Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Don’t Look Back (04/19/12)
TITLE: Streams in the Wasteland
By marcella franseen
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My childhood is racked with verbal and emotional abuse, which left me with gaping wounds.
I had a very limited understanding of God when I was younger, especially of the Gospel and how it intersected with my everyday life. I believed that God loved me, that I was a sinner, and that Jesus died for my sin. I attended church regularly, but it was a lot of Bible stories and rules, which didnâ€™t do much for a little girl with really big hurts. Still, I always felt Godâ€™s presence with me. I genuinely loved Him, in my small understanding and confusion, and believed He loved me. Often when I would lie in bed at night praying, I would feel Him speak to my heart. â€śHold on. I have a good plan for you. You have a future.â€ť
By the time I was a senior in high school I was depressed, bitter, and a wreck of a person. At times I entertained thoughts of suicide. My grip on Jesus was slipping, but, thankfully, His grip on me was firm.
My parents wanted me to attend a Christian college in South Carolina. I lived in Indiana and did not want to go. One evening my mother and I had an argument about it. As I lay on my bed crying, I felt God speaking to my heart that this was His plan, the rescue from my circumstances I had been praying for. This was the beginning of my future. The Bible says the sheep know the voice of their Shepherd. I knew it was my Shepherd speaking to my heart. I immediately stopped crying and, from that point on, did everything I could to get into that college.
My first year there I heard a message on Matthew 18:21-19:1. Jesus tells the parable of the man who was forgiven a huge debt by the King, but after being freed, refused to forgive his neighborâ€™s small debt. When the king heard it, he was furious and had the man thrown in prison to be tortured. Through this message God began dealing with the bitterness in my heart. I had been hurt, but I had also been forgiven all my sin because of Jesus. How could I not forgive others?
I returned to my room, got on my face, and repented. My healing had begun. It wasnâ€™t an easy road. There was a lot to unpack. During the process I struggled through anorexia and bulimia, but God was faithful.
Today I am a completely different person than I was at 18. I am full of the life and love only found in Jesus. I am living in the future God promised He had for me.
In Isaiah 43:19 God proclaims He will make streams in the wasteland. Maybe you have been in the wasteland of abuse or sickness or poverty. There are many hurts and disappointments that lead a person to that desert place. Whatever your wasteland is, God is making streams of love and grace and mercy for you.
I view my life as two different chapters: the first 18 years, and the last 19 years. God has made me a new creation. My wounds are no longer gaping, but neatly healed scars-reminders of where Iâ€™ve been and how far Iâ€™ve come. â€śBy His stripes Iâ€™ve been healed.â€ť
The God who loved us enough to send His own Son to bear our sin and suffering on the cross does not want us to live indefinitely with open wounds. He does not want us stuck in the past. He tells us in Isaiah 43:18 to â€śforget the former things; do not dwell on the past.â€ť Why? Because He wants us to â€śseeâ€ť that He is â€śdoing a new thing.â€ť He is â€śmaking a way.â€ť Whatever your past is, do not look back to dwell on it. In Christ, you have a future!
Isaiah 43:18-19, â€śForget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.â€ť
This is a true story.
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