Saturday, 31 May 2008

The Girl Within The Picture

By Lucy Wall

In order to explain how I came to write this poem I feel it’s important to share my testimony first. It gives a backdrop and “sets the stage” for my inspiration you might say!

I was very blessed in the sense that when I was growing up my Mum took me and my sister each week to Church and brought the Word of God into our lives at an early age. We went to a Church called Calvary Christian Fellowship in Motherwell which is Pastored by David Simpson.

I know that as a young girl I had a relationship with Jesus and I always knew that He was real. His presence within my heart was very clear to me and even in my childlike understanding of things He spoke directly into my life and made His existence known to me.

I remember that each night before I went to sleep I’d be lying in bed and I would pray to Him. I would just talk to the Lord about all the kinds of things that might concern a small a child. Of course when I look back now at the prayers I can see how trivial these things were in the grand scale of life but they weren't trivial to me at the time and therefore they weren't trivial to Jesus. He would give me a peace in my heart about whatever it was I was concerned about. I knew that as His daughter my prayers were listened to. My loving Heavenly Father always helped me in my situations and showed me that He cared about the details of my life.

Sadly, despite the closeness that I enjoyed with God as a child, my attitude started to change as I got into my early teens. I began to wander away from Him in my thoughts and I felt like I wanted to live life my way and that I knew better than God about what was right and what was good for me. Imagine thinking you can know better than the One who created you!

By the time I was 18 I was ready to head off to college to train in Musical Theatre. This of course wasn't a bad thing to pursue, Musical Theatre is hardly the worst thing you can do with your life and I was using the skills God had given me. What was wrong with this situation however was that the pursuit of my career was now the biggest thing in my life and the issue was that I loved it more than I loved God.

You could say that my desire to perform had become my idol. As I try to explain to young adults if I’m ever sharing Jesus with them, idols don't need to be statues of Buddha or pillars of gold or something. An idol is just whatever we place in importance above God. It may take on the form of a boyfriend or girlfriend, an iPhone, a TV program, an obsession with our appearance or physique or time spent training at the gym. Whatever we give priority to in our lives and whatever sits on the top seat in our hearts, if it isn't Jesus Christ then it's an idol. It might be a good thing in and of itself but if we put it before Jesus then it's become something that we idolise and therefore is our idol. My chosen career path had certainly become mine.

It was what I dedicated most of my energy to and it was very much my greatest desire in life. The idea of involving God in my plans and asking Him for guidance sadly was pretty far from my thoughts and if I did pray it wasn't to genuinely seek God's will for me. Instead of seeking His wisdom in my life I'd just ask Him to bless me in my plans which of course isn’t a proper prayer. I wasn't thinking about using my life to serve God and go where He guided me for His glory, it was all about me. It was all about doing what I wanted to do, going where I wanted to go and for my glory!

When I think back to this time what I can see most clearly is God's grace. Even though I wasn't really acknowledging Him at this point He never took His eyes away from me. I think He just gave me a long rope to go out into the world and discover for myself how empty it is without Him.

In terms of my career, if you had asked me when I was training what show I would most like to be in I'd have definitely said "Fame.” When I was offered a role in this show at the age of twenty three you can imagine how excited I was! I was over the moon because this was what I had been training for all these years! I felt that I had finally "arrived" if you like and this would be the thing that would make me happier than I had ever been.

It's interesting to note that during my time in this show I was completely miserable. It wasn't that I didn’t enjoy being in the show, it's just that performing in the West End didn't fulfil me in the way that I had thought it would. It certainly didn't live up to my expectations.

Looking back I know that my heartache and brokenness was down to the fact that I was lonely because I had turned my back on God. Yes I was using the gifts He gave me but it wasn't combined with His fellowship so I missed my Saviour. I had known the joy of His companionship in my life and I had left my first love and tried to replace Him with another. I discovered that Jesus cannot be replaced. There's a place in our hearts that belongs only to Him and He showed me that nothing else in this world can fit there.

What I find really interesting is when I hear other people's testimonies or read about certain people in the Bible and they have everything stripped away from them. When this happens it often seems to leave the person able to see their acute need and desire for God but I feel like this is the opposite of how God worked in me.

I feel like Jesus looked into my heart, saw what I was striving for and placing before Him in importance then in His gentle, loving and gracious way He gave me the very things I was idolising. He let me discover for myself the emptiness and the futility of what this world has to offer if it isn't combined with the joy and peace of knowing you're in the centre of God's will. It doesn't matter how good the “gig” is, if it isn't alongside Jesus it's a miserable and empty place to be.

In hindsight I can see how the Lord used this time to speak to my spirit and get me to the place I needed to be where I prayed a proper prayer and I called out to Him in repentance. I wanted Him and I now found myself desiring His closeness and His fellowship again above all else. My Father welcomed me back with open arms and showed me what wonderful forgiveness there is to be found in Jesus!

Having explained the lead up to writing this poem I can now go on to say that my inspiration came during one ordinary day in 2008 when I was doing the housework of all things! I picked up a picture frame to dust it and for some reason I decided to spend a few seconds looking at the picture within the frame. I found myself smiling as I looked at an image of myself sitting with a friend of mine.

The photograph was taken when two friends and I were on a holiday in 2006 and it was during this time that I was still trying to ignore God and deny my need and desire for Him in my life. It became apparent to me that the smile on my face was nothing more than a mask. It was a lie to cover up the true pain and sorrow going on inside and all of a sudden I could see right through it.

As I stood there looking at the picture I began to feel a whole host of negative feelings towards myself for not using that time to serve God. Right in that very instant however I felt the gentleness of the Holy Spirit draw alongside me and encourage me not to feel hatred towards myself because God didn’t.

Again I was blown away by my awesome Saviour. Even in the process of writing this poem I feel that Jesus revealed more of His caring and loving nature to me. I ’m eternally grateful to my wonderful God for showing such incredible patience, mercy and forgiveness towards the girl within the picture.

With absent thoughts and gentle song I dusted on the shelf.
I noticed then in front of me a picture of myself.
Without much care I picked it up and looked deep in my eyes,
Remembering the girl I was I came to realise
Although the smile upon my face implied no hint of grief,
I still re-called the broken heart that lay just underneath.

For in that time I knew You not and lived in shadows dark,
Reflections of a weary soul where life had left it's mark.
An empty shell so meaningless, no purpose, point or truth.
My life adrift so aimlessly, a waste of precious youth.
I tried to find the answers but knew none of them were true.
I wouldn't find the peace I sought until I looked for You.

Though outwardly I had success my heart could feel no pride.
I knew my life was meaningless, my soul was dead inside.
The worldly joys so temporal would leave me wanting more,
They left me with an empty void much bigger than before.
The hollow offers of the world could never satiate,
I knew the very things I'd sought I'd soon begin to hate.

They couldn't fill the longing that I felt now deep within.
I knew I needed You Lord and to let go of my sin.
You used this time to waken me and see my need for You.
You reached into my circumstance and let Your light shine through.
Forever grateful I will be, Your love you did bestow.
You never took Your eyes from me, You wouldn't let me go.

So as I stood, I thought of all the shame I put You through.
The pain You must have suffered in my years apart from You.
You watched as I ignored Your Word and went off on my way.
I added to the pain You felt on Crucifixion day.
This thought aroused such wrenching guilt, dark feelings drawing near
But just before they took control You whispered in my ear.

"Don't punish and chastise yourself for what you were before.
Remember, it's just you before you chose the narrow door.
The girl who fights so hard for Me and stands up for My name,
Well she's the one you stare at now and look upon with shame.
You look at her with deep contempt, resentment and disgust
But listen child, that girl is you. The one in whom I trust."

"I saw beyond your sinful ways and reached into your heart.
I gave you life and hope anew, I gave you a fresh start.
Your guilt and shame can haunt you but whenever this begins,
Remember that I died for you when still dead in your sins.
Don't dwell on your iniquities or see mistakes you made
For love and justice kiss the Cross and now your debt is paid."

"Although you were a slave to sin and spiritually blind,
My precious daughter, worry not and leave your past behind.
I choose to not remember your transgressions or your shame.
I only feel My love for you, now you should do the same.
You're now a new creation and in Christ your sin can hide.
The time you spent enslaved to sin has washed away and died."

"Desires of your carnal mind will now have passed away.
Contentment I can promise as you walk with Me each day.
Rejoice in your new nature and embrace divine exchange
For now our friendship is secure and this will never change.
You face no condemnation for My promises are true,
You've purity in Christ and now My Spirit dwells in you."

"I came to give you life, that you may live abundantly.
Your life is counter cultural but in harmony with Me.
Although you'll battle with the flesh, when tempted, don't give in
For now you're filled with power and can overcome your sin.
Stand firm and set your sights on Me, I'll see you through it all.
Adorn My armour, use your gifts and heed my every call."

"Do not be swayed by disbelief or thrown by foolish talk
For Satan envies what we have so stay true in your walk.
He'll try hard to convince you that you're “governed” by My "rules"
But know you're walking in the truth so heed no word from fools.
The boundaries I set will keep you safe from the corrupt.
A life without parameters will only self-destruct."

"You know the anguish you endured without My loving touch.
I could not leave you in your sin, I love you far too much.
For you are My creation child, in you I am displayed
And in My sight you're fearfully and wonderfully made.
My love for you runs faster than the rivers and the lakes.
Remember that I chose you and I do not make mistakes."

With new found peace I placed the picture back upon the shelf,
So grateful that this face did not reflect my current self.
I'd contemplate the lengths and darkest depths to which You'd go
To blot out my iniquities and make me white as snow.
I realised without You Lord, within me there's no good.
I then resolved anew to live in humble servitude.

The girl within the picture, she's so far and yet so near.
I view her with compassion now I know You loved her dear.
I worship You, O Sovereign Lord, Your Love has set me free!
You took my life and gave me hope and saw the worth in me.
Your heart is filled with mercy Lord, despite my every flaw,
You saved me from my sin and now I bow to You in awe.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

"...think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and the things that are not-to nullify the things that are, so that no-one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.""

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