After my post, Songs of Time, I had the most incredible experience. Of course, there was no one awake, so there was no one to share it with, but I thought I'd e-mail Abbi... because I wanted to tell someone.
My E-Mail—"I just wrote a really long blog post about my recovery from self-injury, and where I am now in relation to that-- it talked about how every phase of my recovery drew a picture of who God would later become in my life. I've been healed from a lot of things lately... mostly things that were residue left over from self-injury... my hatred for BLANK, my barriers I've built between BLANK and me, my whole eating disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and so many other things. I have been completely healed, and I am so beyond rejoicing... I can't even describe it. Well... as I was writing this blog post, I was listening to Jars of Clay's song, Worlds Apart, and I was in a really worshipful mood. I decided that, since I hadn't done my quiet time, I would read at least a chapter. I remembered a verse in Isaiah 51 that God revealed to me when I was about 14, and right at the brink of my whole bout with self-harm. Until tonight, I thought it was just a cool, powerful verse, especially for someone struggling with an oppressive addiction. The verse is:
14. The cowering prisoners will soon be set free;
they will not die in their dungeon,
nor will they lack bread.
Of course, when I was 14, this was a comfort for me... and since tonight, I was sort of walking through things that helped me along in my recovery, I thought I would read the verse, but I ended up reading the entire chapter up until verse 16.
1 "Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD : Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn;
2 look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many.
3 The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
4 "Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: The law will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations.
5 My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm.
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.
7 "Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults.
8 For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But my righteousness will last forever, my salvation through all generations."
9 Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in days gone by, as in generations of old. Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces, who pierced that monster through?
10 Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made a road in the depths of the sea so that the redeemed might cross over?
11 The ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
12 "I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal men, the sons of men, who are but grass,
13 that you forget the LORD your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction? For where is the wrath of the oppressor?
14 The cowering prisoners will soon be set free; they will not die in their dungeon, nor will they lack bread.
15 For I am the LORD your God, who churns up the sea so that its waves roar— the LORD Almighty is his name.
16 I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand— I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, 'You are my people.' "
As I read the last verse, I realized that God didn't give me that verse to help me to recover, even if it was a comfort. He place the verse in my heart as a foreshadowing of the journey He would take me on. Every verse describes perfectly the story of my recovery... the entire passage echoes a promise of preservation that I always felt in my bones, even if I couldn't see it at times. I bawled as I read it... I mean... happy, smiling, sobbing, gut wrenching, bawling...
I don't know if this makes sense to you... but I have never felt so personally close to God.. like, He literally touched my heart with this passage, and rewound my memory to the first time I read it... when I was 14, sitting in the backyard of our house in Staunton, my Bible and sketchbook open.... scouring everything I could (my heart, nature, scripture...) for some shred of who God wanted me to be... Six years later, after refining me, reviving me, and restoring me, He brings up this passage again and reveals my exact identity... " I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand— I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, 'You are my people.' " "
At church on Saturday, Isaiah was again placed before me, only this was a word of knowledge, given to me as a means of encouragement. It was a personalized mission for me, reminding me that I am the perfect example of how God heals an addiction, and that there are still many "cowering prisoners" who are dealing with such things as cutting and eating disorders who do not know the healing power of Christ.
"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."