Welcome to Songs of Salvation! Each Sunday I will feature a Christian author sharing a "Song of Salvation" to uplift and encourage believers and glorify God.
And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. Revelation 12:11 NLT
Authors, find out how to share your Song of Salvation here.
First, can I just say how much I love the title of this feature? Music … and story … and salvation, which is simply the beautiful truth that we broken human beings can be rescued not only from anything that’s ever happened to us, but even from ourselves. All to the praise of the One who gave us all three—the most epic Love Himself, becoming one of us, dying for our redemption, and rising again to conquer even death.
I first found salvation at the tender age of seven, not long after my mom started attending a solid church and rededicated her life to the Lord. Both my parents carried the weight of childhood abuse and their own sinful choices, and though they separated when I was about a year old, the Lord in His mercy sent my mother a second husband, a much older man with his own hurts and scars, and because of him I knew what honorable manhood could look like. I’m sure you can figure out a lot of my story, right there!
Even during the long years of being picked on—and yes, I’ll be honest, preyed upon—I always knew God was with me. I clung to His promise that all things work together for good to those who love Him, who are the called according to His purpose—but there was a lot of the hard work of healing I ignored, because, well, it was just so very hard. Though I trusted God on the surface, years of insecurity and defensiveness and fear and anger and pride and self-protection all piled in on each other and formed a lovely mess on the inside that should have guaranteed I’d fail at marriage, mothering, and life in general. In spite of all this, God blessed me with a man who’s still with me after more than three decades, some amazing friends, and eight children this side of heaven who love and encourage me continually. (Three of them are married now, and their spouses are equal blessings.) I’m also at a place where not only does the Lord allow me to minister with both song and story, but He’s suddenly provided a wider visibility that quite honestly terrifies me. (I had the recent joy, after 35 years of writing fiction, of seeing my first published full-length novel in print—but that story is told elsewhere.)
As it says, however, in a Scripture that our youth group just read this week (our whole church is working through the book of Acts), I cannot help but speak of the of the things I’ve seen and heard. That includes my astonishment at how God took someone from such a wretched background (and yes, I know others whose past is even worse, but—still!) and chose her to carry His name.
I’m astonished, too, at how many years a person can walk with the Lord and still be such a work in progress. Shouldn’t we be closer to completion after, oh, decades of this? Or is it that we just can’t see the progress for ourselves? But I swear, over the last couple of years or so, the Lord has been in this process of exhuming things from my distant past—things I was happy to leave buried—for me to examine and deal with, only this time from a new perspective.
It’s difficult, and startling, to recognize just how deeply my distant past still affects my present. How, despite the healing I’ve already experienced, whether that means grasping that I’m not defined by what has happened to me, or forgiving those who’ve sinned against me, the insecurity and defensiveness still hang around. That both of those have roots in a lie that says I have no real worth, that my only purpose is to be used by others. Which is a much different thing than giving ourselves in service, as Jesus commands! So when I find myself struggling to approach servanthood situations with a willing heart, I have to stop and ask myself, where is this rooting from? Do I think God somehow won’t give me the grace or strength I need to get through what He asks me to accomplish?
In other words, it looks like I’m finally facing some of the hard work of healing. And all this in the midst of a particularly painful season for my family.
We tend to think of God’s goodness in terms of blessings—the happy things in our lives—but He’s also good to provide us with reminders of how very much we still need Him and His mercy, and the confirmation of His presence and care even while we are being humbled is as much a blessing as happy things. Maybe more. During these past months of uncertainty and heartbreak, once again the Lord has made His presence absolutely felt, not just to me but also to various family members in their own struggles. He’s showing me that as He carried me through all the troubles of my younger years, He’s beyond able to carry my children, even as they grapple with things which force them to face their own need and brokenness. He truly is God, and there is no other. He is Lord, and there is no one like Him. As I’ve heard recently, He loves us just as we are—but He loves us too much to leave us there. He will take us through whatever we need to conform us more to the image of Christ, and however painful that process is, He’s with us in it.