thought for years I was healed and beyond this, but when the accusers stand against me, I crucify myself for them. I take things that are not mine.
I wonder why I do this and I wonder why I want to punish myself. It just comes up and I knew this time was different. I needed to let it go once and for all. A miracle happened to me. On days that I could barely breathe, as my chest felt it would cave in with pain. I never want to hurt others. I had all I could do to feel like I even deserved to have a family or even a friend. My first idea was to try to move to a deserted island where no one would have to ever see my face or hear my words. Either that or place a permanent piece of duck tape over my lips. None of which would help. Only the Lord can help. I beat myself up enough already. The new family the Lord gave me was ready to welcome me with open arms, yet I was fearful to mess it all up with them. I sat in front of all of them and shared how many things I have done wrong and I do not want to hurt them. They all yelled at me, telling me that they are failures too without Christ. They have been just as guilty as I, and they have messed up worse. Christ is working on each of us and that is why they love me even more, because I am not perfect, not polished and that I say the wrong things sometimes. More importantly, they said, it is because I don’t want to stay where I am and I want to be tender to learn and grow. Most people only look at what others do and they can be guilty of the very thing they accuse and yet they will never see it.
Here is the miracle. This is my miracle of miracles that will change the course of my heart forever. In my fight to find words to heal my own heart, so that I could live again, He came to me while I was laying prostrate on a table. On my face. In the dark. In my pain. Loving hands were working on my back to bring healing to my physical body. As I lay there, the Lord showed me a banqueting table. A long table, golden, beautiful, with all the bountiful food to grace it. I was there, and the Lord was sitting beside me. There was a banner over the table, and it said LOVE. And as the vision came full circle, I saw each one of my enemies madly staring at me. I stopped looking at the banner and the glorious table as I was drowned in guilt that my enemies were watching me. I felt that I could never stay there because they would not think I should be there, enjoying my life. I should go back to being the dog under the table who looks for the meager crumbs that fall from my masters table. Then a voice like thunder said, “Erin, I am Jehovah Rapha” I did not speak such words, nor did I understand what they meant. But God will not speak to you something that is not in His word, that much I do know...
This scripture did come to mind...a part of the 23rd Psalm
"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies" Psalm 23:5
"He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love." Song of Solomon 2:4
My friend, as she was massaging my back, she told me, “Erin, God just spoke to me. He has a table prepared for you in the presence of your enemies, and the banner over you is LOVE, for He is Jehova Rapha, which means He is your Healer.” Goosebumps went across my entire body. God was trying to get my attention. And He did. I wept. I asked Vange why I feel so guilty to be at the banqueting table in the presence of my enemies. She went to bed in prayer that night. I
still was left with a hole in my heart. I know He is my healer, my redeemer, and my deliverer, yet why in scripture does it say this? Why does it have to be in the presence of our enemies?
Before Vange told me what the Lord gave her during her prayer time, another friend called me. The fear set in, that this person was calling because they were upset with me, and I took the call, knowing it could be another call. She told me the Lord spoke to her specifically about me. I had not spoke to her in a long time, so I leaned ever closer to the earpiece of my phone. She said, “Erin, God wanted me to tell you the he has prepared a table for you in the presence of your enemies and that He loves you so much. He is your healer. He wants you to inherit the land that He has prepared for you. The spirit of adoption is upon you, Erin. No Eye hath seen nor ear hath heard what He has prepared for you.” I wept again.
Vange was already weeping. She said, “Erin, God showed me why you have pain to be at the banqueting table in the presence of your enemies. It is because you Love them so much. You can’t bear that you hurt those you love and that is why you feel so much guilt. But you can’t take that burden that does not belong to you. If someone is bitter or hurt, it is not your burden to carry. Only God can heal them. You can’t. It is not your job to punish yourself. He wants you to bask in His unchanging Love for you. Seize the gift you have been given.” This time we wept together. Healing comes in layers. Gods light comes into us to expose all the hidden pathways and corners of our lives that need cleaning and refreshing from His love. He wants to set us free. I was putting myself in a prison and listening to the enemy who wants me to feel like a failure when God is ready with the bombs to blow out the walls of that prison once and for all.
Later that day I went to Franklin. I wanted to take a sweet young lady to get a donut with my daughters. Someone had stole my credit card number and drained my money out, so all I had was a check book. I thought a check book would work for me. I found out that these days most places will not take a check, so I quickly became desperate. I had not enough gas in the van to get us home with no gas station to take a check. I had an idea to stop in Walmart thinking I could get cash from a check. I tried several different things to no avail. They would not issue me cash for my check. I sat on the floor and called my husband. He told me to calm down first and then said sharply, “What do you want me to do? Shall I drive all the way out there so you can get a donut?” Well, that sure put it into perspective. It really sounded silly.
Just then an older gentleman walked toward me with tears in his eyes, and said, “The Holy Spirit just told me to bless you! How much money do you need?” I started to weep and I hugged him and told him that I can’t take anything from him because I actually do have money, that I am not in need, and that I will be okay. Again he said, “How much money do you need?” I told him again, that I did not need any money. He spoke firmly, “God told me to bless you and you would be taking my blessing away if you refuse this. How am I to be obedient to His leading if you wont let me give you something?” I asked him if I could write him out a check and he said that was okay. I wrote the check out for what I needed to put enough gas in my van to get home. He put his hand on my shoulder and prayed for me, “Thank you Lord for bringing this woman into my path that you could show how much you LOVE her though me. No eye hath seen, nor ear hath heard the plans I have for you!” I fell on my face and wept. God is sending me a message clearly. He loves me. Failing me.
We went to the gas station and filled up the tank and I still had enough to get my friend a donut but I kind of felt guilty to spend money on the donut for her, even though I knew it was what I had promised to her. Finally, I decided to just go there and get her the donut. We go there and it was just in the nick of time and there was only one donut left, just for us to get for her. You can say it was a coincidence, but maybe God wanted me to bless her with that donut. As she enjoyed the donut, we decided to walk down the halls of the Factory when we saw a man dressed as Forest Gump. I sat beside him waiting for my daughter to take our photo when he said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what your gonna get. But everything you get is always sweet, my mama said.” Just then I thought, I bet God is going to say something to me through this stranger. And he went on to say, “God wants you to know that he loves you and that he has something so wonderful prepared for you.” I wept. Such glorious confirmation coming to me from every angle that you cannot refute. I was hard of hearing my whole life. I needed to realize my worth is not based on anything I do or don’t do. That my worth is just in Him.
As you read this story, please take note… God loves you, too. He has so much for you. You may not be perfect, you may have failed, maybe right now you are at the bottom and things seem so overwhelming. You may feel rejected or put down. Maybe you feel guilt for the things you have done or did not do in your life. Whatever your lot, wherever you are, no matter what the circumstances may be, God died for you and for me. He made a way for us to be a guest at His glorious banqueting table. His banner over us is LOVE. He is our healer and he has come to set us free so we can live in the land that he has prepared for us. He has a plan. We are the clay, let us give ourselves into His loving masterful touch so that He can make us a useful vessel fashioned for His purpose.
Soon we will move to a rental to the land the Lord prepared for us. We sure don’t see how we could ever have deserved to be a part of such a loving family who accept us just the way we are. I do know one thing. I will not take it for granted. I will embrace the love I am given with all my being. We are still pilgrims in a strange world, our home will always be in heaven, but we are given a community who loves Jesus with all their hearts. Spending Thanksgiving was a whole new experience for us this year. The tables were set and God got all the glory that day. I held the moment of LOVE in my heart with tears of joy. I am so thankful.