"This past weekend, I joined seventeen other women from Hope-Covenant in Crystal Lake as we traveled to Covenant Harbor in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin for Fall Fellowship. Many prayers were lifted ahead of time, for God to get a hold of hearts in new and fresh ways and asking Him to bind hearts together in the unity that is only available through Jesus Christ! Boy, did He ever answer! While I prayed those prayers anticipating a closer connection with the women from my church, God had a much bigger, better, more beautiful answer in mind!
Praise God.....He dealt with me this weekend, shining His light into the deepest, darkest places of my heart and revealing to me the UN-God (i.e., sin) that dwelt there. Oh, how badly I wanted to be good. I wanted my heart to be full of love for all people. I so wanted to be like my Savior! But all the wanting in the world did not make it so.
The truth is....I was taught bigotry and prejudice as a child. People that were in positions of authority above me and claimed to be following Christ and proclaiming His Word used Scripture to plant seeds of hatred or superiority in my heart. When they noticed that I seemed to be color blind, they took me aside and brought me to Genesis 9 and the sons of Noah. They read to me the story of Ham and the shame that was upon Him for viewing his father's nakedness and how Noah pronounced a curse upon Ham and his descendants and sentenced them to be slaves to the other brothers. I was then told that black people descend from Ham, and they are a cursed race; this is why they have been enslaved throughout history and to intermarry is forbidden by God and would be to bring that curse upon yourself.
Oh, how it grieves my heart that the very Word of God is used to promote Satan's agenda! The father of lies who seeks our death and destruction is behind every form of division and strife and hostility. I remember something inside of me rebelling at their words, but I was too young to identify those words as lies so they sank into my soul with the ring of truth because of who they had come from and in whose Name they had supposedly been spoken.
As I grew and my faith became my own and I started to seek God for myself, I knew that what I had been taught was indeed wrong! I read in the Bible that God is no respecter of persons and that His children include people from all nations, colors, tribes and tongues. But the bad seed had already been planted in my heart and taken root. The problem is that I had become blind to it.
I had deceived myself (or perhaps, more accurately, the enemy of my soul had deceived me) into thinking that no vestiges of that sin of bigotry remained in my heart. But on a subconscious level, I can see that it was always there. When I had contact with an African-American, even my niece, Laylah, who is half black......I won't say that I did not love her because that would be untrue. But I was not open to fully loving her, if that makes sense. There was a part of my heart that held back somehow, and when I would brush up against the edges of that coldness, when my gut-level reaction would be to see the "other" as "less than," I would inwardly recoil from the ugliness inside and deny it or try to talk myself out of it.
The only problem is: You cannot talk yourself out of sin. You cannot "manage" or "control" the sinfulness of your own heart. There is only one cure to take care of sin once and for all, and that is by taking it to the cross.
On Saturday, September 24, 2011, as I sat by the soothing and peaceful water of Geneva Lake and surrendered my heart to a thorough examination by the Great Physician, He made His diagnosis. I saw as clearly as if viewing an X-ray held up to the light; my "spiritual X-ray" revealed a wall or barrier present in my heart. It was subtle. No one on the outside could have seen it. Imperceptible to the human eye, it was not imperceptible to my God!
I feel as if so much of the rest of my life, who I will become and how God will be able to use me, hinged upon my response in that moment of divine revelation. With His power and strength inside of me, I was able to overcome my denial and embrace His truth. Right there in that boat house, I prayed a prayer of confession: "Honestly, God, I admit there is a tiny part of my heart that sees 'other' as 'less than.' I can't change that about myself, God, but I admit it. I confess before You that it is SIN, and I ask YOU to take my racism and prejudice from my heart. Purify me and make me into YOUR image."
And I am writing to tell you that God is still in the miracle-working business! God is in the business of life transformation! He is alive and moving and at work in this world! Praise His Holy Name.....He heard my prayer and answered! Immediately the "barrier" or "wall" (that even the day before I was not consciously aware of) was GONE! And not only that, but He is flooding my heart with His love for the very ones I used to see as "other." Oh, He is good beyond belief! HODY TOW!!!! I feel so alive and free; places I didn't even know were dead and in bondage are now vibrating and pulsating with resurrection power, and I feel like I am going to explode from the sheer joy of it all!
I want to proclaim His Goodness from the rooftop....to shout my testimony in a voice loud enough that all the people of this world would hear and praise the WONDER and RIGHTEOUSNESS and POWER and MAJESTY and HEALING TOUCH of my God who can bring dead things back to life! What unbelievably Great News!
I thank God because I know that He desires to use me for His Glory, and I have to be pruned before I can be useful. I thank God that His pruning process, though momentarily painful, yields a harvest of abundance and blessing beyond anyone's imagination. I thank Him for His discipline, because I know it's a sign of His great, great love. And I thank Him that He still answers prayer.....that He responds to the cries of desperate, needy people unable to save themselves.
My second prayer out by the side of that lake came as I grieved over how much damage has been done in the Name of God, wrestling with the fact that the "Christians" I knew and loved in my youth could be so misguided. How, Lord?!?!? How can people who claim to follow You use Your Word to propagate hatred and bigotry?!?!?
"Heavenly Father, Keep me from seeing what I want to see in the pages of this book. Help me to see with clear and Holy Spirit-filled eyes. Interpret the Scriptures for me. Teach me by YOUR Holy Spirit! It is so easy for people in general and me in particular to justify my positions and use the Bible to back me up.....to authorize mywords, my thoughts, my deeds, my actions and reactions instead of the other way around. May I come seeking TRUTH.....not "self" or "approval" but YOU.....not twisting truth to match my agenda! Thank You for meeting me, Lord! Thank You for revealing to me my "Nineveh." Use my "awakening" to further Your Kingdom purposes here on earth! I ask this in the precious and holy name of Your son, My Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen (Let it be so!).
Oh, let me tell you....nothing feels better than a clean heart before God. I would encourage anyone reading this to not be afraid of the pain of conviction and confession because true life awaits on the other side of that pain!"
1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." But verse 10 goes on to say, "If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives."
John 8:36, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
To God Be The Glory!!!!!