night tremors

Posted: December 23rd, 2010 | Filed under: book, life | Tags: , | 27 Comments »

My heart is breaking. I have nightmares that wake me up with a memory of the terror I felt when I fell. The thoughtless words of fellow Christians were being used by the shrieking demonic attackers who don’t seem to need rest. People spouting off condemning scriptures with the hope of the Gospel buried in the mud. The very mud that Blood made.

I had a horrible dream that left me wide awake and in tears. The terror has stayed with me all day. I just got an email. It was from someone in a very real hell because of their own sin. I believe God gave me the dream to remind me of what His grace has taken away. The night tremors. This person doesn’t need to be told that they were wrong. They know they were wrong and it’s tearing them apart. Stealing their sleep and their health. They’re emotionally shredded and they need hope and someone to guide them to the feet of the forgiving Savior. Not because what they did was okay, but because what He did was big enough.

People. Stop standing between the sinner and the cross. What are you doing?

I can’t stand the hypocrisy of claiming to be saved by the very thing they’re withholding from the one they watched fall.

I’ll try to use an analogy to show you what is happening to them. It’s from my dream:

Imagine finding out that your child has died. That moment of denial and shock and then the overwhelming onslaught of fear and hopelessness. Pain is not a strong enough word. Terrifying shrieks. Scratching at the walls. No one can reach you. No one can make it okay. No one can turn back the clock and make it go away. Your screams can’t go deep enough. Crawling on your hands and knees because you cannot stand. Screaming for help knowing that no one can help you. There is no one to blame because blame won’t take it back. The sky, once blue, has gone black. Life is a mockery to the death. You can’t sleep, you can’t eat, you can’t crawl out of your skin to find solace. You vomit. You lie lifeless. You curl up inside yourself and shut down.

No one should have to go through that. The unrelenting cruelty of simply being alive.

I am not writing about the death of a child. Please don’t let my analogy get you off track. I’m writing about a feeling that maybe you could let yourself imagine. I’m in tears allowing myself to go there, but I have to try to get you to understand. In order to make this analogy work, imagine that it was your fault. You could have done something different, but you were being selfish and careless and you didn’t.

Now, the others come in. They’re blaming you, and rightfully so. They’re telling you all the things you did wrong and asking you why you didn’t do what you should have done. They’re talking about the empty bedroom in your house. They’re shunning you at the funeral. They’re not comforting you because it was your fault. When you cry, they tell you that you’re just feeling sorry for yourself. They’re reminding you that you can’t undo what you did and your pain is your own fault.

The worst part: The one thing that can save you from yourself, that can carry you through your hell, is the one thing, Person, they tell you that you can no longer reach.

Jesus is real. God is real. And satan is real. It’s all real and if you don’t get that, if you don’t get that satan is doing absolutely everything he can do to destroy them and their faith, then you will be used by him to do his work.

The damage of sin is something that no human can fix. But God can and has. Jesus and His overwhelming grace, love, and mercy are not exclusive rights to people who avoid pitfalls. Jesus’ work on the cross is for the pitfalls. The unrelenting cruelty of simply being alive. Sin is inevitable, even sin hidden behind the twisted mask of religion. It’s as much a part of being alive as being born.

Reminding the person of their sin won’t take it back. The focus is: ‘what now?’ What in the heck are they supposed to do now? If they can’t go to the Savior, then where are you sending them?

We all sin and that’s why Jesus came. Grace is for sinners.

Jesus says: “Come to me.” (mat 11:28)

You want to be like Jesus?

Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. – Jesus, Matthew 11:29

nt


27 Comments »


27 Comments on “night tremors”

  1. 1 Robin Williams said at 2:25 pm on December 23rd, 2010:

    Thank you for the 'truth' of the gospel. About two years ago when my fourth marriage came to an end, I felt all the condemnation of those who don't understand grace. When I fell into the open arms of Jesus, I felt the comfort and rest that only He can give to our sin starved lives. I am still struggling with being a part of the church as I feel I have a grace filled story to tell but they are still focused on my past. I appreciate knowing there are others who get it and arent afraid to talk about redemption and all it really means.

  2. 2 Serena Woods said at 2:39 pm on December 23rd, 2010:

    there is always a line for people when you talk about grace.

    there is no such line with God.

  3. 3 GINA said at 2:56 pm on December 23rd, 2010:

    Such a good reminder. But no matter how hard I try. No matter how much I DON'T want to do to people what you are describing…and no matter how much I say I won't….and no matter what I've gone through myself, I will never be perfect in my responses to people. I want to be, but I just won't be. I have been judged, condemned, and shunned. Legalism almost choked the life out of me. And I have learned ALOT from those experiences. But my sinful heart STILL "goes there" sometimes. That is why I cry out to God and ask Him to continually give me HIS perspective and HIS love and grace for others. It is only present in me as He gives it. I do not possess it in and of myself. And when we see other believers not showing grace…then we need to pray for them that their eyes would be opened to the gospel and the true meaning of grace…just as God is showing us.

  4. 4 Kathy Schwanke said at 3:03 pm on December 23rd, 2010:

    Sweet Serena,

    Satan did that to me without using people. In my groping for liberty, in hours of scouring scripture..the hair on the back of my neck stood up from oppressive condemnation from reading God's Word. I. Was. Guilty.

    I could only be free from condemnation when I understood grace and only the Holy Spirit could get me to the place of understanding…

    Whether Satan uses people or just sits on your shoulder whispering accusations in your ear with his own venemous voice, he is all about obscuring the power of the blood and the effectiveness of the cross.

    But God used it for my good, as he does. As He promises. We all must come to the place of believing and receiving grace as it is…having nothing to do with us, and everything to do with mercy. When once the Holy Spirit gives us understanding of Grace, it matters little what people (via the enemy) try to impose upon us.

    Most of the time it is out of their own fear and their own need to understand grace…

    I have a couple of questions for you to consider. Would you understand grace as you do if the sting of shame would not have driven you into the arms of Grace? Would your ministry be fueled as it is without the pain in your past?

    I have had nights like yours. Flashbacks. Fear of falling again… They caused me to practice "forgetting the past and pressing on toward the goal and winning the prize of Jesus…the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings…and the salvation of my soul."

    I think of it like the woman caught in adultry. The man should have been there too right? But she was the winner that day, as humiliating, shameful and painful as it was! The law that would condemn her brought her (although through cruel people) to the feet of mercy and she went away free. The man on the other hand just went on in his sins as far as we know…

    I don't want to diminish your heart's cry for people to be more gracious, but I also think that there is a reason that God allows us to go down such intensely painful roads. Pain serves as fuel for the fire of pursuing God. I praise Him for it. I feel bad for those who have not had intense pain and battles for they seem to be sleepy in their relationship with the Lord.

    Oil comes from pressed olives. Wine comes from crushed grapes.

    Hebrews 13:13 is great encouragement for those who are enduring suffering…Jesus wants us with him. Enduring the cross we are given to carry with Him. Saying with Him, "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do."

    To get us to mercy. To secure us in grace so our breastplate will be immovable.

    I want to recommend a book for you and your ministry called "Dealing with the Rejection and Praise of Man" by Bob Sorge.

    It is SO encouraging for those who have felt rejected.

    Continued blessings on your ministry and I pray for healing… the Balm of Gilead for your heart's wounds. (Jer 8:21,22)

    In Christ's love,

    Kathy

  5. 5 Serena Woods said at 3:06 pm on December 23rd, 2010:

    Gina: love it. 🙂

  6. 6 Holly said at 3:12 pm on December 23rd, 2010:

    Just read this online at David Wilkerson's website, and felt very ministered to. Thought I would post this to encourage you too…

    David Wilkerson, 12-23-10

    "Remind yourself that God knows exactly how much you can take, and he will not permit you to reach a breaking point.

    Our loving Father said, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

    The worst kind of blasphemy is to think God is behind all your hurt and pain, that it is the heavenly Father disciplining you, that God thinks you need one or two more heartbreaks before you are ready to receive his blessings. Not so!

    It is true that the Lord chastens those he loves, but that chastening is only for a season and is not meant to hurt us. God is not the author of confusion in your life; neither are you. The enemy tries to hurt us through other humans, just as he tried to hurt Job through an unbelieving wife.

    Your heavenly Father watches over you with an unwavering eye. Every move is monitored; every tear is bottled. He feels your every hurt and he knows when you have been exposed to enough harassment from the enemy. He steps in and says, “Enough!”

    When your pain no longer draws you close to the Lord and, instead, begins to downgrade your spiritual life, God moves in. He will not permit a trusting child of his to go under because of too much pain and agony of soul."

  7. 7 Serena Woods said at 3:38 pm on December 23rd, 2010:

    Holly, thanks for sharing the quote. 🙂

  8. 8 Carolyn said at 11:48 am on September 29th, 2011:

    This is actually not in the bible. The verse this has been paraphrased from actually says that God will never allow you to be faced with more "temptation" then you can handle. 1 Corinthians 10:13 This spiritual sounding but not biblical based phrase has been used to bludgeon so many. We, even as Christians can be faced with more then we can handle. We can suffer such tremendous loss and pain that can break us. To tell someone in pain that God would never allow them to suffer more then they are able to bear is cruel. Placing an already burdened person with quilt that they must either handle they pain more effectively or that somehow they were chosen and are failing. The message is to seek help is weakness. To suffer is weakness. Temptation is a very different scenario from being a victim or suffering a loss or illness. I wish people would always remember the difference.

  9. 9 Gina said at 3:13 pm on December 23rd, 2010:

    …another thought. Just this past Sunday, as we were worshiping and singing about the gospel, and I was thanking God for what it means for me on a daily, minute by minute basis, God brought someone to my mind that I have been praying for. She is someone who is resisting input and confrontation. She is stubborn. Then God reminded me of how merciful He has been to me and that only by Him pouring out His mercy and grace, and opening my eyes, was I able to have a minimal understanding of the gospel/grace. He then challenged me to start praying that he would show her mercy and open her eyes to HIM and her need! That is how I have been praying since. That God would be merciful to her and open her eyes. I think this how we should pray for others. It's easy to see others as "insensitive Christians" who are doing it all wrong. Who dont get it. When only by HIS MERCY have we even had a glimpse of understanding. So, just as we want to be shown grace in our need, we need to show grace to them in their need and blindness! May God have mercy on us all!

  10. 10 Serena Woods said at 3:37 pm on December 23rd, 2010:

    Gina, so cool. 🙂 Things didn't start turning around for Job until he started praying for his 'friends.' 🙂

    After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. -Job 42:10

  11. 11 Serena Woods said at 3:32 pm on December 23rd, 2010:

    Kathy: You made me smile. You have to remember, I only have a small word count to work with. 😉 What you described and brought up is a whole other book in my heart.

    My dream wasn't about the fear of falling again. It was about my daughter drowning. I prayed and prayed all day for God to explain the purpose of that horrible dream and He showed me the parallel I described. Then I got an email from a woman who is crying on her hands and knees for someone to show her where hope can be found for Christians who sin. She told me a bit of her story and where she was spiritually.

    In my blogs, I have to keep my subject very tight and I have to keep my word count down. Of course there are conversations upon conversations, thoughts built on thoughts and deep, deep rivers of realizations and mind blowing insight. But, it's a little blog post.

    Sometimes I don't write because I don't have anything to say. Sometimes I don't write on my blog because I have too much to say. I'm putting those things in a book.

    Gather up all of my writings and I still haven't said all I have to say.

    I write for a very specific group of people. (Most of whom never comment publicly.) I say what I needed to hear at different moments of my journey. Though, I take myself back there to be effective in my writing, I do not still live there. You are right about the purpose of the fire. I've even written blogs about that, however, you can't tell that to a person in the middle of it and expect them to understand. Today, I wrote to the person in the middle of it.

    I'm rambling to say that I loved your comment, first of all, and also to say: please remember that I can only cover so much territory in a single blog post. Read more.

    Here's a section of a blog I wrote recently that you might like:

    "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."

    Here is another excerpt (probably a better example) from another blog I wrote recently:

    "My freedom is found in grace. Because of what I’ve been shown through my failure, I can thank God for the failures of my old friends. I’m not trying to be extra spiritual here. It took me a very long time to come to this. I can thank God for their failure with me because of where I am. If they did everything right, I would not have the seat, I so cherish, in this arena of grace.

    When you are faced with your own failure or the failure of another, think about this: God has a plan that will be carried out with or without your approval or understanding. The end of the story, the part where we are as He intended, would not be possible without this part. God is acting from eternity, not from your ‘right now’. There will come a day when you will thank God for what you fear you may not live through. Grace makes that possible."

  12. 12 Brooke said at 3:35 pm on December 23rd, 2010:

    How can I show grace to the one still choosing the sin? How can I make grace so beautiful…so lovely and desirable that they will turn to it and away from the sin?

  13. 13 Serena Woods said at 3:48 pm on December 23rd, 2010:

    Brooke, it's simple. Love them. Don't do what they do. Don't like what they do. Don't tell them you think what they're doing is great. Say something to the effect of, "I hate what you're doing, but I love you. I'll never give up on you.'

    My message is more for those who sinned (past tense) and have been destroyed. Those mid-sin aren't in the best position for hearing. God will put unbelievable compassion for them in your heart if He wants you to speak for Him.

  14. 14 Dana said at 3:58 pm on December 23rd, 2010:

    Once again! You hit the nail on the head. I have grown so much and received so much healing from your blog. Even to the point of not NEEDING to depend on your words so heavily lately.

    Your message of grace didn't make me want to keep sinning, as others fear. You just built a foundation to come home to when God got ahold of me.

    There will always be those who are afraid of grace because of 'what the sinner might think.'

    Just keep at it. It's changed my life and I am watching it change others, too!!

  15. 15 Serena Woods said at 4:21 pm on December 23rd, 2010:

    Dana & Jenni S.: Thank you. 🙂

    Here is something to think about:

    If fear is from Satan and Grace is from God, what does it say to fear showing grace to someone? (for whatever reason.)

  16. 16 Jenni S. said at 4:11 pm on December 23rd, 2010:

    Add me to the list of changed lives. Serena, I can't thank you enough.

    I have to add: Not ONCE did grace make me feel like I could keep on sinning.

  17. 17 peggy said at 4:23 pm on December 23rd, 2010:

    I'm not sure I fully understand this post. Grace is grace is grace. We are not to judge.. we are to pray for others, lend a helping hand when we can and show direction if possible.

  18. 18 Angela Andrews said at 4:25 pm on December 23rd, 2010:

    Your analogy was perfect in helping all of us understand that when we judge another human being, whether they are a Christian or not, we are being hateful. This morning in my quiet time, I came across these verses:

    "And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must GENTLY instruct, in the hope that GOD WILL GRANT them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to DO HIS WILL." (2 Timothy 2:24-26 NIV)

    Thank you for gently and kindly instructing us in the truth.

  19. 19 RJT said at 4:31 pm on December 23rd, 2010:

    I agree with Angela. That analogy was very effective.

    You can't guilt someone into the past. You can love someone into hope for the future.

    Serena, your tender heart is apparent even though you're brandishing a sharp sword. The Surgeon uses you.

  20. 20 Rebekah said at 4:54 am on December 24th, 2010:

    Another absolutely fabulous post! I am so thankful for your insight and willingness to share it!

  21. 21 eileen said at 5:18 am on December 24th, 2010:

    AMEN!!! yes, yes, yes. That is also my favorite translation of Matthew 11 "unforced rhythms of grace"

  22. 22 Justin said at 6:23 am on December 24th, 2010:

    powerful post, my friend. wow. God is always at work during our seasons in the wilderness….and the wilderness is always different for each of us….horrible dreams, death, loss, pain…..he is building us, and as you said, showing us – by his grace.

  23. 23 Crystal said at 11:56 am on December 25th, 2010:

    YES! Thank you! I need this. We're dealing with a family who is in the midst of mess. And I don't want to come between them and the cross! Oh Jesus, help me to love!

  24. 24 LaShawn said at 5:16 pm on December 28th, 2010:

    A-MAZING post. Thanks so much!

  25. 25 Kalee said at 5:23 pm on December 28th, 2010:

    I absolutely love this. I've been to dark places in my life where I've wondered if I was still okay, still loved, still worthy. And everytime I had someone insinuating that no I wasn't. As if they were worthy of His death, but I wasn't. It's made me acutely aware of how I respond to others going through fire and hell. Satan will claw at the very nature of our church (Jesus) if he's allowed to through those who claim to be against him.

  26. 26 Marie said at 6:02 pm on December 28th, 2010:

    wow, thank you for this awesome reminder. thank you for reminding us to be Matt 5:16 and not a stumbling block.

    I want to be used by God.

    big {{HUGS}}

    @spreadingJOY

  27. 27 Michelle said at 10:58 am on December 29th, 2010:

    …the unforced rhythms of grace…

    That version of Matthew 11:29 spoke so clearly to me after I fell…hard.

    Seeing it now, after reading your post, I think I understand better why God took me down the path I followed. I am learning about grace. It isn't just a word. It isn't anything that can be forced upon us. We all must learn it in the way He ordains. No matter where that path takes us…

    Thank you for faithfully teaching these truths.


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