So I was away for a few days last week ... thus, the silence on this blog *grin*. And I'd love to share with you all about that ... but I've already done a massive post on my RedHanded Photography blog on the whole thing.
If you're interested in reading about it, and seeing a whack-load of "my trip" images - head to my RedHanded Photography blog HERE. Leave a comment ... would love to know you stopped by :-) ...
I do have a lot on my mind ... a lot of triumphs and a lot of disappointments ... but last night was a powerful one for me.
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Tonight (it's Sunday as I type this ... ), I led worship for our church's Recovery Service. I've written about this congregation many times ... and it's a place where I feel freedom and I really, really love being apart of the music team there.
The worship segment went well ... God never fails to show up as He promises in His Word, but the speaker tonight was what really hit the mark for me.
See ... during the worship, I felt it strongly that I was to say something about the loss of Shalom. And the truth is, that every time that kind of feeling comes, my heart starts to pound and I have a little battle with the Lord. I'm, like, "really? no time to prepare?? I have no idea what to say?" I usually can't hear much except the pounding of my heart - and all I'm aware of is the instant sweat on my palms. I am not a good public speaker - but I was obedient.
I have no clue what I said ... maybe 3 or 4 sentences and then I went right back into worship.
They were an emotional few minutes - and I always feel a bit self conscious when tears happen - but as the guest speaker came up to the platform he grabbed my hand and looked into my eyes and said, "please - I need to you to keep playing."
So. I played background worship for the entire time he preached. I found out later that because I spoke of Shalom, he felt compelled to speak of his family life - things he rarely talks about in front of a congregation.
But all of that isn't really terribly important ... but what he said during his 20minutes was powerful. Remember - he's talking to a room full of people who society labels as "losers", "addicts", "wastes", "untrustworthy" and a host of other things.
This man said, "... when you meet God, he lets you have a NEW story."
What a fascinating concept ... That whatever our story is, God gives us a new one when we let Him. The enemy likes to remind us of our past so much - because he knows that if our future is in Christ - he doesn't have any new material.
I looked out into the crowd and the unknown stories. The shame, the guilt ... maybe even the pride in just how "bad" they were. And it made me think of my own story, and the stories of others that I know.
I've had people comment on my own story. I've had people suggest that I don't use the word "terminate" or "abortion". Of course, my situation was extremely unique - but I find it interesting how the enemy likes to rob us of the freedom of the truth in our stories. He knows that when we speak the truth, that it doesn't just bring US freedom - but it paves the way for others to walk in freedom too.
Obviously, there needs to be privacy and respect for people's stories. It's not our place to tell other's stories. But as I listened to this Pastor last night, I couldn't help but wonder what the church would be like if we were simply open and honest about our own stories. We would never be afraid that someone would "find out" and judge us.
Maybe someone gave up a child for adoption 20 years ago - and the enemy tells them "you can't tell that story ... it's your failure." Or maybe someone chose to stay with their spouse after an infidelity and even though there has been healing and restoration - the enemy tells you, "you can't tell that story - it's shameful. it was your fault ... " Or maybe you have battled an addiction of bulimia or alcohol or are having an inappropriate FaceBook relationship or secretly shopping online or - or - or - or ... And the enemy says "no - you can't tell that story - there isn't freedom in that."
Well ... I can tell you that what the enemy convinces us of, is a lie. Being real, being honest - it's what makes our light shine even more. It's what sets us apart - the GRACE that we've received in our story makes it not about the past, but about the NEW story he's given us. Oh, how I think the world just wants the church to be real - to not be perfect and self-righteous - to not have it "all together". And we've been taught about grace from the very beginning ... and yet (as the Pastor said last night ) we seem to put grace in a box and tie it up with a pretty bow and put it under our pew.
Not sure where I'm going with any of this ... but it's where my mind is.
So that's what I wrote.