During an extremely difficult season of church ministry I received a mental picture from the Lord. It was so direct. So specific. So me, that I couldn’t have forgot it even if I wanted to. And let’s be clear I don’t EVER want to. This revelation came to me at such a confusing, foggy, what-is-even-happening-right-now time that when I received it and began to pick it apart to understand, I realized it was a lifeline.
A life preserver responding to my SOS.
This was such a doozy that I am still picking it apart and the Lord is revealing messages to me through it. I have the great privilege of being the sister-in-law to an extremely talented artist who could sketch for me my minds picture. It was nearly perfect to what I saw in my mind that I cried when it came in the mail. Go here with me.
The setting is a dark, hole in the wall gym in some shady back city street. Very Rocky Balboa. Sweaty, swinging lights, and probably smelly. The ring is dimly lit and there is a bag swinging in the center of it. It’s a punching bag that’s been swinging, so you can tell it’s been recently used. The bag has, instead of the everlast label, a label of “Bethany”. This bag has been swinging. It’s swinging from lies I’ve told myself, schemes of the enemy that have rattled me, past experiences that I just can’t seem to move past or that I let dictate my future. Wounds that are bloody and raw. It’s pitching back and forth from other’s perceptions or perceived realities and misunderstanding. Not only that, but this bag is swinging from punches delivered by other’s past experiences that have had nothing to do with me. I’m not the only one delivering the punches. Other’s lies they believe that project onto me. Other’s wounds and pain that they are aware of and unaware of. This bag, center of the ring, seems bruised and battered. Slowly swinging, sometimes wildly swinging, but never out of control.
This picture I’ve created with words has been my experience for a number of years in different situations not all of which have been church ministry. Family dynamics and other relationships and has only accelerated as I have begun to heal, take back ground in my mental, emotional, and spiritual health. And through Scotty and I creating, setting, and sticking to healthy boundaries for ourselves and our family. The SOS I threw out was when the swinging hit an all-time, out of nowhere high in the Summer and Fall of 2020. I felt like I was drowning, but unlike my previous rockbottom, this time I knew that I wouldn’t go under and never return.
I asked for an SOS and HE SENT IT.
Back to the gym. As I sat receiving this picture from the Lord, I began to notice the chain that held the bag to the gym ceiling. It was thick, interlocking chain and upon closer look I could see the links spelled out the word SALVATION. Like a light bulb going on in my mind I realized the swinging wasn’t out of control, never would be, because that chain was unbreakable. Nothing could ever take me out if that was my anchor. If I was held and attached by that, nothing would or could rip me completely free. Also I began to understand and see that no punch thrown at the bag was unseen by my Creator, my Sustainer, my Savior. I was attached to him. The gym owner saw it. In fact part of why He created me, part of my purpose, part of the unique way He created and called me to this ministry position was for the training of others. For the strengthening of others. For the healing and restoring the health of others. He had purchased me and installed me here in this gym for such a time as this.
I can’t even explain to you the fortification that realization delivered to me.
When there is purpose, I am there.
When there is a plan, I am all in.
For someone else’s benefit? I want to be a part of that.
The swinging slowed. The bag got a little denser. Some of the pain eased. Grace began to bloom. Perspective shifted. Compassion and empathy for myself but also for those in training with me.
And then He revealed the gym owner. Major, major Mr Miagi vibes. LOL. White muscle shirt, thin hair, and saggy jeans hanging low. He was a long time, unruffled, been doin’ this my whole life gym owner. HE had experience in this type of ring. Been there done that, not even concerned about the swinging. HE knew the actual strength of the bag. What it could take, when enough was enough. HE knew when to step in, call off the training and get to cleaning.
He approached the bag with such slow and careful consideration. Looking all over it, gently reaching out his hand to slow the swing. He took out His spray bottle. The spray bottle was labeled TRUTH. TRUE LOVE. HEALING. RESTORATION. He held the bag as he sprayed and began to wipe. He wiped with towels that had been stitched with words like MY HEALING. They hung over his shoulder with other towels like FURTHERING MY KINGDOM. YOUR DEVELOPMENT. DEPENDENCY ON ME. YOUR HEALING. RESTORATION.
The careful, deliberate, intentional way the Gym Owner ministered to the bag to restore it for further use nearly did me in.
I am not unseen.
My pain is valid.
My experiences are not without purpose.
As I am sitting here putting my fingers to my keys. Waiting on the Lord. I push through, peel back those layers of doubts, work to silence that inner critic that says who do you think you are?
You are such a poser.
How can you begin without knowing the end?
How can this matter?
Why do you think your story matters?
The thing is I’m learning the difference between the voice of my inner critic and Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit says that every generation needs a library in its language.
Only I can tell THIS story. I am cowriting this book. MY story for HIS GLORY.