“Lord, I’m done!”

Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” But, O how physical and emotional are the effects of this spiritual battle!  How many times have I run to my mentor, “Mrs. Wisdom,” pouring out my weak and weary heart to her?   

 “You’re on the front lines, Donna,” my mentor would often say.  “You must expect enemy attack when you openly serve the Lord.”  And so I trudged on.  But how much longer can I fight?

 ~ ~ ~

How long, O Lord?  How long?  I’m so tired.  I’m battle-weary.  The enemy is too strong and too crafty.  I’ve got nothing left.  I could handle him when he came at me personally.  I could handle him when he attacked my marriage.  I could handle him when he began to go after my children, but all three? My “pride of life” has taken such a fall that I hardly know him anymore.  My “joy of life” has dimmed and continues to struggle on.  And my “spice of life” is being poured out, searching and seeking everywhere but not for You.  My heart is shattered.  It’s more than I can bear.

 The desire to study your Word is waning.  And how can I go on teaching and writing when I’m so empty and fatigued?  Let me hide on the pew Sunday mornings like most do and forget the rest. Let me get an outside job and use the well-worn “I can’t because I work” excuse – at least for a little while.  I’m done, Lord.  I can’t fight anymore.

 Job?  Yes, Lord, I remember my friend Job – the suffering, righteous man to whom I’ve turned so many times before.  Yes, Father, I will look at him once again…

 ~ ~ ~

 Yes, Father, I see.  Like Job, I have lost financially, lost what few luxuries I had and, in a way, lost my children.  But there is still hope, isn’t there?  As long as there is breath in their lungs and in mine, there is still hope!  I cannot – I will not – let Satan win.  Because also like Job…

 

I know that my Redeemer lives,
   and that in the end he will stand upon my grave.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
   yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
   with my own eyes—I, and not another.
   How my heart yearns within me![1]

 

I will see you, God!  I will stand before my Redeemer! My heart years within me…

…yearns to be confident before You and not shrink away.[2]

…yearns to receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom.[3]

…yearns to endure in You that I might reign with You.[4]

…yearns to hear You say, “Well done…Come and share your Master’s happiness!”[5]

Praise You, my Father, the Rock on which I stand and the Arms into which I fall!  Blessed be Your name!  You and You alone are my strength!  So…

 

Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
   Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
   the LORD will be my light.[6] 

 

(You hear me, Satan?  I’m not giving up – I’m getting up!  And God is with me!)

 


[1] Job 19:25-27

[2] 1 John 2:28

[3] 2 Peter 1:11

[4] 2 Timothy 2:11

[5] Matthew 25:21

[6] Micah 7:8

God Bless America?

A week after 9/11 I wrote an article for a writing class.  My self-proclaimed “pagan” instructor did not like my article; it dripped in blood-red ink.  It wasn’t my writing he disliked; it was the subject.

In the aftermath of that horrible attack on America, “God Bless America” signs were everywhere.  You couldn’t turn on the television without hearing someone shouting it.  Every politician that spoke ended their speeches with the interjection.  And I couldn’t help but think, “Why should He bless America?”

The United States keeps moving further and further away from God.  Why should He move closer and closer to us?  Why should He open His benevolent hand to us when we’ve turned our backs on Him?  We’ve cast God out of our government, out of the classroom, out of the public square, but let us be rocked by fear and we cry out to Him to save us.

This was the topic of my article that so repulsed my instructor.  He did, however, begrudgingly give me a good score on the poem I had attached.  As you read this poem, ask yourself the question as well: Why should God bless America?

God Bless America?*

“God bless America!”

            Aloud in the streets we cry.

God bless America?

            I have to wonder, why?

 We’ve cast God out of every place

            By politic’s poison pen,

And torn down from every wall

            Commandments One through Ten.

 From school to work to court

            His Name has been repressed.

Even among His churches

            He’s an oft unwanted guest.

 But now in terror we turn

            And hope to see His face.

God bless America?

            T’would be an act of grace!

And yet God’s grace is sufficient: sufficient to forgive, sufficient to heal, sufficient to bless our country.  And He promises to do it IF we — if His people, the CHURCH —  will turn to Him and remember Him again.  As He promised so long ago,

…if my people,

who are called by my name,

will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,

then will I

hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

 * ©Donna Lewis September 2001

LORD, shut my mouth!

“Don’t even bring up her name!  The mere mention of it makes  my blood boil!”

“I can’t believe he went behind my back like that!  I’m so angry I could spit!”

“Girl, I haven’t spoken to her in years!  Let me tell you what she did to me…”

“I know he didn’t mean it that way, but it still hurts.”

Ever been guilty of saying those words or something like them? Hurt feelings. A wounded heart. A broken confidence. We’ve all experienced them — and caused them. 

I remember years ago when a woman confronted me with an illustration I used in a Bible study. It was an inspiring story involving a mutual friend. She felt I was wrong in sharing it and called to tell me so. Even though I told her I had our friend’s permission to use the story, I couldn’t quite get her to see my side, so I gave the old “we’ll just have to agree to disagree” response. She wasn’t satisfied with that. She called another mutual friend and had her call me about my error. 

Now, I hadn’t known the first caller very long; I had known the second much longer.  We were very good friends and I was hurt that she had taken a side against me. After I explained the situation from my viewpoint, she became confused. She agreed that what I had done was not wrong but still was “disappointed” in me.  For what, I had no clue.

I confess to you that this was one of those times when God took over. I believe he literally put His hand over my mouth and kept it shut.  This was certainly not something my flesh did on its own! I found out later that the underlying problem was not with me.  The woman who initiated all this actually did not like the friend in the story and did not want her to get any accolades for Christian love and service! But the damage was done: my good friend (the second caller) and I were never as close as we were before that time. 

Though my heart was wounded, I refused to nurse any bitterness toward these two women.  One was a new Christian who was still living in the flesh; I knew she’d grow out of it with time, Bible study, and prayer.  The other was being deceived and I had to trust God to open her eyes.  Again, it was God who put this attitude in me. A few years later, just before she moved away, my friend confessed to me that she had been deceived by the other woman, that she’d been told things that simply were not true, and she apologized to me. She mourned over her mistake; I mourned over the years we had lost as intimate friends. 

In this story, God supernaturally kept my mouth shut, kept things from escalating, and put in my heart the desire to pray rather than retaliate. Oh, I could have shared a story about when I didn’t keep my mouth shut and things really blew up — but there were just too many of those stories to choose from! But I wanted to show you (and to remind myself) how faithful God is to fight our battles for us and to heal our wounded hearts.

Let me just say that James was absolutely right when he wrote that the tongue “is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts…”(3:8). The tongue is such a minor part of your body but it can do major damage to the Body. How much stronger the Body of Christ would be if all its tongues were kept under the control of the Spirit!

Author Kate McVeigh has said, “When you have a wounded heart, don’t nurse it or rehearse it, but curse it and disburse it, then God will reverse it!” That is so true!  It is also true that it’s easy to say but hard to do!  So I think I’ll just continue to seek God’s help, regularly praying, “Lord, please shut my mouth!” David put it much more eloquently when he wrote:

Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD;

keep watch over the door of my lips.

Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil…

Psalm 141:3-4a

A Longing Fulfilled

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,

but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:10

 

It was 3 years and 3 months ago today.

My sister and I had traveled to Nashville, TN, to pitch an idea to a publisher about creating retreats-in-a-box, kits with everything a church needs to have an in-house retreat. Our retreat was entitled YOU-nique: Embracing God’s Design for You.  It’s purpose: to help believers realize that they were born ON purpose FOR a purpose so we need to live our lives WITH purpose.

On the morning of our meeting, my sister rose early and, thinking I was still asleep, took her Bible into the bathroom for a time of reading and meditation.  A few minutes later, she came out running, shaking a piece of paper, and screaming, “It’s here!  It’s here!”  After scaring me half to death and then calming down, she explained.

A few months earlier, Cyndi and her daughter had attended a Mother-Daughter Weekend event in Houston, TX, hosted by Mercy Ministries of America and the singing group Point of Grace.  They went to see Point of Grace; they returned talking about Mercy Ministries, a non-profit organization that helps young ladies overcome life-destroying habits, situations, or abuse (see post article “Mercy Has a Face,” dated 11-2-09).  That morning Cyndi had pulled out of her Bible a brochure on the ministry and realized Mercy Ministries’ (MM’s) corporate headquarters was based right there in Nashville, TN.  “We have to go and visit them!” So she called, set up an appointment, and got directions.

While meeting with the publisher, I shared with him my firm belief that, while women come in for a retreat, some type of ministry must flow out from it; therefore, each retreat needed to have a mission action project.  “Take, Mercy Ministries, for example,” I said.  “YOU-nique’s message tells us that we are God’s very own works of art, giving the learner a greater sense of self-worth.  And because MM deals with girls who have very low self-esteem that results in acting out in dangerous ways, then doing a project for MM would be a great mission project.”  The publisher liked our idea and promised to give it consideration.

We left the publishing house and headed out to find Mercy Ministries.  Though MM did not do tours on this particular day of the week, they listened to Cyndi’s heartfelt plea and relented.  We were blown away by all they do to help not only enrich lives but to literally save the lives of these beautiful young women.

Before leaving the campus, Cyndi and I looked at each other and said almost in unison, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to come back here and lead these girls through the YOU-nique retreat?”  What an awesome dream!

Fast forward 3 years and 3 months.  Here we are again, my sister and I.  We are in Nashville, TN, scheduled to visit Mercy Ministries tomorrow.  Though the retreat-in-a-box idea did not become a reality, the study book YOU-nique: Embracing God’s Design for You did get published by another company!  And Cyndi and I are scheduled to lead 17 MM counselors and program directors through it tomorrow.  They will serve as a jury, so to speak, to decide if YOU-nique is something they could use for their small group counseling sessions in all their homes, both here in the US and abroad!

Cyndi and I had a dream over 3 years ago; we did nothing to bring it about.  God remembered our dream and He worked it out far better and far faster than we could have ever imagined.  By a miraculous chain of events that could have only been orchestrated by God Himself, we had the opportunity to meet Nancy Alcorn, the founder and president of Mercy Ministries.  Less than 3 weeks after meeting Nancy, here we are, only a few hours away from a “longing fulfilled.” 

This God of ours: isn’t He something?!praise

Not to us, O LORD, not to us

but to your name be the glory,

because of your love and faithfulness.

Pslam 115:1

Mercy Has a Face

Consider the statistics:

  • 1 in 3 girls becomes pregnant at least once before age 20.
  • 1 in 5 young women struggles with an eating disorder.
  • The number of girls seeking help from self-harm practices doubled last year.

Hurting young women in staggering numbers crying out for help.  What’s the answer?  Mercy.

Mercy Ministries (MM) is a Christian non-profit organization that offers a free-of-charge Christian residential program that helps young women between the ages of 13-28 who face life-controlling issues such as eating disorders, self-harm, drug and alcohol addictions, physical and sexual abuse, depression, and unplaned pregnancy.  MM provides these young women the opportunity to experience love, forgiveness, healing, and God’s transforming power.  It also offers transitional care, including life-skills training and assistance with housing, transportation, job placement, and school applications.

Having worked 8 years for the state of Tennessee at a correctional facility for juvenile delinquent girls, MM’s founder and president Nancy Alcorn9_nancy_alcorn saw girls released from the facility only to return again – or die.  Nancy knew the only agent of true change is Jesus Christ and was determined to provide a sure hope and lasting healing for these young women. So in 1983, she moved to Louisiana and opened the first Mercy house in West Monroe.  MM operates on 3 guiding principles: 1) the girls come free-of-charge so that they’ll know they are loved and that MM is not making money off their pain; 2) MM accepts no money with strings attached, including any federal, state, or local government funds; and 3) all contributions made to MM will be tithed (10%) and given to other ministries.

How well does it work? Just a few months ago, an independent firm conducted an extensive survey to find out just how effective MM truly is.  What they found was staggering: a 94% success rate! That’s right; 94% of the girls who graduated from MM testified that Mercy Ministries changed their lives and that they have not returned to their old lifestyles or addictions.  These graduates can be found attending colleges, building diverse careers, working on the mission field, being godly wives and mothers — all the while sharing the message of freedom found only in Christ Jesus.

Almost 27 years after it began, Mercy Ministries (now headquartered in Nashville, TN) operates homes in Nashville, St. Louis, West Monroe, and Sacramento, as well as in Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Peru, and Australia. And Nancy’s not finished building yet!

Yes, Mercy has a face. It’s the face of Jesus Christ shining through the face of Nancy Alcorn, through all Mercy’s girls who’ve found freedom in Christ and who extend it to others, and through all those who have supported this life-transforming ministry known as Mercy Ministries. 

How about you? Does the mercy of Christ shine through you?

For more information on Mercy Ministries or to make a contribution, visit www.mercyministries.com.

(Information on MM was taken from the brochure Mercy Ministries: Lives transformed. Hope restored.)