Back <<

ACCEPTING THE GIFT - a step closer

"Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life." (Revelation 21:27)

We know that a hurtful word, though unseen, is a force that goes forth from the mouth and causes another to be wounded in their heart. It is unseen, but it has motion and it has barbs, so that it sticks to its object. It also sticks to the one who sent it. Similarly, all the unworthy behaviors we have engaged in throughout our lives do not vanish into thin air, but become fixtures on a spiritual map of who we are. To say otherwise would be to deny that there is such a thing as cause and effect.

Our merciful and gracious God has devised a system that looks beyond this world of clay and flesh, by which our spirit selves can be united with him in a timeless realm we call eternity. In order for us to become holy enough to participate in this heavenly plan, we need cleansing of all the ugliness fixed on our spiritual maps. There is not one of us that does not first come before the Lord needing a good scrubbing from head to toe, our filthy garments thrown away and new wedding robes provided for us by the Master of the wedding feast. Only then can we join our heavenly father and sit at his table in the New Jerusalem.

We need to be freed of our errors, our neglects, selfishness, destructiveness, meanness, rejection of God, our poor judgement that has led us down many a weedy path. Forgiveness so thorough that it casts the offense into a sea of forgetfulness is the cleansing we require before we can stand before the throne of God in his holy place. That forgiveness was made possible for all time by Jesus, the sacrificial lamb of God, who bore our iniquities, suffered and died on the cross so that we could have freedom.

The Lord's forgiveness is free for the asking to anyone in the whole world who is willing to accept it, not because we deserve it, but because we have a loving and merciful God. What a beautiful gift! Yet it took me two years walking with Christ before I was able to accept the gift.

Moments after receiving Yeshua into my heart I remember stumbling around the church in a daze. I could hardly see through my tears, but a kind woman came up to me and her face shone with pure gladness as she told me that my sins had been swept away, and that from this moment forward I was cleansed. She was so excited for me! I did not have a clue what she was talking about, but I was filled that day with a hunger to know my savior and learn what salvation meant.

There was one area of my past that seemed unforgivable, and although I went on to blossom in my Christian walk in many ways, I could not bring myself to really see that I was forgiven. That "unforgivable" was an abortion that I had when I was 25 years old, associated with many years of sexual immorality and impurity. This was before my husband and I were married, and it left me scarred and haunted. I would frequently fall into the depths of self-condemnation, and he would gently tell me, "You're forgiven." But I couldn't make the connection. I suffered terrible pangs of guilt and could not unbind myself from the pain.

More than once I heard of people who had somehow made visits to heaven and seen among other things the innumerable aborted babies living there under Jesus' loving care. I was very touched to imagine that my baby, along with her two siblings that I miscarried, were with God.

Sometimes my choices were colored by my obsession with the abortion. When we seemed by circumstance to be divinely guided to care for an orphanage in Uganda, I found a wonderful outlet for my overarching need to compensate for the child whose life I had destroyed. I sent the orphanage lots of money without question, and believed their words of encouragement. I got great satisfaction from the idea of caring for not one or a few, but hundreds of orphans, as though I were truly paying my debt with my actions.

When I proposed that my church become a fiscal sponsor for my work with the Ugandan orphanage, they provisionally agreed to, provided I could substantiate the orphanage. I began a lengthy process that involved hiring a representative to investigate the people and the site of the orphanage, and after many months came to the painful understanding that the monies sent there were not spent responsibly, and there was no way to regulate a charitable endeavor there, to prevent abuse of funds and to insure that the children were benefiting from my work. When I discovered that I was in fact being deceived by the leadership at the orphanage I was forced to withdraw my support. This felt like another miscarriage.

On one Tuesday night I found myself at a bible study and began weeping uncontrollably. This is not an unusual occurance for me, but on this night so soon after losing the orphanage project my heart was once again inflamed with grief over my abortion, and I just wept from pure unforgiven sorrow.

What became clear to me that night was that I could not progress in my spiritual development until I understood that I can't buy my forgiveness with my works. I must accept it as a gift of grace from God. I shared what I was going through with the other worshippers there and they surrounded me, singing in a chorus of appeal to the Lord on my behalf. That night I was able to declare that I belong to Jesus Christ and to accept the forgiveness that he freely offers. I was finally able to part with my precious grief, laying it at the foot of the cross and stepping away from it.

The Lord brought me even greater closure by directing me to Isaiah 1, in which he speaks through the prophet of his heartache that his children have rejected him, and how Zion has made herself a whore. Twice in the chapter he speaks of the need to care for the orphan and the widow.

As I read these words I understood that when people reject their father God, they make themselves orphans, and when the bride of Christ makes herself a whore by worshiping other gods she makes herself a widow. So orphans and widows could be understood as those who have turned away from God or have never known him, and we are implored by our Master to care for them, to help bridge the gap between the fatherless and the Father, the husbandless and the divine Bridegroom.

For the last twenty years or so I had been casually developing a cartoon character, drawing character designs for her, writing a storyboard, starting animation tests - all rather half-heartedly and without a commitment to finish any particular project. She appeared to me as an orphan, and her story began to unfold over the years. Once I put the story away for many years and my daughter found it in my internet files and wondered what it was. When she read it she insisted that I not abandon the project, but do something with it, because she loved the story of the little orphan. So again I began toying with the character, but not to any completion. I always said, "Maybe some day..."

On one particular birthday, I was driving along and suddenly had what I can only describe as a visitation from my animated orphan character. She was there to wish me a happy birthday, and asked me in amused disbelief, "Don't you know who I am?" At that moment I realized what might have been obvious to anyone else: that the character I created was my aborted child. I broke down in tears and asked her, "How can I celebrate my birthday or anything in my life after what I have done to you?" She responded by wordlessly expressing her love for me, and at that moment a diminutive rainbow appeared to my right. I could almost have reached out and touched it. My aborted child is living happily with Jesus in a place where forgiveness reigns, restored and whole, and in spite of what I have done she forgives me and loves me.

More importantly, Jesus forgives us and loves us. Now in this new freedom I truly take the best of what I have, like the woman with the oil in an alabaster jar, and pour it out along with my tears on the head of my savior, so grateful am I for the gift of forgiveness he has given me.

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

P.S. Years later this story of encountering my animated character and the rainbow came to mind again, and I shared it with a group of women seeking healing from abortion. I left the healing group that day to visit my mother, who had guests from out of town that I had never met before. For no reason that I have yet been able to discover, one of those guests came up to me and started to tell me about a man who has researched the drawings done by children who have died and returned to life. He said, remarkably, that throughout cultures these drawings have a common feature: rainbows. Could it be that God was assuring me with this man's words that my vision was indeed a glimpse of heaven, where my other children live in peace amidst rainbows? I hear God's voice softly urging, "Be healed, my child."

P.P.S. More years later, an animated film is complete. Click here to view it.

Back <<