The Most Unusual Place: a short story

poor-body-image

Her reflection in the mirror showed a tired woman. Her skin was blotchy, pale and discolored with dark circles under her eyes; dull brown hair replaced a once thick and glowing crown. She looked at herself as if looking at a stranger. There was barely any resemblance to the woman she was in her youth. She pulled the wiry strings of hair into a single braid, splashed water onto her face and paused for a moment to savor the coolness of her hands on her brow.

“What are you doing, woman?” She cringed at the gruff sound of Ben’s voice. “Quit looking at yourself and come back to bed.”

“I have to go to the well and get some water.” She couldn’t look at him when she answered.

“It is too early for that!” He reached over and grabbed her by the arm and pulled her back into bed. “Satisfy me first, woman.”

“Ben, I need to go before the other women get there, or I will have to wait until this afternoon when the heat will be unbearable.”

“You talk too much!” He gruffed. “Always talking when you should be listening.”

Ignoring her protest, he forced her legs apart to lay on her. She closed her eyes against his stale breath as he used her body. She hated this act because she despised him. She let her body go limp and her mind go numb. He was not deterred by her lack of participation. She remained still until he finished and rolled off her.

“Laying with you is like laying with a dead fish!” He pushed her out of bed. “Make me something to eat and then go get me some water.”

Her eyes stung with the tears she refused to let fall. The wretch in her stomach made her want to vomit. The feel of her own skin was more than she could bare. She felt used up like garbage wrapped in dying flesh.

Her life was not suppose to be like this. She was the oldest of three daughters. Even though sons were the pride, her parents loved her and her sisters. Her childhood was filled listening to stories by her father. Sitting on his lap and tugging at his beard, singing, “Tell me another story, Poppa.” He would laugh and say, “OK,Galilah, one more before you sleep.”

Her childhood came to an end when her father fell ill and was buried beside his brothers. Her mother, doing what she thought best, married her off to Lameck. “He will be able to provide for you,” her mother cried on her wedding day. “I cannot feed four bellies.”

At fourteen, she was the sacrificial bride to a man old enough to be her father. True, Lameck was able to provide for her, but what the marriage was supposed to provide for him was a son, yet she could not conceive. He lost his patience with her after a year and took another wife. When the second wife conceived Galilah was forced out of the house and given to another man.

After five marriages, tossed aside by four and widowed by one, she did what she had to do to provide for herself. Shamefully she shared her bed with men passing through. Prostituting herself kept just enough bread in her belly and a shelter over her head. This is how she met Ben; he came and didn’t leave. With Ben, she released one shame to pick up another.

She held the memories of her first fourteen years close to her heart. She would not be robbed of her identity. She may not be who she could have been for the years have taken their toll, but she always believed there was a greater purpose for her.

It was too late to go to the well now, the other women would be there. She hated their idle chatter and their judgmental attitude. Sometimes she envied them, sometimes she pitied them, but mostly she despised them. Given a choice she would have never chosen the life that was handed to her, but she did learn something with each abuse; she learned to listen. The men would talk and disregard her as an ignorant woman, but she listened and she learned.

When the sun was high in the sky, Galilah picked up the water jar and began her walk to the well. The heat was almost unbearable as sweat trickled down her brow. Although her face was shaded by her veil and her robe shielded her from the sun it did not offer much reprieve from the heat.

She could see a solitary figure sitting by the well. As she approached, she pulled the veil closer to her face, squinting into the sun to identify who it may be. It was a man, sitting peacefully, he was alone. Perhaps he was a foreigner passing through?

jesuswell

There was nothing particularly handsome about the man as he sat and patiently waited for her to approach. She made brief eye contact with him; his eyes were warm and reflected the sun. There was something about his eyes which made her feel as though He was looking into the depth of her, not in a judgmental or seductive way, but as if He knew her. She quickly looked down.

She did not feel threatened by his presence, but her experience had taught her hostility and disdain for men. Yet, in the few brief moments of assessing him she could sense he was not like other men.

“Give Me a drink.” He broke the silence. His request was not a demand, but matter-of-factly spoken.

“How is it that you ask me for water?” She said, pausing at the well. “Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.”

“If you knew the gift of God, and who says to you, ‘give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” He answered.

She looked around Him with some exaggeration and saw that He had no jar with Him. “You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep.” She motioned to the well. “Where then do You get that living water?”

He remained seated, He did not flinch at her words. She felt the need to keep talking, divert His attention. She sensed there was greater meaning behind what He said, but she did not want to appear ignorant. She straightened her back with feigned dignity.

“Are you greater than our father, Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”

“Whoever drinks of this well will thirst again,” He gave a gesture to the well. “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give will never thirst. The water I give will become a fountain of water, springing up into everlasting life.”

“Well then, Sir, give me this water that I may not thirst or come here to draw.” She wanted the water He spoke of, especially if it meant she would never have to come to this well in her shame again. Her thirst went deeper than this well and even if she were able to drink this well dry it would not be enough.

“Go, call your husband and come here.” He answered.

She felt a sting from His request and in the answer she would have to give. She didn’t have a husband. No man wanted her. No one that cared for her, covered her, or protected her.

“I have no husband.” She felt no need to lie. She allowed the truth to fall from her lips. What would He say to this? Would He mock her, too? Would the conversation cease here? Would He regard her unworthy for the water He spoke of? She braced herself for His response, expecting it to be the same as everyone else.

He smiled at her. He knew her confession and He felt her shame, but He looked past it and He saw her. She was His appointment. She was worthy. His heart broke for her and He saw what had been done against her. He saw her strength and her weakness, her hurt and her healing; He was moved with compassion for her.

“You have spoke the truth,” He said. “You have no husband. You have had five husbands and the man you are with now is not your husband.”

She looked at Him. How could He know this unless God revealed it? He must be a prophet. She fought the apprehension stirring in her. A respectful man would walk away from her and not want to be seen talking to her. She did not want Him to leave. She sensed there was more to Him than met the eye. Perhaps if she changed the subject?

“Our fathers worshipped on this mountain.” She said. Perhaps her intellect would shift the attention from her sin and the shame she felt. “You Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

“Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” He spoke with confident authority. “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship him.” Pausing, the man stood, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

She felt her heart quicken within her and her spirit lept. She was captivated. She listened to his words, watched his mouth speak and although He spoke as a man of authority she did not feel condemnation.

“I know the Messiah is coming.” She said. “When He comes, He will teach us all things.”

He looked her in the eye. “I who speak to you am He.”

Could this be? Yes, she could feel that He spoke the truth. She could feel the washing of His words come over her, like a welcomed shower. Just being in His presence lifted burdens from her shoulders. She began to realize she felt lighter, the sky was bluer, the air was clearer. She felt a calm she had not felt before. She also felt something rise in her she had not sensed since she was a child; hope.

Is this the Messiah that she heard about? Is this the man who they have waited for? Has he come? He didn’t look like she expected, but she had never experienced such compassion and kindness. She had never witnessed authority wrapped in gentleness. She believed Him. In just a few moments of conversation, in just a few moments in His presence she was changed. The hopelessness she felt, the shame; was gone.

Other men appeared at the well. They stood a few feet back and watched. She could see their curiosity of why He, the Messiah, would be talking to her. But, it did not seem to bother the man. He did not try to hide His talking with her. He just looked at her with a warmth of understanding and smiling eyes.

“Rabbi,” one of the men interrupted. “We have brought food to eat.”

She could not contain herself. She left the water jar, turned and hurried back to the city; she had to tell others. For the first time she felt clean; forgiven.

The men were gathered at the city. “Come!” She urged. “Come see a man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?!”

The men noticed there was something different about her, her countenance had changed and it gave cause for them to listen. “Is this the same woman?” They questioned. “She looks different.”

The men followed her back to the well. The man was sitting with His disciples.

“That’s Him!” Galilah said, picking up her pace to sit with Him.

“Come, join us.” The man welcomed them.

Time no longer existed as they listened to Him speak and teach as no one they have ever heard. Thirsty for more, they urged him to stay with them. He stayed for two days and many more believed because of His own word. He spoke and taught with great authority and compassion.

Through it all, Galilah sat at His feet, listening, bathing in His words, and her soul was dry no more. The shame and fear she carried for so many years fell to the ground. Her regrets were replaced with thankfulness, for she knew her redemption had come.
When it was time for Him to leave the city, Galilah wept.

“Do not weep, beloved.” He said comforting her. “I am not leaving you, you will see Me again. I am always with you. Do you believe?”

“Yes, I believe.” She looked into His eyes. “I believe.”

jesus-comforts-mary-martha-1104492-gallery-1

After He and His disciples left the city and were no longer in sight, the people turned to the woman and for the first time they saw her differently. Could it be that she has changed? Or perhaps they have changed? Or maybe it was both? One thing is certain, Salvation came to the most unusual place.

“Now we believe.” They said to her. “Not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

 

 

You Can Because I Am

eyes of god - band1

Her life didn’t turn out the way she planned. Everything was a struggle, from childhood to adult, it was a constant struggle; as if she was under a curse.

All her life all she ever wanted was to be loved.

As a child she would envy other children who had parents who loved them. She wanted to be like the other girls who walked with their heads high and carefree. She wanted friends to laugh with and parents to ask her how her day was.

Of course, she over compensated for the affection she hungered for, her flirts for love and validation only left her with deeper wounds. She was misguided by her skewed perception of what love is, mistaking touch and empty words from lovers as the real; even though, deep inside, she knew…

Yes, all her life all she ever wanted was to be loved.

Years have passed, five husbands and the lovers in between have come and gone. Resolved in her belief that it was too late for her, she settled and accepted this is as good as it will ever get.

Everyday she would go out of her way to avoid people. Her dreams were replaced with shame, regret, and disappointment.

But…

A day, a Man, a God, that changed her life forever!

There He was at the well. The audacity He had to even talk to her. Didn’t he know who she was? He must not be from around here, because if He were then He would know to not talk to her; if He wanted to save His reputation.

But…

He did talk to her!

woman at well

He asked her for a drink? Really? The nerve! She had nothing to give and she was on guard because she couldn’t trust the kindness in His voice. There was definitely something different about Him. He wasn’t undressing her with His eyes. He didn’t talk down to her or try to puff her up with flattery and false compliments.

He didn’t even seem to notice her uncomfortableness (even though she was intrigued, there was something about Him) He talked to her with respect and dignity. Ah, yes, dignity… as if she was someone.

She felt drawn to Him, but she needed to be on guard; she couldn’t trust men.

No matter how she tried to talk circles, He brought it back to her; her need.

She learned to never look a man in the eyes. She had been cast down so low she couldn’t even look up.

But…

This man! There is something different about Him. He told her everything about her and for the first time she didn’t feel judged. It was as if He knew her personally and still He was not ashamed of her.

She felt it in His words. She felt it in His tone.

Her eyes went from looking at her feet, across the ground, to His feet and then up, slowly up… to His eyes.

He paused.

She paused.

He smiled.

“I Am.” He said.

It was then she knew… she was looking into the eyes of God!

Her life will never be the same. She no longer looked at her past with regret and shame.

I Am set her free!

I Am wants to set you free, too, Beloved.

Are you at the well of decision? Have you been beaten down? Do you feel like this is as good as it gets? Oh, my friend, there is a more abundant life waiting for you at the well.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me[following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Read this and listen to this while you read and let it sink in! There is no chain His love can’t break!

Be Free & Stay Free

Come Home

 

 

bgrmainheader9

I can’t think of a worse place to be than in a backslidden state; to know Jesus and then try to hide from Him.

It is folly to think we, His children, could hide from Him. He promised He would never leave us. Seriously, it is impossible to not be in His sight.

But that doesn’t stop us from trying, does it?

A few years ago I was foolish enough to try hiding from Him. When it seemed everything in my life was coming undone; I grew weary and began to rely on myself instead of trusting Him. In disobedience, I made one bad decision after another. I was on a slippery slope and boy was I sliding back fast. What a mess I made!

imagesYou see, that’s what happens when we give in to “thoughts” and emotions. The enemy uses our injuries to drown out the voice of God and then we find ourselves in a dark place, believing lies, and hiding from the truth.

I was once like Peter. Remember when everyone was running from Jesus and He turned to His disciples and asked them, “Will you also go away? Do you too desire to leave Me?” And Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!”

After we have tasted and seen that God is good, it is a bitter pill in our bellies when we walk away.

I had mistaken conviction for condemnation. I was living in fear and depression. I opened myself up for all kinds of demonic attacks. Because of my injuries, I injured others and there was nothing I could do in my own strength (or cleverness) to stop it. God’s love for me allowed me to come to the end of myself.

I do not recommend backsliding. But, if you are already there, if your feet have already begun to go in the wrong direction, stop! You can turn around now. You do not have to be afraid or think you have committed the unpardonable sin. God is not angry with you, He is for you, not against you.

He loves us enough to give us a free will to choose. It is not His will or purpose for us that we should be in a position of injury; it is by our own choice.

Even though Peter was so confident he would never leave Jesus; he did. The same Peter who said he would die for Jesus still denied Him; not once, but three times!

grieve-alone

Did Jesus stop loving him? No! Did Jesus know Peter was going to deny Him? Yes!

We can learn much through Peter about the love of Christ.

Can you imagine for a moment? Peter walked with Jesus His entire ministry; side by side with God. He witnessed the miraculous! He watched Jesus heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead! Peter walked on water with Jesus. Now you would think there could never be a way for Peter to deny Jesus, but he did.

Before we can come down so hard on Peter and naively declare, “Well! I would never deny Jesus after seeing all He had done;” take an inventory of how many times God has answered our prayers and still there have been times of doubt in our own mind.

Peter was broken. Strong, boisterous, quick to speak, Peter, was broken. But he didn’t stay broken. He grieved, repented, was forgiven, and then was used mighty by God.

I had finally come to the end of myself. I was so low the only way to go was up.

One night I was awakened by a clear voice, “Romans 8:28.” I tuned on the light, grabbed my Bible and read:

And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.

In brokenness and repentance I cried out to God and in mercy and love He answered. This was the beginning of my restoration. There are no surprises with God, He knows it all, He knows our coming and going, our sitting and standing.  Where can we go that He is not already there? (Psalm 139)

Where could I go from Your Spirit?

Or where could I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend into heaven, You are there;

If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

If I take the wings of the morning,

And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

Even there Your hand shall lead me,

And Your right hand shall hold me.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”

Even the night shall be light about me;

Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,

But the night shines as the day;

The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

Psalm 139: 7-14

Beloved, where are you? Are you ready to lay down the guilt and shame? No matter what you have done, there is no sin greater than His forgiveness. Confess your sin, He knows it anyway, repent and turn back to Him. This is the Father’s heart; to leave the 99 and go after the one lost sheep.

psalm-51

There is no condemnation for those who are in Him. His forgiveness is available; His love is without measure, unfailing, and never ending.

Search me, Father, know my heart and renew a right spirit within me. I confess my sins to You and I thank You for Your forgiveness. Fill me, God, with Your Spirit and steady my feet on Your straight path so that I will not stray away again. Hedge me in so I will know Your borders and boundaries. Thank You for working in me for the good and for Your glory. In Jesus Name, Amen.

And He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Luke 7:48

Be Free & Stay Free

 

 

 

Spiritual Father’s Day

fatherhood

This is for all the Spiritual Fathers out there and to all the men who answered the call and gave…

You may never know on this side of eternity the impact you have had and the difference you made, but God knows, and the fatherless children know.

Thank you for standing up and being the face of our Father when there was no father. You have never looked more like Christ than when you loved a child that was not your own, or when you came alongside a young man to mentor him, or gave validation to a young girl’s worth.

When you chose to stand in the gap and love, sacrificing time, life, finances, and sleep…

You became the shield between the fatherless and hell; you led them closer to the Father. You taught a young boy what a man is, you helped a young girl know her worth, you impacted a generation for the Kingdom of God. It may have seemed like such a small thing at the time, but believe me… nothing done for God’s children is small or insignificant.

To all you spiritual fathers who may or may not have had children of your own-

Thank you! God Bless you!

I will not leave you as orphans [comfortless, bereaved, and helpless]; I will come [back] to you. -John 14:18

“I will establish My covenant (everlasting promise) between Me and you,
And I will multiply you exceedingly [through your descendants].” – Genesis 17:2

 

 

 

 

 

Real Love, His Love

images

There is comfort in love; safety and freedom.

What freedom and security to be completely vulnerable and naked, knowing you are loved and cared for, no matter the flaws, because your Beloved loves you unconditionally.

Such love is willing to lay His life down for you, defend you, hold you, care for the things you care for- never looking at your concerns as trivial.

This love holds you when you are sick, walks with you, leads you, and wipes every tear from your eyes. He rejoices with you, celebrates you, encourages you, and loves you for you, because He knows you (even the things you try to hide). He is quick to forgive, never keeping tallies of your wrongs, and sees the best in you.

You trust this love, because He always keeps His promises, He is never late, and gifts to you more than you could ever hope for.

He never rejects you, ignores you, or is ever too busy for you. He speaks tenderly to you, His voice resonates within you, His voice is the sound of mighty rushing waters washing over you with waves of peace.

Every need you have, He provides. Every injury, He heals. His love is the most intimate of all loves.

Accepting and knowing His love frees you to love others; including yourself. It chases away every fear and you rest in the knowing, He is always with you. There is true protection in His love.

My friend, do you know this love? Are you truly experiencing the intimacy of Him? Do you desire His love to wrap around you like a warm hug that never lets go? Because He is here and His desire is for you.

photo

There is no need to search for people or things to fill this need for love. Even mans best effort is nothing in comparison to Him. Once you know Him and how much He loves you, you will no longer be afraid to let go of some things or people. You will humbly hold your head high and walk with dignity, because when you know the King’s love for you you will reject every thought, anything, or anyone who dares to entice you from your birth right as a daughter (or son) of the King of Kings.

The Lord appeared to me (Israel) from ages past, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you…” Jeremiah 31:3

Be Free & Stay Free

 

Why Forgive?

forgiveness

This is what forgiveness does…

… it frees us!

When we can see the offender as someone trapped in their own nightmare, a victim (because without Christ that is what we are) then we have better understanding.

When we suffer for Christ, we suffer as Christ did, for a people who had no light or understanding.

Forgiveness does NOT excuse the offense, it frees you to move on pass the offense, it breaks the chain of bondage. It is freedom!

Forgiveness is the language of God, It is a blueprint to your future.

Beloved, I know you hurt, but it was not from God. Give it to Him and He will turn it into something beautiful! He promises!

Be Free & Stay Free

 

Lily of the Valley

lily of the valley

I am sitting at my laptop and wanting to write a post to inspire and encourage. You ever have those moments where your thoughts are being so consumed with the love of God and you want to share it? Such love can not be contained.

I can not put my thoughts into a single coherent post, but I know there is someone out there who just needs to be reminded how much He loves you.

I submit this to you and I hope as you listen to this, you allow yourself to meditate on our One Hope and Redeemer and Lover of our souls.

 God [in His eternal plan] chose to make known to them how great for the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in and among you, the hope and guarantee of [realizing the] glory.

Colossians 1:27

Be Free & Stay Free