I have been thinking a lot lately about my grave clothes: the ones the LORD has already removed and the ones that remain. These are the grave clothes that are removed layer by layer after Jesus called me forth, just as He did Lazarus, from the tomb of bondage and disordered eating into the bright light of His healing grace. There are other analogies about this removing process. Most of us have heard about peeling the onion. Both pictures are wonderful for giving us a visual of what happens as we surrender our pasts, our presents and our futures to the LORD for His healing. Each layer is removed to reveal another. Each layer removed takes us into deeper and deeper relationship with our Sovereign and Loving Father. I don’t know if anyone else has thought about what removing grave clothes or peeling onions have in common along with leading us into freedom? I have. They both stink. They smell. They can even lead to tears. This isn’t a bad thing. It is a needed thing for healing from our damaged emotions and our disordered eating patterns. But what I want to share today doesn’t stink. In fact it smells pretty good!
In Sunday school this week I was given a new picture about what we are doing in Hunger Within concerning the same surrender that leads to grave clothes being removed. We were asked to read a short paragraph from “Restoring Broken Things” by Scotty Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman. This paragraph talked about God’s perfect creation that became affected with the illness of sin after the fall of man in Genesis. Then it pointed to healing for those who are redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ. So in looking at the story of our lives, we were asked to picture a spectacular rose bud. I love roses so this wasn’t a difficult thing to do. The next step was the difficult one. We were to decide if we see ourselves as a diseased rose bud that is now being healed or one where the petals have been torn off and thrown onto the ground. I couldn’t help at this point to think of what God has been doing in my life through Hunger Within.
At one point of my life, I was like the rose bud that was diseased and the petals were being removed, and I was the one removing them! This is great picture of my life when I was filled with discontent and striving and struggling to make things happen on my own. This was back when I thought I could control things and the more out of control my life became, the more I ran to my false comforts of food and other mind numbing substances and activities. God wanted to heal me, but instead, I was tearing myself apart like the diseased rose bud with its petals being torn off and thrown to the ground.
Now in my heart that is surrendered to the Lord, I can see myself as the once diseased rose bud that is being healed. I can picture my dried out bud being renewed and refreshed with daily living water through Jesus and the Word of God. I can picture the Holy Spirit breathing life giving oxygen to my healing rose bud. I can feel the life that was once discontented and un-surrendered being given new and abundant life through the healing work being done by my Loving Father.
Here is the exciting part! This healing process isn’t just about what we are letting go, but also about what we are gaining. Just as each grave cloth removed represents letting go of a part of my damaged emotions, feelings and behaviors, I can see what is represented by picturing that rose bud that is healing and is blooming into new life. Many of us know what our grave clothes are, and if you don’t, I suggest reading and working through the book Hunger Within. But, what about the rose bud and its petals? I see each petal opening as a gift that God is giving me as my grave clothes are being removed. These gifts are evidence of a heart that is changed. What do these petals represent in my life? I have the peace that passes all understanding. I have joy that is unspeakable. I experience contentment and abundant life no matter what the circumstances or trials I face. I believe without a doubt in the healing power of the Holy Spirit working in my life. I am no longer self-focused, but God focused. I no longer obsess about my weight, what I eat or don’t eat, or if I should go on or off of a diet. When I feel frustrations come up (after all we won’t be perfect till we go home to be with the Lord!) I write them out in my Truth Journal, work through them in the Word, and then release them to God in prayer.
Years ago I thought I wanted this healing, but for whatever reasons or excuses, I never really surrendered. I still wanted to sing as Frank Sinatra did, “I did it my way!!” Dear friends, doing it our way never works. Doing it our way equates to what is said in Colossians 2:8: “Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.” Surrendering on the other hand is lived out in Colossians 2:6-7 which states, “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
What about you? What type of rose bud do you see as yourself? Will you surrender to being rooted in Him and will you join with me in praying Ephesians 3:16-19 for us all? “I pray that He may grant us, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, and that the Messiah may dwell in our hearts through faith. I pray that we, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so we may be filled with all the fullness of God.”