Michele Armstrong December 30, 2017 4

In the overwhelming times in my life, when the darkness began to sink in, my only solace was God. At times I felt so alone, like a wanderer searching for a home. Looking back, I know now, a journey lay before me with many twists and turns which would set my feet upon a path of finding strength, resilience, and a quest for my purpose.  Having been taught about Jesus all my life, I had lived close to what I thought a Christian girl should. Do this, don’t do that. But there was more, much more I was to learn, and that process would shape me and mold me and create in me a realization of the manifest presence of God in my life on this earth. God was near–nearer than I perhaps even realized. He was my survival.

In the early days of my past marriage, there was a moment in time so significant it would forge a pattern for the rest of my life. I was only 18 or 19 years old, but was already emotionally and mentally exhausted with life. I had lived a life-time in the short period I had been married. Abusive relationships consist of a constant whirling circle of strategic planning of what to say or not to say, how to smile or not to smile, how to think, or not to think, and so on. It wears the mind and body very thin–so much so that some don’t ever recover. Compare it to walking on a tightrope, hoping to not teeter one way or another. Then, when you do falter, you crash and burn in the aftermath of consequences. This particular day had been one of those “bad days”–the rage, the torment, the mind games. So I walked just to gather myself and find peace. I was desperate to hide, and I needed to escape for a while.

In the distance, almost beckoning me to come close, I felt drawn to a row of brush along the edge of a field. I crawled in an opening of one particularly large bush, seeking shelter from the chaos. And then, it began to rain.

I sat in that pitiful shelter of leaves, feeling cheated by life–all my dreams and my spirit crushed by the weight of it all. I specifically remember how the rain sounded, plopping on the leaves around me. In the distance, I could hear the traffic from the nearby street and somehow it made me sad. The world was such a big place with so many people, and yet I was so alone and so afraid. The smell of dirt and decaying leaves mixed with the scent of rain was almost comforting to me somehow. Perhaps it reminded me of happy times and childhood joys. I felt dark inside, and overwhelmed, knowing the bleak future before me. Living in constant darkness wreaks havoc with the mind and spirit, and you can’t know the strength and energy it takes to pull yourself out each time and try to function normally until the next moment of insanity comes around again.

Looking back, I know God led me to that dome of leaves and sticks and branches and mud for a reason. It would reveal to me a moment of strength that would carry me through for years to come. God called Moses to a bush to commission him to a purpose that would change the course of history and a whole nation of people. I unknowingly had a purpose to fulfill that would be years in the making, but this one moment in time would begin preparing me for that purpose.

Something radical happened to me that day in that canopy of brush. In that moment of solace and quiet, I sat there defeated by the darkness, and began to sob. And then, out of nowhere, a sudden flood of peace washed over me, and strength inexplicably welled up within me. Though I could see no one, I knew someone was in that bush with me. I heard a voice in my heart say to me, “You are not alone. I will be with you.” And with that, I knew it was time to leave my sanctuary of leaves and go forward and face whatever may come. God had overcome the darkness, and had made His presence known to me, and now I was armed for the fight.

My whole being changed in an instant. It was a divine intervention that would carry me through the darkest of days that would follow. Transformed from a scared and lost and lonely little girl, I burst out of that bush a warrior. I had crawled in like a scampering whimpering child, and emerged brave and fierce and determined. And though it did not change my circumstances at that time, it changed me. I was now prepared for what the next 30 years would bring, and though there would be many more tears and many more horrific moments of darkness, the transformation that took place in me that day would see me through many years of pain. It would be a monument for me, a lesson of God’s ever present strength, His nearness and His love. When you experience a moment like that, you remember it, and it forges a path of victory for the battles to come.

God is never far away, dear friend. No matter how dark or how hopeless you feel, never give in. Never give up the fight. Search for that tiny molecule of strength God has placed within you and claim it. Those moments of overcoming are where God creates a hero out of the weakest being, and where he fashions a warrior out of the fearful. And who knows but that you may be the one spark of hope for someone looking on who needs your example, and you may make the eternal difference in their lives. Stay strong. Stand your ground. Keep the faith. You will be so glad you did.


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