Laying Down Pain to Take Up Grace - Encouragement Café - November 25, 2014

Laying Down Pain to Take Up Grace

Café Menu for Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Today’s Special is: Giving Thanks Changes Everything

Carefully prepared just for you by your friend, Alyssa Woollard

Main Ingredient:

The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

 Isaiah 51:3 NIV

Entrée:

Ancient ruins. Painful pits sent straight from hell.

They tempt us toward bitterness. Hurt. Rejection. I know it full well. I’ve wrestled hard with that bitter root, walked through my own valley of tears and asked God to just hold me while I spewed out pain.

But I promise as I sit here today stacking stones, what once taunted, now springs with new life. So I am stacking stones from my very own Jordan and remembering how God himself brought me through on miraculously dry ground. Effortlessly, I lift the smooth bedrock once so heavy I thought I might drown.

I lift it up into the Light and I give thanks - rivers of praise for what once repulsed me.

On the first stone is written “marriage” I squeeze that rock in my hand.  My marriage, once devastated by betrayal, seemingly dead, is now made new again and I remember the counselor’s words. How I hated them then, “This could be the best thing that ever happened to your marriage.” I lay that rock down. Smile. She was right.

And I praise Him. But I couldn’t see it then.

I turn to pick up the next stone as water spills out of my eyes. This, the ancient one, most familiar of all, simply states, “Shame” and I it lay down joyfully, once and for all. Breathe deep.

I have begun to embrace this imperfect joy filled version of me, the Alyssa I was meant to be. All the days of not fitting in, feeling like I had no friend. The daydreamer-wild hearted schemer I used to hate, I see her reflection in a pool of her own tears. She is happier now. Crazy how it’s beginning to make sense.

I just keep stacking more and more stones, laying down pain to take up grace, and then it happens…despair is overthrown.

Every step. Every tear. He has known. In every earthquake I have grown.

And so today I give thanks for unlikely things and stack stones for my children, my family my loved ones to see. And when they ask, I will tell them the story of Thanksgiving past. How Jehovah Rophi, “God Our Healer”, did just that. How He healed my desolate places, made all things new and oh sweet sister, He longs to do it for you, too.

What is that unlikely “stone” you need to lay down? What hard thing can you give thanks for today?

Take Out:

Take time to remember God’s faithfulness today. Think back over the hard times.

What blessings can you give thanks for in the midst of the pain? How can you lay down bitterness and take up grace?

Find time to write your heart out to God and remember His faithfulness. This is how we stack stones.

Dessert:

Jehovah Rophi, God Our Healer, we praise you. We praise you for loving us right where we are and loving us too much to leave us there. Thank you for taking what the enemy would use to destroy us and using it for good. Today, LORD, we lay down the stones of regret and take up a garment of praise. You make all things beautiful in it’s time. We praise you LORD for you alone are worthy to receive all blessings and honor and praise. In Jesus name, Amen.

© 2014 by Alyssa Woollard. All rights reserved.

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