Tuesday, September 05, 2006

#62 "Bruised Reeds and Smoldering Wicks"

September 5, 2006
"A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. / Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs." (Isaiah 42:3 / Isaiah 61: 7)

She came in a few minutes late for the message. She sat in the back row by the wall. She caught my attention because her face was hard. But her eyes. Her eyes were sad. A little lifeless it seemed to me. I couldn't tell if she was interested in the message I was giving or not. She just looked so sad and worn out. But as I continued to teach, her eyes never strayed from where I was speaking. When our time was up and I was gathering my things, I felt a hand on my shoulder. There she was. She spoke so quietly that I had to strain to hear her. She wanted to pray. After she told me that she had been going through some things, her voice choked up. She couldn't even tell me what those "things" were. It was almost as if she were choking when she tried to get the words out. She gasped for air at one point. Tears streamed down her face.She couldn't get it out. She just couldn't tell me. So we prayed anyway because I don't need to know....All that I know is there was something so fractured and so broken inside of her that she couldn't even put it into words.

How many of us hold, on the inside of us, secret things? Things that are so devastatingly painful that we can't even put them into words. I would guess that we may not even be able to voice them to God, let alone to other people. We even fool ourselves into thinking that if we don't talk about them, if they don't come out into the air, that we can make them go away and no one will know. But we always know, deep down inside. They affect our self-esteem, our relationships, our everyday existence in some way. The secret things. Secret sin, past or present, that we are so ashamed of that it is even hard to confess it to God and ask for forgiveness. Secret things that other people have done to us that cut to the core of who we are and leave us with guilt and shame over things that were beyond our control. The devil is a liar and he wants us to believe that we deserved the heinous thing that someone inflicted on us. So we carry our burdens quietly ... lugging them around everywhere we go ... alone, afraid, ashamed. Bruised reeds, waiting to be crushed and broken because we're useless. Smoldering wicks almost snuffed out, the fire almost out.

She told me that she almost didn't come that day. But she felt that she had to. She was looking for something. A word, a touch, something to cut through that pain and make her alive again. She did the right thing. She made her way to a church. She sat down and drank in the living water of God's word. And she decided to lay her burden at the feet of Jesus in prayer. She had other choices that day. But she made the right one. She didn't think anyone cared. Not even God. But I believe that Jesus knew and by His Spirit He led her to the right place that day, to hear the right Word for her life and to let her know without a doubt that He cared for her uniquely, and that He knew her secret. All that time that she thought she was alone in her pain, Jesus knew, and He was tenderly drawing her to a place where He could demonstrate that love and care in a tangible way.

We have choices too. We can walk around for our whole lives with the yoke of our burdens, pain, shame and sin strapped to our backs. Or we can get in the right place, hear the right Word and lay our problems at the feet of the One who knows. He shatters the yoke that burdens us, the bar across our shoulders, the rod of our oppressor. (Isaiah 9: 4) Most people would break a weak, useless reed, but Jesus will not do so. He is gentle and tenderly He will avoid crushing the bruised reed. When our faith is weak and we feel we're about to "go out" like a smoldering wick on a candle, He will not let us be extinguished. He can set us on fire once again.

I saw her about a half hour later talking to Monique. Believe it or not, her whole countenance had changed. She was smiling. She was carrying on conversation and she told us how much better she felt. Her shoulders were straight. She was no longer bowed down. There was a little twinkle in her eyes. Oh, the power of the Word of God! It's not in the style or the speaker...the Word has power...to heal, to soothe. To be that sweet balm of Gilead that heals the wounds of God's hurting children. It's not all okay with her now. She still has a long way to go. But she's off to a great start. Just one word from the Master. A word for such a time as this in her life. The Creator of the universe stooped down on a cool Saturday morning and touched one woman with His tender hand and let her know that He cares. That He sees her. That He knows her secret and He will stay by her side through all of the fire and the flood, removing the guilt and the shame and giving her beauty for ashes, strength for fear, gladness for mourning and peace for despair. Giving a double portion for her former shame. (See Isaiah Chapter 61) It was like Jesus was saying, at that moment, "Woman, thou art loosed." (Luke 13: 12)

Are you carrying a secret today? Have you committed a sin in your past that you think is so bad that God will never forgive you? Were you violated somewhere along the way by someone who had control and power over you? Were you helpless to fight back? Have you been rejected and cast aside by people who are supposed to care about you? Are you carrying something that makes your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth and takes your breath away when you try to speak about it out loud? An addiction, an abortion, a rape, incest, adultery, prostitution....secret sin that you may still be committing. Things that have fractured your life right at the heart of who you are? I am here to tell you today, that He knows. Jesus knows! And He cares. He cares so much that He will orchestrate your movements and your life so that you can get to the place where He can tell you... where He can show you how much He loves you. And then that wonderful healing, that powerful loosing process can begin. Maybe He will lead you to a church. Maybe He will lead you to a friend. Maybe this message will speak about His love and care to your wounded, breaking heart. No matter what it is, my friend, it's not too difficult, it's not too impossible, you're not too far gone. His hand is extended to you right now...His heart is breaking with you..His eyes are shedding tears for your sorrow. Let Him into that secret place. It's really not a secret to Him anyway, you know. But He's a gentleman and won't force His way in. But He's waiting, patiently, quietly, tenderly and expectantly for you to let Him bring you His peace. Can you hear Him calling your name?

Donna Schultz

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