Friday, January 22, 2010

A Journey of Grace: My Deliverer Is Coming©

Religion had brought me so many wrong views. I didn’t know a Father God who loved. I knew one who expected. I often felt as if I fell short of fulfilling those expectations becoming a disappointment at best. How do you ever know if you’ve done enough? Instead of finding my fulfillment I was tired and empty.

God continued to peel away the layers of my self-protective coverings. He began to restore His image to me. He began to talk to me about love. He invited me to trust.


Everything comes back to trust. If I could not trust Him, I couldn’t find the truth that would set me free. I found that I trusted God with the big things, like having air to breathe or my heart continuing to beat. But I didn’t trust Him with me. I found it easier to trust myself.


As a result I found myself turning to other things to find fulfillment, the most prominent being my husband. If he showed me love well I would know I was wanted. It was a tall order that would never be fulfilled.


I’ll never forget how Jesus came to rescue me.


I was attending a women’s retreat. It was the last day. We were invited to go to the cross set up in the room and lay down what God had asked us to give up that weekend. I approached the cross knowing it was time. I had to lay down my expectations for David to give me value. As I paused to talk to Jesus the tears began to lightly fall down my cheeks. “Jesus, I release David from having to give me value.” Within seconds I heard His response, “I’ve always wanted you.”


The soft tears became sobs at the realization that Jesus had always wanted me. Why hadn’t I known that? He spoke again. “I gave my life to love you. Is it not enough?”


In that moment I realized I had looked to another lover for value when the One who loved me perfectly waited and watched. My heart ached as I considered how many times I had walked right past Him, allowing my heart to seek it’s value in someone who could never give it. What must I have put on my husband in the process?


My Deliverer came for me that day. I’ve not been the same since. It was the beginning of a romance that had been waiting to happen. Jesus would continue to woo me as a bridegroom pursuing the one He loves. He would not stop until I knew that I was not only loved but wanted.


I love the story of Lazarus’ defining moment. Dead for days in the tomb, the One who came to deliver all mankind appears on the scene. Those around think it’s all over. But not Jesus. He knows that it’s just beginning. He tells those standing around the grave to remove the stone. The family was concerned about the stench of death that would fill the air, but not Jesus. He knew the glory of God had come to set Lazarus free.


With a loud voice Jesus declares “Lazarus come out”. Out walked Lazarus, his hands and feet still bound by strips of linen and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to those standing around, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Those placed in his path began to remove the cloths that held Lazarus body bound in death.


That moment at that retreat God called me out of the tomb. Finally someone had convinced me that I was wanted. I walked out that day, grave clothes still wrapped around me, yet alive.


In the years that followed Jesus would begin to peel away the cloths of “religious works” that had covered my body bound in death. He would exchange their ashes for beauty. For my deliverer had come to set me free.


©copyrighted: 2010 Julie L. Todd

Next Up: Part Six: Alone in the Wilderness

Part One: In the Beginning:

Part Two: My Fig Leaves:

Part Three: Lost In Translation:

Part Four: Let Freedom Ring:


16 comments:

Carmen said... Reply to comment

Oh my! There's so much I could comment on here. Suffice it to say we've traveled along similar pathways. I love the Lazarus story too and even blogged on it (The Company One Keeps). There's so much there!
I also relate to the danger of "religious works"! Been there and it's good to be free...though I still love to serve!!

Andrea said... Reply to comment

AMEN!!
Thank you, Julie for this great post!I needed it, today!!
Blessings, andrea

Jo Princess Warrior said... Reply to comment

For years I thought "I have to work hard for God, afterall, He's done so much for me." I never thought I ever measured up to God's expectation on me. How wrong I was. Thankfully, I responded to His wooing about a year ago and am learning that He loves me if I do nothing for Him or if I stress myself trying to please Him.

Gretchen said... Reply to comment

Wow. I stand amazed at your story, and also at the many which are similar, and I wonder--how does He do it? But He just does. Because of the cross. Because of grace. And I am so thankful.

Lovely post.

christy rose said... Reply to comment

It did not take me long in our marriage to realize that my husband could not give me what I needed in my heart. So, I quit expecting it from him and looked to the One who was offering it to me. And, that changed my life forever. At first, I withdrew from my husband and quit trying so hard to please him to make him love me the way that I wanted to be loved. And, I only looked to the Lord who loved me unconditionally to fill up my heart. That startled my husband somewhat because I changed toward him. I only offered my love toward him when I truly desired to do so because I loved him and not to try to get him to love me. And, I did the same thing with God. As I realized how fulfilling it was to receive love from both not because I worked so hard to make them love me but just because they did, my life was never the same.
I began to truly feel loved because I was recognizing their love despite my lack of effort in making it happen. whew! what a relief and what an extraordinary revelation!
Your story reminds me so much of myself Julie. I am sure that it is ministering healing to many who are reading it.

Jacquelyn said... Reply to comment

Hello, I just happened upon this series. I too used to be a victim of "performance orientation" and though I've been a Christian for well over 50 years, it took several times of being flat on my back, so to speak, to be able to truly look UP! I still find the need to frequently ask God to "rid me of myself" of course, but like you, I have learned to identify HIS voice. We are so blessed by His grace when He speaks ever so softly to us and woos us back to Him once again. Thank you for these wonderful posts.

Amy said... Reply to comment

Beautiful story! I especially loved the analogy of the grave clothes being peeled away!

God TRULY does set the heart free!!

Crown of Beauty said... Reply to comment

This is so beautiful, Julie.

To be wanted is one of the longings of the human heart, and Jesus spoke it clearly to you that day.

I've also always loved the story of Lazarus. How beautifully you connected that event in your life with his rising from the grave!

Love
Lidj

Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus said... Reply to comment

A terrific story of Jesus' love for you, His Bride.

Thank you for sharing so openly here.

Liz said... Reply to comment

once again, another brilliant post.
God has given you such an amazing talent with words.
pure and brilliant.

Denise said... Reply to comment

thank you for sharing your story.
you are beautiful.

i have experienced much of the same. by God's grace he has allowed me to see it and is moving me into his TRUTH.

i also read "hinds feet on high places." i read it in a season when God was humbling me (too stubborn to humble myself at that time). oh how i relate to "much afraid," how i ached for her, an longed for her journey to be easier, but she wouldn't have experienced the joy had it not been for the journey.

Tricia said... Reply to comment

This is such a beautiful story. Similar to mine in so many ways, and yet vastly different. I will pray for you and your beautiful family. May God abundantly bless you.

Sarah Markley said... Reply to comment

Julie,

thank you for sharing your story. and thank you for being so open.

blessings to you,

Sarah

Shirl said... Reply to comment

I'm so relating to your story, as I've already told you!

Tea With Tiffany said... Reply to comment

I too remember some deep and defining moments that helped me realize Jesus' love. I remember with sweet joy. What an amazing God to continue to chase His beloved bride.

Good word again. Thank you.

Karen said... Reply to comment

Each post in this series gets better and better...such a blessing!