“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3 NKJV)
Several years ago, I was at a worship service, when the Lord spoke this passage to my heart. It was my mandate, my call to serve. This was what I was created to do, and I was energized and empowered to go and do as He had commanded.
My ministry in the jail was changed, as I began to walk in the fullness of what He had called me to do. My heart was changed. I had loved the Lord before, but now, I LOVED Him. I was madly, passionately in love with Him. I began to see people not as they were at that moment in time, but as He sees them. There was an indescribable joy within my being as I went about His work…
But sadly, as time went on, and disappointments came, I found myself struggling to survive. With each blow from the enemy, it became harder to stand. It’s not that I ever stopped loving the Lord, because I didn’t, but slowly, over time, I began to lose hope.
Have you ever been there? You keep going through the motions, trying to enter into His presence, longing to hear His voice again – because you see, once you’ve heard His voice, once you’ve tasted and seen how good He is, you can’t get enough of it. When you feel His touch, and then you go through a dry period where He doesn’t speak anymore, and you no longer feel anything, something inside you begins to shrivel up and die, and you begin to lose hope.
You don’t share it with anyone, because more than anything, you want to please the Lord, and you certainly don’t want to cause anyone else to stumble, and so you resolutely set your heart and your mind on going through the motions. Lord, if I cry out loud enough will You hear me and speak to me again? If I lift my hands high enough, will you grab onto them? Lord, if I dance, even though I don’t really feel like dancing, will You give me back my joy?
And time marches on… one day, one week, one month, one year, two years… O God, my soul cries out, how long? How long must I wait to hear you again? Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit away from me! Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and sustain me… keep me… give me a willing spirit. And then I will teach transgressors Your ways and sinners will be converted to You.
Has anyone else ever been there? Yes, there were occasions when He would continue to speak to me, but by and large, there was silence… I despaired of ever hearing from Him again…
And then I began suffering back pain. Now I’ve dealt with back pain off and on my whole life, but this time was different – this time it was constant. For the last 1 1/2 years, I’ve been in constant pain. Some days are better than others, some days are worse, but for the most part, my pain has been constant. I was already overweight, but now I added another fifty pounds, which certainly doesn’t help the pain, nor the depression, but when you’re in this much constant pain, you can’t exercise, and so I fed my depression.
And here is the worst part for me – I am a worshiper. I love falling to my knees and worshiping, but now because of the pain and my obesity, I can’t fall to my knees, otherwise I might not be able to get up. I love falling flat on my face as I enter His presence and giving Him the glory and the honor that is due to Him, but now I can’t. My discouragement grew, but no one would know, because I continued to smile.
And sometimes the pain and the depression have been so bad that I’ve had to stay home from church. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love to go to church. I love to worship and I love to minister to others and give God the glory He is due. It’s what I was created to do… Since I’ve been serving the Lord, I have always been dependable, but now, suddenly, I’m not, and I feel as though I’ve let my church and my pastor, and mostly my Savior down and no one knows how bad I feel about this… No one but Jesus, and now you.
Still, I’ve cried out to the Lord, and even when I don’t hear His voice, I’m trusting that He hears me and that He will answer my cries for help. Then, on the last Friday in August, after applying for intermittent FMLA, because I was missing so much time from work due to the pain and the exhaustion, I was told that I had to take full FMLA and short-term disability and not to come back to work until the doctor fully releases me and signs a form stating that I am able to do all that my job requires.
I spent the next two months sitting around the house doing nothing, (except for my visits to the doctors) and feeling sorry for myself. Some days, I didn’t even bother to shower. I was depressed, but good Christians, especially those in leadership positions, aren’t supposed to get depressed. Ha! My husband has clinical depression, and I get very irritated with him when he is depressed and negative, and now, here I was… And I have to tell you, I get even more irritated with me, when I am depressed and negative!
Then the Lord spoke to my heart one night at bible study and He told me to start writing again. Finally! He was speaking to me again. He told me to write every day, and I have been! I started this blog, and I have faithfully been writing, and as I write, He is speaking to me again. I hear His voice again! I’m eager to read His word and see what He has for me to write each day…
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound…”
His Spirit is indeed upon me, and He has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor… I love speaking the Word of the Lord… I preach in church and in prison, and I preach in Wal-Mart, Food Lion, the homes of my children and my friends, on Facebook, wherever He sends me. 🙂 Yes, I even preach on WordPress too! I love sharing the Good News!
And He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted… It’s so funny how the Lord works. Before He delivered me, I used to be so consumed by my own problems that it never occurred to me to reach out to hurting people. It wasn’t that I didn’t care – it was just I didn’t know what to say or do. Now, He shows me, and many times, the brokenhearted seek me out!
And yes, I do proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound…
And He showed me that during that long silent period, He was with me still. I wasn’t alone… He was stretching my faith…
The Lord tells us that if we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart. One of the desires He’s given me is the desire to one day write a book. 🙂 I’ve begun writing that book now. I believe that’s one of the reasons why the Lord caused my back pain… Yes, I did say the Lord caused it, but He causes all things to work together for my good because I love Him and I’m called according to His purpose. So now I’m currently out of work due to my back pain, and I have time to write that book. I only just shared this with my daughter and my spiritual mother tonight, and now you! I am writing a book for the glory of God!
Do you feel like you’re all alone? Are you going through a long dry spell? Does it feel like your prayers go no further than the ceiling? Don’t give up. You’re not alone. Jesus is with you and He promised that He would never leave you or forsake you.
When you’re going through a desert time, keep on pressing toward Him. By faith, continue to worship, even when you feel nothing… He’s with you and He’s using your circumstances to prepare you for the next step.
Beloved, hear the Word of the Lord! The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me. He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor and to heal the brokenhearted… The Lord says, “Behold! I have redeemed you, my Beloved and I have called you by name. You are Mine, Child, and I have placed you right where you are at for such a time as this, for the salvation of many. When you walk through the waters, I will be with you and when you walk through the rivers, you will not drown… When you pass through the fire, you will not be burned. Since you are precious in My sight, I will uphold you in My righteous right hand. Fear not, for I am with you. Fear not, My beloved, for I will take care of you. Fear not, My beloved, for I have not forgotten you. You are not forgotten. You are the apple of My eye. You are My beloved. Fear not.”
Cheryl A. Showers