Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30.
For the years since being released from my position on staff at Vanguard Church, I have felt confused about the nature of conviction versus shame. That experience was a dizzying explosion that blasted a crater of shame on my internal landscape. Much of what resulted was cleansing; it motivated me to seek healing and holiness. I want that, welcome that. Then there was the poisoned fallout, drifting with menacing inevitability; paralyzing me with self-doubt. I have learned that every opportunity created by the Holy Spirit to heal and redeem is also, in equal proportion, a potential entrance for the Enemy of our souls to slither in and wreak destruction and chaos. It is a testimony of our Savior’s love and trust in His people that He gives us those opportunities, because it is often by the narrowest of margins that we choose the path of righteousness over the path of hell. In this case, I chose the wrong path first, which made the journey back a melancholy one as I carried the heavy burden of my failures.
That weight was not from the Lord. After all, He bore all of my sins on the Cross. He rolled away the solid stone of the tomb after His Resurrection. He rose lightly and freely into the Heavens, floating into the Presence of God, no gravity tying Him to the heaviness of this flawed planet. He offers me (and you) that same freedom and lightness with outstretched hands. It is not hard for Him. The burden of my sin has been lifted for all eternity by the power of death and re-life. My yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28.
It is not hard for Him, but, O, it has been hard for me. I have been looking backward. I have identified myself by my failure. After all, many people lie, but it was me walking the aisles at church, a scarlet L sizzled on my forehead, absorbing the reality that out of the hundreds of besetting sins of this congregation and its leadership (for we all have strongholds), it was me who was exposed and removed. Why? It must be because I am inherently flawed and unlovable; a woman with great power to wound and therefore deserving of being stamped out.
I knew that was a lie, but it would not go away. It was like the symbiote in Spiderman, the sticky black goop that attached itself to Peter Parker, reading his vulnerable fears and eventually swallowing him, transforming him into Venom, the black spiderman. I will never recover from this. I am disqualified. People need to be protected from me. I knew I could not lead again until God broke through that lie. Any leadership would have been tainted by fallout: insecurity and a desire to prove myself. Like the symbiote, the Lie has proven to be extraordinarily adhesive and resilient. I have not been able to talk myself into the truth.
Now that has all changed. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places! Eph. 1:3
I sat alone, huddled in the prayer room at the She Speaks conference, writing jaggedly in my journal as tears streamed. Lord, I know my calling. I choose to walk in it, but I need you to set me free or I will fail in a different way. This is so heavy. I cannot let it go by my own efforts. This lie is deep, confirmed by the continued judgment of others and myself. Help me. Show me who I am because of who You are.
Then, this –
Being in the Light has been your freedom. That is still true. Be ever exposed for who you are: a sinner redeemed by grace. There is no shame in being in the Light. There is only freedom.
Flooding relief, immediate release.
In tears, Will you give me something in Your word to confirm that this is from You, Lord?
Well, that was quick and clear! I’ll look it up.
from Psalm 40 –
I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog (sticky black symbiote?), and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.
I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as You know, O Lord. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.
You see, David was a man who failed. Like me, he plummeted out of character weakness after he was established as a leader. He had a tempestuous affair with Bathsheba and arranged the murder of his friend Uriah. He repented hard, like me. He experienced judgment and loss. But unlike me, David never doubted his calling or questioned his worthiness. He was secure. Not in Himself, but in the God who called Him. David declared with conviction that he had never concealed the faithfulness and deliverance of the Lord. He had not failed to lead in spite of his failure. He boldly led His people, the “great congregation,” as he put skin on his calling in confidence. The implication of these verses is that it would have been wrong if he had kept silent, hidden away from His calling. Why? Because in his failure and his redemption is proof that God is who He says He is: Redeemer, Restorer, Grace-giver, Healer.
That changes me. It pries off the symbiote, seals up the crater, lifts the weight, puts a new song in my mouth. A God who is utterly worthy of praise, but invites the unworthy to lead His people in praise? A God who does not fail, but clears space around our failures so we can rebuild? A God who covers all sin, every failure, with a mighty grace? May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, Great is the Lord! Ps.40:16.
So, now I carry the easy yoke, the light burden. I jettisoned the burden of the lie. I am a woman in the Light, a beloved daughter of my King, skipping into the future with boldness, confident that the Light is the safest place to be light.