Growing Pains

Romans 8:18 English Standard Version (ESV)

Future Glory

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Growing Pains

When I was a little girl, my sisters and brother and I always sat in “big church” with our mom.  I remember occasions of flipping through one of the King James version Bibles that stood tall in the racks on the back of the pews in front of us.  As I turned the pages, I remember thinking how different the language was.  All of those thees and thous and shalts and shalt nots.  None of it made sense to me, but I found it interesting because nobody talked like that where I was from.  Not even the preacher at that tiny church spoke like that, unless he was actually reading to us from scripture.  I was a really good reader but I didn’t follow along.  I just flipped and skimmed.

I was probably in first or second grade when the weekly lessons in Sunday School really started encouraging all of us kids to memorize some of the key Bible verses.  I memorized my verses, oh yes indeed.  Verses like John 3:16- we all know that one, right?  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  Or Romans 6:27-  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Being the overachiever I was (yes, that curse developed very early in my life), I would take some of them to the next level to impress our teachers.  Often, I’d memorize and throw in the next verse that wasn’t in the lesson.  I would recite my verse like this:

“John 3:16- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

And then, speaking very loudly and very fast, so the next kid in line couldn’t say their verse, I’d shout out verse 17, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved!”

It made no sense, and nobody was impressed. So it bored me.

But one day, while I turned the pages in a blur, the word sufferings caught my eye. In my short life so far, I knew a little something about suffering so I stopped. I read it probably five or six times until I had it down.

Romans 8:18 KJV– For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

I hadn’t heard that one in Sunday School so I figured it was all mine. My secret verse that, no matter how many kids were smarter than me or how many could memorize all of the 23rd Psalm, they didn’t know this one!  I “reckoned” I had myself a verse that I could recall to me get through all of the sufferings I was living through at the time. This was a verse I could wrap my head around and keep it all to myself. And I did just that- for decades.

That verse gave me courage to survive the brutality of my youth.  I clung to it like the last breath I’d ever take when I was raped at 16.  I hoarded its promise when my heart was crushed at 19 when the man I dreamed of marrying since I was 10 fell from a tree and was paralyzed.  I chanted it like a monk after the second abortion I had in my early twenties. I sobbed the words over and over for weeks when my 3rd marriage in 10 years crumbled in divorce.  I bathed in the words of the verse while I sat in jail after I was arrested for domestic violence for fighting back against my attacker on my 31st birthday. And I begged God to show me the glory the verse talked about every single time I considered or actually tried and failed to commit suicide from the ages of 16 to 45.  Romans 8:18 kept me hanging on, thinking that someday the pain and suffering of life was going to pass and all would be right in the world, for almost 40 years.

Flash forward to last night.  Last night I co-hosted a couple of tables at the annual fundraising banquet for Deeper Still.  (If you’ve been following me, you are probably familiar with this ministry by now.  If not, feel free to go back and read my previous posts.  It’s in there.)  Deeper Still is an amazing ministry that is bringing lasting healing and freedom to the abortion wounded heart.  Women AND men across this country, and now around the world, are being restored and reconciled to Christ as well as with their aborted children.  This ministry helped me to begin to walk in freedom for the first time in my life and it is my honor to give back, both financially and by helping to spread this message of God’s love and forgiveness.

So last night, after making my way through the crowd of more than 450 people in the beautifully decorated dining hall, mingling, smiling, hugging, and waving at everyone I knew, I returned to my seat and everyone at the table was smiling at me.  One of my guests, an elder in my church, told me I was very natural at “working the room” and I know he meant that I looked at home, not like I was in sales and networking for future customers.  I tried to explain the difference between being myself at our Sunday morning gatherings with my church family and being myself in this crowd.  It went something like this:

I get them and they get me.  I love my church family and feel loved back, but I share a common bond with the majority of the table hosts and others helping to facilitate the event.  It’s because we’ve all been involved in a Deeper Still retreat in some way, whether as a participant seeking healing or as a prayer warrior for a retreat, or because we know someone who has been through an abortion and together we stand in agreement with what God is doing in this life-changing ministry.  They get me.

After sleeping on  it, I realize that’s true, but Romans 8:18 came to me again this morning.  I realized today that God has in fact answered another prayer in my life.  He HAS revealed at least some of the glory that my favorite verse mentions.  HE is that glory that I share not only with my DS brothers and sisters, but with all of those who have loved me through the past two years and the really hard work of exposing and negating with Truth the lies through which the enemy has held me in chains for far too long.  Jesus is the glory that was to come after I made the decision to give Him control over the sufferings of my life. And every day, He reveals a little more of His heart for me. His heart IN me.

He has gifted me with the ability to  (read: the fearless desire to) share my story so anyone who reads my words can come out of hiding and know they are not alone. It’s happening, too. I get chills every time someone texts or messages me a thank you for giving them the courage to call the devil what he is- a liar.

Hear me:  The sufferings of this present time- the crap in my life, the old life that keeps calling, the junk I want because I just can’t say no, the secrets I thought I was the only one hiding, the abortions I had and refused to deal with so I stayed drunk or high or in bad relationships or jail, the fear I carried because I was out of control, the shame I wore like a Versace gown because I wanted the world to think I was ok- it was ok to lay it down!

Jesus said in Matthew 11: 28, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  He paid the full price up front for me to be able to walk in His freedom. He KNOWS what I’m going through  at any given time and wants to take the burden off of me.  This world is hard and it’s so much easier to go through it with someone who know what it’s like. Someone who’s been. right. there.

Peace y’all.


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