“What you’re asking is too difficult!” I argued with God, doubting His wisdom. I desired healing from traumatic events in my past, but surely, He was asking too much.
“I want you to write your story, Jenny.” That still small voice would not leave me alone.
At last I relented, pouring out my heart, my pain, my memories racked with horror – forming the words with my own hands. My heartache filled tear-soaked pages, and at last, I had to write the ugly word in my own script.
“A-b-o-r . . .”
I wrote each letter with trepidation. Would I have the strength to finish the word? Would my hand hold the pen steady? Could I bear to see it in my script on the page?
“. . . t-i-o-n.”
I slumped forward and wept bitter tears of regret, betrayal, horror, and death. But my tears also washed away the sting of shame and bitterness. Holy Spirit picked me up, brushed the tendrils of wet hair from my cheeks, and held me fast.
At last, my tears were used up. I stared at the word on the page.
God knew. Writing my story broke the stronghold of my sin and began my healing. I picked up my pen again and started to sign my name at the end of the story, but Jesus stopped me and said, “Wait a moment, Jenny, you don’t need to sign your name. I paid for this story with my blood. Please sign my name instead.”
And so, I signed the Name that is above every Name, the Redeemer of my ugly story, the beautiful One who took my sin to the cross. Jesus. Oh, Jesus. You make all things new.
Once I discovered that this story was no longer a story of my shame, but instead, it was a story of Christ’s redemption, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops! The Lord was kind enough to give me opportunities to speak at local women’s events. It was during this time, that I learned how He anoints our stories to bring freedom to those in bondage.
I had the privilege of speaking at a weekend retreat where I shared my story with a group of ladies, testifying that nothing is too broken or sin-ridden to be cleaned up and redeemed by God. The next morning, a quiet, elderly woman asked to have a word with me.
I could scarcely comprehend her words.
She thanked me for sharing my story of abortion, saying that I had given her courage to admit a secret that she had carried for thirty-five years. She brought into the light her abortion that had been hidden in darkness, eating away at her soul for over three decades.
This dear sister cried and prayed with her friends at the conference. Then she called her husband and twin sister and told them everything that had happened in her past, the decisions made by a fearful, young woman who did not know what else to do about her shameful pregnancy.
Her eyes glistened with fresh Christ-cleansed freedom as she grasped my hand, “Thank you, Jenny, for being faithful to share your story so that I could be brave to tell mine. I feel like a thousand-pound stone has been lifted off my shoulders.”
God’s spirit and anointing are upon all of us to share our stories of redemption. He transforms our ugly stories into something beautiful, our mourning into joy, and our utter despair into songs of praise.
And if that weren’t enough, God promises that we will be planted in Him, through His strength and endurance, and be called oaks of righteousness.
What an incredible promise and it’s all found in Isaiah 61:3:
“To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His glory” Isaiah 61:3
I appreciate Charles Spurgeon’s encouraging words based on this verse:
” ‘They shall be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord’, that is to say, where there is joy imparted, and unction given from the Holy Spirit, instead of despondency, men will say, “‘It is God’s work, it is a tree that God has planted, it could not grow like that if anybody else had planted it; this man is a man of God’s making, his joy is a joy of God’s giving.’ ” (Spurgeon Bible Commentary)
Friend, if you’re feeling neither strong nor joyful, if you can find nothing to praise today, I encourage you to declare Isaiah 61:3 out loud several times this week. Sometimes we declare God’s Word because we’re sure, because we believe it. Sometimes we declare God’s Word until we’re sure, until we believe it.
Thankfully God’s Word isn’t dependent on how we feel or what our situation looks like. His promises cannot return to us void. Instead, they always accomplish what they set out to accomplish.
So, when God’s Word is activated in our lives through the power of agreement or declaration, His promises simply cannot fail us.
Yet, Isaiah 61 contains not only the promises gracefully given to us through our salvation, it also contains an important mission.
This anointing given to us by God comes with a promise: it will be His strength and His power that will work in us to bring good news to the poor, to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim freedom to the captives.
Since we have freely received our portion of beauty, joy, and praise, we can be that encouragement to someone else as well.
Our redeemed stories can reveal the beauty in another’s story.
Our cheerful attitude through life’s hardships can minister to those who mourn.
Our praise in the storm can encourage a desperate heart.
As much as these verses give us encouragement and hope in the promises of God for today, they also give us a specific assignment for our lives.
Let us be women firmly planted as we receive His righteousness, bear much fruit and fulfill the anointing and assignments upon our lives.