Tag Archives: alive

He Restores My Soul

Survival

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate? Here are the steps to get started. (Prompt idea by Biola ‘Leye.)


In response to today’s Daily Prompt, I’m simply going to share yesterday’s post, which is the best example of my current survival story.  Because of God’s grace, I’m not only a survivor, He has made me an overcomer!


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:3-4  NASB

For the last four years, I was in a dark and heavy place, and though I still breathed, I was dead.  You see, I was in the valley of the shadow of death, and in all truth, it was so overwhelming, that I gave up.  In the depths of my pain, both physical, emotional and spiritual, I fell down in that dark and deadly valley, and I had no will to get up and begin walking through it.  I just didn’t have the strength.  I thought my life was over, and what a horrible way to leave this world.  My faith was shaken, my heart and my body were broken, and so, I spent almost four years, sitting in my recliner and feeling sorry for myself.

Meanwhile, the dark valley of the shadow of death just got darker and darker, until the darkness was so thick and oppressive, that I was overwhelmed by fear and hopelessness.  My physical pain was so great, that I took multiple pain medicines, all prescribed by my doctors, and instead of lessening my pain, they only helped me to sleep through the last four years.  My mental and emotional state was so fractured, that I needed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications to stop the pain inside my heart.  The problem with this was that these meds only helped me to stop caring.  They stopped the strong emotions that all of us were born feeling.  The sad thing is, though the anti-depressants were supposed to stop those painful feelings, in truth, they stopped my feelings of life and joy and hope, while the pain never completely subsided.

teen-prescription-drug-abuse

And then, two weeks ago today, I stopped taking all of my medication – cold turkey.  Hear me, beloved, this is not the smartest way to stop taking addictive pain medications and anti-depressants, unless the Lord leads you to do so.  The Lord led me to do this, and I went through withdrawal, but amazingly, it wasn’t as bad as I was afraid it might be.  I had headaches, diarrhea, hot flashes, chills, nausea, and extreme weakness.  I cried when I read, cried when someone spoke to me, cried when no one spoke to me.  I just cried, and cried a lot.  And yet, despite these side-effects, life began to stir within me.  I was feeling.  I was alive.  My emotions had awakened, and even more important, my spirit awakened.

As for the chronic back pain that I have suffered with, for the last four years, it’s not that much worse without the pain meds.  Indeed, I now realize that they weren’t helping my pain at all.  If anything, they caused a whole different kind of pain, on top of what I was already suffering, and now that I’m no longer going through withdrawal (thanks be to God!), I find that while living with chronic pain can be devastating, living with deadened feelings and the emotional pain that comes from that, is infinitely worse.

I share all of this, not because I want sympathy or pity, but because I want to testify about what God has done to me.  I was dead, although I continued to breathe.  I could no longer hear the voice of the Lord through the fog that surrounded me, and consequentially, I lost hope.  I lost my joy, and those who have worshiped with me in the past, know that God has given me a wonderful spirit of joy.  Indeed, the joy of the Lord was my strength, and when I lost that joy, my strength ebbed away.

After leading me to stop taking all of my medications (yes, every single one of them!), something amazing happened, in the midst of going through withdrawal, and feeling pretty rough, some of the thoughts that have tormented me for the last four years returned to me.  In the last four years, I had to stop leading prison ministry, which I loved doing… I lost my job, because I was no longer able to work due to the pain… My husband and I became impoverished (no exaggeration)… My mother died, and a month later, my daughter and her family moved over 700 miles away… My daughter-in-law went through brain surgery, and she and her husband moved nearly 325 miles away… I had no ministry… I lost my family…

Suddenly, for the first time in four years, I heard the voice of the Lord, clearly – not through a dark foggy tunnel.  “Cheryl, My beloved, I have given you all of your heart’s desires.  You never dreamed of a career.  All you ever wanted was to get married and have children, so that you would finally have a family who loves you.  I gave you a husband who has loved you and treasured you for more than 35 years.  I gave you two children, who married, blessing  you with two more children, and they love you and treasure you.  Even though you came from a small family, you always wanted a big family.  I’ve given you 10 grandchildren.  You have that big family, and though they are far from you now, they are closer to you than many, whose children live near them.  Yes, you have chronic back and leg pain, but you are loved by your family.  More importantly, child, you are loved by Me, and that’s why I have given you your heart’s desires.  You are no longer able to minister in prison, but your ministry has not ended.  It has changed.  Now you minister by writing according to My will.  Even though you have suffered, My Son suffered more, for your sake.  Even though you were impoverished, I still moved on the hearts of others, to give you a home to live in, and food to eat.  Beloved daughter, your future is secure.”

As I heard those words so clearly, the withdrawal symptoms and my physical pain became tolerable.  I suddenly realized how blessed I am, and I repented and asked the Lord to forgive me for not appreciating all that He’s done for me.  And then, in the midst of going through withdrawal, I began to praise Him for giving me my heart’s desires.

Then, last night, I read a post about an upcoming evening worship service, and the Spirit within me leapt for joy.  You see, in the last four years, I’ve only been to corporate worship services a handful of times, because Sunday mornings are so difficult for me.  Arising early in the morning has been impossible for me, because the pain is always worst in the mornings, and when you stop attending worship services, you lose contact with the friends you had made over the years, because their lives have moved in different directions than yours.  Also, I felt lowly in the sight of faithful church attenders, because I was no longer able to attend regularly, and I was sure they were judging me as one who was lost.  Indeed, some did judge me, but certainly not everyone, as I had thought, in the midst of my depression.

Also, there were a small handful of people, who genuinely loved me, even while I was in such a dark place.  Many people have lots of friends, but I never have.  However, the few friends that I do have, are priceless.  Those friends sought me out, when I had shut myself away.  They prayed for me, and encouraged me, even when they were unable to visit me.  Two friends in particular stand out to me, my beloved friend Tammy, who would talk to me and encourage me on Facebook, and my beloved friend Laura, who lives with chronic pain as well.  Yet despite her chronic pain, Laura has gone out of her way to visit me, pray for me, listen to me and love me, even when I was unlovable.  You see, God didn’t give me a bunch of friends.  Instead, He chose to give me just a few exceptional friends that I truly treasure.  I remember, during my depression, thinking that if I died, no one would come to my funeral, and be there for my husband, and perhaps there won’t be, but God will be there for him, if anything ever happens to me, and really, how many people have the kind of friends that I do?  Many simply have a lot of acquaintances.  I am blessed.

You see, the demons from hell may have thought that I was down for the count.  I thought so, but that’s because I had been blinded to the great power of the God who loves me and created me.  You see, He has always pursued me with His love, and He will always continue to do so.

Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Psalm 23:6  NLT

The most wonderful thing to happen to me these last two weeks is the realization that came to me last night, as I was rejoicing over the upcoming worship service I’m attending.  For, the Lord has restored my soul.  I can feel, love and rejoice again.  I have hope in the God who has loved me, when no one else did.  I have hope in this God who has healed me from so many other problems, and now He has once again healed me and delivered  me from prescription drug addiction and a four year bout with the darkest depression imaginable.  Hallelujah, I am alive again.  He has restored my soul!  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:3-4  NASB

I have shared this testimony for two reasons.  First of all, I share this testimony to give others hope.  For if God would deliver me from living in darkness and death, He will surely do the same for you as well, if you will allow Him to.  You must simply obey His voice.  In my case, He commanded that I stop taking all drugs, and He made it unbearable for me to continue taking them, despite what the doctors said.  I don’t know what He will command you to do, but whatever He commands, do it!  Then, watch Him restore your soul!

The second reason I have shared this testimony is very simple.  I share my testimony for my sake and for the sake of others who read it as well.   There is still a devil who wants to steal from me, kill me and destroy me.  Indeed, he very nearly did, except for the unfailing love of the Father, who loves me.  He wants to do the same to you.  Therefore, there is only one way to overcome him, and that is by the blood of the Lamb, which has already been shed on my behalf, and by the word of my testimony.  You see, in the face of Jesus’ blood, and my testimony of Christ’s salvation and the goodness of God, the enemy is overcome!  He is defeated.

10 Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,

“It has come at last—
    salvation and power
and the Kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of His Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
    has been thrown down to earth—
the one who accuses them
    before our God day and night.
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
    and by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
    that they were afraid to die.

Revelation 12:10-11  NLT

Beloved reader, whether you are dealing with the same or different issues, be encouraged.  The God who unfailingly loves me, loves you just as much as He loves me, and He wants to heal and deliver you from the dark hole that you may find yourself in.  Simply cry out to Him in Jesus’ name, listen for His command – then obey Him!  Fear not!

13 But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. 14 The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Exodus 14:13-14  NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

He’s Alive!

Image Credit: http://eveningstaraglow.blogspot.com/

The bitter bile of remorse rose up from his stomach, causing him to retch painfully as he sobbed, crying like a distraught child. Waves of pain and sorrow, guilt and regret washed over him as he cried unashamedly, while memories of another time played on the screen of his mind’s eye in vivid high definition. Meanwhile, he stumbled, weeping and gagging, as he made his way past the rioting crowds in the darkness as he sought a place of refuge, some place where he could escape the noise of the angry mob.

Finally, he collapsed in a heap beside the Dung Gate, while he continued to weep bitterly. “O Jesus,” he sobbed in anguish, “I have denied Messiah, Son of the Living God!” 

Without warning, as he spoke those words of agony, another image flashed before his mind’s eye, of him and his eleven comrades, co-disciples near Caesarea Philippi with Jesus. It was a barren place of emptiness and waste. There was nothing remarkable about the place to stand out in his mind, but it was what happened there that forever changed Peter.

Image Credit: http://victoryoutreachwhittier.files.wordpress.com/ 2010/12/loaves-and-fishes.jpg

Earlier that day, they had seen Jesus feed over five thousand people with just two fish and five loaves of bread, and afterwards, they crossed the lake to the other side. They were all so excited about all they had witnessed, that they forgot to bring any food along with them, until they got to the other side, and Jesus told them to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees. Not understanding what He was saying, they thought He must be referring to the fact that they had no bread.

They were so earthly minded, that it was often difficult for them to understand what Jesus was really trying to tell them, and yet, He continued to love them, and explain those things they didn’t understand, much like a mother teaches her children… “You have so little faith! Why are you worried about having no food? Won’t you ever understand? Don’t you remember the five thousand I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of food that were left over? Don’t you remember the four thousand I fed with seven loaves, with baskets of food left over? How could you even think I was talking about food? So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'” Slowly, understanding dawned on them, and they nodded knowingly, like children, eager to please their father.

And then Jesus asked them another question, and like children eager to redeem themselves from their previous misunderstanding, they took turns answering their Teacher’s next question, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 

“Some say John the Baptist,” a few of them burst forth eagerly.

“Yes, and some say Elijah!” still others eagerly stated, their eyes glistening with the hopes that their answer was the correct one.

“That’s true,” others responded, “but we’ve heard people say that You’re Jeremiah or one of the other prophets!”

Image Credit: http://www.sunnyshell.org/2013/02/ jesus-christ-sympathizer-or-savior.html

While all of this questioning and answering was going on, Peter, who was normally so boisterous and vocal, stood there in silence, watching his Master’s every move, thinking of the miracles of healing and deliverance, the feeding of the multitudes, and the raising of the dead. He felt his heart begin to  pound loudly in his chest, and his ears began to ring, as Jesus posed another question to the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” 

A sudden blinding revelation came to Peter, as the answer to the question burst forth from him, like the flood waters forcing their way past a dam, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Sitting beside the Dung Gate, Peter continued to weep bitterly, as he remembered Jesus’ response to him that day, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because My Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you lock on earth will be locked in heaven, and whatever you open on earth will be opened in heaven.”

Image Credit: http://newtheologicalmovement.
blogspot.com/ 2011/08/if-christ-is-rock-can-peter-also-be.html

“Heavenly Father,” Peter now prayed on the darkest night of his soul, “Forgive me. In my foolish pride and arrogance, I was so sure I would do the right thing, even though no one else did. I was so sure that I would stand with Jesus, that I would be the rock that He could depend on. I had so much confidence in my own strength and character, that I forgot my strength comes from You. Forgive me, Lord, for strutting around like a pompous rooster, so proud of all my achievements, when apart from Jesus, I can do nothing! El Hakadosh, apart from Him I have nothing — apart from Him, I am nothing,” Peter wept brokenly, as memories of his time with Jesus washed over him.

He remembered His first meeting with Jesus, who looked intently at him and said, “You are Simon, the son of John — but you will be called Cephas (which means Peter).” A few days later, he saw Jesus again, walking along the shore of Galilee, where he and  his brother, Andrew, who were commercial fishermen, were busy fishing with a net, while the sweat rolled off them. “Peter and Andrew,” Jesus called, as they stood in their boat holding the net. Both waved, happy to see Him again, as Jesus beckoned them, “Come,” He shouted to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 

Just like that, without even a second glance, both Peter and his brother Andrew drew the net back in, beached their boat, on the shore, and left it all, to follow Jesus from that day forward. He remembered that day on the Mount of Olives, when Jesus taught the people for hours. His words were like manna from heaven and Peter loved feasting on them, savoring each tasty morsel that came forth from Jesus’ tongue. He spoke with such authority — like no one Peter had ever heard before. He saw Him heal lepers, and many others who were sick. Jesus even healed his mother-in-law, who had fallen ill with a fever! He watched in awe, as Jesus gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, a voice to the mute, and even life to the dead!

Image Credit: http://www.myspace.com/487563782/photos/10777889

There was nothing He couldn’t do! He cast demons out of men and women, and calmed the raging seas! He even walked on water, and invited Peter to join Him! Never had there been someone more loving and compassionate than Jesus, forgiving people of their sins, no matter how great they were, “And how did I repay Him, Lord?” Peter groaned miserably. “I denied that I even knew Him,” Peter shuddered as he remembered his vehement denial of Jesus, as not once, not twice, but three times, he denied knowing the One who had given him the abundant life he had never dreamed possible.

Image Credit: http://biblicaljoy.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/ week-13-peter-denies-jesus/

He would never forget the look on his Savior’s face, when he denied knowing Him that third and final time, cursing and swearing as he did so, and then, as the cock crowed for the third time, in the midst of his cursing, Jesus turned and looked at Peter. For what seemed like forever, but in reality, was probably a matter of seconds, their eyes locked, and Peter was shocked at what he saw in Jesus’ eyes. As He stood there battered and bleeding, Jesus gazed at Peter with compassion and sorrow in His eyes! There Peter stood, ranting like a lunatic in order to convince everyone that he didn’t know the King of glory, while the King of kings stood swaying from the onslaught of the brutal beatings He had received, feeling sympathy for Peter!

Overwhelming shame engulfed Peter, as he took off running and crying like a baby. He had hurt the One that he loved most, and the last memory Jesus would ever have of Peter, the fool who had declared,  “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will…” and when Jesus had responded that Peter would deny Him three times, Peter had passionately exclaimed, “No! Not even if I have to die with you! I will never deny you!” Those words tasted like bile in his mouth now. 

Image Credit: http://www.biblestudyforyou.com/bible-study/ entering-the-stories-part-ii/

After a night spent weeping bitterly, Peter picked himself up early the next morning, slowly making his way to the upper room, where they had gathered the night before for what was their last supper with their Master. His eyes and his nose were red from sleeplessness and crying, and he felt as though he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. Jerusalem was abuzz with gossip, and he had heard the outcome of the sham they called a trial, as he made his way back. He had heard the vociferous crowd as he quietly skirted around the back of them, wending his way to the last place where he and his brothers had been united as one with Messiah. “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” the angry crowd shouted, and Peter fought not to begin retching again. “Give us Barabbas,” he heard them cry, as he entered the upper room and quickly slammed the door shut. 

He saw that most of the disciples had already returned there, and though some wanted to talk, he just waved them off, stalking over to the darkest corner of the room, and resting his weight there on the floor, he drifted off into a troubled sleep. In his dreams, he again saw Jesus looking at him with love and compassion, while he wept inconsolably. Scenes of the times they had shared together were woven into his dreams, and Peter heard the voice of his Savior speaking to him,  “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because My Father in heaven has revealed this to you… Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you lock on earth will be locked in heaven, and whatever you open on earth will be opened in heaven… Get away from Me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to Me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, and not from God’s… 

Image Credit: http://hdchristianimages.wordpress.com/tag/ take-up-your-cross-and-follow-me/

“If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow Me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for Me, you will find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul?

“For I, the Son of Man, will come in the glory of My Father with His angels and will judge all people according to their deeds. And I assure you that some of you standing here right now will not die before you see Me, the Son of Man, coming in My Kingdom.

“No one can take My life from Me. I lay down My life voluntarily. For I have the right to lay it down when I want to and also the power to take it again. For my Father has given Me this command…

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to have all of you, to sift you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to Me again, strengthen and build up your brothers.”

He was awakened later that evening to the sounds of screaming, both inside the upper room, and outside as well, as the tremors of a violent earthquake shook the city of Jerusalem. There was an eerie darkness that spread throughout the land, and they watched through the window in fear and amazement, as many tombs were ripped open, and the dead rose up out of those tombs. The men and women in the upper room were just as frightened as those outside were, and Peter again heard the voice of His Savior last night when He told him, “Simon, Simon… I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to Me again, strengthen and build up your brothers.” 

“I repent, Lord,” Peter whispered brokenly, “Forgive me, and help me to be the man You want me to be, Lord.” He looked around the room, at the frightened men and women who had gathered there trembling and crying, and he spoke to them. “Fear not, brothers and sisters, no one took Messiah’s life,” he said, as the tears traveled down his dirt stained, care worn face. “He gave His life willingly, for our sake. Even though there is darkness all around, let us trust in the Lord, with all our heart, and lean not on our own understanding. Let us pray together and stay together, until our heavenly Father shows us what to do next,” he said, as the men and women in the room nodded and knelt to pray.

Image Credit: http://memapapa.blogspot.com/2009/04/happy-easter.html

Three days later, Mary Magdalene came running into the upper room and told Peter and John, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put him!”

Peter and John ran to the tomb to see, and John outran Peter and got there first, stopping at the entrance, where he stooped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there. Peter arrived shortly after, and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying to the side. Then the John also went in, and he saw and believed — for until then they hadn’t realized that the Scriptures said He would rise from the dead.

John looked at Peter with fire in his eyes, “He’s alive, Peter!” Both were stunned as they continued to stare at the empty tomb and the burial cloths, and then looked back to one another. “He’s alive!” John said exuberantly.

Later that evening, Jesus miraculously appeared in the midst of them, from out of nowhere, showing them His nail pierced hands and feet, as well as His side… 

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers