Prisoners Of Hope
Dear friend, you are not your past sin, and you need not be a prisoner of it.
Tell me Lord, like never before, because lately I’ve been needing to hear it more. Tell me I’m worth fighting for.
We’re all the same, desperate to be told we matter. Desperate to be told that our darkness is seen and that we are still accepted. The world is full of broken and scared hearts with a rich supply of cheap, fake bandages but without the one thing that is needed – the true Physician.
Can You be the wounded Healer for me? I want to get close enough to run my hands through Your scars so that I can feel how dearly I am loved. I want to find my scarred heart in Your scarred hands, arrested with grace that is written in Your scars. Engrave: “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine” on my heart.
But everything tells me otherwise. Everything reminds me of how I have been a woman of many disasters. And who will accept that? Who can love that? There are days where my past and the world lists all the things I hate about myself. Just one word: everything. My mountain-moving God, tell me what You love about me. Is it just that one word? Is it really everything? I need You to tell me because on the days I don’t hear it from You, I may not hear it from anyone else. And there’s this guy who tells me I’m beautiful and sounds like he means it. I’ve told him the worst things I’ve done and he still stays. He reminds me that I could still be all the things I wish – someone that someone wouldn’t give up on but would pursue and keep. He can keep my insecurities away for a while. But it’s never enough. It’s just another bandage that covers the cut but doesn’t heal it. I know that this fleeting approval is not something I can keep. I know You are the one thing I can’t loose. I need You to tell me what I am to You.
What do You see when You look at me? I can’t bear to look at me. There are things I never thought I would do. Places I never thought I would go. A past that accuses and haunts. But I know of a woman who was caught in sin once, who You protected from an accusing and angry crowd, maybe even an accusing and angry self. When You looked her in the eyes and told her You don’t condemn her. You looked beyond her past and saw all the things she had forgotten and all the things no one else could see – all the things she thought had been lost all these many years ago in a rumble of one of her many disasters. You saw all she was created to be in You.
She saw defiled, You saw redeemed. She saw worthless, You saw someone You would die to save. She saw an adulterer, You saw a daughter of the King of Kings.
I think I could be her. I think I need You now more than ever. But I don’t need to be fixed. How can You fix ashes? I don’t need to be put together. How can You put together all these fragments of regret? I need to be crafted into Beauty. I need to be made new. My future hangs on this – You offer me a chance to hope. I have seen and heard of Your mighty, wondrous works. I have seen sin, ugliness and dust made into preciousness. Give me mercy as infinite as You. Give me second chances as infinite as You. Countless sins traded for countless second chances at the cross.
God, Your love is one of those things I will never wrap my mind around. What is it about Your love that scares me? I’ve heard it said before that we only accept the love we think we deserve. Imagine the most perfect person you can think of. Imagine they tell you they would choose you in a hundred lifetimes, worlds and realities. Imagine if they told you they love you even on your worst day and that there is nothing more or less you could do to change their commitment to you. There is nothing I could become that You would not love. I think Your love makes us fear because we do not think we deserve it. We can’t earn it and we can’t try to love You the same way back. I think Your love is hard to accept because a love that is pure and strong assaults us and batters at the gates of our heart, demanding that we be made new.
“Love is beautiful, but it is also terrible—terrible in that its determination to allow nothing blemished or unworthy to remain in the beloved.” – Hannah Hurnard, Hind’s Feet on High Places
You stop at nothing and I never know what I will have to do for You to take away the blemishes and bring beauty. Teach me how to trust and surrender. A love this bold and fierce is too delightful and attractive to resist but I don’t know if I can trust this love not to leave me high and dry. Experience and life has taught us that people can’t keep promises and will always disappoint. That it’s only a matter of time. And being vulnerable just means giving your heart a chance to break and someone to take advantage of you. But You are not man. You are my redeeming Maker and Your promises do not perish or exaggerate. I really have a second chance except it’s with the same person and I think that’s hard for me because we are creatures of memory. I can’t forget myself. How can You rewind? How can You erase all the memories of my unfaithfulness? It scares me that the ugliest in me doesn’t scare You away. But I think what that means scares me more. Because if I can’t come before You like a slave and a master who has completed tasks and paid their dues, but if instead I must come to You based on Your infinite goodness and mercy, doesn’t that mean You can ask anything of me?
There are no rules in grace – just burned bridges.
Does that scare me because secretly I hate needing You so much. I want to master You, I don’t want to be desperate and dependent. But if I can’t love You the way You love me then that’s exactly what I have to be if I want to have You – poor, wretched but seized by gratefulness and a desire to have You above all things, even myself. Is it because in light of such astounding Love, by contrast my un-loveliness is so stark? Is it because Your love makes me acutely aware of my true condition – as a sinner – and humble forgiveness is much harder to accept than a list of laws and regulations to follow?
But reliance on forgiveness is how I get close to Your heart and it’s how I feel loved. Those you have forgiven much love much, so my sins, which are many, will be forgiven if I love much. Is it because this love requires me to be so small and insignificant since I am so underserving of it when the world has taught me to seek to be greater and bigger; because anything I own that is not of my labor is not really mine?
Lord, may I be able to say with King David “Your love is better than life.” May I never forget that just as You did not consider it robbery to be equal with God but descended to our misery so I too can also free myself from the hunger, to be made into something more, hungering only for the greatness that comes from being kept as Your child. Do not stop banging on the door of my heart to transform me because I am dull of hearing and slow to answer. It is easier to see You as Master rather than Lover because I don’t trust myself with the power that comes with knowing I am treasured and prized to no end. Do not let me run from Your relentless, unceasing love. Help me to see what You see in me – my identity. Help me to see His sacrifice. I want to be hidden in that. Love me in a way that makes me unable to return to my other lovers. Free me from myself but not from You. Keep me in my Father’s house, in His embrace, where His shouts to cloth me with robes of righteousness drown out my objection to His forgiveness.
“Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.”