freshly threshed

Posted: August 25th, 2010 | Filed under: God, life | Tags: , | 7 Comments »

Yesterday was part 1 of my ‘Black Sheep’ story on Jenni Clayville’s blog. I’ve been talking about the change that comes with experiencing grace. Today I talk about having any sense of forgiveness or purpose now that my life is reshaped by sin.

One of the biggest battles I faced while I was healing was in never being able to get away from the fact that I have left a very real trail of pain in my wake. Hurricane Serena. And I had no way of fixing it.

I felt toxic. I was detached from myself. The thinking part of me hated the rest of me. I wouldn’t let people befriend me.

Every once in a while I would feel a sense of ‘want’. I want to go back in time. I want to wake up. I want to be able to pay for it. I want to get away from myself. I want to be a good person.

I couldn’t do anything and I was tortured. I couldn’t make what I did go away. I would have done anything. But, there was nothing I could do. Every single bit of life was dimmed to a faint image and I lived inside a hell I can never adequately explain.

Clinically, I was experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My memory is very splotchy for that time frame. I can remember what was happening in my spirit, but I cannot remember anything about my physical life. Movies, birthdays, Christmas, my pregnancy, divorce… are lost in the peripheral. I couldn’t sleep. The invading thoughts were too powerful.

I don’t want to get weird, but if I’m being honest, I have to say that something very demonic was having a field day with me. There are a lot of things I can’t adequately explain and this is another one of them. It makes you forget about everything in the human experience. There is a part of you that is connected to Eternity and it’s very seldom that we tap into that. My eternal identity was under attack and there is no fear like that. Even a person in the face of a painful death can still find rest in the fact that the pain is over when death comes. A person whose eternal life is being threatened with painful death can find no comfort. An eternal scream of despair and regret.

You ebb between thoughts of an end only to remember that there is no end. Then there is despair. In order to survive the despair, you grasp for hope in thoughts of an end and the cycle continues. A rat running for her life on a wheel in a cage.

The only reason I am telling you what it was like is to show you the contrast of what may be happening inside someone you know versus what you may think based on the arrogance and selfishness in which they previously acted. I sinned shamelessly. I lied without hesitation. I was heartless, sneaky, reckless and unapologetic. My venomous vanity sunk deep into the heart of people I had legitimately cared about. And that makes it worse. I am not a victim. So don’t give me any excuse just because you’re detached enough to be able to.

People tend to think that those who choose sin are enjoying it. I’m writing to tell you just how ‘fun’ it is.

I believe that if God didn’t care about me, I would’t have been taken to the ‘threshing floor’. I wouldn’t have experienced the unspeakable or dragged into the unmapped. I believe that God let me smell the breath of hell because that’s the only way I would have gotten what He wanted me to get.

This was actually an answer to prayer. I wanted to be pure. For a solid year, long before this happened, I would pray the same prayer every day. “God, please remove anything from my life that is not put there by you.” In another period of my Christian life, I prayed for God to use me. I didn’t care what it was, I just wanted my entire life to be used by Him. I remember feeling the sense of Him asking me if I knew what I was asking for. I wrote in my journal: ‘God wants to know if I have limits to what I’m used for. What If I would never agree to be used in the way He chooses to use me had I been asked?’ I thought about this for a while. It was sobering. But, I agreed completely. I said yes. I wrote a little about it here. I just re-read it and I’m crying.

The fire came. The Builder tore down the poorly laid bricks. Every part of me was sent through the fire and very little was left when I came out.

Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won’t get by with a thing. If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn’t, your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you won’t be torn out; you’ll survive—but just barely. -1 Corinthians 3:11-15

I emerged a weak, insecure, lonely, speck of a person with a very poignant message. A message that is so much bigger than I am that it hurts to carry it. I, as a person, am not much to speak of. I keep to myself and struggle with feeling over-exposed. But my sense of purpose is something entirely different. God used my sin to do what, possibly, nothing else could have done. I hate what I did, but it has been turned into something that I would never wish away.

Now, I’m waiting. I want to speak. I want to write. I want to share my eye witness account of Jesus, my ‘testimony’, because that’s how ‘the accuser’ is defeated. He’s defeated by the Blood of the Lamb and our eye witness account of Jesus. So, when you withhold grace from someone, you’re actually witnessing for the other side. You’re with ‘the accuser.’

“Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…” -Revelation 12:10-11 ESV


a page from my journal


7 Comments on “freshly threshed”

  1. 1 restoringtheheart said at 11:14 am on August 25th, 2010:

    Keeping seeking to spread that message, Serena. I think it is so important, and I think what you have to say is a critical message to those who are tempted by and who have fallen into sin.

    Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:9-10 "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

    It is through that testimony that he is greater than our sin, that he is glorified. We are not second class Christians because we failed. That grace has reconciled and redeemed us completely. I too struggle daily with the knowledge and weight of my story because man has not forgiven and released me, but in those moments when I am fully present with God alone I know that ALL of it is forgiven and redeemed.


  2. 2 Serena Woods said at 11:28 am on August 25th, 2010:

    The thing that I love the most is how I can understand scripture more through the eyes of failure and hopelessness than I could through the eyes of solidity and happiness. How's that for a twist?

  3. 3 Ashley said at 4:50 pm on August 25th, 2010:

    thanks for being transparent. thanks for letting me in.

  4. 4 Serena Woods said at 6:40 pm on August 25th, 2010:

    Ashley: 🙂

  5. 5 Robyn said at 8:28 am on August 27th, 2010:

    Oh my…. this touched my heart. I totally get God's grace now, having been through a storm myself. And I too want to commit to be what Christ intended me to be, but that is a very costly thing…. it costs us to live like HIM and suffer so that in our suffering we can be made REFINED by fire… and I was very tarnished.

    But, I know as I get "polished"….. I shine brighter and brighter because it is for HIS purpose, not mine.


  6. 6 restoringtheheart said at 11:17 am on August 27th, 2010:

    I heard powerful statements from two pastors this week.

    "Sin doesn't make us second class Christians" Pete Wilson, Cross Point, Nashville

    "We need to fall forward into failure." Craig Groeschel, Life

    The second one made me think of falling forward on my face before God. I completely understand and relate to what you are saying about understanding scripture more through the eyes of failure and sin. It truly helped me understand my need for a Savior and what he paid for me….maybe that was why I needed to fail and fall.

  7. 7 Serena Woods said at 11:41 am on August 27th, 2010:

    Robyn: 🙂 love it.

    restoringtheheart: with what you just said in mind, listen (read?) this –>

    In one way or another, God makes sure that we all experience what it means to be outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us back in. Romans 11:32 MSG

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