Oh you afflicted one, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay your stones with colourful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of rubies, your gates of crystal, and all your walls of precious stones. (Isaiah 54:11&12)
One of the earliest pictures God gave me when I first visited Ellel Grange was that of a grave, but not like those in our graveyards here in the UK. The one I saw was like a big pile of stones. I somehow knew that underneath that pile of stones lay a little girl and yet she was also me. I also felt that she had put herself there many years ago and God was wanting to bring her back to life. I couldn't truly make sense of it all back then, but I suppose it’s like any journey we have embarked on … it’s as we look back that we are able to see with greater understanding the road we've travelled.
In a nutshell, what God has done over these last 12 years is this: all those grave stones were like layers which represent those things that helped put me there ~ sin, rejection, betrayal, abuse, self-hatred, and all the pain and damage that was caused by it all. God began to gently lift them and turn them over—dealing with the issues that surrounded each one— before then removing them from my life and bringing His deep healing & cleansing on the inside.
And then one day, just over a year ago, I realised He (we) had reached the pile of dirt that was under the stones! And underneath that mound of dirt was ME! The REAL ME!
God had been dealing with so many different issues of my life through what seemed like such a long journey, and I was desperate to cooperate with Him in the process.
Once again, God was taking me back to the time I was 4, even though He had led me there and dealt with things from that time many times before ~ to the time “the bad things” started to happen to me. And He revealed to me that my 4-year old heart took on the identity that was given to her indirectly but very profoundly through the actions of those whom she had trusted and those who were meant to love and protect her but had actually betrayed her and hurt her so deeply. I was like that pile of dirt that was on the grave! “She” had put herself there in the dirt because that is what she felt like, and the pain of her life was too great for her to bear.
BUT!!! God in His faithfulness lifted her out of the grave that day and as she forgave once again, the anger she had felt for all the betrayal and injustice FINALLY came pouring out, after many years of being trapped on the inside. I cannot tell you the impact that this whole journey has had on my life and how much Ellel has been a vital key in helping me to work with God as He has been “growing me up” ~ healing me, delivering me, setting me free to BE who He originally created me to be.
Going back, in the early years of this healing journey, I had started to paint stones. I had never done it before but suddenly it was like I just had this connection with it and doing it was part of the healing for me. I was taking dirty old stones, grey and dull and giving them colour, making them vibrant; I see this as very much the same as what God has been doing with me over the years through His work of Ellel Ministries. And this is why I started with that scripture from Isaiah 54 … I WAS one who was afflicted and tossed with tempest, never seeming to find peace or comfort deep on the inside.
I had been living behind a mask for most of my life but had no idea until circumstances changed our lives dramatically and we were left shocked and traumatised by the events which followed. Suddenly it seemed we were on a slippery slope, a downward spiral that left us confused and feeling betrayed ~ by “the church” but sadly also by God Himself.
I had an emotional break-down after the birth of our daughter which lead me to a psychiatric hospital near to her first birthday 15 years ago. I would perhaps attempt to describe that time now as “the time the girl inside was stirred in her grave.” As I looked at our beautiful baby girl who we wanted and loved more than I could ever express, I became frightfully aware of emotions that were like a storm building on the inside where that little girl lay. And her rage screamed, “why do you love her, and not me!!” That little girl was actually me on the inside, but I had absolutely no idea that “she” even existed and I couldn't understand what was happening to me. At times I thought I was simply going crazy!
I had been a Christian for only a few years and had been taught that my past was all gone the day I came to Christ, to never look back. Instead, I was “catapulted to the lime-light” as I was encouraged to “get plugged in” and “use the gift that God gave me”, the gift of song. But as the song says, “when the music fades and all is stripped away …”
When I became no longer emotionally strong enough to carry on with life in the same way that I had known; when suddenly I felt I was no longer “useful” to the church or to God; when I could not seem to turn off the turmoil and torment in my mind, I began to cry out to God with all that I was! And I was crying out for TRUTH!!! God sent me a lifeline the day He put the number of Ellel Grange into my hand through a friend. I sometimes wonder whether I would actually be alive today to tell my story had He not, so great was the disorder in my life … emotionally, physically & spiritually!
I have had a number of people challenge me over the years and ask me if the pain I was walking through “is it worth it—what’s the point?!” “Why focus on the past when Christ is giving you a future?” Well, to me it’s almost like asking, “was the pain of labouring with your children worth it?” Yes! Yes! And a million times yes! Had I not laboured and gone through the pain, we would not have the reward of our two wonderful and precious children today. In the same way, had I not laboured and gone through the pain He was walking me through, I would not have the reward of knowing Him the way I do today!
So what’s the point, I hear some ask? And my answer would probably begin with something like this: IT CHANGES OUR DESTINY! It brings us closer to His heart and HIS future for our lives instead of the one we mark out for ourselves through the broken walls of our hearts.
You see, many years ago I was driven to sing; it was part of who I was and I loved it, but little did I recognise that I actually loved the glory that went with it! And the huge driving force was all the rejection that was in the foundations of my life. I had sincerely believed that Jesus was going to make me His famous singer, for His glory of course. The reality that laid hidden within the broken walls of my heart, was that I was actually seeking the applause of men because it made me feel special and wanted, made me feel loved and heard like I was “a somebody.”
Only God can reveal these issues to our human hearts, but we must be open to His truth about our own hearts in the way that David was when he cried out, “search me oh God and know my heart … and see if there is any wicked way in me.” Today, I can say that while I still love to sing and would very much like to be able to share it more, that driving force is gone! No longer do I feel driven to be known as “the singer” or be “famous” in order to feel known. I just want to be free to be ME, plain & simple, and be known for me as God created me to be. I simply know that I am known because I AM HIS! And He IS mine! I am special just because He made me; and while I long to do things in His name, I know that I don’t need to DO “something special” to prove that I am special!
You see, that little girl who was in the grave, has been lifted out of the pit and brought to life … and not only brought to life, but has been taught how to walk, how to live again until eventually she’s been ‘all grown up’ and has found peace with me and I with her, if you see what I’m saying. We are finally walking as one person rather than battling as if we were two! In other words, I have been made whole!
And amazingly, through this journey He has shown me how creative He has made me because I never knew!!! Yes, I love to sing, but I also love to write! I love to paint and create with my hands. I love to share with people what He’s taught me. So … I may not know exactly what my destiny holds, but I know that He has it safely hidden within His heart and He will reveal it to mine in His time with whatever detail I need to know. I am so thankful for all He IS to me and all He has done for me and in me. And I am thankful to Ellel, for He has engraved Ellel on my heart forever!
Today, I give glory to God as He has restored His order to my life over the years. He has done exceedingly abundantly above all that I could have ever asked or imagined! He has been laying my stones with colourful gems, and laying my foundations with sapphires. He has been rebuilding my life from the inside out, restoring what was broken so I can live again. He has rebuilt the walls of my broken heart, making them of …precious stones!