Walking Closely With Jesus — Guest Blogger

Grace quote from Max Luccado

Walking Closely with Jesus

By Jo Massaro

Years ago, I asked a life-changing question, “How could a woman who had an abortion, multiple marriages and a traumatic brain injury, have a relationship with Jesus?”

This forced me to face the hurts, habits, and pain  hidden away and never dealt with. I wore a smile, but covered the heartbreak hidden in the darkest places.

My longing to be someone else reminds me of a song from the movie, Mulan. Like me, she struggled to find herself.

I was 23 with three children when I became pregnant again. My husband didn’t want another child, so I decided to have an abortion. The sun was out on the day of my procedure, but I felt scared and so alone.

Nine months later, an accident occurred and my son, Jason, died the day before his second birthday.  I was certain that God had punished me for what I’d done nearly a year before. Depression and thoughts of suicide became my friends. When a child dies, the life you once led, no longer exists. Even though we had two daughters, this void became unbearable. My husband used alcohol and drugs to dull his pain. After two more children, we were broken beyond repair.

This led to our divorce.

Five years later I married again and within a year I faced another divorce. I wanted to commit suicide.

Picture of an icebergMy brokenness was like an iceberg. Others see the top but ninety percent of my pain lay below the surface–abandonment, isolation, fear, trauma, loss, disappointments, depression and co-dependency. This was what I felt from the time I was a child that carried into my adulthood. I was searching for love in the wrong places.

My life was one of sin, lies, deception and isolation.

I knew Jesus existed, but didn’t realize who He really was nor how to experience and live in the grace He offered.

I met and married my third husband, and he brought me to his church. When the pastor asked if anyone wanted to accept Jesus,  I raised my hand. I didn’t understand all that happened, but I knew Jesus made me feel loved and accepted, and I wanted more of Him.

A few years later, I was involved in a car accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury, (TBI). I lost the ability to read, drive, function as a wife and mother; my vision was affected and my thinking felt foggy. My husband told me every morning I’d say, “Just one more day, Jesus,” but I don’t remember this.

One day while I listened to the audio Bible, words from Scripture gripped me:

“When the woman heard about Jesus, she came up through the crowd behind Him and touched his cloak. For she kept saying, ‘If I could only touch His clothes, I will be healed.’ Immediately her bleeding stopped, and she sensed in her body that she was healed of her affliction” (Mark 5:27-29, NIV).

I realized that if Jesus healed this woman, He could heal me. Believing this with all my heart, I began to pray.

Over the years, God has healed me and today my life is full of God’s grace and peace and praise for all God has done.

God created me with a plan and purpose and stayed with me throughout my pain and heartache. I walk today in love and with a husband of 26 years.

My deeply rooted relationship with Jesus reminds me of two beautiful rivers located in Manaus, Brazil. Each are unique as in the deep darkness (blackwater) of the Rio Negro and the pale sandy (whitewater) of the Rio Solimoes.

These bodies of water run side by side for six miles before they become one. In those six miles, the light of the Rio Solimoes slowly begins to engulf the darkness of the Rio Negro. Darkness now becomes light.

Similarly, Jesus works below the surface and brings light into deep, dark places as only he can. But it takes time after Woman staring out at the sea with text pulled from the post. the two meet for change to occur.

In God’s loving hands, I was transformed and washed clean by the blood of the lamb .

This mirrors our walk with Jesus . When we accept Him as Savior, He takes the old and dirty parts of our lives and gently brings us into a new life with Him.

I’ve asked the Lord to draw deeper into my relationship with Him and conform me to His image. I know we say and hear this all the time, but I was determined to allow Jesus to do surgery on my heart and dissect that which was dead and lifeless and bring healing and wholeness in its place.

I’m grateful for the love and contentment I have in Jesus.

Let’s talk about this! How  has God healed you or brought you to deeper freedom? What are some ways you’re living in that freedom?

Meet Jo Massaro!

 

Jo Massaro's author photoJo is founder and curator of Yahweh Sisterhood Book Club that meets the first Thursday of each month. You not only read the book but get to meet the author either in person or through Facebook.

As a speaker, Jo brings humor, energy, authenticity, faith, and strength she found in the Word of God. She describes her journey through her darkest times and how God brought her to a relationship with the Light of the World.

She offers themed messages to your group, and works with your team to customize a topic you have selected. She speaks before small or large groups, churches, or wherever God leads her.

For further information on the book club visit:

www.yahwehsisterhoodbookclub.com

Contact Jo at:  jomassarospeaker@gmail.com

 

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

 

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Intentional Healing From a Haunted Past

We hear and talk a lot about intentional growth, intentional service, intentional obedience, but not as much about intentional healing. I believe God wants to bring about wholeness, which necessitates deep and total healing, but I also believe we need to cooperate with Him. I’ve seen it go two ways: I’ve seen those who become a perpetual victim, believing life “happens to them”, hiding beneath a blanket of emotional darkness. I’ve also seen those who firmly grab onto what Christ has done for and in them, moving one step at a time toward the abundant life God promised. I’m not saying it’s easy, nor instantaneous, but Christ died to set us free from EVERYTHING that might hold us back or beat us down.

If you read my article on unpacking suitcases, you’ll remember the journey to emotional freedom can be a rough road. Perhaps that’s why some never take it, or turn around halfway there. But today Diana E. Butts, author of Deliver Me, encourages you to keep on keeping on! Christ came that you may have abundant, vibrant life. Although she talks specifically about the pain and shame of abortion, the principles apply to all of us. We’ve all got shame, regrets, those things that hold us back and keep us from grabbing onto the life God plans for us. But God says, “No more! Come to Me that you might live.” He’s waiting…

Intentional Healing for Haunted Pasts by Dianne E. Butts

Are you silently suffering because you’re living with a secret? If a past secret is haunting you, it’s time to get intentional about your healing.

But how might a person get intentional about such a thing?

As I gathered stories for my most recent book, Deliver Me, I talked with many women and men who have an abortion in their past. That may not be your secret, but I learned a lot from them about what they suffered and how they found healing. Each one of them became intentional about their healing, and then God led them to people who could help them, most of whom had “been there” themselves.

From their example, I gleaned two actions a person can take to be intentional about healing from something in their past:

1.)  Find or Give Forgiveness

Almost all of the ten women who shared their abortion stories in Deliver Me expressed in one way or another that they truly believed they had committed the unforgivable sin—that one sin that God would never forgive. They were wrong. That’s just another lie from the devil. There is only one sin God cannot forgive, and that is to reject the Savior He sent: His Son Jesus Christ. All else can and will be forgiven when we bring it to Him. Here is His promise:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9, NIV. [  http://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=faithful+and+just+to+forgive&qs_version=NIV1984  ]

Others may suffer because they are the victim of someone else’s sin. Unfortunately, in Christian circles there is often an attitude that we need to just “get healed of that.” While wounds may heal, they still leave scars. We can experience healing and at the same time we may also have damage that we will live with for the rest of our lives. It is hurtful when the church, or anyone else, overlooks this or communicates that it is wrong. It’s not wrong. It’s just life. But you can still be intentional about your healing. The key is forgiveness.

I know. I felt you tense as you had a strong reaction to that f-word. You may be thinking, I will never forgive them! I found it extremely freeing when I finally discovered that God was not asking me to forgive for the sake of the one who sinned against me, but for my own sake. My anger and bitterness wasn’t harming them at all, but it was eating me from the inside out. Forgiveness is not letting them off the hook; they still must deal with God on what they’ve done.

If you think it is impossible to forgive someone, I recently saw this video about a man, Kirk Martin, who forgave two teenagers who sexually abused him as a child: [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7dpGWYZMDc&list=PL4C1619755B165CD1&index=17&feature=plpp_video  ] I found it truly amazing.

Whether your secret is your own sin or you are living as a victim of someone else’s, your first step to intentional healing is forgiveness.

2.) Seek out help.

If your secret is a past abortion, you are not alone. An estimated 43% of all women will have at least one abortion by the time they are 45 years old. [http://www.abortionno.org/Resources/fastfacts.html ] Many people report significant symptoms after experiencing abortionhttp://www.sbpcc.net/post-abortion_help.htm ]. But the good news is there is help. Most pro-life pregnancy centers offer individual counseling or group classes that walk participants through finding God’s forgiveness and healing and you can find the center closest to you at www.OptionLine.org.

For other secrets that need healing, God knows what you need and where you can find help. Seek Him and trust that He will lead you.

Comfort from Scripture

For your comfort, here are the theme Scripture verses from Deliver Me found in Psalm 116. [ http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm116:1-9&version=NIV1984 ]

8 For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, 
   my eyes from tears, 
   my feet from stumbling, 
9 that I may walk before the LORD 
   in the land of the living.

No one can change the past—whether it’s a past abortion or another secret you’re suffering in silence. But we can grab hold of the present and choose intentional healing for our future.

Deliver Me:

She stares at the test strip, palms clammy, breathing uneven. She’s never felt more alone. Tears blur her vision. Panic edges in.

An unplanned pregnancy can leave emotional wounds that take years to heal. The options are many: abortion, adoption, keeping the child. The questions are even more: How? Why? Where can you go for help? What do you do?

Deliver Me: Hope, Help, & Healing through True Stories of Unplanned Pregnancy explores each of the choices and their after-effects, highlighting the most sensitive moments women and men in unplanned pregnancies face, and how it affects grandparents, friends, and other loved ones. You’ll find:

  • More than 50 intriguing true stories
  • Facts and statistics about unplanned pregnancy
  • Practical help
  • Valuable resources

Whether you’re a woman currently facing an unplanned pregnancy, a man whose partner is there, a friend or family member wanting to help, you’ll find hope in the stories of others who walked this road and faced the same decisions.

Is your pregnancy experience in your past? Regardless of what its outcome was, you’ll find kindness, compassion, and healing. You’ve dealt with the pain long enough. It’s time to discover your healing.

***

Dianne E. Butts has more than 250 articles and short stories published in over 50 Christian print magazines, including the Salvation Army’s War Cry, Young Salvationist, Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine, Today’s Christian Senior, Enrichment Journal, On Mission, and Encounter. She regularly writes for the online magazine http://www.TheChristianPulse.com. Her work has been published in Great Britain, Bulgaria, Poland, Canada, and Korea.

Dianne has contributed to seventeen compilations including Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Best Stories of Faith, God Encounters: Stories of His Involvement in Life’s Greatest Moments, For God So Loved the World…He Created Chocolate!, and Zondervan’s New Women’s Devotional Bible.

Find her online: