Story: The Conflict #3

Do you wonder if your life matters? If the hard things you have gone through have a purpose? What is the point of it all? 

I want to assure you that, yes, your life matters. 

You matter. Your story matters!

But there is an enemy of the soul determined to destroy each and every one of us.  He is on a mission to do everything in his power to keep us from the LOVER of our soul. He calls us by name …but the names the enemy uses for us are names like worthless, useless, stupid, failure, unlovable, and on and on. The enemy himself has many names. In John 8:44 we read that Satan was "a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because the truth is not in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies." 

Satan, liar, murderer, father of lies. Names that describe the very character of the one who wants to lead us as far away from the Truth as possible. Revelation 12:10 tells us that he goes before God to make accusations against us day and night. Revelation 9:11 calls him Apollyon, which means destroyer. He wants to destroy us!

But there is One who is greater than the enemy. He loves you! His names are many: God Almighty, Healer, Comforter, Savior, Holy, Love, Merciful, the Redeemer…(you can find a list of more of the names of God here: 30 Days of Praying the Names and Attributes of God).
He calls you by name…a name that speaks into all that you were created to be. Child of God, forgiven, loved, redeemed!  God says that you were fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14).  He sent His son to redeem your life from the lies of the enemy, to free you from your own sins. 

The names the enemy uses to bring you down do not define you. Your past, the events in your life, do not define you. Let the Father whisper His love into your ear and listen for the name He has for you. Beloved. Child of God. Forgiven. Loved. More than Conquerer. Overcomer. Redeemed! That is who you are!  

The Creator of this universe wants to be the hero in your story! Rest assured that He does not allow pain and hardship in your life to leave you there, defenseless. As my friend, Emily Wierenga would say, "hardship is not the end of your story, but the beginning."  

When we surrender our lives to God, we begin to live again. We begin to walk in the truth of His word. It may take time to work through the mess that we have been through or even the mess we ourselves have caused by cooperating with the lies of the enemy. But God will complete the work He has begun in us.

This thing that God does in our lives…this bringing beauty from ashes? How can we not but be compelled to share this with others? And when He walks with us and gives us this inexplicable peace in the midst of chaos and suffering…surely that is worth the sharing. 

Why? Because this lost and dying world is aching for a voice of hope! Won't you be that voice? 

In the next article in this series, I'll be to talking about 3 reasons you should tell your story.  You can read it here: Story: Why Tell It? I think you'll want to come back for that! If you want to read the first articles in this series check them out here:

Story: The Great Connector                      
 Story: Redeemable, #2                                                                                   

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD'S favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant those who mourn in Zion-to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness in instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."  ~Isaiah 61:1-3


Story…Redeemable, #2

Back in April, 2014 the (in)Real Life conference was based on telling your Story.  I was blessed to attend this video conference with a group of women who were meeting together at a book launch retreat in Tennessee. This retreat was a gathering of women who had all been on Jo Ann Fore's book launch team for her book, When A Woman Finds Her Voice. It was a perfect combination, a gathering of women who were excited about the message of Jo Ann's book,  and the conference about telling your story!

We listened to speakers talk about Story and we talked about telling our own stories over the weekend, but there was one point in the weekend for me that seemed to be a living illustration of the importance of story. That point in time occurred in an outing we took to a store called Redeemables Upscale Resale

Redeemables is a wonderful store filled with all kinds of treasures. The two energetic and fun ladies who run the store, Debbie and Sherry, take pleasure in taking unwanted items and restoring and/or repurposing them…"redeeming" them into beautiful treasures. 

 Their motto: "Everyone is redeemable and most everything is redeemable!"

When we entered the store they had us gather around them as they shared their own story of how their friendship became this wonderful partnership. They lived out their motto not only in the fulfilling of this longtime dream of owning and running this store, but of the ministry of redeeming lives through their involvement with Rise Up , a youth development and mentoring program that  Sherry and her husband had begun around 20 years ago. Sherry and Debbie met while working in that ministry. 

This store represents not only redeemed objects but redeemed lives as they also employ and train young women who were students from the Rise Up program. As these girls work in the shop they see, touch, and experience a very visual illustration of the patience and work it can take to 'redeem' an item…to take something broken and restore it to something that is even more original and creative than before it was discarded. They also experience the love and grace that it takes to redeem a life. 
I loved this store and these women for being that living illustration of how our own stories can reveal and illustrate the redemptive work of our savior, Jesus Christ. 

If we allow Him into our lives, He takes those broken places…
 those things in our lives that we look on with shame,
 those things that make us feel like a failure, 
 those things that make us feel we can never be important or useful again,
 those things that we think are damaged beyond repair…
He takes all of that and weaves into us something gloriously beautiful, forgiven, redeemed, loved and valued! 

Do you have a story? Of course you do! If you have lived for long in this broken, fallen world you have a story!  

But what is the point of sharing our story if we are still walking in our broken state?  The enemy of your souls wants to destroy each and every one of us. He spends his time wreaking havoc in our lives…tempting us to do the very things that will wreck our souls and break our spirits. But we don't have to allow him the victory over our lives!!

We have only to accept the work that Jesus did on the cross…that act of redemption in 'buying back' our very heart, soul, and spirit…covering the sin in our lives with His life's blood so that we could be forgiven and restored not to religion, but to a very real and intimate relationship with God and to a life of real and lasting joy. We have only to surrender ourselves into His hands, and trust that the process, this healing journey that He is taking us through, is for our own good and His glory. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  ~Romans 8:28

I hope that you understand what that relationship has the power to do in your life.  I want to talk a little about that in my next one or two posts. How His story intersects with our story, and how that makes it worth the telling…why it makes the telling a necessity. 

(Be sure to read the next article in this series: Story: The Conflict #3.  If you didn't catch part one of this series, you can read it here: Story…The Great Connector.)

You...your story? Redeemable! Are you walking in the redemption or are you holding back?