Life Out of Your Shell (Day 2 from Besides Still Waters)

 






        Many throughout the Bible have suffered hardships but the life of Paul for me stands out; in his own words, he says: “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods [this was a practice among the Romans]; once I was stoned [by Jews and Gentiles]; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of water, in perils of robbers, in perils the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weakness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness.”  (2Corinthians 11:24-27 NKJV)  It would be safe to say Paul suffering was at the hand of Jews, Romans, Gentiles [any person that is not a Jew] and Messianic Jews [Jews that have accepted Jesus and the Messiah]. Yet he endured it all for the sake of Christ; he founded many churches and oversaw all of them. He was a mentor to the pastors, and by example, showed them how to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, determination, and the kindness that becomes a man of God. Paul referred to himself as a prisoner of Christ and less than the least of all the saints, and that it was only by the grace of God that he preached to the Gentiles the unseen riches of Christ [Ephesians 3:1, 8].

                I did not share the story of these two men to make light of the circumstances that anyone has endured through abuse, for like many of you; I too have hidden from life lock in a shell afraid of the uncertainty that was beyond my inner world.  I have buried myself in the muck of my life not wanting to be seen by others. I was, what others considered a strong Christian, yet I hid behind the facade of what I wanted them to see; all the while drowning in the depths of depression. The only one that could reach me was the Lord because he understood me. Do I believe He caused the abuse---no.  Do I believe He allowed the abuse---no.  But I do believe He took what was meant for harm and used it for good. You see I believe God hates what happens to us through the abusive acts of others, and I believe somehow He is with us whispering these words tenderly to our spirit; “Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you; when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior . . .” (Isaiah 43:2-3 NKJV)

Unlike the turtle, you can leave your shell; your past does not have to determine your future or the sum of who you are. As the Lord takes away the pain from your past, you will be able to use everything in your life that was meant to harm you to help others find their way to freedom through Christ. As I became more aware of the turtle’s in our lake the Lord began to speak to my heart concerning its protective shell.  I’m sure you are aware of the armor God has provided for all believers, it can be found in Ephesians 6: 10-21. Let’s take another look at the turtles’ shell; it consists of an upper and lower section that is connected to the sides by a bony bridge.  Now use your imaginations for a moment. Ephesians 6:13 says, “. . . Having girded your waist [other translations use the word loins] with truth” (NKJV) The warrior's loin belt was essential to his armor, on one side was a clip with his scabbard clipped to it which held his sword; on the other side was another clip that held his shield when not in use; off the backside was a clip that would hold his quiver for his arrows or his lance, but above all, it was where his breastplate was fastened. You see without his loin belt he would be very vulnerable in battle. Your spiritual armor, like the bony bridge that connects the two parts of the turtle’s shell, also has a loin belt, “having girded your waist with truth;” the truth of God’s word.  All the lies you were told from your abusers, that you would never amount to anything, that you couldn’t take care of yourself, that you weren’t smart enough or pretty enough, was not the truth.   Hurtful things were said to keep you under their control, holding you back from discovering who you really were and keeping their secrets of abuse.  But when you discover who you are in Christ, and understand his great love for you. When you feel His glorious peace through the truth of His word you become empowered enabling you to boldly fight the good fight of faith. John 1:14 says, “. . . the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,” verse 17 goes on to say that, “. . . grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” As a victim you were held in bondage by your abuser, your only place of refuge may have been to pull inward into a self-made shell of protection, but you could still feel the pain of his touch or his words, BUT as a child of God, you have the word of truth that shall set you free. John 8:32 declares, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” then verse 36 gives you the assurance that “. . .  if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (NKJV). In our world, absolute truth is often lost in the lies and manipulation of others causing us to live our lives reading between the lines of many shades of gray.  However, the truth can always be found in Christ who defines himself as “the way, the truth and the life” in John 14:6 (NJKV). Just as the turtle's shell surrounds its body for protection the truth of God’s word encircles the believer, however, you must decide if you will put on your loin belt of truth or continue to hide in your shell locked away by the lies of your abusers.


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