Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Been-Through To My Breakthrough

© 2011, Chantelle Henderson
Why am I still surprised at the fact that what starts out as a quote for my Facebook page turns into a blog because I couldn’t stop the flood of words from my heart to these pages?  It’s not the first time it’s happened and I don’t believe it will be the last.  The title stems from something I heard the other day that I was meditating on this morning during my quiet time.  There’s just so much to share.  I’ve asked the Lord to help me with shortening the lengths of my blogs, but so far it hasn’t happened and far be it from me to force it to happen.  So……I will write, just as I always have, humbly asking the Lord to allow my fingers on the keyboard simply to be an avenue through which I can share words, thoughts, and scriptures that it may offer hope, comfort, and encouragement to those who read.  Even if it’s just one person.

“Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart." - 1 Samuel 16:7

Last week I was doing something I rarely do and that was watching Christian television.  The man speaking said something that caught my attention.  He was talking about David and the way in which he praised God in front of the people unashamedly and with reckless abandon.  The young minister then began sharing his thoughts about the way we choose to praise God.  Some choose to shout and dance - whether it's at home, church or our car.  Others will lift their hands to heaven to say "Thank You".  Then you have what you call your shouters.  They shout, "HALLELUJAH" and "AMEN".  Sometimes you're just in such awe of God that your tears of gratitude are the very definition of your praise.  I've been all these things during my times of praise.  For the sake of his sermon, he was talking about how we will look at others during praise and worship at church.  I heard him say something that will forever change the way I view someone else’s praise.  He said, "Don't judge my breakthrough until you've seen my been through."

You have no idea what people are going through.  You'd be amazed at what people are praising their way through.  Some people are smack dab in the middle of a storm behind closed doors and yet when you see them, it looks like they've been laying out on the beach in the sun soaking up rays.  Not everyone who is going through something is "obvious" about it.  They aren't wearing a t-shirt that says, "My life sucks really, really bad right now."  There are silent warriors, you know?  There are weary saints.  But you would not know it because of their praise. 

It rains on the just and the unjust.  As Christians we think we are entitled to a stress free life.  I submit to you that the Word Of God is clear that we will face trials and temptations, betrayal and persecution, sorrow and pain on THIS side of eternity.  Look at John 16:33 in the Amplified.  It doesn’t get any clearer than this:  “…In Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

Brothers and sisters, may we forsake one of the greatest temptations we face constantly, and that is judging others based on appearances.  I've been on both sides.  Being the judge and the judged and what it all boils down to is that neither one of those should have been taking place because I had no idea what was going on behind closed doors.

A personal example occurred about four weeks ago at church.  I will spare you the details, but amidst some severe storms in my life, the Lord has been an impenetrable shield about me.  Some of the things I’ve faced are loss- A LOT of loss, grief, betrayal and suffering that would cause some people to lose their mind.  But His joy has been my constant companion, and the peace He promised that passes my human understanding has given me the ability to abide and trust in His word and the promises in it.  I know I’m not the only one.  I know there are other people much worse off than I am, so I am no super Christian.  Do not feel sorry for me.  Despite my storm, I’m singin’ in the rain!  I’m just painting a picture of my outward circumstances so you can understand that four weeks ago when I found myself in church dancing, shouting, crying, jumping up and down and lifting my hands it let me know, the devil know, and others know that my God reigns….NO MATTER WHAT!  When you’ve been through some stuff you understand 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, HCSB, “Therefore we do not give up; even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 

Back to four weeks ago:  My head was bowed and I was listening to a music minister share his heart.  In transparency and a pure heart he testified of the Lord “bringing him through” some tremendous challenges.  This precious brother opened up about the storms he’d been facing when right in the middle he began to sang Marvin Sapp’s “Never Would Have Made It”.   I had never heard him sing before since we are new to the church.  His name was Seth Elbe.  As I listened to the words, tears of thanksgiving began to fall down my cheeks.  I was tasting my salty tears when the Holy Spirit graciously started to play a “movie” in my spirit of all the blessings in my life (from birth until now at the age of 40), of all the mess He has brought me through and is still taking me through.  He began to remind me that it’s all made me “Stronger, Wiser, and Better” and that “I Made It” as the lyrics of the song stated.  Before I knew it, my tears turned into lifting my hands in gratitude.  The magnitude of the revelation of just how big, and faithful, and loving, and sustaining my God is rose up in my spirit, I began to dance and shout.  I couldn’t help it and frankly didn’t want to.  My praise was an automatic response to God’s goodness and faithfulness.  I’m sure some would call it emotionalism.  Whatever it was, I don’t care, because in my own unique way, out of a cup overflowing with gratitude I expressed my thanksgiving to my Maker and King.  I’m sure some people were looking at me like I was crazy.  I even posted something to that effect for my Facebook status that day, noting that if I were wearing a weave, it would have flown across the room. (Here's the video by Marvin Sapp, but please do keep reading.)
When we pause and take inventory of all He has done in our lives, even on our worst day, we can’t help but to praise Him.  It makes me think of Psalm 34 where it says, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Not just when everything is in place.  Not just when the bills are paid and the kids are acting right.  But at ALL times.  I’ve been a Christian since I was 9 years old and the past four years I have learned that it’s just as important to praise Him when I’m in the deepest valley as it is when I am on the highest mountain top.  Everytime, I mean EVERY time I choose praise over fear, my faith grows.   

Today I just want to encourage you.  When that person at your job snaps at you, or the cashier isn't moving as fast as she thinks she should, or that woman's skirt is too tight or short, or that man is overweight....maybe your boss is being rude and demanding.  Remember they have a boss too.  Remember that a serious injury or illness can impede a person’s ability to be active which can cause weight gain.  Remember that the cashier may be a single mother who worked in an office last week when she got her pink slip without notice and isn't used to working in retail just yet.  Keep in mind that the woman with the tight clothes on may have just gotten off the streets because she finally gained to courage to do so and that's all she has to wear until she finds other resources available to her.
Forgive me Lord for forgetting that many of us are still in our "been-through” or "going-through" phase, or maybe we have gotten our breakthrough but we're still waiting on some things to be finalized so things don't appear to be what they are.  Let us not become puffed up lest we forget that were it not for You we would have no breakthrough-no victory.  Give us hearts that are sensitive to others and what they are battling, whether it was just life happening or them bringing it on themselves.  At the end of the day may we all realize that we are a child of God, who without Your love, mercy, and grace available to us through the shed blood of our Savior Jesus Christ are absolutely nothing.  But because we are Your beloved children, you have made us priceless treasures and vessels of honor no matter what we have faced, are facing, or will face.  And whether we are in our going through or breakthrough, inscribe on the tablets of our heart the promise that You are causing it all to work together for our good and Your glory.

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” – Romans 8:26-28 (The Message)