Cocoon… as soon as I saw the word, I knew it was what had happened to me… my metamorphosis. Of course I’m not exactly a butterfly but the similarities still spoke to me. Immediately it brought thoughts that took me back to a time in my life when I needed to go deeper into my relationship with Christ. I needed to rid myself of pettiness and wasted worry. Self-conscious, anxious, guilt-ridden, shamed, self-loathing – all those really productive emotions that for some reason I had chosen to define myself. Did I mention sarcastic? …. although I’ve been told that’s the Northeast’s real accent…. “just a touch of that sarcasm“. I had heard you could use self-affirmation to make yourself feel better, but all that had done for me was make me feel stupid. Who talks to themselves and reads positive messages for themselves?… just pathetic!! So there I was wondering around in the desert, knowing the Lord had a place for me but not able to read His roadmap to the promised land. I remember looking at a plaque at Lamb’s Road church that read… but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint. While I felt like I had an I.V. in my vein just sucking the strength from my body. Not realizing that what I needed to focus on, was the Lord’s rest. Heb 4:9, There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.
To be a Christian, which I define as a follower of Christ Jesus; is not a denominational affiliation. It meant laying aside my ways and accepting His. Not just hearing the word but consuming it, like food. Allowing it to nourish my soul and breathe life into my damaged psyche. I could understand what the bible said, I was a new creation, but in my heart it was just Andrea, struggling to get along; striving, always striving. I would read: For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith, but I’m not sure I could believe it
I would ask myself what does it mean to be conformed into the image of Christ. As one looking in the mirror with eyes wide open, do we see Christ in ourselves? Our hope of glory. As the apostle Paul wrote: till Christ be formed in us. By 1990 I had been a Christian for 7-8 yrs I was being treated for depression, PTSD, OCD, GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) and epilepsy. At times I was suicidal. I went through years of therapy, often wondering if I was better or worse as a Christian. I know today that God had a plan. People often say, God doesn’t give you more than you can bear but we were never meant to bear a lifetime of pain in one day. It must be processed and healed slowly, uncovered layer by layer, the roots of bitterness, envy, unforgiveness and strife go deep. So what does it mean ’till Christ be formed in you’? I was unable to ‘BE’ the Christian I ‘thought’ I should be; I simply gave up …. “ok God here I am, this is all that I have and all that I can do.” I began to start my day by literally wrapping myself in His righteousness like a cloak, or my cocoon. I would pray in the Holy Spirit for 15-20 minutes and ask the Lord to heal me. I stopped asking to be made a ‘good Christian’ and just began to accept that I belonged to Christ. I was not just a servant of God but an adopted child, an heir to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The work of the cross was so enormous, who could it not cover? How vast, how tremendous, how immeasurable was the triumph of God coming to earth, walking among us and allowing Himself to be hung in the most hideous, agonizing and humiliating way man had yet to devise. Absolutely incomprehensible. All I needed to do was fit my comparatively minuscule self, under the work already accomplished for me and accept what was already mine.
I came to understand that Jesus had not only taken my sin to the cross, but He had taken my disease, my humiliation, my shame, guilt, abandonment and the punishment for my transgressions was on Him. I did not need to pay the price for them, He had already paid it, I was set free. Totally exonerated for my sins and what I needed to do was to do the same for those who had sinned against me. Because by the judgment I used for others, I would be judged. I forgave the persons who had abused me and my daughter, and even the man who murdered my best friend. I found as long as I was holding onto unforgiveness, these people were holding on to me. To truly be free, I needed to forgive and leave judgment in the hands of God.. A merciful and loving God, who had so generously forgiven me. I pray He forgives them also. That is what it means to be conformed into the image of Christ for He is merciful, loving, gracious and forgiving.. Over time I began to sense a new mind being formed in me, one that looked at myself and others through kinder eyes, empathizing instead of evaluating. Early on it was difficult – the old me still struggling with this new me…. and yet the Lord’s patience and guidance is gentle; His rebuke ‘life changing’.
Today my house is peaceful… I am at peace with myself (on most days) and at peace with the world …. the journey to this peace: to the mountain top was a long and arduous one… we all walk a path…it may be filled with our own nightmares and fears – the ones we carry around with us and then the very real fear of victimization, unemployment, pain, death and grief. These can be the scars on our outside or on our inside, we all have them. The older we get the more scars we have. This is why as we age we often get tough and become unyielding. Our hearts hardening in the process, we pull back from the Spirit of God. The sad thing is, in keeping the pain away we also keep the joy away. Insulating ourselves from disappointment we reject the very thing that will heal us and turn our pain into our greatest strengths. Christ is the refiner’s fire, taking something painful, damaged and worthless, He forms it into His image of what it could be in us. When we submit to Him He is faithful to commit to us. Today when adversity hits… yes I get anxious but there’s a part of me that gets excited because I know the Lord will show Himself. He will save the day, although I understand He won’t do it the way I choose. After all these years I submit to His ways simply because they are far better than my ways. I live in anticipation of what Christ will do today. It was Christ who spoke the world’s into existence and He is still speaking today. As we turn our hearts to Him, trusting Him, acting in faith we will see His faithfulness and experience His glory, which is now ours…
God bless, may you know the awesome power of His love and presence in your life today and for all eternity, andrea