I flipped open my Bible to the Scripture cited in one of today’s devotionals, and found Matthew 6:25-34 peppered with underlines and handwritten notes from the first few months of 2012, ending abruptly in mid-April of that year.
And I’m brought right back to that period of my life when I was forced to take the deepest dive yet into Scripture. As my 36-year marriage ended in the middle of what I’d thought of as mutual post-retirement bliss, I had no choice but to hang onto every promise and bit of instruction I could find just to make it through each day.
That’s what The Book is about, by the way. Many of you have asked, so here’s a shot at introducing you to Still Lucky Enough:
If my life had turned out as expected, there would be no story worth sharing. I’d be lying on a beach reading trashy novels, drinking mojitos, acting as if (and most of the time believing) everything was just fine. It wasn’t. But it took a sudden, grief-filled ending to all that I’d known for me to open up my eyes to the truth and to begin again.
This is the story of the woman who emerged, transformed, from the ashes of a broken life. It is my prayer that the telling of it will give you hope and courage as you begin, or re-start, your own journey.
But having received and fussed for nearly two months over my first rejection, I’m almost ready to submit again.
I’ll need to speed up my mourning process: They say that a manuscript will be rejected at least 70 times before an agent or publisher picks it up, so taking a two month feel-sorry-for-myself break after each one is not reasonable. Not with the inevitable end of life right around the corner, anyway.
All of which sent me back to something I read on Saturday, forming the basis for my SAP today and reminding me of my newest favorite song, “Who You Say I Am” by Hillsong Worship:
John 8:31-32; 36: “Jesus said to the people who believed in him, ‘You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ ‘So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.’
There is something about Jesus’ own words being set to music. While the Bible can feel overwhelming (even the above passage is hard to understand, right?), a well-written and beautifully performed song can grab hearts. Apparently I’m not the only one who feels this way about “Who You Say I Am:” As of today, this version alone is nearing 33 million hits on YouTube.
But it was Saturday’s devotional that really brought John 8:31-36 home for me, speaking of the subtle kinds of sin that cloud the truth of who we are. It’s not necessarily the “big” sins that enslave us; they seem easier to slide by, and everyone points them out if we should happen to fall into them. The sins that cause me to stumble don’t feel like “sins” at all…just character defects that I should simply be able to shake off. But it’s not always easy, especially when such “defects” have become a way of life.
Habitual feelings of inferiority, insecurity, rejection, or worthlessness can cloud our responses to life’s challenges by altering our ability to think or act while undermining our trust and obedience to God.
The Lord wants us walking in freedom, and Jesus describes the pathway. He says that if we’ll continue in God’s Word, we will know the truth and it will set us free. First of all, we are liberated from sin and its condemnation through faith in Christ. Then, as we continue reading and meditating on Scripture, our mind, will and emotions will be changed. —Charles Stanley, “Truth Can Set You Free,” In Touch Ministries, 8/25/18
Wow. Does that every sum up the subtle but effective ways I am frozen from continuing down the path I’m convinced God set me on. The most obvious these days is pursuing publication: Over the past two months, I’ve become perfectly comfortable in setting The Book aside, telling myself that maybe it was not meant for—or worthy of—public viewing. But I know that’s a cop-out, a way to justify not risking further rejection that, in turn, prompts the self-doubt that rises up and further freezes me from doing what God has called me to do.
It’s like the story of the dog chewing the slipper. The dog gets hollered at for chewing his owner’s slipper, so out of shame, he slinks away and starts chewing another slipper. A never ending cycle that feels familiar when I think of how many good things I’ve set aside when they don’t quickly fall into place—not just The Book, but nudges ignored and dreams endlessly put on hold.
What if instead of giving in to fear disguised as common sense we were to immediately pick ourselves up after set-backs and return to the task at hand—unafraid and unashamed—acting as beloved children of God?
And that’s where my new favorite song comes in. Who can slink away in shame or fear when they know who they are?!
Good morning, Father. Gee, between Matthew, John, Charles Stanley, Hillsong and that old cartoon depicting addiction as a naughty dog, I am drawn into deeper and more personalized understanding of the Bible. How is it that I never knew just how many songs and sayings come straight from Your Word?
Thank You for teaching us that through Your Son and in Your power, we are free indeed. Please remind me to act like it. Amen.