Just a quick note to let you know I've moved my blog to the following address:

Please visit me at REDEEMED...RESTORED...RELEASED: One Woman's Story of Living Free to read more about what God is doing in my life and how He is working those things to set me free. Thanks so much for following, visiting, reading all about it and supporting me as you have done so many times these last few years. If you follow my other blogs, the posts from all three of my blogs are going to be transferred to the new digs for one big blog about our journey to restoration and freedom in Christ.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

In Other Words - In Christ Alone...

If you would like to join in the "IOW" meme, just copy the quote above, insert it into your own blog post and reflect on the message of the quote. Come back and add a link to your blog (link the specific post so it is easy to find) and then come back to read all about it from other points of view and leave a comment on my post! Thank you for allowing me to be your host and for joining in. This post is extra special as it reminds me of two things... that the Joy of the Lord really is strength and that God can do amazing and powerful things when surrender to Him, and Him alone... Just as Jesus did on the cross more than 2000 years ago! Blessings.

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. 2 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Psalms 62:1-2 (NIV)
As I read Mary's precious story of freedom through imprisonment all I could think was how much I could relate to her bondage and her pain even though I had never been sentenced to prison for any length of time. I lived in prisons of my own making, shackled to a past riddled with self-reliant and authority defiant behavior. Wanting to be a better person but struggling to figure out what exactly that meant. I lived in the "desert" as a prodigal lost to everyone in my life including myself for more than ten years.
Of some things I had no control, but of others I lived fully pulling the strings and digging my own pit of despair, depravity and ultimately I hit bottom. It was in those months and years following humiliation and shameful experiences that I would begin to look up. I should be dead many times over due to the choices I lived out all those months in the desert. I should have been in prison based on the laws I broke and the authority I defied. But, somehow each time I found myself facing consequences bigger than myself, I also found myself blessed by a grace I did not understand. A grace that came to my life when I was 12 years old and grew up around me and would point me back to God in His fullness of time.
When everything I could do on my own, when all my resources were exhausted and I was both financially and emotionally bankrupt, God would pull me back unto Himself. No one knows what I have learned from God through the bondage in my life. It rests between He and I alone.
I never realized the principle of sorting out the messiness of life alone with God more than in the early days after the death of my son. Though I cannot say that it slayed me, at times it left me with confused emotions and mixed up ideas about what God might be doing in those days when I could not for the life of me uncover how my son's death was an answer to my prayer for God to bring him out of the darkness of the world, to empower him to walk in his salvation and ultimately for Him to manifest Philippians 1:6 in Justin's life fully. I asked God, I begged Him to complete the good work He began in my boy on January 14, 2001, when Justin asked Christ into heart and life as Savior.
In those days I received cards, letters and phone calls. Hugs and tears flowed freely from my closest friends and family. I received words that were meant to be encouraging, hope-filled words that offered me insight and truth.
Words that rang empty in my aching heart. Knowing my son was in Heaven with God is not comforting when I am longing to hold him close to my chest and tell him just one more time how much I love him. Knowing my son's troubles did not follow him to Heaven, that his body was spared any more pain, did nothing to assuage the pain in my own heart, the anguish that would be my life for many months to come. Knowing that God's glory was greater than my pain left me aching, weeping and kneeling on my son's grave every single day asking God to keep my son from becoming an idol that would stand between Him and me.
On one occasion, I received an email late one night. It was from a younger woman in our church. She attended the women's ministry Bible studies and events I led and organized. She had been close to my children and close to my heart in those months leading into Justin's last days on this earth. She was one I counted close, a friend I trusted and loved very much. She wrote: "Please tell me what I can do to help you. I need to help you and you need me to help you."
I found in those days, that these kind of requests were more than I could bear. My soul rose up in anger, indignation filled my veins. I wanted to scream to cry out... "And what exactly do you think you can do for me?" God could not avert the most horrible circumstances my own mind could conceive - the death of my child - what on earth could I ask or expect of man that would ease my pain?
I gathered my thoughts and quelled the rising, irrational bout of anger that was roaring within me to reply to her heartfelt request. I could only write: "I understand your need to help me, to somehow make things better for me, but honestly - unless you can bring my son back to me, there is really nothing you can do right now to help me. I don't even know what I need from minute to minute or hour to hour. All I can do right now is take each step of this journey with God, sorting out my feelings and my experiences with Him alone. When I am ready I will share what I can of my journey with others, but for now I need you to understand where I am is something I am trying hard to understand and I cannot begin to know what it is to ask for much less what would help me right now.
If you want to help me... the only thing I can say is do what you would normally do when you are around me. Don't be afraid to talk about my son, your life or to even laugh. If you think you might like to go for ice cream, ask me - I might need to get out that day. And know that if my response is somehow inadequate or not what you need from me, that it is not a personal thing. It is just where I am right now... a place of loss."
I did have to work through things with God. I fear I may have run some people off with my withdrawal and my "irrational" fits of confused feelings. But as I walked through the journey of my pain I found God to be more and more real, more and more identifiable and more and more true to His Word. It was a journey that tested my faith and bred a testimony that strongly points to God as I declare that God indeed completed the good work He began in my son the day He took Him home to Heaven. Heaven is now my comfort as well as a place I long for deeply. I long for eternity like I never knew I could. And, in that longing, that hoping and that expectation I find comfort. Comfort that came to me first as I sought to resolve my tears and my pain in Christ alone.
As I wrote this post the following song resonated in my heart and in my soul. Enjoy the words as you consider the parts of your journey that were taken with Christ alone.
In Christ Alone
"In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone! – who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
‘Til He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand!"
Stuart Townend & Keith Getty
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music
Thank you for joining me for today's "In Other Words" please leave a link to your own post and
a comment and read on my friends! God is a mighty and a "good, good, good" God. (I say good three times because in the OT when a word appeared three times it indicated to a greater degree than one or two words in succession!)
God is more than enough to meet us in our deepest Need! May He bless you deeply as your share your hearts and insights with us today! I am blessed and humbled by His grace today. For more information on this meme check out Amy's site: In Pursuit of Proverbs 31.


lori said...

what a privlidge to post on this comment....especially after reading how personally it has touched your life.....
It's powerful....what we bring to the cross that only HE alone can bring us through....because He is GOD....

Thank you for hosting and thank you for the testimony today....
I've got tears as I post this...

What a blessing you have given anyone who reads this today....

Shari said...

What a deeply personal story that you have shared with us. That ability to grieve seems so important. It's wonderful how you grew closer to Christ and now long for heaven.

twinklemom said...

God bless you for a very touching post, *HUGS* It had me in tears and just humbled me!

Tonya said...

Oh, my sweet Sister, your testimony sounds so much like my own. I was in "the pit" too. Maybe different from yours, but it was a pit all the same. We also lost our son. I struggled with what to do with myself when I didn't even want to be here. No, I never thought of anything drastic... but I DID pray many times asking GOD why HE didn't take us all.

GOD has shown us so much about HIMSELF through those dark hours. We will miss our sweet boy as long as we're here on this earth - but are FOREVER GRATEFUL for the ways we've come to KNOW our LORD through it.

Thank you for sharing your heart. Our posts tonight were much the same. I'm here for you if you ever need to talk - I understand ALL of your feelings.

Love You,

Tonya said...

Okay.. that's just weird! You sound like a carbon copy of me! Or I do of you? WOW! I mean, everything you just said could be something that I wrote. Even the scripture you shared... that's my NEW "life verse!" WOW!

Yes, Brent is the one wearing blue. He's the one in the middle. The pic of him and me giving him "sugars" was made just a few days after we'd learned he relapsed. He was such an AMAZING KID! Gosh, we were SO BLESSED to be his parents. Do you have pictures of your son anywhere on your blog? Older posts?

Okay.. I'm not going to keep you. My bed is calling. LOL!

Take care!

Hopeful Spirit said...

Beautiful. Words fail me, but know that your story touched me and will stay with me for a long time. I have not walked the same roads as you, but relate nonetheless to the emotions you shared.

Blessings to you,

Hopeful Spirit
On the Horizon

Denise said...

Bless you for such a beautiful post.

Karen said...

God is more than enough, love it because its so true. Thanks for sharing and being today's host.

Susan said...

Dearest Michelle,

Thanks for sharing your awesome testimony, and heart with us.

Gosh, I can't imagine the pain you've endured, but now I see such beautiful fruit in your life.

I was so touched by many things you shared, but this stood out to me:

"...But as I walked through the journey of my pain I found God to be more and more real, more and more identifiable and more and more true to His Word."

Wow,I'm so grateful God made Himself so real to you.

Blessings to you my friend♥

Anonymous said...

What a powerful testimony. It was a similar post a few weeks ago that made me fall in love with your writing and the message you share. These lessons we learn in the depths of despair with Him are the hardest. But, these are the ones that change us at the core of who we are, if we let them. Of course, it is clear that you have.

You picked such a great quote! After I wrote my post I considered not posting it because it is sooooo personal. People I know in real life read this and I wasn't sure I wanted them to know my struggles in this area. But, in the end, I always say authenticity is best.

Thanks for writing this incredible testimony. You have no idea how many hearts you will touch today. The depths of your soul are exposed and show God in such a magnificent light!!

Allison said...

Awesome post - thank you so much for hosting...and for sharing your heart!

MiPa said...

What an inspiring and thought-provoking post/quote. Bless you for sharing and for hosting this week!

Heather@Mommymonk said...

Michelle, thanks for this intimate look at your heart. I can see how grief is an incredibly personal experience - we want so badly to help someone who is grieving but sometimes there is nothing we can do. Only God can heal the wounds of the heart. I'm blessed by your life story. God has worked in and through you!

Lana G! said...

Beautiful testimony!

Thank you for hosting and sharing such a personal story that shows how God works in our lives!

Glory to God and blessings on this holy week.

Kelley at Aroma of Joy said...

Hi Michelle,
This is my first visit to your site and I have been reading lots of your older posts. You have such an amazing testimony and I can't tell you how much I have been touched this morning by your words. Reading about the loss of your son made my heart ache for you and your family. I have a 17 yr. old son and I can only imagine your pain. Yet you choose to allow God to use even that for His purposes and to bring Him glory. You have my utmost respect and I hope to come back and visit you often!

Blessings to you~~Kelley

Tiffany Stuart said...


This I think is my first time visiting. ? And I must say I am touched by your honest post, your pain, your story, and the hope in the song In Christ Alone.

May God dump truckloads of love, grace, peace, and freedom into your heart today and always.

Tami Boesiger said...

I loved this quote, Michelle. God teaches us much in our aloneness. Thanks for hosting.

Christin said...

(((Michelle)))thank you for sharing your heart with us. God bless you.

luvmy4sons said...

I am so sorry for your loss! New to your meme. I found you through Kelly. I appreciated your heartfelt post. My heart and prayers go out to you. I have four sons. I can't imagine the grief. May God continue to comfort you.

Viola Jaynes said...

Thank you for sharing your heart. Amazing! I am visiting from Hopeful Spirit's site today. You have a beautiful and well thought out site here. Keep it up!

Sherrie Ashcraft said...

Michelle, thank you so much for so honestly sharing your heart with us! God is taking you on a journey that will bring glory to Him. May He continue to be the God of all comfort in your life.