And whether it was before, or whether it was then, I cannot say. I only know I found the hand of the first man that had been firmly placed on the back of my neck intensified its grip on me. But he did not know. He could not have known. How could he have known? He could have only known by God. For decades, the touch of a hand on certain parts of my back, most especially unexpectedly, would jolt me into the past – into the memory my body has held of being invaded, of being traumatized, of being betrayed, of being touched wrongly. Only yesterday, the touch of the hand on my back was different somehow. As though the Lord Himself had laid His right hand of power upon me, I did not shudder, nor tremor, nor catapult backward into that place of fear and trepidation I know all too well.
No, instead, I experienced the steadying hand of reassurance, the steadying hand that spoke if hands could in fact speak, “I am with you always, even to the end of time.” And, even as my body sagged some while I read the writing the Lord had given me only hours before, the hand pressed into me – reminding me, I stand not alone. I am no longer a little girl in a room where Satan has entered through the man he has sent. I am no longer a little girl whose childhood is being marred for ever. I am no longer the little girl who would rather have been alone than to experience what I did. But then, nor am I the woman who grew to detest the feeling of being alone – of standing alone in a life that has been all too hard all things considered. As a child, I withdrew into a shell where nobody could touch me. As a young woman, I withdrew from my shell into a world where I sought someone to help me. As a woman, I drowned in a world of a kind of forgetfulness, induced by sin and people and places I never should have known. And then, ultimately, I came undone. I broke wide open. And, as I gathered the zillion pieces of my shattered life to see if somehow they might come back together as one – one person, one woman, one anything at all – I found myself standing. Alone.
For when any semblance of sense would warrant that my family would stand with me, validating my past and bearing my burden as I learned how to make something, anything at all, out of my present, I found myself standing without anyone familiar at all. For the people that loved me turned away. And even as I ultimately cried out to the Lord, I found myself standing with His but-I-can’t-touch-and-see you Presence – waiting, wondering, will somebody please stand with me so I am not standing all alone. One by one through the years, person by person, people came and people went. They wandered into my life, and they wandered away. They patted me on the back, not the best place, or they gave me a hug, not knowing how unsafe hugs have felt, or they said a prayer before they went back to their lives. For all of them, I am grateful.
But I still felt myself standing – alone. Because when all is said and done, I did not want just people. I wanted my family. I wanted my loved ones with whom I was raise. Though they could not, and they would not, speak the truth about my past, I still wanted them. I wanted a sense of family. I wanted a sense of unconditional presence of someone, of people, to stand with me as I learned to live my life without the shell I had hidden within.
People will come and go, I know. And even the ones who stood with me yesterday may stay in my life – or not. Others will come. Some will remain. Some will come and go. I know. I know all too well. But something was different about yesterday. Yesterday, and I know this so very deep within my soul, it wasn’t about people standing with me. Yesterday, I felt the presence of God’s army of angels standing with me. An army of His witnesses, saying, believing, praying, standing – “We stand with you.”
And when the hand upon me lifted off the back of my neck when I concluded what I had written and spoken, as the people gathered who had heard my testimony wondered what unexpected thing might come next, the Lord moved once again. One of the men of God who had stood with me prayed for me, praying a prayer only the Lord Himself could have given him to pray. I remember virtually nothing of the prayer, but this. The man of God prayed for my hands that would bring healing to others, and how could he have known but by God’s Holy Spirit? The Lord had told me years ago to give Him my hands because He would use them to heal. Only I had supposed at the time that I would “lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
But just recently, in days past, whether it was yesterday as the man prayed for me or more likely just days before, the Lord gave me a revelation of the kind of healing I would come to do. Not only might I lay hands on a sick person, not only might I lay my hands on a homeless dog in need of love, but I would do something else with my hands that the Lord would use to touch countless lives.
Yesterday, when I had finished writing the piece I ended up reading unexpectedly at the National Day of Prayer gathering, the Lord spoke to me. “This is the most powerful piece of writing you have ever written,” He told me. “I will use this to touch many lives.” I did not know what He envisioned, but I did believe His word would not return to him void. I knew He would do as He desired, when, where, and how He desired. And in so doing, He would only confirm what He has shown me in days past.
He has given me my heart full of endless compassion to love a world in need, and He has given me my hands to write the words He gives me. And He has given me the voice to speak the Truth of the Gospel and His Word, the truth of my own story, and the truth He desires me to speak to those who need to hear the Gospel, to hear Him, to know Him, to fall in love with Him, to know and understand and appreciate and accept and believe, yes – He is real. He is God. He is the “I Am.”
The Bible admonishes me to purify my heart and to cleanse my hands. My heart must be pure for His heart, for His love, for His Truth, to flow through. My hands must be cleansed that He can pour through me, through my heart and my hands, this gift of writing He has given me – this gift that is intended to glorify His name, His name above all names.
Not so long ago, I had a vision of myself lying on the ground. God reached out His hand to me and told me to stand up. I would not get off the ground because I did not believe I deserved to. But in the vision, I ultimately took the hand of God and stood.
I did not stand alone, for I stood with God. But now I understand. He has given me a family also. He has given me the family of God to stand with me not only as I learn to walk. But He has given me this family of God, this cloud of witnesses, this mighty army of God, this infantry of lovers of God, this people dedicated to loving and serving Him, to help me to endeavor to use this life and these gifts I have been given for my flesh to not only be crucified with Him, but for my spirit to rise up and live my every breath for His glory.
The hand upon my back is long gone now, but really it is not gone at all. The man whose hand it was encouraged me with kindness today, but he is only a man after all. The hand of Jesus remains upon me, even as the men of God who stood with me yesterday wander around their lives today not crossing paths with me. But I know that wherever they are, whatever they are doing, they are standing in their walk with the Lord. And, in so doing, as all of us together bow down before our Mighty God, we stand not just as one woman still broken from the haunting of childhood sexual abuse. Nor do we stand just as one man being tried by fire through loss and divorce, nor as one man facing the challenges of ministering to an ever-growing flock of sheep, nor as one woman raising a grandchild. No, at the end of the day, we are not merely men and women standing despite the trials and tribulations through which we pass as the Lord refines us. We are the Body of Christ, and we are still standing. Standing by the grace of God, standing in the power of God, standing for the Truth, standing with Him, standing for Him. Yes, we are still standing.
Heb 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Gal 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Jas 4:8 “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”
Mat 28:18 “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”