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Friday, March 1, 2013

Psalm 121

A couple of years ago one of the pastors at my church taught me Donald Whitney's system of reading through the Psalms. It goes like this:

You start reading the date you are on (i.e. today is March 1st = Psalm 1) and then, if nothing in what you read "speaks" to you (my terminology), you add 30 to get to the next Psalm (i.e. Psalm 31) and you just keep adding 30 until you run out of Psalms!  

When I do this exercise, however, I actually read through all five Psalms, asking God to show me what He wants me to learn, remember, etc. Sometimes verses from each of the five Psalms jump out at me. Sometimes only one or two verses catch my attention. In any case, my reading for today included: Psalm 1, 31, 61, 91 and 121. 

Ah, yes ... Psalm 121 ... the Psalm which God so richly used to open the floodgates of my life in 2009. 

Here are the verses which opened those gates:

The Lord watches over you --
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm --
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
~ Psalm 121:5-7 (NIV)

It has been a little more than 3½ years since my world came crashing down all around me and those three little verses above provided the straw that broke the camel's back ... And oh, how the camel's back did break!

They say that you should "be careful what you wish for" because God might just grant your wish. 

One of my biggest wishes was my desire to leave California and move to Montana. That was a wish He graciously granted and everything fell into place for me to move here in three days. I now know that it was all part of the healing journey for which He was preparing me to take.

Let me explain ...

Before reading Psalm 121, I remember praying that God would strip me of everything that "wasn't me," so I could begin to get back to the bare bones of who I really was. You see, after spending 15+ years in the entertainment industry, I realized that I had lost so much of who I was that the time had come for me to find me again. I just wasn't prepared for how God had planned on helping me do that ...

It was in the middle of a dance class at my acting school when I first became aware of the fact that I had been raped. That realization promptly caused me to go running out the door and throw up!

Little did I know it at the time, but seven months later, at that same school, I would find myself in the girls' bathroom with a different man who was there to rape me. I didn't know that was his intention. Rather I only knew there was someone else in the bathroom with me and I knew that something was wrong with that other person. Thinking it was another girl, I almost asked "her" if she was okay, but now I truly believe it was the Holy Spirit who protected me and prevented me from doing so.

Instead, I washed my hands and walked out the door. It was only by the grace of God that I ran into my girlfriend, V, as I was leaving the bathroom, because this man was right on my heels trying to grab me. (I did not even hear him come out of the bathroom stall, let alone realize he was right behind me.) However, as soon as he saw V, he said something to the effect of "whoops, wrong bathroom," and ducked into the mens' room. 

Unfortunately, right after I went back into my classroom, he went back into the ladies' room and attacked V. Fortunately, she was able to fight him off and get away, but not before this guy pulled a gun on her, and one of our school administrators, and the three of us later found ourselves at the Pasadena Police Station looking through books of mugshots!

That incident shook me to the core of my being and once we were done at the police station, my friend Daniel drove me home because I was shaking so much I literally could not drive. He stayed with me until my roommate (and best friend at the time) got home, and when she found out what happened, her only response was "Oh, is that all?" after which she promptly went into her bedroom and shut the door. Unfortunately, our friendship went down hill after that.

Two years later I acquired a stalker. And, as things progressively got worse with this guy, the Burbank Police Department politely informed me that until he actually did something to me, there was nothing they could do!

Sadly, I have since come to realize that those three incidents were only the tip of the iceberg for what has taken place in my life. They became the starting point for me to begin shutting down from life, causing me to withdraw from people and to become extremely protective of my personal space and (in many ways) my privacy. They also became the catalyst for the collapse of my relationship with God, which only deepened after I read Psalm 121, as well as the tool that He has used to truly strip me bare before Him! (Remember? Be careful what you pray for ...)

However, what goes down must come up ... except, as one of my pastors so graciously pointed out, in the case of gravity!

This week I finished reading a book entitled Living Fearlessly, by Sheila Walsh. In it, Sheila talks about the fact that since God already knows everything about us, we should (basically) not be afraid to "come clean" with Him about our deepest fears because they will certainly not come as any surprise to Him. As I thought through her comment, and as I came to the realization of what my deepest fears really were, I realized that one of my deepest fears is being sexually assaulted again and not having the strength to fight back. 

You see, I know that if I had been the one attacked in the bathroom, instead of V, I would not have had the strength to fight back and get away. And that realization terrifies me because I am afraid that should something like that happen to me again, where I would be the one attacked, I would just freeze and not fight back. 

And you know what, that may very well happen! However, whether it does or it doesn't, I also know that this is now the truth for my life:

But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord,
I say, "You are my God." 
My times are in Your hand ...
~ Psalm 31:14-15

Every single moment of every single day of my life (and yours) is in God's hands. He controls it all! And, He also controls what happens to me -- both good and bad. I may like it. I may not.

BUT ...  

Our God is in the heavens;
He does whatever He pleases.
~ Psalm 115:3

What happens in my life is HIS CALL, not mine!

But I did not really realize that fact while I was trying to work through my "issues" with verse 7 of Psalm 121 ... The Lord will keep you from all harm, until I read that same verse in the NASB, which states it this way ... He will keep your soul.

And that's when it hit me ... Yes, my body was violated; many times and in many ways, and it may even be violated again sometime in the future. However, my soul belongs to God alone and that is all that matters!

Through Sheila's book, God gently revealed to me that the time has come for me to start Living Fearlessly. And, while I am not exactly sure what that means or what that looks like right now, I am confident that in His perfect time, and through His infinite wisdom and grace, He will reveal it to me! 

In the meantime,  I want to share a song with you written by my dear friend, and beloved sister in Christ, Marsha Skidmore. Marsha sings at most of the Billy Graham crusades and I was just thinking that her song, Where Does My Help Come From, is the perfect ending to this blog.

Love you, Marsha!  Thank you for sharing your beautiful voice with the world ... xoxo