God was showing off! Butterflies fluttered around me, landing gently on my shoulder and camera. Standing in awe in the middle of a field, God provided a vision of how He perceived my life. For effect, He was adding butterflies to emphasize the power of my transformation. The power God provided helped to overcome years of fear. No matter how hard I had pressed into progress and growth, I always seemed to return to the pit of paralyzing fear. Yet God had tackled my fear, and showed me that the damage done from years of abuse were reversible in His mighty hands. God had finally called me out of my rut of distrust. You see, the childhood hiding place that said, "I can't", was reshaped by God. The Powerful One reached in and invited me into a place of bold faith where I could believe ALL of His promises are possible.
Looking back, my childhood was filled with immense abuse and trauma. According to psychological studies, abuse rewires the brain. Literally, it changes how a child responds to their world...emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I grew up with the fear of making mistakes, and I thought the mistakes were what caused my abuse. As a result, I remained hesitant to trust my own senses and judgments about life. I questioned friendships and faith. No matter what successes I had experienced, the question inevitably came to the forefront, What if I am wrong?
In spite of how much progress I have made toward healing through the years, nothing has seemed to change my visceral responses toward obstacles. I fear them. I halt all positive progress forward. I question whether I am able to overcome the challenges. Roadblocks still thwart the completing of tasks. Challenges in sleeping, and distorted and selective memory still remain. It doesn't matter how good the outcome promises to be, I still pause and question. These challenges are discouraging and affect every aspect of my life, including the things I feel called by God to accomplish.
A year ago, I reached the limit of what I could fix. My broken thinking repeated the same mantra: Who will listen? Do you really think you matter and have something to offer? What makes you think you can make a difference with people facing depression and suicide? Who do you think you are kidding? Every time I stepped forward and attempted to embrace what I believed was God's vision for my life, emotional roadblocks went up. When I attempted to offer hope to people who were struggling with a spirit of despair, the fear that crippled me was soon to follow. As I met fellow warriors of faith....as I seized opportunities to open new doors, I tried desperately to push past the fear. Hard as I tried, it all took me back to that paralyzed child who was afraid to make mistakes.
Finally I had enough, and so I cried out to God. He responded, "Nothing is impossible for me." God urged my heart to read again of the story of Elijah in "The Valley of Dry Bones, (Ezekial 37:5-6, NIV). "This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” After reading the passage, the Holy Spirit led me to an open field. There, the Spirit showed me what Elijah witnessed as he prophesied over a fallen army of dry bones. In awe, I watched as the valley of bones slowly regained living form. In utter awe, I witnessed that nothing was impossible for God.
Since that vision of dry bones a year ago, God has continued to teach, heal, and reveal His purpose for me in my life. He won't let me quit, give up, or claim a final failure, and God doesn't quit on you, either. On the contrary, God will show us the hope and unending love that He offers as we inhabit our own times in the valley. There is great evidence of this hope and love in my life, and in the lives of so many in the biblical text: Butterflies gently landing on shoulders; giants falling from a sling and a stone (I Samuel 17), the Red Sea dividing (Exodus 14); a survivor of abuse. We are all a part of His beautiful story, so let's press into God's promises.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
Take a look at the obstacle(s) you believe are too large, too pervasive, or too hideous to overcome. They may seem insurmountable, but I ask you, are these hardships impossible in God's hands?
For twenty-four years, God has worked in and through me. In that time, I have been a willing, and also very broken participant. In all that time, God pursued me, continually working on my transformation. It may take less or more time for you, but the fact remains: the Lord thinks you are worth it, and He is willing to stick with you. If you are like me, you don't want to go backward, but forward feels like a dark and scary unknown. Please don't fear, for your future is not unknown to God. "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV). God has left a trail of evidence of His presence in scripture, nature, and in the lives of those around us, that He will overcome the obstacles that stand between us and His love.
Scripture is full of God's reminders that He has power over all of creation. That includes giants, armies, mountains, and whatever else we think to be impossible. Paul declared in Romans 8, "I am convinced" ... "that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ". Why was he so convinced? He was secure in belief and action because God established His authority over sin and death in our lives. ""If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through the Spirit who dwells in you" (Romans 8:11). Paul witnessed the proof first hand as he was transformed from a persecutor of Christians to a follower of Jesus Christ. He was saved from prison, brought to life through prayer after a severe beating, and stood firm in faith when others hated him. The Apostle Paul, like many other heroes of faith. were transformed when God chose them to spread the message of love and hope.
So what's next for you? Will you continue to live the incomplete life of getting tripped up by your obstacles? If not, take action now! Take some time to list the many ways God has worked in your life. In what areas do you want to go deeper with God in trust and faith? Over and over, Jesus seeks to help us live into the person which God created us to be, removing those things which paralyze us. For me it may be fear of success. For you it may be past sins you believe are impossible to overcome. Jesus is willing to show us His might and power, not because He needs to, but because He loves us deeply, and wants us to live our best life.
Lord, there are places I feel stuck. You promise to be faithful and will be with me through it all. Please help me to walk through my valley of fear until I see the truth of Your promises fulfilled. Amen
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