Monday, September 20, 2010

Everyone, Overcome

Yesterday, I sat and listened to a friend talk about the struggle they have been facing with their oldest son.
Anger, drugs, poor choices... and the tough love they've had to show him.
I listened to her talk of the heartache and the boundaries and the holding to their word.
I heard her speak of the hope they have, but also the knowledge that oftentimes what we think is rock bottom isn't someone else's rock bottom.

Hearing my friend share open and raw from her heart... it was a God moment.
Because she and her husband are walking through it.
They are in the middle of extremely difficult circumstances and are keeping their eyes fixed on God, fixed on the hope that we have in Christ.
They are seeking His leading, and leaning into the wisdom that only comes from the Holy Spirit.

This is their testimony.

Last week I had the privilege of praying with a woman who has dealt with severe emotional scars her entire life.
She spoke of how she had gotten past the anger. She had forgiven. But, there are still these deep, deep wounds that form a heaviness she carries with her all the time.
Everywhere she goes.
Over thirty years later.
I asked her if this was something she ever talked about, if she ever shared with anyone what she's gone through.
No. Her answer was no. She never shares. No one would understand. Her circumstances are so unique that she feels like she can't ever talk about it with people.
With anyone.
So she walks around with a heaviness from something she's come out of, but won't ever speak of.
Her testimony, hidden.

I was heartbroken.

Revelation 12:10-11 talks about the one who accuses us, and how we have overcome him.
"Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony."

The blood of the Lamb has already been shed for us.
Christ, the perfect sacrifice, gave His life on the cross so salvation would be available to those who would freely receive it.
There is nothing we need to do except believe that He is who He says He is and that He has done what He says He has done.
For us.

But, the word of our testimony is something we give.
We choose to share our testimony, and in doing so we overcome the one who stands and accuses us.
We encourage others to share, and in turn to overcome.

Because it's a two-part process.
We can be saved. We can receive the free gift of salvation and have eternal life in heaven, the opposite of which is eternal death in hell. (This death is quite different from the death of this world.)
But we overcome by sharing our testimony. We overcome our accuser by boldly proclaiming what Christ has done for us.
We have to choose to proclaim!

Yesterday I listened to my amazing friend share how they are walking through this part of their testimony.
It is hard, but there is life and hope in her eyes.
And by her sharing this testimony, from right in the middle of it, she is an encouragement to all who hear her, that they in turn can claim the hope that is in Christ and look to Him in the middle of their circumstances... and overcome.
Because what the enemy means for bad, Christ turns and uses for good.
And this is our testimony.

Listening to my other friend last week, I was heartbroken to see her heaviness because she has chosen not to share.
She has bought the lie that no one will care or understand... that no good can or will come from it.
(Because our accuser accuses us day and night.)
And so she is weary and heavy, and is definitely not overcoming.
It was an honor to pray with this woman. I encouraged her to share her testimony. I told her that others need to hear what God has brought her out of, and even though it doesn't feel like life has come from it... life will come as she shares.
I saw a flicker of light in her eyes, a glimmer of hope as she looked up at me and said, "Really? Do you really think I should share?"
"That is how we overcome," I said. "By the blood of the Lamb, which you've already received, and by the word of our testimony, which is you sharing. People need you. Women need you to share so they can be encouraged and in turn share. It doesn't mean that you share things when you're uncomfortable or not ready. But, it does mean stepping out when you feel that tug on your heart. That's the Holy Spirit prompting you to share the word of your testimony. That is how we overcome."
And I saw hope where I had not seen hope before.

So many of us are walking around, secure in our salvation in Christ, but heavy and burdened because we are not overcoming.
We are keeping hidden our testimonies... testimonies that others need to hear and be encouraged by.
Testimonies that are often not fully realized until we do share.
We've bought the lie that no one cares, that sharing will just bring more heartache. We live in the shame of things from years past, letting them weigh down our present. We know it's covered by the blood of the Lamb (if we've received that), but we don't live in that place.
If there is anything we are unwilling to share, it means we are choosing to keep something hidden.
That doesn't mean we need to spill our deepest experiences to anyone and everyone that crosses our path... there is wisdom we should have in our words.
But it does mean we need to be willing to share if the Holy Spirit prompts us.
That is where we overcome by the word of our testimony.

Like my friend and what they are walking through with her oldest son, confident in the hope that is only found in the blood of the Lamb.
Like my friend who walked through an abortion when she was young and has found the freedom, grace and forgiveness that is only in the blood of the Lamb.
Like my friend who struggled with crippling insecurity for years and is now finding complete confidence  that is only in the blood of the Lamb.
Like my friend who has walked through a messy divorce and is experiencing daily the security and strength that only comes from the blood of the Lamb.
Like my friend who is overcoming an addiction to pornography and is walking every day in freedom and joy because of the blood of the Lamb.
Like my friend who is clean and sober after years of drug and alcohol abuse because she has found purpose and fullness and grace in the blood of the Lamb.
Like my friend who went through the trauma of severe sexual abuse, and is now leading other women into healing because of the healing she found in the blood of the Lamb.
Like me, who was carrying around the emotional baggage of poor choices and fear, and the crippling need for others' approval, and am now living in the freedom of life in Christ and the blessing, grace and confidence that can only be found in the blood of the Lamb... and the word of my testimony.

Because we will overcome.
And we will keep overcoming.
By the blood of the Lamb (receiving it) and the word of our testimony (sharing it).
Everyone, overcome.

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