“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or a house divided against itself will not stand.”
Matthew 12:25 NKJV
The Holy Spirit ignited this verse in me and tied it to a very specific word He’s been giving me for months now: “Take charge of your life!” I first heard Martha relate this word a few months ago (Shulamite Podcast Episode #401), and it detonated in my heart like a bomb, leading to a massive deliverance and the healing of my will.* My life since then has been a series of major and minor aftershocks, and I’ve really struggled to regain my footing. In fact, I haven’t been allowed to, and I’m enormously grateful.
The spiritual upheaval has caused me to cry out to God more desperately and more consistently than I have in quite a while, and what He’s showing me is priceless. I never knew just how angry I really was before the last three months, and it’s been downright scary to be me sometimes. When I see the trail of devastation wrought by my weakness, I am furious. And let me be clear, by “weakness” I mean my structurally unsound will, my complete lack of integrity, and the deathlike shroud of apathy around my heart that grew thicker every time I disrespected my very being. I was “a house divided against itself” if ever there was one.
Now, I haven’t been wallowing in rage at my failure. The Lord works on many levels at once, and nothing is wasted, but I think the main thing that He pushed me to see in these dark memories was HIM. Where was He while I moved through life with all the unpredictable menace of a toddler playing with a loaded gun? How does revisiting my top ten nightmares help me to “take charge of my life?” To answer, I have to tell you a story from my life that is absolutely pivotal, both for its pain and its triumph.
For Spring Break in my senior year of college, I went to Paris with my roommate (and best friend) and 3 friends. On the plane ride over, a potent and debilitating bug took up residence in my body, and within hours I was both jetlagged and sick. The next morning, my roommate and I had a fight, and it was both ugly and stupid. I spent the morning in bed, and then my fever broke and I met up with everyone later. I’d already apologized to my other friends for my part in the melee, and that evening I apologized to my roommate. But no dice. My apology was not accepted.
I was humiliated and SO hurt. I cried most of that night and had no idea what to do. I didn’t speak French, and now I was facing a week in Paris alone. But when I woke up the next morning, I wasn’t sad or hurt or humiliated. I was just DONE. I got dressed, grabbed my backpack, and walked out into the city. And the world didn’t end. I sat on the hill in Montmartre and people-watched and wrote in my journal, and I realized that I didn’t feel lonely. Exhilarated and a little scared, yes, but not lonely. It was a revelation and a wonder, and my whole life changed. My life was my own, and it didn’t rise or fall on whether I had a friend in it. Who knew?! It was my first taste of freedom in a very, very long time. I had so many adventures that week, and most of them were amazing.
My roommate and I made peace by the end of the week, though our friendship was never the same. My needy dependence had been broken and smashed, so the whole dynamic of our relationship changed. As it most certainly should have! I was a terrible friend. When you’re so afraid of someone’s disapproval or rejection that you’d rather lie than tell the truth and risk their wrath, you’re a horrible friend.
I’ve revisited this pivotal experience in my memories many times over the years since it happened, but this last look through the eyes of the Spirit showed something unexpected. I realized that it was grace that covered me that morning. Grace stilled my fear and hurt so that I could see something new. Grace empowered that first step into the scary unknown, and buoyed my heart when it wanted to sink. And it finally occurred to me: maybe I wasn’t lonely because I wasn’t alone.
That week in Paris is both a devastating low and an incredible high in my life. The circumstances were incredibly painful, but I wasn’t defined by them. I took charge of my life for the first time in years, and I felt a measure of self-respect as a result. But it turns out that I didn’t initiate it. God did. I see that so clearly now! His Hand was on me even though I wasn’t yet His. He changed my whole life in one week – I was given massive grace and mercy when I deserved none, and never even thought to ask for it. It didn’t matter to Him. He rescued me and protected me because He loves me, no other reason.
He is now, and has always been, the One who initiates change in my life. He is my Catalyst, ever speaking the explosive “BE!” into my heart. He took me back to that terrible, wonderful week and said, “Look what I did when you weren’t even with Me. Imagine all that I’ll do with a ‘house united!’ Now let be and be still and let ME.”
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.
For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.
Psalm 103:10-14 KJV
*In October’s Message of the Month, “For the Sake of the Light,” Martha talks in greater detail about the Lord giving her this word years ago and what it meant, and it’s so anointed that you really don’t want to miss it.
Yes and Amen!
when Vicki finally had convinced me to listen to a Shulamite podcast ( “Do I really need to add another one to my series of endless teachings I heard?”) I happened to listen to YOU, sharing, and immediately knew I would ever go with people being THAT honest!
I love the way you are able to make things clear, I love the brilliancy you put spiritual truth in a nutshell,
I love the “oh, now I see”- experiences when I read your blogs.
This is a beautiful, personal, God-revealing message. Thank you!
Jennifer…I so appreciate your vulnerability and transparency in sharing your journey with us. You are such an inspiration and blessing!!!
Such a blessing. Love you Jen!